Ambar Hill was purchased by Graham and Judy Dalton after Graham retired as CEO of the peak rural organisation, Queensland Farmers’ Federation. The vineyard was established in 2001. The property was well known in the district and was previously farmed by the Mann family. For many years it was mixed farming with table grapes, vegetables, stone fruit and cattle.
Climate and Terroir
The Granite Belt wine region is located high on Australia’s Great Dividing Range. At 1,000 metres, Ambar Hill is characterised by cold winters with heavy frosts, sleet and occasional snow. Hot summer days and cool nights provide ideal conditions for ripe fruit with intense cool climate flavours.
On climate indexes, the Granite Belt is cool climate.
Soils are typical deep weathered and decomposed granite providing well drained soils.
Rainfall is variable, usually with good winter and spring rains and summer storms. Hail in summer can be a problem in the district if a property is in the path of a storm cell.
The vineyard is planted to Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Verdelho, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc grown on grafted stock.
These varieties are performing extremely well in the district.
Many farms in the district fully cultivate orchards and vineyards. At Ambar Hill, minimum tillage leaves the grass between the rows. This has a number of environmental advantages. It reduces soil erosion. It reduces soil compaction. It rapidly reduces excess water during heavy rainfall to enable farm machinery to be used sooner after rain.
With much of the native bush left intact, birds are a potential problem. Bird strikes can not only reduce the quantity of fruit, they can significantly reduce the quality of fruit. Ambar Hill has fully netted the grapes as they ripen to ensure only premium fruit is produced.
To manage our scarce water in a environmentally responsible manner, drip irrigation has been installed. We only use spring water from some small, very reliable springs on the property.
Water is supplied in some years early in spring if the season has been very dry. In some years in January and February if the weather is very hot and dry, water will be supplied to reduce the amount of heat stress.
Vines are grown on traditional trellis, hand pruned late in winter.
In spring, excess shoots are removed to ensure optimum fruit. Fruit is thinned out during the season and leaves are thinned out in summer to allow free air movement and reduce the risks of disease. Nets are placed on the vines as the grapes start to ripen to protect them from birds.
Picking takes place in autumn and it is done by a team of local farmers and backpackers from around the world who come to the granite belt at harvest time.