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Wooing Tree Vineyard

Wooing Tree Vineyard

Owned by Stephen and Thea Farquharson and Stephen's sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Geoff Bews, Wooing Tree is a family owned and run single vineyard site. They are originally all from farming backgrounds in North Otago, but more recently they have all worked in IT both in Wellington and overseas. The estate is situated in the heart of Central Otago next to the town of Cromwell and opposite the "Big Fruit Sculpture". The location gives a perfect mix of various sub-regional climates and optimum heat degree-days.

In 2001, the family put in an offer for the land and purchased it in 2002. They took on the services of viticulturalist Robin Dicey to help set-up the vineyard and to manage it in the development stages. This enabled them to stay overseas and continue to pay the bills remotely. However, this meant that they didn't know anything about the Wooing Tree, and so when they received an email from Robin to inform them that there was a number of trees that would have to be removed they gave him permission to proceed.

Unbeknownst to the four new owners, there was a tree on their land called the Wooing Tree and it had long been a popular spot for locals to woo their lovers. The impending removal of the tree bought a lot of locals out in protest and they set about saving their tree. There were stories of people being conceived under the tree and it had a lot of history in the locals' hearts; a campaign to save the tree was soon started. The story featured in the newspapers, there was even a poetry competition to save the tree. Robin emailed his bosses once again telling them about the tree's history, and as soon as they knew the story they immediately decided that the tree not only had to stay but that it was an obvious name for their vineyard and wine label. Now the tree sits prominently in the middle of the vineyard, it appears on the logo and the vineyard is now referred to as Cromwell's iconic vineyard. It has also become a popular place for marriage proposals and weddings.

Approximately 44,000 vines were planted in 2002. The 26 hectare single vineyard site has 16 hectares planted mainly with premium clones of Pinot Noir on multiple rootstocks to give variety and complexity and to prevent phylloxera problems. The vines are planted at a density of 2666 vines per hectare using a Vertical Shoot Positioning trellis system. The vines are spur pruned, usually at 2 buds per shoot, and shoot thinned, leaf plucked, bunch thinned and green harvested all by hand during the season. Wooing Tree has a computer controlled irrigation which is monitored via Aquaflex data loggers to keep an eye on soil moisture and temperature levels. Birds are often a problem leading up to harvest and the rows of vines are netted to help to keep the birds away.

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