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Gabrielle Richardson
11 April 2023 | Gabrielle Richardson

Why do high density planting?

Historically, vine density and row spacing was a function of available land, equipment and techniques of the time. Pre-phylloxera vineyards in Burgundy were planted using a mass layering technique that resulted in very high planting densities (30,000 vines per hectare or more). Vines were arranged in a random pattern with all work in the vineyards done by hand.

In the late 1800s phylloxera destroyed the ‘own roots’ vines in Burgundy and the vineyards were subsequently replanted on American rootstock and arranged in the trellised rows we see today. This replanting coincided with the use of the horse as a labour-saving practice so vines were replanted in rows in the ‘classic’ 1m x 1m spacing. The row width was determined by the width of a horse; machinery that followed later was adapted to suit.

In Australia, as in France, vineyard density has also been determined by available machinery. However, in Australia commercial vineyard tractors are typically based on farm or orchard models with an overall width of 1.5m to 2m; this has necessitated vineyard rows of between 2.5m to 3.5m for adequate machinery access and clearance.

Over the past decade, many cool climate wine growers in Australia have learnt that vines grown with closer spacing between plants and rows have greatly improved quality outcomes. However, the density limit remains dictated by the tractor’s minimum width.

Around the world, consumers of high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay look to Burgundy as the benchmark region for the highest quality expression of the two varieties. This highlights the need for Australian producers to examine current practices and techniques and look for areas of potential quality improvement. Recently, commercial vine nurseries in Australia have begun importing new selections of highly regarded Burgundian Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones that have been widely planted and credited for positive increase in wine quality and complexity.

In an ongoing effort to explore the influence of best viticulture practices on wine quality we have established this new High Density (HD) vineyard, made possible by importing some specialised European vineyard equipment able to work in 1m rows and allowing us to plant our vineyard at the same density used on the best slopes of the Cote d’Or.

Very early indications are that the new plant densities will have very positive impact on fruit quality which will help elevate the wine quality and structure to a higher level. Based on experience with other HD vineyards we expect to see…

  • smaller berries and bunches
  • better crop load balance
  • more cross shading of canopy, fruit and vineyard floor
  • humidity levels tend to be higher
  • cane, bunch and berry stem lignification are more developed.

These are all key attributes for quality wine production and help to counteract climatic challenges such as sunburnt fruit and vine stress from dry soil and low humidity.

Discover more about our High Density Spedding Vineyard and Gabrielle Vineyard.

Time Posted: 11/04/2023 at 11:31 AM Permalink to Why do high density planting? Permalink
Gabrielle Richardson
6 April 2023 | Gabrielle Richardson

The Real Review - Close planted vineyards and wine quality

Close-planted vines produce better wine, no?

Well, they must, because the classic French wines from Burgundy, Champagne, Chablis, and most other places are grown in vineyards that are close-planted, much closer than typical Australian vineyards.

Most close-panted vineyards in Australia are very young, but youth may have been immaterial as the Bannockburn pair were by common agreement the hardest to tell apart.

But it’s not that simple.

What works in Volnay or Vouvray doesn’t necessary translate to Australian conditions.

A tasting at a workshop on close-planting, conducted as part of the recent Pinot Noir Celebration Australia on the Mornington Peninsula, was inconclusive.

The tasting was of eight glasses of pinot noir, two each from four producers. One was off a close-planted vineyard, the other off a conventional vineyard of the same producer, in the same locality, and using the same winemaking. All were MV6 clone.

The wines were Bindi Darshan 2019 (close) and Bindi Original Vineyard 2019; Ten Minutes By Tractor McCutcheon Vineyard 2022 and Ten Minutes By Tractor Spedding Vineyard 2022 (close); Bannockburn Estate 2019 and Bannockburn Serré 2019 (close); and Scorpo Old Cherry Orchard 2021 (close) and Scorpo Eocene 2021. The wines were randomised and the tasters were asked to try to tell which was the close-planted in each pair. Most—possibly all of us—failed to*.

Most close-panted vineyards in Australia are very young, but youth may have been immaterial as the Bannockburn pair were by common agreement the hardest to tell apart, although the Serré vines were mature (average age 39 years).

So, what drives vignerons like Bindi’s Michael Dhillon and Ten Minutes By Tractor’s Martin Spedding to plant vines at high density, which is estimated to cost at least four times as much to establish?

The panel laid out the advantages and drawbacks of high-density.


  • The entire vineyard is involved; there is no idle land.
  • Greater lignification (the stems are woodier, which is useful for whole-bunch fermenting).
  • Roots drive deeper, making for stability of moisture status.
  • Saves irrigation water (Spedding said it uses half the water).
  • Smaller bunch and berry size, which increases concentration.
  • Shading of the fruit-zone, so less sunburn risk, and leaf-plucking is safer.
  • Grape yield per vine is reduced so more goodies go into each berry.


  • Setup cost is estimated between four and five times that of a conventional vineyard.
  • Fungal disease problems are increased in wet seasons.
  • ‘Normal’ vineyard machinery doesn’t fit the rows.
  • Reduced yield per vine may be seen as a disadvantage depending on quality and yield per hectare.
  • In cool, high-altitude sites, the vines don’t set fruit if they’re too close.

“You wouldn’t do it unless you had a fantastic site,” said Dhillon.

Spedding and Dhillon both have very small crawler tractors to work their high-density vineyards, and these, while expensive, have an added advantage of reducing soil compaction: “less than a single human walking down the row.”

What is a high-density? The Burgundy and Champagne standard is one metre by one metre, which results in 10,000 vines per hectare. Traditional Aussie vineyards have as few as 2,500 vines per hectare. The panel, consisting of Spedding, Dhillon, climatologist Greg Jones and viticulturist Tim Brown, agreed that anything less than 1.5m spacings is high-density.

Read more here: 

Time Posted: 06/04/2023 at 11:46 AM Permalink to The Real Review - Close planted vineyards and wine quality Permalink
Gabrielle Richardson
8 February 2023 | Gabrielle Richardson

Decanter - Australian Pinot Noir: 25 exciting wines to try

With the popularity of lighter-style red wines showing no signs of abating, it might be time to swap your Aussie Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon for a Pinot Noir. Tina Gellie picks out 25 cool-climate Australian Pinot Noirs to try.

There’s 4,948ha of Pinot Noir across Australia (source: Wine Australia 2022), which represents just 3.7% of the total area under vine.

It might be the fourth most planted red variety, well behind Merlot with about 8,500ha, but truly small fry when you consider the country has five times as many plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, and a whopping eight times as many for Shiraz.

But with the global trend for lighter-style reds showing no signs of abating, this is good news for the country’s Pinot Noir producers. Particularly as even the most expensive represent a value alternative to Burgundy as well as premium-priced examples from neighbouring New Zealand.


Martin Spedding makes four single-vineyard wines, wth Coolart Road always the biggest, boldest and most darkly fruited. Grippy, textured tannins and a firm acid line give great structure to the umami-like flavours of mushroom, beetroot and black cherry. Lingering smoky incense and rose petal notes lift the finish.


This estate Pinot is now split into the Up the Hill and Down the Hill cuvées, but in this vintage was a barrel selection of Martin Spedding's four vineyards. This is seductively savoury wine, with bold earthy beetroot and undergrowth tones to join autumnal plum and black cherry. Vanilla chai oak spice and supple tannins too.


Practically a Coolart Road single-vineyard wine with just 5% Wallis fruit blended in. It's a wonderfully pure expression of ripe black cherry and raspberry fruit kept arrow straight by focused, racy acidity and satin-textured tannins. Dark, earthy notes add savoury complexity.

Read more here: 


Time Posted: 08/02/2023 at 12:04 PM Permalink to Decanter - Australian Pinot Noir: 25 exciting wines to try Permalink
Gabrielle Richardson
14 December 2022 | Gabrielle Richardson

Introducing the Mills Chardonnay

The Mills Vineyard, located in Merricks North on the Mornington Peninsula was planted by the Mills family in 2000 to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The Chardonnay produced from this vineyard has shown a consistent quality and depth of flavour that has resulted in it being an important component of our Estate Chardonnay over the past six years. What became very clear over the years is that the quality of the Chardonnay was head and shoulders above the Pinot. As a result, in 2017, the Pinot Noir was replanted with Chardonnay (Clone 96) with an increased density (75cm spacing).  The first vintages of the young Chardonnay block are very promising, with great concentration of flavour - rich and layered.

In 2021, we decided, for the first time, to elevate the Mills Chardonnay to a single vineyard bottling - a reflection of the quality and long-term cellaring potential of this wine.

Purchase the Mills Chardonnay

Time Posted: 14/12/2022 at 2:31 PM Permalink to Introducing the Mills Chardonnay Permalink
Gabrielle Richardson
7 December 2022 | Gabrielle Richardson

2021 Single Vineyard Releases

We're pleased to announce the release of our 2021 Single Vineyard wines. The 2021 vintage was outstanding, the first in many years to rival the landmark 2015 vintage.  Great acid retention and concentration of flavour have resulted in wines of great balance and fine detail.  

2021 Vintage

Moderate temperatures throughout a wet spring and flowering resulted in healthy canopies with slightly lower than average yields. Above average rainfall over the summer due to La Niña was moderated by dry spells and moderate temperatures resulted in slower ripening. This resulted in some late season botrytis, which further reduced our yields. Great acid retention and concentration of flavour has resulted in wines of great balance and fine detail. The wines are outstanding and will reward further with cellaring. 

The Wines
Time Posted: 07/12/2022 at 11:00 AM Permalink to 2021 Single Vineyard Releases Permalink
Gabrielle Richardson
6 December 2022 | Gabrielle Richardson

2023 Good Food Guide - Two Hat Award Winner

We are thrilled to have retained our 2 Hats, awarded the Best Wine List in Victoria and named a Finalist for the Best Regional Restaurant in the 2023 Good Food Guide Awards.

We are so incredibly proud of the whole team who helped us during our rebuild and their perseverance throughout the six lockdowns. We'd also like to thank our guests for their continued support over this time.

Good Food described the restaurant as 'An exemplary winery dining room with outstanding views and locally focused tasting menus from chef Hayden Ellis.'

Read more here:



Time Posted: 06/12/2022 at 1:36 PM Permalink to 2023 Good Food Guide - Two Hat Award Winner Permalink
Gabrielle Richardson
25 November 2022 | Gabrielle Richardson

Why you should be drinking Ten Minutes by Tractor - The Australian

"The Mornington Peninsula must surelv be one of the most desirable places on the planet for a winemaker to make a living. Rolling green hills close to the serene beaches of Port Phillip Bay on Melbourne's doorstep, it's a compelling location that unsurprisingly has drawn plenty of dreamers from all walks of life.

As Melbournians and regular visitors all know, what makes Mornington particularly special is that it has managed to retain a bucolic, laid-back style thanks to its mix of pretty landscapes, quaint seaside villages and holiday vibe. There is also an artisanal side, where small producers from a variety of industries flourish."


"Spedding's key aim for the wines is substance without weight, which they artfully achieve, although the yields in recent seasons has been low, with production essentially halved in the past three vears, so they are rare birds. "We have amazing savoury characters that draw you to the glass. But most important is the clear and defining characters of each site, which is reassuring”. He is right about that."

Read more here: 

By Angus Hughson

Time Posted: 25/11/2022 at 1:56 PM Permalink to Why you should be drinking Ten Minutes by Tractor - The Australian Permalink
Jasmin McBride-Clarke
3 March 2022 | Jasmin McBride-Clarke

Australian Wine List Of The Year

Our restaurant was recently awarded as having the best wine list in Australia. Twice! This also included being voted best in Victoria, best Regional, and best wine list ‘by the glass’! A huge honour and truly humbling. Judge Jeni Port described the list as a “love letter to wine if ever there was one”. Our sommelier team are very passionate about curating a wine list that not only has great depth and breadth, but takes the reader on a journey through stories from different regions and wineries – giving some context to their wines.  
Time Posted: 03/03/2022 at 10:13 AM Permalink to Australian Wine List Of The Year Permalink
Gabrielle Richardson
2 July 2021 | Gabrielle Richardson

Coolart Road in Focus


Coolart Road is our northern Peninsula, “down the hill” vineyard in the Tuerong region. It is our lowest vineyard at 72m. First planted in 2000, vines are now 21 years old. Since some replantings in 2012 the vineyard is now 100% Pinot Noir and we are currently in transition to our organic certification. 

On average Pinot Noir ripens here 2-3 weeks earlier than our “up the hill” vineyards. Coolart Road typically delivers darker, fleshier fruit characters, possessing both power and grace.

The D block, sitting at the back corner of our Coolart Road property, consistently provides us with some of the highest quality Pinot from this whole site and so there’s no coincidence that these 2013, 2015 and 2017 Pinots have all been made from fruit grown purely from this block.

What makes the D Block so special?

The D block is quite protected by its tree-line surrounding however still receives sufficient airflow to moderate the microclimate.  The rows on this block run north to south with a very slight gradient and the soil seems more consistent across the block which provides the vines with the same conditions throughout. This results in consistent flavour and tannin profile in all the fruit that we pick from this site.

The Pinot clone planted here is MV6 - a fantastic clone that consistently shows depth and power and always with a beautiful perfume. MV6 or the ‘Mother Clone 6’, comes from a selection taken in the 1970’s from vines that had been grown from cuttings brought into Australia by James Busby in 1832. Busby’s cuttings were taken from Clos Vougeot, in Burgundy and has a soft canopy, small bunches and berries which are characterised by concentrated plumy characters, and very good structure.

The fruit itself is robust and versatile and have experimented over the years with different percentages of whole bunch and  fermentation management regimes to assess the impact on quality. Despite the difference in winemaking, D block always performs very well.

Vintage Overviews & Tasting Notes


After good winter rains the 2013 vintage ended as one of our driest and earliest vintages on record. The favourable weather throughout bud burst and flowering set up the ideal conditions for a very good vintage. 

Tasting Note:

This was the first Coolart single vineyard wine that we released. It is a wine that is looking younger than its years displaying dark cherry, tobacco leaf, pine resin and delicious savoury notes. Upfront tannins showcase the hallmark Coolart structure while savoury notes balance the softening dark fruit characters. 

Tech Notes:

  • 80% whole bunch pressed after 15 days on skins
  • 15 months aging :: 20% new French oak barriques
  • 13.8% alcohol


Following heavy rainfalls in the winter, the 2015 growing conditions on the Peninsula were exceptional. Mild and consistent temperatures over the summer and a cool and dry autumn produced beautiful fruit, balanced yields and healthy canopies. The resulting wines have bright fruit, great balance and persistence. One of our very best vintages.

Tasting Note:

A very well balance and complex wine.  Notes of violet, blackcurrant and strawberry jam are balanced with hints of autumn leaves, tobacco and cloves. Beautiful fine tannins coat the palate balanced by a juicy mouthfeel. This is a very interesting and complex wine but also has a good potential for aging.

Tech notes:

  • 100% destemmed; all whole berries
  • 15 months aging :: 24% new French oak barriques
  • 13.8% alcohol


Following an average rainfall and relatively warm winter, October was our third wettest on record (96mm v 62mm average) and November saw our second coldest maximum and minimum temperatures (19.3° v 20.9°, 9.6° v 10.9°), consequently the budburst interval (budburst-flowering) was our longest ever – 87 days v an average of 75 days – and flowering was our latest ever (5 December v our 21 November average). In the end, due to the excellent February and March, hang time (budburst-harvest) was average – 205 days v an average of 203 days – and harvest date was close to average – 1 April v an average of 28 March. Yields were down because of the problems around flowering but summer and early autumn saw long, slow ripening – perfect for our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Tasting note:  With such tiny yields it’s a pleasure just to see this wine at all, with the perfect season great for quality but miserable for yields. Coolart is the earliest picked of the Ten Minutes by Tractor vineyards and you’d expect this to be a beastly wine. But it’s not – rather, it’s joyously plump and ripe, a wine of red raspberry easygoing flavour, yet with tannins and grip. Great balance of fruit flavour and structure.

Tech notes:

  • 10% whole bunch pressed; destemmed portion all whole berries
  • 11 months aging :: 30% new French oak barriques
  • 13.0% alcohol
Time Posted: 02/07/2021 at 11:40 AM Permalink to Coolart Road in Focus Permalink
Gabrielle Richardson
24 May 2021 | Gabrielle Richardson

Queen's Birthday Long Weekend 2021


We are pleased to be reopening in time for the upcoming long weekend. However, now with the current restrictions in place, we have had to postpone our Wine Club event, Masterclasses and Terrace entertainment to the weekend of 24 & 25th July.


New Release Tastings at the Cellar Door

Sat - Mon | 11am-5pm | $20pp including a branded Plumm glass

The release of our 2020 10X Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir will also coincide with the long weekend and will be available for tasting at the cellar door and for purchase online from 11 June. 

We will be offering tastings in the cellar door starting from $20pp which will include a beautiful Ten Minutes by Tractor branded Plumm glass (RRP $42).  The tasting fee component will be waved for our Wine Club members. 

Visit the link below to reserve your tasting.

Winter Menu Launch & Museum Wine Pairings

Sat - Mon | Lunch & Dinner

We will be launching some new dishes on Winter Wine Weekend and will also be offering a special wine pairing featuring new release wines alongside a selection some of our best wines from over the past decade.

We encourage you to make your reservation promptly as we anticipate high demand over this weekend.

To make a reservation call 03 5989 6455 or visit the link below.

Purchase the 2020 10X New Release Wines

The 2020 10X wines showcase what was a long cool vintage with great elegance, depth of flavour and bright natural acidity. Because our yields were significantly reduced in 2020 there will be very limited availability of these wines and they are likely to sell out in the coming few months.

Time Posted: 24/05/2021 at 3:50 PM Permalink to Queen's Birthday Long Weekend 2021 Permalink

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