Orange's premier wine estate
Established in 1995, the 508-hectare Cumulus vineyard gently rises and falls across a range of elevations and slopes above and below 600 metres – traversing both the Orange and Central Ranges wine regions. In such unique surroundings, the Cumulus vineyard provides a range of elevations, terrains, volcanic soils and aspects which combined with the area’s high altitude, intense sunlight and cool climate delivers wines with bright fruit flavours and subtle elegance.
The quality of our wine begins in the vineyard where north and north-easterly facing slopes capture the morning sun, gently warming the vines. High overhead canopies protect the grapes during the heat of the day and the altitudinal drop in overnight temperature establishes the wines’ linear structure and cool-climate spice notes. The ancient combination of volcanic soils over a limestone base provides an excellent structure for well-balanced vine growth.
Estate grown wines demand that the fruit is treated with a maximum of respect and protection, and that's what we do at our ultra-modern winery at nearby Cudal. It's a benchmark example of winery design and engineering. Its integrated features include minimal handling, precise temperature control and gentle extraction, giving our winemakers maximum quality control at every stage of the process. It has a 10,000 tonne vintage capacity, state-of-the-art fermentation and maturation capabilities.
It also has 8 million litres of wine storage capacity, mostly in a striking underground barrel hall carved into the area's volcanic stone. The barrel hall is also the setting for some spectacular tasting dinners.
Single estate vineyard: from bud to bottle
In a world of virtual winemaking, Cumulus takes it back to the real deal, with a bud-to-bottle philosophy that gives us complete control over our distinctive, high elevation style.
All our fruit is estate grown and watched over by people who know the individual personality of each section of hillside. Picking each block is timed to the hour. When you're dealing with fruit of this quality, yesterday was too early, tomorrow is too late. Whites are picked at night to keep the juice cold, so they don't start fermenting too early. Transport can damage fruit. No long, hot rides for our grapes. They're in our state of the art winery within an hour.
A bud to bottle approach is taken at the vineyard and in the winery, the experienced Cumulus team are involved in every aspect of a wine’s development from grafting to harvest to bottling. This hands-on approach provides Cumulus with full control over the quality at every stage of production.
Winemaker Debbie Lauritz believes that the fruit should be the main focus of all our wines, with oak, yeast and other secondary characteristics supporting and enhancing the total varietal character. The natural elements of climate and soil coupled with an inspired winemaking philosophy produces fruit-driven, layered and beautifully complete cool-climate wines of worldwide acclaim.
Our winemaking style is very much based on letting the fruit do the talking. Our characters are made in the vineyard, and we obsessively protect their quality at every step through the winemaking process. Nothing gets outsourced. The result is wine of an uncommon level of finesse, an approach that has met with acclaim by wine lovers across the world.
Dual appellation and approach
What makes high elevation wines so special?
Cumulus Estate is one of Australia's few dual appellation vineyards. We're part of two distinct GI (Geographical Indicator) appellations - Orange and the Central Ranges. About 50% of our vineyards lie in each appellation, which provides subtle but distinctive variations on our signature high elevation style:
"... you won't find any big, full-throttle styles here, but you will find fine, spicy shirazes, juicy cabernet sauvignons, complex tight chardonnays and fragrant aromatics.” - Tim White, Australian Financial Review
Put simply, compared to warm regions, we get half the volume of grapes from each vine, but twice the intensity of flavour. High elevation, cool climate wines are medium-bodied. The fruit flavours are more forward, which makes our wines crisp, bright and vibrant. They have a higher acid than most wines, which is the key to making wine and food work in perfect harmony.
Our lower temperatures mean that the grapes take longer to ripen, giving us time to get the evenness right across the bunches. This prevents any overripe characters. Secondly, our elevation means greater intensity of sunlight. Not heat, but higher UV readings which matter more. This creates fruit with our characteristic brightness of flavour.