The Past - Farming.
Tony Ruse' passion for farming commenced with his first farming property in West Gingin, purchased in 1973. Ironically the vendors were vigneron/winemakers, the Noack brothers, who owned Swanville Wines in the Swan Valley. They had chosen the West Gingin site due to its this wonderful Terra Rossa limestone yellow and orange soils. It would become insurance against the future urban encroachment predicted in the Swan Valley. This property is still owned by the Ruse family, on which they run fine wool Merino sheep on a mixture of annual and perennial
pastures. Tony’s passion for soil, pasture and animals was despite no family farming history. It was a very inexperienced beginning.
In late 2004, as Tony and his wife Felicity were on their way to Denmark, they discovered the Silverstream property was for sale. It was described as an oasis. Silverstream had the unmistakable attributes of a picturesque undulating property comprising a wonderful structured broadacre garden and the challenge of 9 hectares of cool climate grape vineyard. Tony's appetite for a new endeavor, which would build on his love of the land, was the driving force behind the purchase and an offer was made the following day ( not without due diligence of course).
A label is Born.
The family now had the custodianship of existing Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc as well as new plantings. Silverstream existed as a spot grower contracted to Howard Park wines. The 2005 Chardonnay vintage was harvested and sold to Hardie Wine Company who were very impressed with the tropical flavours of the crop. The remaining fruit was hand-picked by a local team, comprising 2.36 tons, taken to a local winery to make the 2005 Silverstream Chardonnay - The Silverstream label was born.
The Present - Biological Viticulture.
The change from conventional viticulture to biological was an evolving process. Tony’s interest in biological farming commenced on his Gingin farms in the early 90s as he undertook soil and pasture courses and attended every field day he could. The application of compost, gypsum and dolomite followed and the use of chemical herbicide and insecticide was avoided. Unfortunately, conventional viticulture used all of these nasty chemicals! It was accepted as a preventative process.
The strong evidence of previous herbicide application at Silverstream was telling, with the buildup of under vine soil capping and the thick covering of low succession mosses in the place of healthy grasses. All herbicides including roundup ceased! He undertook a very quick introductory course to biodynamics workshop held in Denmark in 2009. The decision was made to adopt a biological farming process in place of the conventional herbicide insecticide and systemic fungicide use in conventional Viticulture. Tony has since joined Biodynamic Australia and has slowly introduced some of the preparations they recommend. There are now clovers and serradella (both legumes) feeding the inter-row and undervine. The soil is soft and aerated. To pull a thistle and see the earthworms dive for cover is such a joy when the biological system kicks in. Everybody including the vines are smiling.
The current vintage of 2015 Pinot Noir has just been released and exhibits earthy, mushroomy forest floor characters and has a long cellaring potential. The reserve chardonnay 2016,which is made from the fruit of Burgundian clones 76/95/96 as well as Gingin Mendoza clone, is also about to be released and is showing wonderful fruit flavours & great natural acidity.
Tony is particularly confident in the future Chardonnays, largely because of improved fruit quality and ripeness. He believes further improvements in soil, foliar nutrition and canopy management will continue to produce exceptional cool climate single vineyard wines. Investigations continue in regard to new clones in the merlot - which we think is due for a big comeback in the coming years. If you’ve tasted our Merlot Cabernet Franc 2012 blend we think you’ll experience why we’re so confident in growing these varieties at Silverstream.
Please keep your eye out for our newsletter Silverspiel - please sign up here for the latest news from Tony & the team - and the occasional offer. If you haven’t already found your way to our new wine club why not take a look at the specially curated cases we have put together. There are 4 themes available with customised delivery options. We hope you love them as much as we do.