Wine takes centre stage at Heifer Station

Wine takes centre stage at Heifer Station


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Originally planning to run an Angus cattle operation, Phillip and Michelle Stivens have turned Heifer Station into a successful vineyard.

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SUCCESS: Phillip and Michelle Stivens have turned what was a rundown vineyard into a successful enterprise just outside of Orange, NSW. Photo: Rachael Webb.

SUCCESS: Phillip and Michelle Stivens have turned what was a rundown vineyard into a successful enterprise just outside of Orange, NSW. Photo: Rachael Webb.

MANY years ago, before the central west NSW city of Orange was even settled, Cobb and Co had a change station at what is now Borenore called Heifer Station.

The station was part of Cobb and Co’s resting and breeding enterprise but through the years, it was broken up and sold off piece by piece. 

In 2009, after Phillip and Michelle Stivens each had spent in excess of 25 years in the corporate world, they bought 53 hectares of the old station thinking to run an Angus cattle operation.

Hoping to keep a little bit of the station’s history alive, they renamed their property Heifer Station.

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They now finish Angus on their property, but it was a rundown vineyard that captured their imagination.

“When we first purchased the property, it was a magnificent block which was in need of a lot of work,” Phillip said. “It had been locked up for four years and had not been looked after.

“I often say the vines were four foot high (1.2 metres) and the blackberries 12.”

After three years’ hard work, Heifer Station produced its first vintage, a light one, in 2012.

“Our first vintage was a light start,” Phillip said. 

“The next year was better and in 2014 we were back to where things should be.

“We produce single vineyard Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Merlot and Shiraz.

“We decided to plant a further eight hectares of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir vines which we sourced from Freeling in South Australia.

“They came in a green pot that was biodegradable which we planted straight in the ground, saving us 12 months we would have needed if we had used cuttings.”

While the vineyard is not the operation they originally planned for, Phillip and Michelle still have a handy little Angus operation on their property.

“We run about 30 Angus steers on Heifer Station,” Phillip said.

“Originally we ran cows and calves, but now it is just the steers.

“We get them to 500 kilograms and sell them on.

“Sometimes they get sold at sales, but the last two times we have received orders from a feedlot who finish them up to 800kg.

“During the winter, we put them in among the vines to let them grass feed and save us a job slashing.”

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