Duncan Harris started his Swan Valley Winery to be called Harris Organic Wines while working full-time as an engineer in Perth, Western Australia.
Duncan Harris – Proprietor and Winemaker
History – Swan Valley Winery
In 1922 the area of Baskerville west of the Great Northern Highway of the Swan Valley was subdivided for viticulture. The first grapevines were planted in 1923.
The Tolj family arrived to grow table grapes and currant grapes.
1933 the grape shed and accommodation was built, now the current cellar door
1944 the Water tank stand was built and later toilets installed
1985 The Tolj Family subdivided and sold the property
Duncan Harris started Harris Organic Wines in 1998 while working full-time as an engineer. Furthermore, he spent every spare moment working to establish his winemaker’s dream of a two-hectare organic vineyard and winemaking facilities at the Swan Valley property.
Then, starting from “scratch” he cleared the trees, turning them into mulch, slashed the grass, removed the fruit trees and chased away the snakes.
Duncan started by ploughing the ground in the hot summer months to remove the couch grass. This is evil in any vineyard, organic or not.
About 100 cubic metres of chook manure to the soil with the aid of a super spreader and 25 tonnes of lime to balance the soil pH.
In late April 1999 Duncan hired a D9 caterpillar bulldozer, to plough up the very dry soil with a very large ripper. It ripped all the planting lines to a depth of 900mm ready for planting vines in the springtime.
April was the best time as the soil profile was dry. The horse-power of the “Cat” was all required to rip the soil’s solid clay layers. First planted was shiraz cuttings, sources from John Kosovich and a row of rootstock called Schwartzmann. That gave ten rows of 210 metres in total, giving room for 1000 vines.
Seven other varieties were planted, as the years progressed. Planted in 2010 and 2011 was the last row of malbec. As a result, the specially selected Malbec buds from John Kosovich are producing a remarkable wine.
Duncan’s Swan Valley winery cellar door opened in the year 2000 and a new cellar door was built in 2002 with the aid of the late Peter Greville.
There are four award-winning wineries on Memorial Avenue, Baskerville. We are at the top of the Swan Valley Winery map.
This organic blog contains numerous articles about the life and times of a Swan Valley Winery organic winemaker and distiller. There are other posts on viticulture too.
Most of all; for more information about this Swan Valley winery contact Harris Organic Wines via email.