TURKEY FLAT HISTORY
Our name derives from the Prussian settlers of Bethany and Langmeil in the early 1840s. They noticed that a large native bird frequented the rich flats located here towards the lower end of the Tanunda Creek. They called the site ‘Turkey Flat’ as a result. The bird was no turkey: it was Ardeotis australis, or the Plains Bustard, which is sadly rarely seen now. We recognise the significance of the bird and the original landscape it came here for through the artwork on our label. The same landscape supports our vines and gives us the means to make unique, character-filled fine wine.
Shiraz was first planted at Turkey Flat in 1847 by Johann Fiedler. Fiedler was one of the first Prussian Lutherans to make wine in the Barossa. He was noted for his early efforts to experiment with grape varietals to test the viticultural viability of the new settlement. A journalist visiting Turkey Flat in 1851 notes that an experimental vineyard of 72 varieties had been planted to identify what was suited to the environment.
The Schulz family have been custodians of Turkey Flat since the 1860s. They have continued with the legacy laid down by Fiedler to grow vines and make wines that suit the landscape conditions.
Today Christie Schulz is the fourth generation of the Schulz family to become caretaker of this remarkable estate. Extensive viticultural research has been undertaken in the vineyards, allowing Christie and her team to sensitively blend traditional Rhône varietals which speak confidently of their origin, with the 1847 Shiraz vines some of the oldest in Australia the centre piece of our family-owned estate, playing a vital role on the Barossa Valley’s rich cultural heritage.
We aim to optimise ecological systems rather than treat our vineyards as a monoculture. Using natural influences to control both vegetative growth and yield is central to this. Our approach to vineyard management is one that seeks to operate within the local ecosystems instead of in competition with them. This is why our vineyards survive on natural rainfall and we now boast permanent cover crops in all our vineyards which shift the vineyard from a monoculture to a managed ecosystem. Mixtures of self-seeding medics, native grass and sub-clover have proven to be most successful cover crops within our vineyards. The native grass grows quickly at the turn of winter, suppressing undesirable weeds whilst the medics and sub-clovers prosper in late winter/spring. They naturally fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and provide further weed suppression from spring rains. In tandem they are carbon and nitrogen positive and create a layered and biodiverse soil structure. Their root systems open up the soil, reversing the symptoms of compaction. Permanent cover-crops require far less tractor work, reducing our diesel use and carbon footprint. We do not cultivate at Turkey Flat, rather we roll our cover crops in spring. This protects the soil from both wind and water erosion.
All aspects of Turkey Flat Vineyards are committed to reducing our environmental footprint, harvesting all our rainwater for use in the winery and solar panels to provide the main source of power. We will continue to expand our vision of a truly sustainable agricultural business, which operates as a functional and not just a consumptive part of the ecosystems we occupy. Turkey Flat consistently delivers award winning wines of great integrity showcasing just how exciting the Barossa Valley and its complexities of evolution and history can be.