Moss Wood was established in 1969 by pioneer and visionary Dr Bill Pannell who selected the Margaret River Wilyabrup property for the suitability of its soils and aspect. In 1984, Keith and Clare Mugford leased the Moss Wood vineyard/winery and became managing partners. In July 1985 Keith and Clare assumed full ownership. They purchased and added to the Moss Wood stable, the Ribbon Vale vineyard in 2000.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are trellised on the Scott Henry system and the similar Te Kauwhata Two Tier system trellises the Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. These changes have reduced foliage density and exposed the grapes to more sunlight. Not only has this improved quality and crop yield but also it has made picking, pruning and spraying easier and quicker. Soil conservation technology including deep cultivation, the use of cover crops, minimum tillage and mulching is also common practice.
Pinot Noir is subjected to rigorous pruning in an effort to reduce crop. The reduction in the yield per vine allows the same amount of nutrients to be shared among a smaller number of berries. As a result, the quality of the wine sees it have a deeper colour and greater intensity of flavour than would be the case without bunch thinning.
The original Moss Wood vineyard covers 10.61 hectares and is sited on a gentle, northeast-facing slope. The soil varies, from a sandly loan to a gravelly, red-brown loam over a clay subsoil.
The 7.5-hectare Ribbon Vale vineyard is planted on a southwest facing slope and its soils are the classic gravelly loam over a clay sub-soil. Both vineyards are not irrigated. Grapes are also sourced from other vineyards such as Amy's Vineyard (formerly known as Glenmore Vineyard), Lefroy Brook Vineyard in Pemberton and Green Valley Vineyard.
Cabernet Sauvignon is given longer skin contact time during fermentation and small amounts of Cabernet Franc (5%) and Merlot (0.05%) are now included in the blend.
Pinot Noir sees the addition of whole bunches at the crush, longer skin contact time during fermentation and hand and feet plunging to mix the skins while the must is fermenting.
Chardonnay spends twelve to eighteen months in Troncais and Allier oak barrels on its lees without being stirred with a significant proportion undergoing a full malolactic fermentation.
Semillon is picked in three stages green, medium and maximum ripeness to enhance the complexity of the wine.
Thanks Keith Mugford for showing us through a number of barrel samples and giving up your valuable time.