Iron And Wine: Dimchurch Making Fine Wines With A Giga

The waiting list for grapes from the Dimchurch Vineyards, nestled in the northern reaches of South Australia’s picturesque Barossa Valley, is comparable to awaiting a membership for the Sydney Cricket Ground.

‘Don’t hold your breath’ suggests the Torbreck Wines website.

The high demand for Dimchurch produce is due to the generations of refinement and knowledge in the roots of every vine, meaning their grapes are quickly snaffled up by wine-makers from all over the country.

They’re also held in high regard by wine experts, who’ve described Dimchurch wine using such colourful terms as, ‘exhibiting tones of blood and thunder’ and ‘iron and brimstone’.

It may seem eccentric to a non-aficionado, but to those with shiraz running through their veins, there’s something special in the soil of the Ebenezer property – land the Hoffman family has proudly worked for over 150 years.

“We’re viticulturalists who focus on winemaking,” said Jeff Hoffman, part-owner of Dimchurch Vineyards.

“We sell grapes to up to eleven different wine companies, but we also produce a small batch for our own enterprise.

“Our biggest customers are Glazer Wines, Rockfords, Torbreck and Two Hands.

“Dimchurch was traditionally a mixed farm, but when my father gave up the dairy business, we planted the area with vines and now we’re established within the industry.

“We’re lucky to grow in the northern end of the Barossa Valley because our area produces premium fruit, and as a result our shiraz is very sought after.”

To ensure stock continues to flow throughout the busiest seasons, Dimchurch Vineyards recently purchased an Isuzu Giga CXY 455 6×4 Premium.

“The truck works seven days a week and is on the road for 12 hours a day,” Jeff said. “We previously had a prestigious European truck brand and it blew up!

“We use the Giga to tow a dog trailer and we chose it because of its excellent horsepower.

“North East Isuzu was fantastic and they fitted it with a trailer, so now we can accomplish with one truck, what used to require two.

“The Giga is more economical and easier to drive than its competitors. We keep pushing it harder rather than messing around with our older trucks, and it never gives us an issue.”

With a 54,000 kg rated GCM, 338 kW @ 1,800 rpm and an impressive 2,255 Nm @ 1,300 rpm, the Giga has enough power and torque to uncork Dimchurch’s full potential.

Jeff chose the Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) with fully clutchless and manual transmission modes because of its ease of operation.

“The Giga’s our main truck,” Jeff said. “All our fruit gets picked into two tonne bins which are then lifted into the truck with a forklift.

“We transport the grapes to the winery to unload, and the truck travels back and forth between the winery and vineyards all day.

“We often load it to capacity and it handles the weight excellently, with no problems whatsoever.

“After owning other truck brands that were under-powered, the Giga’s a revelation,” he continued. “It’s great to drive a truck that doesn’t crawl up hills.

“We’ve never had a problem selling our fruit. We’ve just finished vintage, which is the end of the season -and our busiest period – where the truck gets a real workout.

“In winter when all the leaves have dropped, we’re pruning, reconstructing and repairing the vineyard.

“In spring, we spend our time looking after the grapes and preventing mould and diseases before we start picking again in February.”

The Giga has an Isri 6860 air-suspension seat with pneumatic lumbar support – leaving Jeff feeling a little fresher after a twelve-hour day behind the wheel – and a multimedia unit with a 4.8 inch LCD touchscreen and Bluetooth to keep him entertained.

“We got fantastic value for money with the Giga,” Jeff said.

“The fact that it doesn’t need AdBlue is brilliant, I could have spent an extra $50,000 on another truck brand and ended up with an inferior truck.

“The cab’s comfortable and compared to the other European truck brand we had, it’s far easier to drive.

“We chose Isuzu because of its reliability. Owning a truck that’s as reliable and easy to drive as the Giga gives our business a lot of certainty going forward.

“It’s a hard landscape around here, and the truck has to handle dirt roads and drive off the beaten track, so Isuzu’s reputation for safety was another important factor to us.”

The Giga’s safety features include Anti-lock Braking (ABS), driver airbag with seatbelt pretensioner, an ECE-R29 compliant cab and an ECE-R93 compliant Front Underun Protection Device (FUPD).

“I think my son pushed us to get the Giga in the hope that buying a really good truck would keep me working for a few more years,” Jeff laughed.

“I don’t know about that, but it’s definitely a pleasure to drive.”

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