Thursday, June 25, 2009

I was thinking as I drafted this post that this is really where the story of ‘Birth of a Wine’ should have begun. We have started pruning this week and really what we do now will drive a lot of outcome. More canes tied down and/or longer canes will give more buds meaning more grapes.

But too many bunches and at the other end of the season the question is “Will that all that fruit get ripe?”

Lovely crisp and frosty nights at present means beautiful clear days and sunshine. This is good weather to prune in Tony tells me. Here's a shot of him pruning the Sauvignon Blanc. The next images show what he started with, and what the finished job looks like.

Once all the pruning is finished we’ll much the old canes back into the soil, and wait for bud-burst!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some prose from Jill

I found these musings from Jill in the winery yesterday. Lovely bit of prose that captures the spirit of vintage! Thought I would share with you.......

The highlight of the winery year - Easter - where
grapes have turned from green to red, the birds are ready
Easter fare for them despite bridal veils of drooping nets
over vines, gas guns booming, humans with guns on quad bikes.

This is the time when the radio hits max volume
in the winery getting the guys in the mood
First pick is preceded by weeks of winery housekeeping
Would their mothers see how these tanks do shine

The first day the grapes come in, the day is fine.
Gleaming press, spotless tanks, pumps all primed.
White bins come in full of Pinot gleaming the team move into action
full of enthusiasm this is the sum total of the years mowing, pruning, weeding.

To the beat of triple four time, a bit of rock and roll
The press whines and thumps and does it's thing, to Carl's time,
the pumps send the juice on it's way, through snaking hoses
The big grey fermenters fill up slowly, huge ingesters, and
yeasts start to glug and bubble away.

Not without a glitch or two, a torch dropped in a tank
settling down through the bubbling brew
it must have thought - ah heaven I see the light!
No help for it, can't have a battery stew
The pumps are manned, the tank is drained,
the torch retrieved, red treasure replaced, it's alright again.

More bins arrive, more grapes to crush, arms haul the bins
grapes, wasps, and purple mush, all grist to the team
who sift and pass the quality stock and toss the rubbish.
There is a bunch of cows down the road who wait for
this, stems and skin, discards in bins, they
recognise the tractor, are at the gate in anticipation.

Down the road, two weeks of toil is starting to show
early starts in the dark, leaving at two am shows the mark
on weary faces, tired arms, stumbling gait, the dogged way
they greet the next pile of bins. One cellar hand remarks
I have a new flat, one week down the track I don't know the colour
of it's outsides, I leave home and arrive back again in the dark.

Seventy five per cent is done, on its way to being wine.
The weather holds, the forecasts followed, rain or shine?
The tardy ones, Syrah working hard on the hill to ripen
basking in all day sun. Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, hang in
there too, among dying leaves, reluctant to go in The Bin.

But the will is still there, the radio still marks the time
Weary limbs respond, wind and sun dried faces shine from
The trailer for the umpteenth time as it comes down the hill.
The winery team look up from endless hosing, cleaning bins
and welcome them all in.

You and I know after years of vintage days,
the winery team live for this time, the whole year points
towards this time, when grapes come in, the quality
surveyed, the tons marked down, the tanks filled up,
barrels in the cellar wait, the vehicle is nature, cruel or kind
and the driver is of course - the wine.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Weddings and High Tech Vineyard Mowers!

Sunday here at the vineyard - a lovely mid-winter day; cold and clear.

We have had a lot of people through over the weekend looking at using the vineyard as a wedding venue - we have a lovely facility that seats up to 120 people for functions and wedding. We hosted 24 weddings last year, so it is an important part of our business activity. The cafe also operates from September to May and that also brings a lot of visitors as well.

Other than the wedding couples, it has been pretty quiet though - not many customers for Cellar Door, so a chance to catch up on the administration.

We have been letting our export customers know about the new wines and getting them up-to-date with what to expect when they see them. It reminded me that one of the big expenses for a winery is samples. We have to send them all over the world to new and prospective customers, as well as to wine critics and reviewers. The freight costs are enormous, but it’s just an expense we have to bear. And, if someone tastes and loves a wine, then it can lead to increased business.

In the vineyard next week, we will be preparing for pruning, which should start in a week or two. Pruning is not the favourite job: cold weather and sharp secateurs are a combination that makes for lots of small cuts, and winter is never the best time to be working outside either!

We have had a local farmer put his sheep into the vineyard for winter grass and weed control. This avoids using the tractor to mow grass which would compact the soils, and also saves a lot of money in fuel costs. And, the sheep fertilise as they go! I call them my high-tech vineyard mowers!!