Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flowering approaches

We are about to wind up for the day here at the vineyard, but before heading off, I thought a quick update was timely. The vines look great, and the weather is very settled, as you’ll see from this photo of my Airedale in the vines which as proud owner I’ll share with you.

But in thinking about today’s enjoyable weather, I am mindful that over a month ago I was boasting about how far advanced the vineyard was and that we were off to a flying start. Well, nature again has proved me wrong. We have had continuous and strong winds which have really knocked the vines about. The vineyard has gone from lush green to a dry brown in only a few weeks. While a little bit of wind is great, helping reduce disease risk, gales of 100km/h plus are certainly not.

The team has had to clean up branches from the wind-breaks, re-tuck vines we just tucked a few weeks ago and replace some wind-damaged trellising. Let’s hope things are a bit more settled from now on.

We hope for flowering next week, and want dry conditions with just gentle breezes. That combination will give us ideal flowering conditions, so fingers crossed. For interest I have included an image of a grape flower for you. As you will see, a pretty insignificant flower from which the magic nectar will flow!

In fact, if we have really good flowering, we may be faced with dropping some fruit to avoid the vines struggling to ripen more berries than they can handle. With the slowdown in growth we need to be careful we do not stretch the vines beyond their capacity. Always a tough decision, but it needs to be made early, so we don’t waste nutrition on grapes that won’t ripen.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ballons over Martinborough

Have just set up a new 'Comments' facility on our Blog, so this posting is really just a test of that. But I thought we should make it interesting with a nice image of ballooning over Martinborough!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

While sitting on our beautiful deck I was speaking to a new contact this morning – Craig at www.MondayMorning.biz

He had called me because a wine lover in the USA had approached him through one of Craig's Twitter posts. The gentleman from the USA was planning a trip to New Zealand and was asking Craig about what sorts of wine experiences were available in Martinborough. Of course we could offer to help – as one of the regions oldest vineyards, we have a strong interest in wine tourism, and can offer visitors unique, in-depth tours, barrel caves visits, accommodation, and dining are just some of the options. The restaurant has just been totally redecorated, and for those who love good food, it is well worth planning a visit to check out the new menu.

You may also meet our very photogenic vineyard dog, Pepper!!

Over the years, we have received very positive feedback from visitors from all over the world, and no other winery in Martinborough can offer the combination of wine and food related activities Murdoch James Estate can.

But that was not what prompted me to draft this blog update. What actually got me typing were two other things. First, the round-about way this potential visitor will have found out about us through social networks. And, second, the conversation that followed during Craig’s call. We discussed the rise of social networking, how consumers now sought their information and made buying decisions, and the need for credible communications.

It all tied into several discussions I have been having with traditional media (radio and magazines) about advertising options. Often these are expensive and not as targeted as one would like, particularly for a smaller winery with limited distribution, such as Murdoch James Estate.

It makes much more sense to think through how to communicate directly with existing or potential customers. And at the same time, not to annoy them (for example, with large numbers of promotional emails) which I suspect we now do. Craig also made several other important points that made me decide to spend some time reflecting on how we invest our meagre promotional budget.

While we set this blog up to track our wines as they evolve through the year, it may well also become a bit of a record of how a 60 year old comes to grips with Twitter!!

If you have any comments on this or any of our blog posting, feel free to phone or email us.