Thursday, March 24, 2005

It's All About the Weather!

Autumn came with a rush with greatly reduced temperatures and unfortunately, for grapegrowers with late ripening crops eg. Cabernet Sauvignon, lots of rain. A deep low pressure system in the Tasman Sea caused gale force southerly winds on the south coast. These brought rainfalls of up to 75mm (3ins)over a few days. Obviously fruit sugar levels have been reduced by the dilution affect. Lucklily there is still no sign of disease and leaf cover is still dense. If we get a few weeks of sunshine then maybe Baume' levels will increase to a reasonable level. There is some sign of bunch stalk senescence so think that another 2 weeks may be the limit of the ripening process. It would be nice to get a sugar level of around 13.0 Baume' with a resultant 13% alcohol wine.
The netting configuration has been improved and the bird attack has been reduced. Hopefully once they realise they can't get any more they will move on. Apart from the Currawongs, the satin birds are also in the area. I have seen them trying to burrow under the pinned netting.
The new vines continue to do well.
Easter is here and this means an influx of tourists to town and surrounding areas for the four days. Even this morning, activity in the supermarkets and shops was a little frantic. I got my holiday supplies early and headed home. It's safer to be a recluse at this time of the year and let the holiday makers do their own thing. I fear the beaches could be a dangerous place over the next few days. The storms have brought in a huge 3-4 m swell which will persist until next week. The roads will also be crowded with drivers trying to get where they are going as quickly as possible no matter the risk. The police have indicated that they are targeting the Princes Highway, our main thoroughfare and, as it's double demerit points time, there is even more reason to be careful.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

And the Winner is.......

NOT ME!!!!!!
No ribbons for either the pictures or the wine at the Milton show. The standard of photography in the various classes was excellent and I wasn't surprised that I missed out.
I got some valuable feedback from the wine judging. My wines were considered "unbalanced" which is caused by too high an acidity. So from now on will be looking more carefully at the total acidity (TA) as well as the pH. There were positive comments about color and the use of a carbonic macerated fraction which lifts the fruit flavor.
The show was well attended and the weather held out for both days despite dire forecasts. In fact the weather bureau has been so far off the track lately it makes you wonder what sort of models they are working with. The grape protective spray programme is dependant on accurate forecasts so it's important that they get it right most of the time.
The calves have accepted their separation and are enjoying the abundance of green grass in the upper paddocks. Their mothers are looking good as well. I think they must be greatful at not having to feed for two.
We have been having some wild dog problems. A pack of 5 feral domestic dogs has been causing concern in the valley especially for those with foals and calves. I approached the Rural Lands Protection Board for assistance but as the problem is not with dingoes, they passed the buck onto the local council. They were no help at all so we will take matters into our own hands by laying baits.
The grapes are all doing well. The Cabernet is slowly ripening and early April looks like the harvest date. Despite the netting there has been a lot of activity from Currawongs which have caused some fruit loss from the vine extremities. These birds hang on the netting and swing back and forth picking off the grape berries on each inward swing. Very clever. This loss however will not be substantial. The only way to combat this problem is to overall net the whole bock rather than row by row. I will investigate the economics of this.
The Semillon and the Tempranillo continue to flourish although there are now signs that the growth flush is coming to an end. I guess it is Autumn and they are getting ready to "close down".