Thursday, January 15, 2009

Veraison 2009

It happens quite quickly, seemingly from one day to the next, and veraison (colour change) is here!
I noticed it today in the Tempranillo while doing my scheduled fungus control spraying. Am sure it's happening in the Pinot Noir too which I sprayed last week and I bet the Semillon won't be far behind. The Cabernet Sauvignon has a few more weeks to go being the latest ripener.
It was happening only in a couple of bunches but this suggests that it's time to think about harvest and wine making and getting all the preparation jobs that this entails done.
This means getting the bottling of last year's vintage finished so we have tank space, cleaning and maintenance of all the processing the equipment (crusher, press, fermenter) checking and ordering chemical stocks (yeasts, acids etc.), finding the bunch snips that always seem to get lost somewhere during the year, cleaning the collection buckets and laboratory equipment and last but not least making sure the batteries in the pH meter have not gone flat (a perennial problem!).

And it is now all the grape growers/winemakers in the region go against all other farming trends and hope for no rain, especially the long term torrential stuff, over the next 2 to 3 months. This will allow the grapes to ripen with undiluted juice resulting in high sugar levels and full flavour as well as no threat of berry splitting and resultant fungus attack. In the Shoalhaven this would be a one in ten year event so we don't hold out a lot of hope but one can dream.
And I am sure in the next weeks the phone will be ringing with other vineyards checking on my availability for picking.
The lazy hazy days of summer are coming to an end.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


We rely solely on rain water collected off the roof of the house and other buildings and stored in four tanks for our domestic water supply.
It is a continuous job keeping the gutters, down pipes and tank filters clean of leaves and other debris.
I have tried a number of "gutter guard" products all of which have failed miserably for one reason or another.
Of course there are numerous integrated systems but you have to be a lottery winner to afford any of them together with the necessary professional installation.
So now I am in the process of trying another DIY system.
Part of the deal is cleaning out the gutters and tank delivery pipes before installation.
As expected there were the usual group of resident frogs living in the pipes.
They took the disturbance in their stride waiting in a nearby tree until my job was finished.
No doubt they soon returned to their spring cleaned abodes.
Frogs are part of our world here. They live in the dams, in the damper parts of the garden and bush and even in the septic tank.
It is not unusual to find one swimming around in the toilet bowl having made the long journey up the sewerage pipe. These are completely white having had no exposure to light. Their presence in this location has caused some visitors a little concern and screams emanating from the bathroom can bring a wry smile to those "in the know".
I have found that a permanent flushable toilet cleaner keeps them at bay but then this reduces their entertainment value.
At times when moths attracted by the lights swarm over our windows, dozens of frogs suddenly appear for a feast.
It is quite fascinating to see them stalking their prey with their little suckered feet sticking to the glass and then suddenly striking with their long tongues.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The New Year

Not much out of the ordinary is happening at this time of year.
Farm duties are somewhat mundane with a continued weed spraying project, rotation of the cattle into various paddocks to keep the grass down, vegetable garden tending and of course vine spraying and green pruning.
There has also been plenty of reading, beach walking and sports viewing going on.
And there has already been a little bit of wine drinking as you can see from the side bar.
I mentioned there that the Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz 2002 was outstanding. We had this with a special New Years Eve meal. A wine buff should chase down a bottle or two of this.
I am happy with most of the 2008 vintage. The Pinot Noir is excellent, the Semillon passable and the Cabernet Sauvignon is still very young but has potential. We "lost" the Tempranillo rose' to oxidation. If all goes well I will be entering one or two of these wines in the Milton Show in March.
The 2009 vintage will be on us soon enough!

Summer has been a strange mixture on the south coast so far with hot steamy days followed by a succession of really cool ones and plenty of rain. I don't think I have seen the area greener for over a decade.
We have had a few good thunderstorms with spectacular displays of lightning and sometimes simultaneous wall shaking thunder. These have kept the water tanks full.
I had a wander around the garden today to see what flower pictures I could take to put in this entry. Not a lot around. One plant in flower however is a wild passion fruit. It has hundreds of buds. I put the camera on macro and managed to capture a bee coming in for a landing on one of its blooms.
And above is a pic after a thunderstorm a few days ago taken late afternoon from our front veranda.
Hopefully the pot at this rainbow's end contained a little bit of gold for us all in 2009.