The onset of Winter

The vines are dormant and pruning has commenced. The ferments are done and the 2010 wines are peacefully resting in their barrels. It is a tranquil, if freezing, time of the year.

The 2010 Summer was characterised by slightly higher than average temperatures of which the feature was 120 days where the Melbourne maximum did not fall below 20 degrees. It certainly was not a hot summer and we only had one day above 40 and very few days in the mid 30s. The acidities are very good and the wines have a lovely intensity and tightness. The chardonnays are quite piercing and the Quartz is displaying a pleasing richness and power. The pinot noirs have clear varietal and vineyard expression and seem to have a deeper than usual tannin structure and drive. After the much reduced volume of 2009 we have a good volume of 2010 where yields were around the five tonnes per hectare.

We now have 27 solar panels adorning the winery roof harvesting the sun’s energy. Pleasingly, the roof pretty much faces north and is clear of shading so it is an ideal location. It is a great pleasure to both see the panels basking in the light and to see the meter turning backwards as we put power back into the grid. This system will produce around three times as much power as we consume so we will be selling our excess to the power company. The payback period is expected to be between five to six years.

The other capital work going on presently is the installation of a ten metre high frost fan. We have used water sprinklers to combat spring frost for the last decade but with so little run off and a recently installed bore that is a bit too saline we have turned (!) to a turbine to protect the fragile spring shoots. Movement of air will work for most of the frosts (down to around minus 2) we experience but in the event of a black/inversion frost, where the above air is freezing as well as the ground air, we will revert to our sprinklers which will protect by continually applying water. As the water freezes energy is produced and stops the shoot/bud temperature falling below about -0.5. The vines look dramatic in the morning when they are covered in ice but the shoots remain undamaged.

There is always another project to take on. The old shearing shed is next in line, then there’s about five kilometers of fencing that needs replacing. It’d be lovely to sneak in a few more acres of vines on a couple of outstanding sites just over the ridge from Block 5. One year we keep saying. One year!