Monthly Archives: January 2010

Doing the Little Things Brilliantly

Robert Hill Smith

Robert Hill Smith accepts Wine Enthusiast’s New World Winery of the Year Award. The magazine announced the award a few months ago, and the dinner was held Monday night. Robert says we’ll never stop “doing the little things brilliantly”. I guess we better pick up our game on these blog posts! Tony B

Here Come the Grapes (and Men in Lycra)

Never too much Lycra

Never too much Lycra!

9.12am Yalumba Clocktower, Angaston, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Back at work folks, and a beaut cold morning. I had to chisel myself out of bed. Great sleeping weather considering last week’s nasty ugly 5 day 40 degree heatwave. And today is officially my “you can never have too much Lycra on super fit male bodies” day! It’s the first leg of the Tour Down Under, cycling’s premier event in Australia,  and it’s from one great wine region to another – Clare (Clare Valley) to Tanunda (Barossa Valley), via our town Angaston.

This morning when I dropped in early to Blond Coffee for a special treat – they do a great mocha – the boys were already out and about putting up all the flags and banners on the sweeping bend halfway down the main street. I’ll have to slip out at some stage for a glimpse of the great Lance Armstrong as he zips by, and the organisers could not have ordered a more spectactular day for it.

The vintage for our Oxford Landing vineyard (from Waikerie in the Riverland) started yesterday with Sauvignon Blanc, traditionally the first variety to ripen. We’ll be watching these first ferments closely as they finish up, because the level of fruit expression is usually a good indication for how good the vintage will be. (A bit like how Pewsey Vale Riesling comes up as an indicator for the Eden Valley vintage) So Freddy and the OL folks are flat out picking, and Matt Pick and his crew are away and crushing on the 2010 vintage as we speak.

Early prediction from Louisa Rose: “At this stage it looks like the vintage will produce some excellent wines. The good spring rains have resulted in healthy vines, and the fruit is looking clean and flavourful. The heat we have had so far has been too early to damage the fruit quality.”

Mind you, we’re always in the lap of the gods until the fruit is safely through the crusher, and Lou’s last comment is right on the money – “The first Barossa grapes are still a couple of weeks away, but ripening quickly. Keep your fingers crossed for us now – we would like mild to warm and dry weather, the occasional light shower of rain to refresh the spirits, and a few extra hours in the day.”

I’ll be out and about over the next week with the winemakers to see how the Barossa and Eden Valley vineyards are coming on, and will keep you up to date.

Hot Weather, Cool Vineyards

Tony B here. I was chatting with some of our vineyard guys about our recent heat spike and what it did to our vines. Not much, apparently. Here’s how one of them explained it.

The recent heat spike that occurred last week, when temperatures over a four-day period moved above 37 degrees C, was not unexpected for this time of year. Heat waves like this don’t present any major challenges to growers, providing that the vines’ moisture levels are adequate to carry them through.

(Did you know that vines work to their maximum photosynthetic capacity at 32 degrees C . At temperatures below or above this, the photosynthetic capacity reduces. I learn something new every day.)

Basically, heat that occurs pre-veraison (before the berries start to turn colour) does no harm, and our recent spike occurred during this pre-ripening period.

So we’re all happy campers here in the Barossa, and we had that cool change come through, bringing down temps and bringing down some rain with it.

Back in the Barossa

Tony B again. What a great day to be back in the Barossa. Bright blue skies, warm, relaxed. Most of the folks on the streets are tourists, and we love ’em. Here at the winery we are slowly getting back to work. If you’re from the northern hemisphere, you have to understand that the holidays don’t end on New Year’s Day. It’s the height of summer here, and school holidays too, so it is prime vacation time. Beach, the Murray River, or just staying at home. It doesn’t matter. The sun is bright and the cricket is on the radio. Although, speaking of sun, it would be nice if the airline finally delivers my baggage — with my sunglasses in them. I’m getting tired of squinting when I drive. (And, no, I can’t buy another pair; they are prescription sunnies.)