Friday, August 25, 2006

This week: 25th Aug.

Weather Report Week Ending 25/8/06
Maximum Temperature for the week 22.2C (72F) on Sun.
Minimum Temperature for the week -1.4C (29F) on Sat.
Rainfall for the Week 5.6mm (16 points) 2 days of more than 1mm.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

The small amount of rain we have had again this week is enough to keep everything nice and green, however this is hiding very low subsoil moistures. Another fairly severe frost during this week, We seem to have had an awful lot of sub-zero nights this year (probably something to do with the lack of moisture in the system). The forcast for the next week is for warm, mostly dry conditions (not at all what we need).

This week in the vineyard :
We have planted a new block of Sauv. Blanc. for Yalumba. The picture at right is of two of our staff making holes with a water jet and then planting young vines into them.
We have had Nepenthe viticulture back to remove old vines from their trellis using a new machine they are developing. This mulches the vine wood to be broken down in the soil, instead of burning the old vines as we used to do. It also means we can reuse most of the existing trellis, a big cost saving for us. The photo below shows this machine working (make sure to stand well clear!).
This week I have not only found whooly buds, but some of our young Chardonnay is in the process of bursting, I would expect most of our other varieties to follow in the next couple of weeks (this is approx. 1 week earlier than we would normally expect).

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This week: 18th Aug.

Weather Report Week Ending 18/8/06
Maximum Temperature for the week 23.7C (75F) on Wed.
Minimum Temperature for the week -0.2C (32F) on Tue.
Rainfall for the Week 3mm (8.5 points)
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Very little rain recorded again this week. In fact we have not had more than 10mm of rain in a single day for more than 3 months. Another two frosts during the week. Wednesday was a fairly warm windy day that will have evaporated a lot of moisture out of our system. It is still not too late in the season for substantial rainfall, the forecast for this week is looking a little hopeful..... I'll keep you posted.

This week in the vineyard :
We are about to start on our spring work. The picture this week shows Nepenthe viticulture barrel pruning a block we will be top grafting over to Sauvinon Blanc for Yalumba. This block is currently Shiraz and Cabernet that we have not been able to sell for the last 2 years. No signs yet of vines shooting - however they can not be far away now, I would think that next week I will have some whooly buds to report.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

This week: 11th Aug.

Weather Report Week Ending 11/8/06

Maximum Temperature for the week 18.8C (65F) Tue.
Minimum Temperature for the week -0.4C (31F) Thurs.
Rainfall for the Week 0mm (0 points)
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

No rain recorded at all this week. Two more frosts during the week. All 7 days this week our Max. temp. was above average, and only one night was our Min. above average. The continuing dry weather will have an impact on the number of buds that burst in spring, if it remains dry then our vines will not make as many shoots which will mean lower crop levels. This will possibly mean better quality wine but less of it this year. It is not too late in the season still for substantial rainfall, but I think the frosts we have had this year will reduce bud fruitfulness and ultimately yields.

This week in the vineyard :
We have now finished all of our pruining. Tieing down continues the picture below shows some 16 year old Shiraz vines after being tied down. The cover crops are really growing now, but if we don't get some rain soon we may have to shut them down sooner than we normally would, to preserve the moisture that is there.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Our story part 2

This post will be about the physical characteristics of our vineyard. Our soil types are mostly Sand over Clay and vary in depth from about 20cm of sand up to over 1 m. We also have some small areas of heavy reactive clays. As I said earlier we have a large number of different varieties approx. 33% of our production is Shiraz. We also have significant plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Most of our vines are now being planted on a variety of rootstock (depending on soil type and end use of the grapes) however nearly 50% of our vines are still on their own roots. As I also said earlier we make a small amount of our own wine but most of our production is sold to wineries that include Yalumba, Peter Lehmann, Barossa Valley Estate and Bethany wines (See my links for their web sites). We usually start picking our grapes early in February and finish in April. We normally pick about 400 tonnes of grapes each year. Of this we select about 6 tonnes of our best Shiraz to be made into our own wine. More on this next time.

Photo at right shows a member of our integrated pest management team, hard at work helping us to control insects in some of our 16 year old Shiraz.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Our story part 1

Today I will tell you a bit about myself and our family. I am the 4th generation of my family here in Australia. I am 39 years old, married with 3 children the eldest is currently 7. My Great Grandfather was born in Berlin in 1881 and immigrated to Australia with his family in 1884 to avoid religious persecution. In 1908 he purchased the first vineyard that now forms part of what we continue to work today. He passed away in 1970 at the age 88. My Grandfather passed away early in 2006 at the age of 90; he worked in our vineyard all his life. Grandpa and Dad have built our holdings up to what they are now. We have steadily added to our vineyards with the most recent purchase in 2005, to bring our total vineyard area to approx. 45 Ha. (120 acres). I have been involved in working and managing our vineyard since I left school 25 vintages ago. Our vineyard has undergone some very significant changes since my Great Grandfather first started growing grapes. The varieties we grow have changed a little, although we do still have some 95 year old Shiraz vines on their own roots. We are now able to give our vines supplemental irrigation and most of our vineyard can now be worked mechanically. I will say more about the changes that have occurred in future posts. This Photo is of my grandfather on his 90th birthday, 3 months before he passed away.

Friday, August 04, 2006

This week: 4th Aug.

Weather Report Week Ending 4/8/06
Maximum Temperature for the week 15C (59F) Fri.
Minimum Temperature for the week -0.4C (31F) Tue.
Rainfall for the Week 5.8mm (0.23inch)
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Still only very small amounts of rain. The countryside is looking very lush and green, however we have not had any soaking rain yet and the moisture that is present will dissappear very quickly in Spring. This week I have noticed the first signs of pruning cuts begining to weep, meaning the sap is begining to flow in the vines.

This week in the vineyard :
We continue to finish off the last of our pruning. We have been sweeping cuttings from under the vines - to lower our disease risk during the coming growing season. The picture at right shows some of our 15 year old Chardonnay vines after pruning ready to be tied down. We should finish this job in a few weeks.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Barossa Young Viticulturist Fellowship 2006

Barossa Young Viticulturist Fellowship 2006

The Barossa Viticulture Technical Group, in conjunction with sponsors Elders, Barossa Grapegrowers’ Vine Selection Society and Wine Barossa, seeks to expand the experience and involvement of young viticulturists and grape growers to ensure the future sustainability and competitiveness of the Barossa Wine Industry. To achieve this, a Fellowship Award has been established with applications now being sought.

$10,000 funding is available to cover travel and project related costs to enable an individual to undertake a project or area of study that broadens their knowledge and experience and provides benefits to the Barossa Wine Industry.

Applications need to demonstrate the applicant’s passion for viticulture, learning and the Barossa region.

The Fellowship winner will be required to devote some time to sponsors via seminars, trade days and contribute to the BVTG committee.

To be eligible applicants need to be between 18 and 35 years of age and be working or involved in the Barossa wine industry.

Applications for the 2006 Fellowship close September 1st.

Three finalists will be selected to attend the 2006 Barossa Wine Show Dinner on September 21st where the inaugural winner will be announced.

For further details and to make an application please contact either Ashley Ratcliff 0411 370 057, Chris Rogers 0400 255 964,
Steven Fiebiger 0448 663 879 or Kirsty Glaetzer 0417 822 605.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Barossa Valley

Today I will tell you a little about the Barossa Valley. Our vineyards are located on the Barossa valley floor NE of Tanunda nestled close to the foothills of the beautiful Barossa ranges. For people who don’t know, the Barossa Valley is located about 1 hours drive North of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The Valley Floor is about 320 meters (1000 feet) above Sea level (where our vineyards are located). The Barossa GIC (this stands for geographic indications committee) is made up of 2 sub regions. They are Eden Valley and Barossa Valley.
Eden Valley is the high altitude area, up to 1000 meters (3000 feet) above sea level. This is located on the East side of the GIC and is cooler than the valley floor and so grows very good Rieslings and Chardonnays but is also capable of some very nice Red’s such as Shiraz and Cabernets. There are also some plantings of more unusual varieties like Viognier getting a name for themselves.
The Barossa Valley is the other sub region of the Barossa GIC. This area is where all of our vineyards are located. Wine grapes have been grown here since 1842 soon after white settlement started in this area. The Barossa floor has been proved to be one of the best places in Australia to grow grapes, if not the World. We have a Mediterranean climate (that is hot dry summers, cool wet winters). We receive just over 500 mm (19 inches) of rainfall, we are able to give or vines up to another 100mm (4 inch) in supplementary irrigation (we have never given our vines that much, normally 40-80mm is the most they get). Most varieties of wine grapes have been planted somewhere on the valley floor. In the 1940’s and 50’s the Barossa was best known for our fortified wines. Now the star performer is Shiraz for full bodied table wines. But the Barossa can grow virtually any grapes well. Our vineyards have about 12 different varieties of grapes in them. I will tell you more about them in a future post. Map thanks to AWBC.