Sunday, December 30, 2007

This week: 28th. December

Weather Report Week Ending 28/12/07
Weather data for this week is incomplete.
Maximum Temperature for the week 37.0C (98F) on Fri. 3? readings above our monthly average of 27.1C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 9.6C (49F) on Tue. 3? readings above our monthly average of 12.3C.
Rainfall for the Week 28.4mm (81 points) 3 day of rain. (Rainfall figures for Tanunda).
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.



A very nice amount of rain early in the week for us, however it has been followed by gradually warming and very dry days. In fact the forecast for next week is for an extended heat wave. The rain of last week will help to cushion the impact of this heat on the vines, however we are stepping up our irrigation schedule to make sure each block is getting some water every week.

This week in the vineyard:
We are finishing off the last of the spraying this week. All of our early whites have now been sprayed, with the rest to be sprayed as early as we can in the new year. With the forecast hot weather for the next week, I think I may need to do some night spraying. I am also trying to get some more weed spraying done. I have not been getting much done this week due to all the public holidays and now I will not get much done because of the weather - very frustrating!


I pray everyone has a very happy and above all safe New year, I look forward to posting again in 2008.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

This week: 21st. December


Weather Report Week Ending 21/12/07
Weather data for this week is incomplete.
Maximum Temperature for the week 35.8C (96F) on Wed. 3? readings above our monthly average of 27.1C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 10.9C (51F) on Mon. 3? readings above our monthly average of 12.3C.
Rainfall for the Week 0.2mm (1 point) 1 day of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.
A warm and fairly humid week for us this week. The weather station at Nuriootpa has been down for a couple of days this week, so I have had to make a best guess at some of this weeks figures.
This week in the vineyard:
I have been spraying our early whites this week for the last time this season. We have been using Copper and Sulfur this time, which has a withholding period of 30 days here in Australia. I am expecting an early start to vintage this year, however not as early as the record start time of last year. We will be able to start picking anytime from the 20th of Jan. I am planning to spray the rest of our varieties the first week in Jan. We have also been skirting some of the longer canes that are hanging down, to improve the airflow through the vines and make it easier to machine harvest.
I would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas. Please stay safe in whatever you do, particularly when driving this festive season (there was a fatal car accident this week with both of the cars finishing up in one of our vineyards, and a local woman I have known for around 30 years killed).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This week: 14th. December

Weather Report Week Ending 14/12/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 36.0C (97F) on Fri. 4 readings above our monthly average of 27.1C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 5.5C (42F) on Mon. 2 readings above our monthly average of 12.3C.
Rainfall for the Week 0.0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Yet another very nice summer week. A couple of quite warm days at the end of the week. Still no rain recorded.

This week in the vineyard:
This week I have been doing some more mowing, as we will need to start spraying some of the summer weeds that are coming up all over the place. We are having particular challenges with a weed called caltrop, an amazing weed that I think will eventually take over the world (if we can't find some easy way to control it). It grows really fast after just a small amount of summer rainfall, to get it germinating. It sets seeds within a couple of weeks of germination and each mature plant can get 100's if not 1000's of seeds on it. So I am going to have to spray weeds again shortly to control the plants that are out there now, but if we get more rain in the next few weeks there will be another flush of weeds germinate.
The photo this week shows some of our Shiraz, we are expecting to see the first signs of verasion shortly. As you can see there is no sign yet of any colour change yet. Last year we started picking on the 23rd of Jan. this was the earliest start to vintage ever (by nearly a week), I am expecting this coming vintage to be quite early too, but hopefully not as early as last year.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This week: 7th. December

Weather Report Week Ending 7/12/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 35.4C (95F) on Thurs. 4 readings above our monthly average of 27.1C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 10.1C (50F) on Thurs. 4 readings above our monthly average of 12.3C.
Rainfall for the Week 0.0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.


A fairly typical summer week for us this week. A couple of warm to hot days. Most of the rest of the week has been quite nice. There have been some quite strong winds with thunderstorms in other parts of SA, that have caused a number of bushfires. Some of these fires are still burning out of control, but nowhere near the Barossa.


This week in the vineyard:
We have now finished what I hope will be our second last fungicide spray for the season. We can now turn our attention to weeds (particularly Caltrop) that are coming up in the vineyard.

I have not been getting a lot done in the vineyard (again) this week. All of our wineries are having their Christmas shows at the moment. I also spent one day this week on a on a bus trip organized by the Barossa Valley Tech. group, to the riverland. We looked at a private vineyard at Blanchetown, and several corporate vineyards near Waikerie. We also looked at a vineyard near Loxton that has been severely deprived of water because of the drought.

The first photo (a merger of 7 photos) shows some smoke haze from the bushfires in SA, over the Barossa (not enough to affect grape quality). The second photo shows Dr. Mike McCarthy on the riverland bus trip, inspecting some vines that have not been given any irrigation in the last 2 years.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

This week: 30th. November

Weather Report Week Ending 30/11/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 33.4C (92F) on Thurs. All 7 readings above our monthly average of 24.6C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 7.5C (45F) on Sat. 5 readings above our monthly average of 10.7C.
Rainfall for the Week 0.0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another very warm week for us this week. However we have so far not had any real scorcher days that could damage our grapes. We have had near record maximum average temperatures this November. We finished the month with our average nearly 3C above our normal average.

This week in the vineyard:

I have continued to put on our next fungicide spray. I am not getting a lot done, due to the warm weather, I can only spray in the morning and a number of Christmas functions I have attended this week.

We have started tucking canes up, in our blocks that have catch wires. We do this to provide some shading of the fruit but also (conversely) to open the canopy's up to promote more even ripening.

The photo tonight shows a bunch of Shiraz, they are at about pea size berries. As you can see fruit set has been quite uniform and as a result we should look forward to a good solid average season, if we can finish the fruit off. Heat and lack of water, I believe, will now be the limiting factors in how well our season finishes up.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

This week: 23rd. November

Weather Report Week Ending 23/11/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 38.4C (101F) on Mon. 5 readings above our monthly average of 24.6C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 8.4C (47F) on Thur. 5 readings above our monthly average of 10.7C.
Rainfall for the Week 8.2mm (24 points) 1 day of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.
Another quite warm week again this week. We had one wet day (Wed.) with just over 8mm of rain measured. The vines dried off very quickly after the rain, so I am not expecting any problems with mildew as a result. This rain has only been enough to freshen the vines up a bit. The good news is we wont have to irrigate for a while.
This week in the vineyard:
We have had some petioles analyzed in the last few weeks, this week we got the results back. We have no major issues with nutrition showing up.
Because of the rain this last week, I have now started putting our next fungicide spray on the vines. I am hoping that we will only need to put out one more spray this season, after this one. I am sorry I have not got a photo this week, but I have been very busy spraying any chance I can get.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This week: 16h. November

Weather Report Week Ending 16/11/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 34.8C (95F) on Fri. All 7 readings above our monthly average of 24.6C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 11.0C (52F) on Sat. All 7 readings above our monthly average of 10.7C.
Rainfall for the Week 0.0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A very warm week this week. All readings, both max. and min. have been above our monthly average. We have not recorded any rainfall at all this week.

This week in the vineyard:
We have now just about finished putting out the nitrogen fertigation, that we started last week. The vines have noticeably grown this last week, the warm weather with the rain we have had in the last 2 weeks, have really stimulated them. Flowering is finished in most varieties, fruit set so far looks to be quite reasonable. This week our Murray river water allocation has been lifted from 16% to 22%. This increase will still not be enough for us. We will need to top up our needs with poor quality bore water, however we will not need to use as much now, this is very good news for our soil. The more bore water we have to use the more chance we have of causing damage to our soil and ultimately our vines. This weeks photo is a view through some of our Chardonnay, showing how well developed our canopy's are now.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This week: 9th. November

Weather Report Week Ending 9/11/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 27.0C (80F) on Fri. 2 readings above our monthly average of 24.6C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 4.6C (40F) on Sun. 3 readings above our monthly average of 10.7C.
Rainfall for the Week 13.4mm (38 points) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

One wet day this week (Sat.). Since Sunday we have had a large high pressure system parked in the great Australian bight. This has caused fine and dry conditions for us most of the week.

This week in the vineyard:

We are still breaking out water shoots (summer pruning). I have been cleaning up some of the weeds that were missed last time we went through the vineyard. I am also mowing again with the same pass to stop as much moisture being lost as possible, while leaving a mulch covering. We have also started putting out a Nitrogen fertigation on some of our white varieties, as we are a little concerned about the amount of canopy that some of the vines have. We would like to try and stimulate some more growth to protect our fruit from sunburn once we start getting into some hotter weather. This week's photo is of a bunch of Sauvinion Blanc. in full flower. Flowering will be over here in the Barossa by next week's posting. This week we will be looking for fine and calm weather to maximise the conversion from flowers in fruit.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

This week: 2nd. November

Weather Report Week Ending 2/11/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 28.7C (83F) on Sat. 3 readings above our monthly average of 24.6C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 7.2C (45F) on Tue. 5 readings above our monthly average of 10.7C.
Rainfall for the Week 12.4mm (35 points) 4 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A slightly damp week. We have had several days of reasonable rainfall - not enough to influence our subsoil, but enough to replenish our evaporation losses. There has been a large low pressure system building in the great Australian Bite for most of this week, this has meant cooler and windy conditions for us.

This week in the vineyard:
We are still Summer pruning.
I have spent most of this week putting out our second fungicide spray for the season. I have all of our vineyard now protected against Downy and Powdery mildews. I am expecting some more rain for us this coming week.
We have seen the first signs of flowering in our vineyard. The Chardonnay is well under way, however other varieties are still to start. By next week I would expect most of our varieties will be flowering or finished. The photo this week shows some of our Chardonnay already near the end of flowering.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This week: 26th. October

Weather Report Week Ending 26/10/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 36.0C (97F) on Sun. 5 readings above our monthly average of 20.5C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 6.1C (43F) on Fri. 5 readings above our monthly average of 8.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 6.6mm (19 points) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Some rain for us this week, but not really enough to be useful. Two very hot days, with hot Northerly winds for us this week, these will have caused the vines to start using up our available moisture. We will need to start monitoring our soil moisture's very closely from now on, to work out when to start watering our vines.

This week in the vineyard:
We are continuing to do our Summer pruning. As I reported last week we have been drilling for water, to replace an old bore that we used to use for irrigation. We have been successful in finding water - however the quality is (as we expected) fairly marginal for growing grape vines. We will go ahead and equip this bore with a pump and filtration equipment, but it will only be used as an emergency water supply, if we can not get enough out of the Barossa Infrastructure Limited scheme that has been supplying water for us from the Murray River. If we have to use this bore water for more than a couple of years, I would expect to see some problems with Sodic soils starting to re-emerge (our soils have improved considerably in the 5 or 6 years since we have had access to the BIL water). The photo shows our new bore being blown out at about 8000 gal./hour.

We have also started putting on our 2nd fungicide spray for the season as some of our Chardonnay are showing the first signs of flowering.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nuffield Scolarship for Barossa Grapegrower


I have been awarded a Nuffield scholarship, one of the most prestigious farming honours that can be awarded to young farmers worldwide. The Scholarship is worth $A25,000 and it will involve me spend 4 months next year travelling the world studying something agriculture related, my chosen subject will be ‘regional branding and marketing to improve returns for producers’. I will be spending the first 6 weeks of my time away on what is called a global focus tour, this is a very intensive tour of all different forms of agriculture and agriculture related industries. On this leg of my tour I will be visiting The Philippines, China, Canada, USA, Ireland and France. The rest of my travel is still to be organized, however I would like to spend the majority of my time in Europe and North America with possibly some time in New Zealand and South Africa. So towards the middle of next year this blog will change a little from being about our vineyard to something of a blog on world agriculture, for a while at least. I am looking forward to the opportunity that this will give me. I will be having a very busy year, but I suspect I will be coming back something of a changed person. My scholarship is supported by Nufarm, and I thank them very much for the opportunity that it will give me.

This week: 19th. October

Weather Report Week Ending 19/10/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 30.5C (87F) on Thurs. 5 readings above our monthly average of 20.1C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 3.1C (38F) on Sun. 1 reading above our monthly average of 8.1C.
Rainfall for the Week 0.0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another quite warm and very dry week, 2 days of about 10C above our monthly average. We have had no rain recorded at all this week. Quite cool nights, all but one night below our monthly average, however, thankfully, we have had no frost.

This week in the vineyard:

We have started our summer pruning (breaking off water shoots that are growing around the trunk of the vine). This job will take my 2 workers quite a few weeks.

This week we have had a drilling rig turn up to put down a new water bore for us (we have been waiting for about 3 months, very busy people given the current water situation in South Australia). They have plugged up one of our old bores that was leaking sand and saline water into the underground aquifer. They are now ready to put down a new bore for us, this will happen early next week. We will be casing this bore in PVC to ensure that this bore will never corrode away like the last one did. The photo shows the rig set up ready to start drilling next week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This week: 12th. October

Weather Report Week Ending 12/10/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 28.9C (84F) on Wed. 2 readings above our monthly average of 20.1C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 2.4C (36F) on Sat. 2 readings above our monthly average of 8.1C.
Rainfall for the Week 3.2mm (9 points) 2 day of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another quite warm and dry week here in the Barossa Valley. We are still needing a couple of large dumps of rain, whilst we have reasonable subsoil moisture levels it will not last long without more rainfall to top it up.

This week in the vineyard:
We have spent the last week on the river Murray, in a houseboat. My family and I had a terrific time and yes I can report there is still some water in the Murray (at least between Mannum and Swan Reach there is). So very little has happened in our Vineyard for the last week. My staff will be back from holiday this coming week and I will be back on deck as well, so there should be more to report next week. This weeks photo shows some of our Sauv. Blanc. and how much growth they have put on in the last few weeks while I have been away. The cover crop is now dead and so should not be sucking any moisture out of the soil, hopefully it is actually helping to retain moisture. It will also provide some shading and so reduce soil temperatures once we start getting some heat wave conditions (potentially not that far away now).

Sunday, October 07, 2007

This week: 5th. October

Weather Report Week Ending 5/10/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 30.5C (87F) on Tue. 5 readings above our monthly average of 20.1C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 1.9C (35F) on Fri. 3 readings above our monthly average of 8.1C.
Rainfall for the Week 1.2mm (3 points) 1 day of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Two very cold nights this week (not quite cold enough for a frost). Warm days most week with very little rainfall, quite a typical spring pattern for us here in the Barossa valley.

This week in the vineyard:
I have now finished our first fungicide application for this growing season. I have been in Perth most of the week at the Nuffield farming conference. I was there to receive one of 16 scholarships which were awarded to myself along with 15 other young farmers from all over Australia. My scholarship is for a primary producer from South Australia and is being supported by Nufarm. I will write a little more in a future posting about Nuffield and my Scholarship. The photo this week shows all of the new Nuffield Scholars at the presentation dinner, after we had received our awards.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

This week: 28th. September

Weather Report Week Ending 28/9/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 29.0C (84F) on Tue. 5 readings above our monthly average of 17.5C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 6.2C (43F) on Mon. 6 readings above our monthly average of 7.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 8.6mm (25 points) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A fairly warm and very windy week this week. Two days this week we recorded wind gusts of around 80km/h. Tue. we recorded a Max. of 29C this was 11.5C above our September average, but that was still 3C short of setting a record. We have also received another useful fall of rain this week - but still only about as much as we are evaporating each week.


This week in the vineyard:
The wind this week has not done any damage to our vines, the shoots are not yet long enough for them to break off. We will not want wind like that during flowering, as this would severely limit fruit set. My staff have been doing general maintenance work this week prior to them taking a couple of weeks holiday. They have also been training young vines. I have had a very busy week, I have now finished spraying the midrow, to preserve as much moisture in the soil as we can. I have also started applying our first fungicide for the season, when the wind has eased up enough for me to get out there. I will be in Perth this week, after which I will have some very exciting (for me personally, and for the Barossa Valley) news to announce. Stay tuned for my big announcement next weekend. Today's Photo shows a young Chardonnay shoot with 2 inflorescences on it (this seems to be fairly normal this year). The potential is there for quite a good crop - if only we had enough water available to see it through to maturity.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

This week: 21st. September

Weather Report Week Ending 21/9/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 24.3C (76F) on Tue. 5 readings above our monthly average of 17.5C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 1.8C (35F) on Fri. 3 readings above our monthly average of 7.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 6.4mm (18 points) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A damp start to the week however the end finished warm and windy. The rain of last week has all but been evaporated (some of it will have made it into the subsoil). We still need about 140mm of rain before the end of the year, if we are going to get an average rainfall year.


This week in the vineyard:
We have now finished planting 2 of the 3 small blocks that we have planned for this year. The final block is some Sangiovase vines that have been grafted this year and will only be ready for planting in Nov/Dec. The vines we have planted are now safely tucked away in growgards and have had their first irrigation.
I am now 3/4 finished spraying off the cover crop. The first of what I sprayed is now just starting to brown off. We are spraying the cover crop a lot earlier than usual this year to try to preserve as much moisture as we possibly can. The risk with this policy is that we may have to spray again if we get a wet spring and another flush of weeds germinate. I am planning in the next week to start our first Fungicide spray, as I will be going on holiday for a while in Oct.
This weeks photo shows two rows of Sangiovese with Chardonnay behind it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

This week: 14th. September

Weather Report Week Ending 14/9/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 24.3C (76F) on Sat. 5 readings above our monthly average of 17.5C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 3.8C (39F) on Wed. 6 readings above our monthly average of 7.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 22.4mm (64 points) 4 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

At last we have had some reasonable rainfall. We have had 2 fronts this week that gave us a couple of good rain gaugings (14 mm on Tue. and followed up with 7.4mm on Fri.). Much warmer nights this week, the increased moisture in our system should also give us some protection from any frost we may still get.


This week in the vineyard:

We have started planting the few vines we are going to put in this year. We have planted a small trial of Albarino and some Chardonnay replants in a block we planted last year. I have finished all the mowing I am planning to do this year. I will be starting to spray off our cover crop this coming week, to conserve as much of this lovely moisture in our soil as we can. This weeks photo shows some Shiraz at about 2nd leaf stage.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Newest Member of the Mad Dog team

Mad Dog wines has a new team member. Patrick Charles Holmes came into the world a little early, but safely on 5th of Sept at just after 1:30pm in the Calvary hospital North Adelaide. He is Jeremy and Heidi Holme's second child and a baby brother for Lily. He is also my 2nd nephew. I suspect it will be a few years before we can let him loose on any of our premium Shiraz, but there is now another potential wine maker in the family.

This week: 7th. September


Weather Report Week Ending 7/9/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 21.1C (70F) on Thur. 4 readings above our monthly average of 17.5C.
Minimum Temperature for the week -1.0C (30F) on Sat. 2 readings above our monthly average of 7.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 0.2mm (1 point) 1 day of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another warm week here in the Barossa. We are beginning to get very desperate for some reasonable rainfall. If we had some water available to us we would probably be considering giving our vines a drink. We don't normally water before Christmas, hopefully we will still get some of that natural irrigation from the sky.

This week in the vineyard:
All of our winter work is now finished. We are now getting ready to do a small area of replants, we are only planting a few vines this year because we will not have much water available to us. All of our cover crop has been mowed for the second time. I will need to start killing the cover crop shortly if we don't get some rain (it is using up what could be very valuable subsoil moisture).

I have been in Melbourne this week. I have applied for a Nuffield scholarship and went to Melbourne for the final round of interviews. The winners will be announced in Perth in Oct. I found the whole process very interesting and I think it is useful to spend some time with other enthusiastic farmers, to give you a different perspective on your own operation.
This weeks Photo shows our 40 year old Genache just starting to shoot. We are now at great risk from frost, however I am not expecting problems for another couple of weeks (closer to the next full moon). Some rain would also be useful to reduce our risk.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

This week: 31st. August

Weather Report Week Ending 31/8/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 27.8C (82F) on Thur. 6 readings above our monthly average of 14.6C. (This was the highest August temperature recorded in the Barossa since 1977, 13.2C above our average)
Minimum Temperature for the week 0.9C (34F) on Wed. 4 readings above our monthly average of 5.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 1.6mm (5 points) 1 day of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A very warm week here this week with strong Northerly winds causing a lot of drying. We are still waiting for some more good rainfall, the 1.6mm we had on Friday will need to be followed up with further rain early this coming week, to be any use at all.

This week in the vineyard:
I have seen the first signs of bud burst. This means we are now at the mercy of frosts. We have had two near frosts this week. The cover crop has all been mown down now, to minimise our risk of frost. I have started mowing a second time, to keep the cover crop as low as possible, to promote as much air movement as possible in and around the vines.
We have now completely finished our pruning with the last block of young Sauv. Blanc. now taken out of their grow guards and mostly trained onto the wire. Those that do not have enough growth to reach the wire yet will be left in their tubes for a bit longer to give them the chance to get stronger before they are also trained up to the wire. I will be in Melbourne for some of this coming week so I will not be getting much done in the vineyard, but I might let you know what I was doing there in a few weeks.
The Photos this week show some of our Mad Dog Sangiovese vines with the first signs of life for the year.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mad Dog 2005 Shiraz now on sale!


Two pieces of news this week from Mad Dog.

Since our last Mad Dog release we have appointed Corney and Barrow as our UK agent, they are indeed the fine wine supplier to the Queen.

We are excited to announce the release of our 2005 Mad Dog Shiraz. This is old vine (35-40 year old) fruit from our own family vineyard at Vine Vale, in the Barossa Valley. It is picked ripe but not overdone (this is 14.5% alcohol) and nestles in the best French oak (Damy coopered) for 18 months. The wine bursts with ripe blood plum and blackcurrant fruit and is tinged with some floral and spice notes. In the mouth it is dense and creamy with a heart of black fruits, liquorice and Belgium chocolate. It is fairly tightly wound on the finish with plenty of savoury notes adding to the long, dry finish. This is a great vintage from the Barossa and we are very happy with our 2005.

There is only very limited quantities of this wine available (we have shipped virtually all of our stocks to retailers). So if you find some for sale - snap it up, or you may miss out. If you are in Australia you can also order online at http://www.dortodoor.com/html/s02_article/article_view.asp?id=521&nav_cat_id=166&nav_top_id=58.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

This week: 24th. August

Weather Report Week Ending 24/8/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 20.0C (68F) on Fri. 5 readings above our monthly average of 14.6C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 0.0C (32F) on Mon. All 7 readings below our monthly average of 5.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 0.8mm (2 points) 3 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A beautiful Spring week for us here in the Barossa (and it is not even Spring yet!). The little bit of rain this week was nothing more than some foggy mornings that made enough moisture to measure. The sap has begun to flow in most varieties, however there has not yet been any signs of bud burst. I would expect to see the first signs of this in the next couple of weeks. We are still hanging out for a decent shower of rain, but the forecasts for the next week are not at all promising.

This week in the vineyard:
We have been continuing to do odds and ends type jobs - fixing trellis, preparing for replanting and general maintenance. I am now mowing down cover crop as fast as I can - I am very concerned about our sub soil moisture levels. With the expected water restrictions that we will be having this year, it is critical that we preserve as much moisture as we can. Rain is what we need most. This weeks photo is a combination of 5 photos stitched together in Photoshop, showing the Barossa ranges still looking very lush and green. I suspect that we will start to see some of the grass withering shortly, without any substantial rainfall.



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Elton John live in the Barossa


Tickets have now gone on sale for Elton John's Rocket man solo tour concert here in the Barossa Valley on Saturday 24th November. The concert will be held under the stars at the Barossa Arts and Convention centre, in Tanunda. More details can be found at http://www.barossaconvention.org/elton.html. Tickets start at $86 for general admission and can be purchased through venuetix - http://eventfeed.eventshop.com.au/public/htmlfeeditemview.php?itemid=5037&userid=39&check=f4ac4122ee48c213eec816f4d7944ea6&affid=venuetix. Should be a terrific night, I will be there! In fact my wife and I will be walking there. Our vineyards are only just around the corner from the convention centre.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

This week: 17th. August



Weather Report Week Ending 17/8/07

The official weather station at Nuriootpa has been down most of this week, so I am using figures from Roseworthy, about 20km from our vineyards.


Maximum Temperature for the week 20.2C (68F) on Sat. 2 readings above our monthly average of 14.6C.Minimum Temperature for the week -1.0C (30F) on Mon. 3 readings above our monthly average of 5.0C.Rainfall for the Week 4.0mm (11 points) 3 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Roseworthy agriculture Research Centre.

Yet another fairly dry week here in the Barossa Valley. The figures I have are not for the station at Nuriootpa, but they should still be in the ball park for here. Just very light rainfall, what has happened to the major downfalls? Other parts of the world are having far too much rain - we would like just one heavy downfall.

This week in the vineyard:

We have now taken a break from the last of our pruning, our staff have been removing vines ready for replanting and some other odds and ends of trellising. I have started setting up a side by side trial of two different treatments for Eutypa in one of our old blocks of Shiraz. I may report on this once I have finished treating the vines in the trial (approx 400 vines in total). I have also been continuing to mow down our cover crop when the weather has been suitable. The photo this week shows our top grafted Sauv. Blanc, now all pruned and tied down at sun set.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

This week: 10th. August

Weather Report Week Ending 10/8/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 20.0C (68F) on Fri. 5 readings above our monthly average of 14.6C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 3.0C (37F) on Tue. 5 readings above our monthly average of 5.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 8.0mm (23 points) 3 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

The weather has begun to warm up and dry out. We have had a week of fairly mild temperatures, with strong drying northerly winds most of the week. We are still hoping for substantial rainfall to turn this season from a barely average season into a wet one.


This week in the vineyard:
We have now finished pruning and tying on, our block of Sauvinion Blanc that was top grafted last spring. We just have a block of young Chardonnay to go now. I have begun mowing down the weeds in the rows that did not get covercrop sown in them. I am also putting out a pre-emergent herbicide under the vines with the same pass, in blocks where we are having trouble controlling the weeds. We usually spray all undervine areas at this time of year - but to try to save us some money, I am just targeting problem areas. I will be going back in a week or so to mow down the covercrop. Sorry no vineyard picture this week, instead we went to the super special stage of Rally Australia at the Angaston oval and I have a shot of Dean Herridge's Subaru Impezza WRX taken during their first run through the special stage. My whole family had a great time watching the cars flying past! I hope they will run this event again here in the Barossa Valley.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

This week: 3rd. August

Weather Report Week Ending 3/8/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 16.9C (62F) on Tue. 5 readings above our monthly average of 14.6C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 5.8C (42F) on Fri. 7 readings above our monthly average of 5.0C.
Rainfall for the Week 17.8mm (50 points) 5 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.


A nice wet week for us this week. While we have had some very useful falls, they have been reasonably light, we are still looking for some heavy soaking rain. The forecast is not looking all that good. Last month we received 59.6mm of rain, which was about 10mm above our average for July.


This week in the vineyard:

We are continuing to finish pruning the last of our young blocks of vines. As I reported in an earlier post, I have spent the week at the 13th Australian Wine Industry Technical conference. In fact I have been to several conferences. I have also been to the 4th Australian Wine Industry Environment conference, and a workshop run by the Barossa Valley Technical group on improving biodiversity in vineyards. I feel a little overloaded with new information at the moment, I will need some time to digest all I have learned. The Australian wine industry faces some very difficult issues in the near future, including climate change, food miles, oversupply, drought and salinity. The photo shows part of the trade display at Wine Tech 2007 - held in conjunction with the Tech conference.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

13th. Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference


I am currently at the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference. It has (so far) been a very interesting experience. There are a number of problems that are going face the Australian wine industry in the future. The current problem is of course the ongoing drought and the potential for increased salinity as we come out of it. We will also have problems once the drought does finally end, of a continuation of over supply. One of the big issues I think is going to face our industry is the notion of ‘food miles’. Because we are located a long way from our major markets, I believe the Aussie industry will need to demonstrate that we are doing everything possible to reduce our carbon emissions. This may be a fairly difficult sell to our consumers, considering the mixed messages they will be getting from some of our competitors.
I believe the future of the Aussie wine industry lies in us being able to successfully sell wine produced by small producers that is unique and reflects the characteristics of the areas in which it has been grown. While the large wine companies produce large volumes of ‘product of SE Australia’ type wines, we will always be locked into the lower price points of the large supermarkets. Australia can and does produce some of the best wines in the world – we need to build on this, but not by trying to reproduce wines that are the same year after year or region to region. We should be promoting our individuality, possibly right down to wines from individual vineyards. Then as producers we should be able to be paid the true value of our grapes. Another problem we as producers have (and it affects our consumers too) is the length of our supply chains. I see a huge potential for the Internet to enable producers like us to interact directly with our consumers, this has the potential to work very well on the small scales I mentioned above. It would be a win-win for both produces and consumers, producers would be able to set their own prices, and I suspect, consumers will find they are paying less for their wine. There would be some very unhappy middle men out there though, but then they can keep on fighting each other for the large customers who are only interested in their bottom line and not on the wine.
We have also spent a large amount of time discussing the future impact climate change will have on the world wine industry. This is looking very worrying, but I will write some more about this in the next few days.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

This week: 27th. July

Weather Report Week Ending 27/7/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 20.4C (69F) on Wed. 6 readings above our monthly average of 13.5C.
Minimum Temperature for the week -0.6C (31F) on Sun. 4 readings above our monthly average of 4.3C.
Rainfall for the Week 0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A much warmer and drier week for us this week. No rain at all recorded this week, we still need more to give us the normal growing season we are all hoping for. There is some hope in the forecast for this coming week - hopefully I will have some better news to report next week.


This week in the vineyard:
We have started taking the growguards off the block of Sauv. Blanc we had top grafted last year. This block has grown really well since I last reported on it in December 2006. The idea we had, to protect the graft union has worked really well. The problem we have had, is that the vines have grown so vigorously, and because we were not able to get zip-up tubes we are now having difficulty getting the growgards off the wire. We have had to cut the stitching on them. This problem would be solved by using zip-up tubes. The picture shows the block before we started taking the guards off. We will finish pruning this block sometime in the next week. I will be spending this coming week at the Wine industry technical conference in Adelaide.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

This week: 20th. July

Weather Report Week Ending 20/7/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 13.4C (56F) on Mon. all 7 readings below our monthly average of 13.5C.
Minimum Temperature for the week -1.1C (30F) on Wed. 1 reading above our monthly average of 4.3C.
Rainfall for the Week 8.4mm (24 points) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A fairly normal week for us this week. We have had another large blocking High pressure system form in the Great Australian Bight, that is causing any cold fronts coming up from the south west to slide away to the south of us. So we are back to the fine cool and clear days with frosty nights, that we were getting all of last month.

This week in the vineyard:
Pruning is now all but over. Our contract pruning gang has now finished work. We only have two blocks of young vines still to prune - they will be done by our own staff. This week we finished our last blocks of Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I am still on holiday, so have not been doing much in our vineyard, I have instead taken to staying up late watching the Tour de France on telly. Most stages only finish at about 1:30am local time, but my kids still wake me at 6:30 most mornings, so I am not feeling all that rested. The photo above shows our contractors finishing off our last block of vines to be pruned by them, this year.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

This week: 13th. July

Weather Report Week Ending 13/7/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 13.5C (56F) on Mon. 1 reading above our monthly average of 13.5C.
Minimum Temperature for the week 0.0C (32F) on Fri. 3 readings above our monthly average of 4.3C.
Rainfall for the Week 9.8mm (28 points) 6 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.


A cold and moderately windy period for us this week. Moisture was recorded on all but one day by the weather station at Nuriootpa, however there were only 2 days with more than 1mm. The winter weather patterns have continued although are beginning to reduce a little in intensity. Hopefully we have not finished with winter yet.



This week in the vineyard:

Pruning is coming to an end - this week we have finished blocks of Shiraz, Merlot and Sauvinion Blanc. Our contract pruning gang will be finishing up this week, we will only have a couple of young blocks for our staff to finish off and then we will be into Spring work (preparing to plant, re-trellising etc.). I think the season opening could be late this year - we watch for the first signs of almond blossoms around this time of the year. So far there is little sign of movement from the almond trees. This could be a result of the very cold conditions we had last month. I am enjoying a couple of weeks holiday at the moment, while the kids are home from school. We are having a very unusual holiday - at home. We normally have to go away, working at home makes it very difficult to get a holiday at home, there seems to always be something that needs attention. We have been taking some day trips to get away. We have so far been to Mannum on the River Murray, followed by a trip to Cleland wildlife park and Waterfall Gully in the Adelaide hills.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

This week: 6th. July

Weather Report Week Ending 6/7/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 18.8C (66F) on Tue. 5 readings above our monthly average.
Minimum Temperature for the week 3.0C (37F) on Mon. 5 readings above our monthly average.
Rainfall for the Week 26.8mm (77 points) 7 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

As I said last week a much more typical weather system for this time of the year has been dictating our weather. We have had very useful falls of rain this week, we have just about had our average for July. We have also been seeing warmer nights as a result of the winter patterns we are getting - no frosts recorded this week.

This week in the vineyard:
Pruning continues - this week we have finished blocks of Chardonnay, Merlot and Grenche. Not a lot else happening in our vineyard this week on account of the rain - most of the week has been spent on paperwork and maintenance. I will be going to the 13th wine industry technical conference in 3 weeks time, being held in Adelaide. This is one of the major gatherings of the Australian wine industry, it is held every 3 years. I am looking forward to it, as it is a chance for a simple grape grower like myself, to broaden my horizons and learn more about the research that is being conducted in our industry. Being held in conjunction with the conference is the winetech trade display, I will see if I can get some photos and post them on this site. The conference starts on 29th July and is followed by the 4th Australian wine industry environment conference on the 2nd August. I will have reports from both of them. More details can be found at the ASVO web site - link at right.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

This week: 29th. June

Weather Report Week Ending 29/6/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 13.9C (56F) on Mon & Wed. All 7 readings below our monthly average.
Minimum Temperature for the week -1.9C (28F) on Sat. 3 readings above our monthly average.
Rainfall for the Week 4.4mm (12 points) 4 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another very cold week, 2 frosts and all Maximum temperatures below our average of 14.2C. We are still on track to set a new record for below average maximum for June. The weather patterns have changed considerably in the last week. We are now seeing more typical winter weather patterns forming up - not much rain yet, however it is looking a lot more promising than we have seen for probably a month.


This week in the vineyard:
Pruning continues - this week we have finished blocks of Shiraz, Semillon, Chardonnay and Cabernet. A week of meetings for me this week. The highlight for me has been the launch of this years Barossa Young Viticulturist of the year. This year we have changed the focus a little bit, with the winner being required to undertake a leadership training course and then spend 12 months serving on one of the local grape growing committees. The winner will get up to A$10,000 to spend on travel or a project that will have benefits for the whole Barossa grape growing community. For more info. contact me and I can email some more details, or see the Barossa Viticulture Tech. Group website (link to the right). Today's photo is of the full moon rising over some of our vineyards and the very green Barossa ranges.

Monday, June 25, 2007

This week: 22nd. June

Weather Report Week Ending 22/6/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 13.2C (55F) on Sat. All 7 readings below our average. Minimum Temperature for the week -2.5C (27F) on Sat. All 7 readings below our average.
Rainfall for the Week 2.8mm (8 points) 4 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another very cold week. All of our Maximums and Minimums were below average for this time of year. With one week to go in the month we are looking like setting a number of new records for being one of the coldest June's since 1997. One very severe frost this week - has really cleaned up the leaves that were still hanging on the vines. Still very dry, the rain we recorded this week has mostly been heavy dew, not enough to generate any runoff or improve our subsoil moisture's. We need more than 50mm of rain this coming week to make our average of 64.8mm.

This week in the vineyard:
Pruning continues - this week we have finished blocks of Shiraz, Sauvinion Blanc and Chardonnay. I have also been mowing winter weeds. I am also spraying under the vines with a knockdown herbicide to clean up the weeds that have started to come up, when the weather has been suitable. This week the Barossa Valley Technical group ran a seminar/ field day on coping with the drought. We looked at vineyard costs and how to minimise them in light of last years very low yields. We also looked at pruning to encourage the vines to get back to normal production levels as quickly as possible. There have been bud dissections done here in South Australia that show virtually no crop in the first 2-3 buds on each cane; in some varieties. We also had demonstrated to us some Pellenc machine pruners. The photo is of a machine that is pruning both sides of a two wire vertical trellis in one pass (this machine has the potential to save a lot of time for us growers if we could justify the A$100,000+ price tag not including the tractor).

Sunday, June 17, 2007

This week: 15th. June

Weather Report Week Ending 15/6/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 13.4C (56F) on Sat. All 7 days below our average.
Minimum Temperature for the week -1.3C (29F) on Fri. We had 2 days above our average.
Rainfall for the Week 1.0mm (3 points) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another very cold week. All 7 days again below our max. average for this month of 14.2C. The high pressure systems that have caused or fine but cold days, are sitting much further south than is usual for this time of year. The weather maps at the moment look more like Summer maps than the Winter we should be having. Because the highs are so far south, they are blocking any cold fronts that are coming up from the south (where most of our winter rain normally comes from). Without some change in the current systems we run the risk of missing out on quite a bit of potential winter rainfall. This month we are looking yet again at well below average rainfall, we have only had 11.4mm, our average for June is 64.8mm. We still need more then 50mm to give us an average month.

This week in the vineyard:
Pruning continues - this week we have finished blocks of Shiraz, Riesling and White Frontignac. I have also been mowing winter weeds in the rows we haven't planted with a cover crop. With the same pass I am also spraying under the vines with a knockdown herbicide to clean up the weeds that have started to come up. We have also ordered a few Albarino vines to do a trial planting for Mad Dog. We may have a new product to launch if all goes well in 4-5 years time.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This week: 8th. June

Weather Report Week Ending 8/6/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 13.3C (56F) on Sat. All 7 days below our average.
Minimum Temperature for the week 1.3C (34F) on Tue. We had 3 days above our average.
Rainfall for the Week 9.4mm (27 points) 5 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Very cold this week. All 7 days below our max. average for this month of 14.2C. Even 4 nights were well below our average of 5.6C. We currently have had a large high pressure system sitting out in the Great Australian Bight for nearly a week, this means clear calm days and clear cold nights. I would expect that as the high pressure system finally moves past us we will get some very cold frosty nights. This system has been causing very good rainfall in the Eastern states, hopefully including the Murray Darling catchment area.

This week in the vineyard:
We have had a machine pruner working in our vineyard a few days again this week. We have had a contract hand pruning gang also start work. This gang is currently doing a hand detail behind the machine, once they are finished this we will be moving on to our blocks that will be rod and spur pruned. So far we have finished blocks of Cabernet, 90 year old Shiraz, Chardonnay and a small block of Riesling. The picture today is of part of our contract pruning gang working on some Cabernet in the early morning fog.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Barossa wins prime spot on Aussie Monopoly board.

The Barossa Valley has been voted as the most prestigious property on the new here and now Australia version of Monopoly. South Australia polled nearly half of the national vote that saw the Barossa Valley beat Adelaide for the prestigious spot traditionally occupied by Park Lane. South Australia and Western Australia have taken the highest value side of the board, while the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland fill the cheap side of the board. Sydney did not make it onto the board, New South Wales are being represented by Broken Hill, Tamworth and the Snowy Mountains on the orange spots. The game also includes some Aussie Icons for tokens including an Aussie Ute, thongs and a surf board. More details are available at http://monopoly.com.au/results.php . The game will be available in most stores from the 10th of this month.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

This week: 1st. June

Weather Report Week Ending 1/6/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 19.9C (68F) on Sat. We had 4 days above our average.
Minimum Temperature for the week 2.0C (35F) on Sat. We had 4 days above our average.
Rainfall for the Week 18mm (51 points) 4 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A quite normal week for the Barossa, for this time of year. A very useful amount of rain again this week, however we still did not make our average rainfall for the month of May (a total of 35.8mm for the month with a long term average of 48.2mm). We have once again finished the month with above average temperature readings, our average maximum was 18.4C (long term average is 17.6C), our average minimum was 9.0C (long term average is 6.7C this was 2.3C above average).

This week in the vineyard:
We have now started machine pruning. The picture this week shows our contractor doing our pre prune. We will be sending a hand contracting gang through to do a hand detail in the next few weeks. As you can see the leaves are still hanging on quite well, but we will be getting into the pruning in a big way from this week. I would expect we will be finishing our pruning sometime in the middle of September.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

This week: 25th. May

Weather Report Week Ending 25/5/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 20.0C (68F) on Fri. 2 days above our average.
Minimum Temperature for the week 6.2C (43F) on Thurs. 6 days above our average.
Rainfall for the Week 11.6mm (33 points) 5 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.


A little bit of a damp week this week with rain recorded on 5 days. There has not however been a large amount of rain. We still need nearly 30mm of rain to make our average for the month of May. At least April was well above average - we need average or above rainfall for the next few months to help relieve the severity of our current drought.


This week in the vineyard:
We are continuing to prune, we have now finished blocks of young Semillon and Sauv. Blanc. Our cover crop is virtually all up now. We have only planted every second row this year to try to save some money and also reduce our water usage. We normally plant every row as a green manure crop to improve our soil. This year I have had to make the hard decision between conserving organic carbons in our soil or reducing our water use. This week's photo is a view over the Barossa from along Rifle Range road. The town in the distance is Nuriootpa. The Barossa ranges are now very green, as you can see.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

This week: 18th. May

Weather Report Week Ending 18/5/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 22.9C (73F) on Sun. and Mon.
Minimum Temperature for the week 5.3C (41F) on Wed.
Rainfall for the Week 1.4mm (4 points) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.


A fairly pleasant week, weather wise this week. The forecast promised a lot this week however the weather failed to deliver any substantial rainfall for us. We have been getting enough rainfall to keep things nice and wet but without any runoff. The story has been different in western New South Wales, with very good falls in the lower Murray river catchments - we will see if this translates into runoff, I'm not holding my breath. Our maximum temperatures have been above average, in fact all were above 20C except for Friday which was below our long term average of 17.6C.



This week in the vineyard:

All of the cover crop we are going to plant is now in, the first of it has started to germinate (as you can see in the photo). We are continuing to prune where we can, we are having to fight our way through quite a few leaves that are continuing to hang on to the vines (could be the warmer temperatures that I mentioned earlier). This week I have had to do my Chem cert. re-accreditation, this is a system in Australia to ensure that commercial chemical users are properly trained. We need to do a course every 5 years to receive our accreditation.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

This week: 11th. May


Weather Report Week Ending 11/5/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 22.1C (71F) on Mon.
Minimum Temperature for the week 4.6C (40F) on Thur.
Rainfall for the Week 1.0mm (3 points) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A reasonably fine week this week. While we continue to have quite warm temperatures, and after the rain of last week, everything is growing very rapidly. Our minimum temperatures this week have all been above average except for the one cold night on Thurs. This probably means that our soil temperatures will also be above average for this time of year.

This week in the vineyard:
We have (at last) finished spreading all of the fowl manure (not a very pleasant job). I am now putting in our cover crop as fast as I possibly can. We are planting a blend of Tritacale and Barley this year. I mostly plant Tritacale because it grows well in our lighter soils, and the straw doesn't break down very quickly over Summer. This year we are adding some Barley because I don't have a lot of Triticale available to me and I am trying to spread what I have as far as I possibly can. We continue to prune our vines, with our first block of young Semillon nearly finished.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

This week: 4th. May

Weather Report Week Ending 4/5/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 24.9C (77F) on Tue.
Minimum Temperature for the week 9.5C (49F) on Tue.
Rainfall for the Week 69.2mm (198 points) 5 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Rain has continued all week. We recieved 104.8mm of rain last month, this has been our wettest April in more than 11 years. In fact we were only 27mm below our wettest April on record (131.7mm in 1961). This has been some of the best weather news I have had to report since I started this blog more than 7 months ago. As long as we now get normal Winter rainfall, our next growing season is looking very good. We do still have the looming problem of water restrictions for next season to temper our enthusiasm.

This week in the vineyard:
We have started pruining now, it is a little early but the sooner we start the sooner we will finish. We have also been continuing to spread fowl manure and working it in, although the rain has slowed this down a little. I am now having to wait for our reactive soils to dry out, last week they were too hard to get the disk to penetrate. Still that is farming, and we will just have to wait a few days.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

This week: 27th. April.


Weather Report Week Ending 27/4/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 23.0C (73F) on Wed.
Minimum Temperature for the week 9.2C (49F) on Mon.
Rainfall for the Week 40.0mm (114 points) 3 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Rain, rain, rain. At last we have had a large amount of rain, and it is continuing to fall as I write this. It looks like we may go close to some of our longstanding rainfall records for April. We have had very steady soaking rain Thurs. and Friday. The graph above shows the steady rain we had all day on Friday. Graph with thanks to Weatherzone.

This week in the vineyard:
We have started spreading fowl manure in the blocks we have identified that will need it. I have also been working up, where I could. Now that we have had all this rain we now need several dry days to enable us to get out in the vineyard - not normally a problem in our soil types. This rain has been so welcome to us coming just one week after the announcement of very severe water restrictions for next year for all Murray Darling irrigators. This has not solved the water issue for us, but it is a very good first step in the right direction.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

This week: 20th. April.

Weather Report Week Ending 20/4/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 25.1C (77F) on Sat.
Minimum Temperature for the week 4.8C (40F) on Wed.
Rainfall for the Week 0.0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another beautiful Autumn week in the Barossa. No rain at all this week. There is a promise of some rain in the forecast for the end of next week - I'll keep you informed.

This week in the vineyard:
Not a lot is happening in our vineyard at the moment. My staff have been on holiday still this week. We have not been able to keep working with the Grizzly disk as it has been too dry. With the possibility of some rain next week we are getting everything ready to go as soon as the season breaks properly. Once we get some rain I will finish working in the summer weeds, then we will spread fowl manure in the blocks we have identified as needing a Nitrogen boost. Then the fowl manure will also need to be worked in. We are also about 2 weeks away from starting our pruning - just waiting for enough leaves to fall off so we can see what we are doing.
During this week the Federal government announced that for the start of the next irrigation season all irrigators on the Murray Darling river system will start with zero water allocation. While this will be an inconvenience to us (we have sub-surface water available to us), it will be an absolute disaster for a lot of grape growers all over Australia. The possibility of no water for the whole season could see large areas of vines dying both here and in the warm inland regions of Australia. Most grape growers will not have the finances available to them to replant if vines do die, not to mention the total lack of income for about 5 years while young vines reach maturity. Our vines will be able to survive on our bore water however we will see some salinity effects in the longer term, as it is considerably more saline than the water we have been using for the last 6 years. We will not want to use this water for more than one growing season as the salt gradually builds up in the soil. As our Prime Minister John Howard says 'we should all pray for rain' as this is the only thing that will end our drought here in Australia. For more detail on the condition of the Murray Darling river system see my link 'Murray River weekly report'.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Vintage Report 2007

This vintage has been a real challenge for all growers in the Barossa Valley. We started the growing season with record low winter rainfall - in fact the whole country has been severely affected by drought. As is usually the case, after a very dry spring, frost is a major risk to us. On Sat. 21st of Oct. while most of our vines were still flowering we had a very short frost event (less than one hour). We still do not know how much crop we lost to this frost - most visible damage was to our growing tips.

In the middle of Jan. we had just over a week of heavy rain which caused severe splitting in some varieties, worst affected appeared to be Shiraz.

Harvest was the earliest this year we have ever had. We started picking Sauvinion Blanc on the 23rd Jan this is 8 days earlier than we have ever picked before. Most blocks were picked 2 -4 weeks earlier than usual. We finished our smallest vintage ever with our Grenache on 26th March. We harvested just 37% of what we picked in 2006. Some of our worst blocks only produced 10% of last years crop. The one positive from the low crops was that we had no problem selling all of our grapes - last year we had to pick some of our crop on to the ground.

Wine quality appears to be fairly variable despite very low cropping levels. There will be some very good wines produced out of the Barossa this year, but I fear there will also be some only average wines produced. This year cropping level does not appear to have been a good indicator of grape quality. The photos I have included show frost damage to Shiraz growing tips 3 days after the frost, and splitting also in Shiraz about 4 days after the rain that caused it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

This week: 13th. April.

Weather Report Week Ending 13/4/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 32.2C (90F) on Tue.
Minimum Temperature for the week 7.2C (45F) on Sun.
Rainfall for the Week 0.0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Another beautiful Autumn week here in the Barossa. A warmer week for us in fact we look like we may set some new average maximum temperature records for April, if it stays much like it has been for the next 2 weeks. No rain recorded this week but we have had a couple of foggy/dewy mornings this week to keep things a little moist.

This week in the vineyard:

The rain we got 2 weeks ago is now just a distant memory. The upside of this is that we have had glorious weather for the 2007 Vintage Festival. I have included some photos I have taken this week. The first two were taken at the street parade (the longest in the southern hemisphere, we are told), it's route runs between Tanunda and Nuriootpa (approx. 7km). The second photo was taken at the Barossa Airshow and shows part of the crowd and flightline. We have not been doing a lot in the vineyard this week. We are still cultivating summer weeds, however we are now limited to our lighter soils as the Grizzly disk will not penetrate our heavy soils. Until we get some more rain those areas will need to wait. Both of my vineyard staff are away on holiday this week - it is the break between harvest and the start of our winter work.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

This week: 6th. April.

Weather Report Week Ending 6/4/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 25.6C (78F) on Mon.
Minimum Temperature for the week 9.0C (48F) on Fri.
Rainfall for the Week 0.4mm (1 point) 2 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

A beautiful Autumn week here in the Barossa. Virtually no rain this week - the moisture from the last two weeks has all but evaporated now. The change of season is really starting to set in with much cooler temperatures all this week.

This week in the vineyard:
We have started working in the summer weeds now. We have also started spreading fowl manure in most or our white varieties. This is the only surface applied fertiliser we put on our vines (we top up with foliar applied nutrients where necessary). There is little sign of change of colour in the vine leaves, although some of the local glory vines are just starting to change, just in time for our local vintage festival. The vintage festival is starting this weekend - approx 100 events spread over a week in the Barossa. Events range from Art and Craft exhibitions to musical performances to a major wine auction (Fri at Nuriootpa) and even a full on air show (Sun 15th 10am-4pm at Rowland Flat). There are individual town days (Lyndoch Mon, Angaston Wed and Tanunda Sat). There will also be a huge float procession on Sat between Nuriootpa and Tanunda. For more details see the web link to the right look for Barossa Vintage Festival.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Email Cash

Recently I discovered the Emailcash web site. I have been responding to surveys for a while now. Emailcash is a lot more than just being rewarded for surveys. You get points for responding to surveys, reading emails and even shopping. If you use Emailcash retailers and then claim your points, you can very quickly accumulate a large number of points, which you can convert to real money. The money can be used for bidding in auctions for things like DVDs, board games, even Ipods and Play Station Portables. You can give money to charity. You can request a cheque to spend on whatever you wish. You can even bank your points at a very attractive interest rate. There are forums to air your views, and classified ads to help you buy and sell trash and treasure. There is even a section to play games against other members. Why not use the emailcash web link to the right or below to join up and have a look for yourself. If you join up and earn 400 points (not that hard to do), then I will also be given 200 points. Give it a go!

This week: 30th. March.

Weather Report Week Ending 30/3/07

Maximum Temperature for the week 29.5C (85F) on Tue.
Minimum Temperature for the week 6.6C (44F) on Sun.
Rainfall for the Week 13.4mm (38 points) 4 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

All except one day this week below our long term average. Another 13mm of rain this week has now got everything looking nice and green. We have now had more than 30mm of rain in the last fortnight, as long as it keeps raining now, this is beginning to look like a very good (and very timely) opening to the season. Just what our vines need after a couple years of drought conditions.



This week in the vineyard:
We have now finished all of our grapes - the picture above shows us hand picking our 40 year old Grenache vines. This was our last parcel of fruit to be picked this year. We have had one of the lowest tonnage vintages in living memory this year. I will do a vintage wrap-up in a later post. I have now started cultivating the mulch we have on the surface of the soil, we are also trying to control the weeds that have started to germinate since it started raining. With the same pass we are also spraying under the vines, to control the weeds that have started to germinate. We have also started work on clearing non-native trees (mostly almond and olive) from one of the creeks that run through our property. We will eventually be planting native trees in the creek to try and stop the non natives from coming back again.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This week: 23rd. March.

Weather Report Week Ending 23/3/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 33.0C (91F) on Fri.
Minimum Temperature for the week 10.6C (51F) on Sat.
Rainfall for the Week 16.2mm (46 points) 4 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Generally below average temperatures this week but with two hot days. The rain started with 15mm on Tue. then very small gaugings for the remainder of the week.

This week in the vineyard:
We only picked the last of our Cabernet this week (for Peter Lehmann wines), but we will be finishing our 2007 harvest this coming week. The rain we had is a fantastic break to the season for us (assuming we now get follow up rain). It will not affect the Grenache we still have hanging as this is due to be picked this coming week.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

This week: 16th. March.


Weather Report Week Ending 16/3/07
Maximum Temperature for the week 36.3C (97F) on Sat.
Minimum Temperature for the week 9.2C (49F) on Tue.
Rainfall for the Week 0.0mm (0 points) 0 days of rain.
Weather data thanks to BOM & Nuriootpa Viticulture Research Centre.

Two very hot days this week, but most of the rest of the week has been very nice.

This week in the vineyard:
We have now finished the last of our Shiraz. The last 2 blocks went to Barossa Valley Estate on Wednesday. We still have Cabernet and Grenache to pick, the Cabernet is due to come off on Monday morning. I am now beginning to think about how we will manage our vineyard over the next 12 months, normally we will put a winter cereal crop in to be mowed and used as a source of organic carbon and mulch. This coming year we look like having very little good quality irrigation water available to us, so I am seriously thinking about conserving as much available soil moisture as I can by not planting a cover crop at all. This will have implications as to what (if any) cultivation we do in the next month or so. Today's photo is of a bunch of Cabernet that will be picked in the next 24 hours.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mad Dog Sangiovese


Mad Dog wines announces the release of our 2006 Sangiovese. This very limited release is from a small trial planting of 250 vines we have had growing on our property for 10 years. This is the first commercial release of this fruit. We have shoot thinned and bunch thinned this block by hand to get the best wine possible. We are very pleased with the way it has turned out. Our wine making team says:

We affectionately call this wine MAD DOCG (with a silencio ‘C’) after the great savoury reds of Tuscany. It is made from Mad Dog’s 10 year old Valley floor Sangiovese, with yields restricted to well under 2 tonnes. The spice laden, wild cherry fruit character overlays a canvas of well seasoned, top notch French Oak. Should age well over the mid-term but we suggest you catch it while it’s showing all its youthful exuberance.

Because we only have a very limited quantity of this wine, if you would like to get hold of some, please, drop me an email (Kammunz(at)hotmail.com) letting me know where you are and I'll let you know how you can get hold of some.