Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Post from Alsace France

I am in Strasbourg, France currently. I spent a couple of days longer in Spain than I was hoping to, due to very heavy flight bookings. I have been in France for 4 days and am really enjoying it, despite not knowing much French. The people are very friendly and try to help any way they can. I am quite glad that I do not need to farm some of the land that they grow grapes on. The vineyards are very steep with very high planting densities. I have seen very few vineyards that could be worked mechanically here, but the small land holdings probably make this impractical anyway. The rules that they also need to comply with would cause me frustration, but they do also provide some stability to their industry that we do not enjoy back home. The photo shows a traditional French village with an ancient fort overlooking it, surrounded by vineyards.

Back in the Barossa Valley it has been drizzly and we have had several frosts. We recorded 11mm of rain for the week over 5 days. I believe we are also seeing the first signs of bud swell.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Post from Spain

Today I am posting from Barcelona in Spain. I have spent most of this week on the Mediterranean coastal region. Grape growing here is very interesting - while the climate is similar to the Barossa Valley, the soils are very different. The stony and chalky type soils produce very low vigour vines. I have visited several wine regions while here, but lack of time will limit me to regions close to Barcelona. Next I am heading to France. The photo is of a typical Spanish vineyard, although this one is a relatively high vigour one. This was taken in the hills above Tarragona.
Back at home it is continuing to rain in small amounts, we have had a total of 14.8mm for the week and recorded some rainfall 6 out 7 days. We have started mowing down our cover crop. This years' cover crop is looking like one of the best we have grown for quite a few years - not a bad result considering it has not had any artificial fertiliser, only the fowl manure we usually put on every second row each year. I think we must be doing something right with our soil!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Another Airport - this time JFK New York

Well this blog comes to you from New York. I am waiting for a flight to the UK, where I will be spending the weekend before flying on to Barcelona to have a look at wine growing in Spain. This week I have spent here in New York and in Maryland, I have been talking to wine promotion people and regional marketing organizations. I am interested in how regions brand, and then market themselves - as I feel the Barossa Valley is not doing as good a job as it could at this. My Nuffield scholarship that I am on at the moment is helping me find out how other regions are doing this and giving me lots of ideas that the Barossa might like to try.
The photo today was taken in Washington state, it is of the entrance to the Red Mountain AVA, a relatively small but, I think up and coming area for premium grapes.
Back at home it continues to rain in small amounts. We have had 20mm for the week, however this was spread over 5 days (useful, but not ideal). Just another piece of news I have from home, this week the Barossa Grape and Wine association appointed a CEO. He is Sam Holmes, and I look forward to meeting him and working with him when I get back home.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Boise, Idaho

I am currently in Boise, Idaho. I have spent most of the last week in the Washington wine growing area. For a relatively young wine growing region, they are making some amazingly good wines. There are also some of the worlds best winemakers working here. So far I have been very fortunate with the weather - everywhere that I have been has been fine and warm but not too hot. This coming week I will be flying to the west coast of the USA. The photo this week is of sunset in Washington state taken near Dayton.

This week at home in the Barossa we have only had 4.4mm of rain for the week. This is only enough to keep things damp, but we do still need some heavy soaking rains before the end of winter.