2018 Vintage story- ill get from chief winemaker Ross soon now that our last 4 ferments have begun – week commencing 2nd April! Yes I got it only took till 28th May – busy family business – bottling this week!!
2018 vintage started out as a bit of odd one; alot of the Oxley fruit ripened early, so we picked it and made a start at Oxley well before any of the Rutherglen fruit. This is a bit odd, as usually we finish Rutherglen before Oxley fires a shot. Nevertheless, it’s all fermented out and looking really nice, through malo-lactic fermentation and waiting patiently to go into barrel for storage. The Rutherglen fruit ripened a bit differently; the order of the blocks weren’t in their traditional order, so we just “winged it”, picked the best fruit and kept moving; again there’s some really nice tanks there now; durif is well…. big, bold and lovable. Even a durif vintage port snuck through the accountants “no” pile; it’s lovely, will be in glass soon. Mr sticky Muscat again rated well with some early pick being transformed into Muscato pop and then some later pick going to fortified.People wise, maybe with another vintage under a few belts- it all went reasonably smoothly. Meghan had claimed the chief cellar rat title, Grace was at her foot and fermenter plunging best with the gamays and pinots, Conrad just loved pumpovers, chardonnay barrel stirring and trying to incorporate scooter riding throughout the winery. So it was all hands on deck again, get it done and move on. Occassionally Ross might turn up with another load of grapes and start the process all over again….. The boys that helped with the grape harvestor made life easier, we got all our grapes in, alot of contract work done, so plenty of happy customers who now have tanks of wine to play with. Again a satisfy season with no great broken machines or bruised egos that we couldn’t handle; though the boys certainly earned and enjoyed the end of vintage beers and dinner…
Overall, it’s been a good one, some tasty Chenin and Riesling will be in bottle by the time you read this, Pinots & Gamay are looking promising, Durif is already great. Also watch out for another new arrivals in the winery; kittens. There’s a trio of mouse chasing, mess making and total time wasting felines that now call the winery home. Already have had to tell a few visitors at the cellar door to please leave the cats when they leave……!
2017 Vintage, or fruit picking and processing time are a glorious time, plenty to see, smell and do. Smiles, tears and everything else jammed into this year. Smiles due to fruit quality and flavours and tears from Meghan as I was battling the cooling plant to ensure the Chenin Blanc & Riesling stayed cold! Its a crazy time of the year when basically in 3 months of the year, you make all the wine style/directions decisions and then spend the next 9 months living out those decisions…. So, needless to say, to work well under pressure is a good quality. 2017 vintage was a late start to the season – crazy Spring rains in 2016, which made it spaced out ( not over in 6 weeks like 2016), so we had time to sample a few grapes along the way, instead of madly picking them and never stopping. time to go and strategically pick blocks for the right flavours and style we want to produce- this year we have some great shiraz material from Gooramadda because of this; multiple pickings of different blocks, which in the big picture will add more complexity to our wines; something we are always trying to achieve. Meghan and kiddies Grace & Conrad did another faultless vintage. Conrad was chief pump switch operator & fermenter washer, while Grace is very happy with her Gamay once again! You may have seen some of these images on our social media accounts or our youtube link-if not check them out. Lets do it all again in Summer/Autumn of 2018!
Well harvest has come to an end so now its time to reflect from a winemakers wife view this newsletter. 2016 vintage was looking calm & well organised season as the weather was on our side in the vineyard from early on back from October 2015, but the sunshine weather gods had a difference in opinion as they brought on a few consistent hot weeks in Feb 2016 when made everything ripen just that little bit quicker and develop stronger and higher alcohol.. which in turn makes hubby chief winemaker aka vineyard managers work just that little bit more harder, certainly had to juggle a lot more hats in a shorter period of time. Sleep you may ask that does not exist in this multi hat wearing family ( trying to catch up now, that the ferments have finished their activities in the Winery)
The Durif I think seems to be a winner this season; it’s looking really good in tank at the moment; Aka the Ox & the Beast! Grace has a soft spot for the Gamay as she helped with the week-long ferment management process of pump overs and also assisted getting the Rutherglen Cabernet into the press. Jnr Conrad this year once again took a leading hand in assisting the hand picking of Muscat at Rutherglen….2016 will certainly show up some heavy reds and full rounded flavoured whites- due to the hotter weather late into the season and little ( no) rain.
This year I felt like a season veteran during vintage as I dusted off my chief cellar rat hat and got into all the required yeast additons, temperature and ferment control- learning lots each harvest that is for sure. This year 2016 was a real family affair with the kids being so hands on and showing such an interest it made it easier to be a mum and Mrs understudy winemaker!! Bring on 2017 and beyond so I can enjoy the wines of my labour with you all! Cheers to that.
2015 vintage was a good one, the cool summer let vines ripen pretty easy, the flavours appeared early in the season, thus start picking, pick some more and keep picking. It’s a vicious cycle and all of a sudden autumn has disappeared, it’s Easter and vintage is nearly over…
The early start to vintage surprised some in the industry, catching a few unprepared, but you needed to know your vines and have a bit of faith in your harvest decisions to call “pick now”. A wine can quickly turn from unripe and no flavour to jammy, porty and alcohol hot in the matter of two weeks, all dependant on fruit ripeness, thus the picking date. The Gamay seems to be a quiet winner this season, it’s looking real good in tank at the moment; it’ll see some short barrel time then bottled before Melb cup if all goes well- Gamay looks better fresh and fruity, thus the short maturation time. Jnr Conrad even had a good go at picking these this year, In the process amazing the other pickers and myself that he didn’t cut himself with the hand snips….2015 will show up some heavy reds and big fortifieds- due to the favourable weather and little rain, the vines ripened up to crazy levels;
Meghan even had to pull on chief cellar rat hat a few times; sometime she doesn’t know what hat she’s wearing or rapidly swapping them- cellar rat, mum, sales room girl, sleep councillor for deprived winemaker, events manager, wholesales wine rep…. the list goes on. But through all that, she’s survived, the kids learnt a lot about red ferments and grape presses and the like and there’s a few wines in tank that wouldn’t have been produced without her help! Cheers to that.
Well, another vintage has come and gone, 2014 was always going to be a challenge- remember those late season frosts in September? And the windstorms that bruised the Gooramadda cellardoor and de-roofed her? And the hail a few weeks later that attacked anything the first two hadn’t already cleaned up…? Challenges; in this industry, you’ve got to thrive on them otherwise you’d be in the corner having a good old cry (mother nature loves to test our strengths), but in some ways, she’ll reward us if you keep your head and tending those darling vines…
The Rutherglen winners of 2014 shone through as some fine cabernet from the Gooramadda hill block, some “C” block shiraz and some keenly contested Durif- many wanted to buy it and many birds loved sampling it- good gear. Muscat fared well in the quality department, but rather short in the volume side; it’s been safely hidden away to keep our muscat stocks up….
The Oxley winners of 2014 where Riesling, Pinot Noir and verjuice made a comeback! Oxley had been hit hard by frosts, the Riesling and Pinot recovered well with small flavoursome crops, thus those grapes evolved into the wine cycle- some others didn’t fare so well, thus the remaining whites evolved into early pick verjuice- it’s already been bottled and ready to go on sale. Verjuice for those not in cooking circles, is very green (early pick) grapes; think very acidic and some sweetness; it’s a used as a replacement for red-wine vinegar (verjuice is a fruity tart acid taste where as vinegar is sour acid)
Well harvest has started today! with Rutherglen having its first midnight pick
Durif is the lucky first grape to come off the vine.
Oxley winery is getting a good clean down and organised by Adam as hand picking should begin next week, so the fermenter vats will be full of Gamay and Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
4/3/2013 -Yeah Oxley had its first picking today, thank you everyone. Couldn’t have asked for better weather sun and more sun. Now those little red delicious grapes can ferment away!
Well harvest is now a blurr with whites settling and reds under malo. Currently the team is tasting past reds in barrel and getting them into tank for bottling, so watch out for some new vintage changes soon
One quote i will remember from 2013 vintage was grace telling me on top of the open fermenter when plunging the cap- not to mash the juicy grapes but squash them gently.