Monday, April 27, 2009

Bushgardens and a Biscay Brunch

It has hardly stopped raining for the past four days. Not a heavy rain that washes away precious topsoil in our hilltop vineyard or colourful cottage gardens but a gentle, soaking rain that is ever so slowly soaking into the rock hard ground. And I mean slowly..... Yesterday I went to the Barossa Bushgardens native plant sale and came home with about thirty various native seedlings to plant during the brief dry breaks in the autumn showers. I was amazed that the moisture had only soaked into the ground about two inches deep so digging was not as easy as I thought. Needless to say, there are many still left to plant during the coming week as after planting ten seedlings, opening a bottle of Barossa Shiraz and sitting in the cellar watching the rain seemed like a much more sensible and relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon:)

Monday morning started off a little more hectic than how Sunday afternoon ended. The morning showers made it hard to get going but as James was heading off to Biscay Vintners early, I had a few things to do before driving down the hills to the valley to meet him, Pete, Jason and Abel for morning tea (armed with a basket of warm scones, home-made apricot jam and jersey cream). James had pump-overs to do of our red wines. By the time I arrived he had finished so we all stopped for brunch whilst listening to the rain pouring on the winery roof. A really nice way to spend the last part of the morning.

As you can see from the photos here, the red wines are looking great. James is very happy indeed with this years crops and even thinks the flavours are better than last year (which also was a fabulous year for us despite the bizarre weather around vintage). It is all very exciting and so hard to wait for so long til the fruits, literally, are in the bottle. That's what I like about riesling - we can pick it in February and be drinking from the bottle by July. I guess though, that nothing beats an aged shiraz but it is hard to be so patient. James has really worked hard with Pete, Jason and Abel the past few weeks and it is terrific to see all the guys pottering about the shed each doing their own thing yet helping each other when the need be. Truly what small scale Barossa wine-making is all about! That deserves another delivery of home-cooked goodies I think. Perhaps on Friday:)

Friday, April 24, 2009

When the Festival's's back to the vineyard

The past month has gone by so fast. In between my last post and this one we have had the 2009 Barossa Vintage Festival, numerous days of grape-picking and even my first drive around the Barossa in our newest acquisition with friends from the city. The Vintage Festival was a huge success and the weather for the week-long event was truly the Barossa at its beautiful best. The Valley was full of people attending many events. It was great to see everyone still enjoying themselves despite the current economic climate. That was the best thing about the Festival - there were events that were free to attend and ones that were well over $100 per ticket and everything price range in between so there really was something for everyone.

During the Festival a few of James' friends, John and Annette, stayed at Nuriootpa for a couple of days during which I took them on a tour to a few unique places in the Valley in our recently restored classic old Holden. They met some of our Collective counterparts - Steve Kurtz and Wayne Ahrens - for a private tasting, and it was wonderful to finally bring them to our place and sit in the old stable having a few glasses of wine. After a few extra stops we ended up having dinner with them at
The Branch in Nuriootpa.

This week has been spent doing part days hand-picking of our Eden Valley Shiraz - a half tonne picked on Monday to pool with grapes from Colin Sheppard (from Flaxman Wines) for a Sparkling Shiraz. On Tuesday we picked our old vine Eden Valley Shiraz
(about half a tonne only) for our own BullFrog Flat Shiraz and the last of the young shiraz was picked yesterday for our Red Blend. A very busy week indeed. James has taken leave from his full-time job at ETSA to be active in making our reds and today is picking up some Eden Valley Cabernet which we have sourced from David Brown (Mountadam Winery). In between all of this we have still been visiting Rocland (see the photo below of James and Juicy in front of the tank) to see how our riesling is progressing and so far, so good. All in all, in a few weeks time life should resume some normality and then it will be time to start pruning!

Finally, other news is that we have a new distributor for NSW, ACT and VIC - Single Vineyard Sellers and a new venture about to start in Tasmania so things are quite hectic on the paperwork/despatch side but very positive. I will also be attending a dinner in Brisbane at the end of July with many other Barossa winery representatives hosted by The Purple Palate. I will post more info regarding the Brisbane dinner and our own Barossa At Home dinner as things are confirmed in the coming weeks but for now, on this lovely rainy afternoon, I am heading to the kitchen to make a batch of scones and open a bottle of red which will be consumed watching the AFL match on television later tonight. It's been a huge month and it is certainly time to kick back and relax for a day or two.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Look out, there are scarecrows about!

Autumn must be the most beautiful season in the Barossa for our visitors. The parching heat has gone and the days are warm still but comfortable. The trees and vines have slowly begun to turn the prettiest shades of red, gold and brown. Even the birds are hopping around happily. Personally I prefer winter here in the ranges (I just love being inside - especially reading or cooking - with the fire roaring, rain pounding on the roof and the wind howling through the trees) and I do hope that this year the rainfall is much higher than in the previous years.

There has been much postive anticipation leading up to the 2009 Barossa Vintage Festival, which is only held every second year. The wine industry has had it's fair share of bad news and economics recently and recent talk of the government removing the WET tax will make things worse for some so it is good to see and feel the vibes of the Festival lifting at least some peoples spirits. Usually I am working too much to enjoy the festivities and although we are still having our own vintage (the grapes are picked later here in the ranges) I think I may have a little spare time to at least visit a few of the activities. Karra Yerta, as a winery, is not participating in any event this year mainly due to time constraints and the fact that I am in the midst of organising other exciting things for us in the very near future. I will however make an effort to see some of the heritage exhibitions and sample some of the fine food and wines produced in our beautiful area as there are still many wines that I have not tasted despite my best efforts:) One of my favourite events is the Yalumba Harvest Market which will be held this year on Tuesday April 14 and Wednesday April 15. The grounds of Yalumba provide a magnificent backdrop and there are always many stalls with samples of some of the Valley's finest wares.

During the past week I have been stopping to take photos of some of the scarecrows on display throughout the area. It is amazing how much time and effort some people put in to create their scarecrows. Here are a couple of scarecrow photos: one was taken in the Tanunda Foodland and the other is of Demolition Dave (the nick-name of a local who recently won on the television program "Wipe-Out"). I am sure that this year's Festival will be a great success and by the look of things, the weather is going to be sensational so to any of you who visit the area for it, have a great time and enjoy the special things our wonderful area has to offer.