Twelve months has gone by and here we are again, facing another vintage. The weather has been kind this season with a wet spring getting the vines and garden off to a great start. The dams are nearly full having got to their lowest point ever last year. Rain throughout this season has meant that we have had minimal watering and, despite an early smattering of downy, the vineyard had stayed clean.
The last year has been busy with family, travel, general plantings around the farm and plenty of work in the vineyard. We have been blessed with some additional help; initially in late winter when Edoardo Luvici spent 6 weeks with us, helping in the vineyard, encouraging my Italian cooking and assisting our Italian language in preparation for our trip to Italy in september.(hence the photos I have added for a bit of international flavour!) It was a wonderful cultural exchange and we had many long lunches discussing all sorts of aspects of both our countries. By the time we reached Chianti, Edoardo and Eva had moved there as well and we had a joyful reunion in one of the prized restaurants of the region. A couple of weeks ago Marianne came to help, bringing tales of her native Estonia as well as many stories of her experiences working here in Broome, on a cattle station, and then in a supermarket on the east coast. She is new to the world of vines and wine but is learning quickly and enjoying the challenge.
We have continued to follow the principals of organic and biodynamic farming. This year will be our 6th year of BD sprays and we are pleased to see that the farm in general, and the vines in particular, are growing well and remaining healthy. This year we netted all the apple trees and have been rewarded with a large crop of perfect fruit. I am amazed at how dense the apples are; very weighty in the hand and full of flavour and juice. Luckily we have plenty of family and friends who love apples. I'm going to dry them and even try bottling. I have started a new vegetable garden just to the east of the house, in the old pony paddock. It was full of dock after being used for years as a starvation paddock for fat ponies. The dock has done a great job of loosening up the soil, its great tap root doing easily what I would need a machine to do. And the vegetables have done very well. One must only plant one, or at the most two, zucchini plants! We have been inundated after planting 4 of them. And I keep forgetting to check and they grow overnight into metre long marrows!
I have continued to plant around the farm extensively from late autumn into the start of spring. Each year I sprout 100 or so acorns which we collect from a variety of places during autumn. The following year I can plant well established seedlings as well as a variety of plants for our hedgerows, woodlands and windbreaks. Our aim is to reforest all of the property except the vineyard and, even there, we have interplanted an orchard and left places to grow insect attracting plants and herbs, in an attempt to increase the biodiversity. As a consequence we have a healthy population of spiders, frogs, insects and, best of all, birds. When we first came here 25 years ago, and it was just grass, there were few birds. Now they are everywhere and in all shapes and sizes. Wedge-tailed eagles. Yellow-tailed black cockatoos. Maggies and Kookaburras. Wrens,fantails,robins and swallows. They come here to nest and raise a family. This year, just outside the kitchen door, we watched as a brood of swallows launched themselves, starting with a tentative flight onto the picnic chairs, then the short flit around the garden until they could finally perch above the house on the power line, all in a row, and take their turn showing their mastery of the air and acrobatic skills. I have a large tiled plate sitting on the outside table that I keep full of water so that it can be used by the many birds in the garden to bathe and drink from. It is in constant use.
So; nets off the chardonnay tomorrow and picking at 7am the following day. I'm always pleased when we get to this time of the year. 12 months of work goes into this moment and it is good to get going and see what the vines have produced. Every year is different, and there are always surprises, both good and bad. Definitely not boring and different vines = different wines. This year we will pick the young cabernets; merlot, malbec, cab franc and petit verdot. Could be a disaster but we are very curious to see what they can come up with. We will have lots of fun sampling. Jonathan has just bottled the 2016 Chardonnay and it is lovely and fresh with a hint of tropical fruits and soft tannins. Of course we have to sample over dinner!
We have an extra special event as well this season. Kat and Thom are expecting and the baby is due in 9 days. We will keep you posted!
Greetings to you all and we hope to see you soon,
Andrea. March 1, 2017