TARRAHILL 2018

Wednesday, September 12

yarra valley morning mist

yarra valley morning mist

Hi All!

I'm back sitting at my desk. Is it really a year since the last post? How time does get away.

In my defence, I have been active with photos and posts on our Facebook page and Instagram, both of which I find convenient and spontaneous and probably a better representation of events. Much has happened here, both in the vines, the winery and in our lives in general so here is a (hopefully) brief update.

2017 was a busy year and very warm for the vines. Things grew like topsy and ripening happened in a rush so that harvest was early and very short. The wines are bigger and heavier than we have made in the past.

Our first grandchild, Teddy, arrived in the middle of vintage leading Jonathan to write on the white board, recording all the picking details: 'Cabernet/Pinot/Shiraz/Chardonnay/Babies 1'.!!

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The winemaker, fresh from pressing, meets his first grandchild.


In May I flexed off to Norway to go wwoofing in a commercial nursery in Kristiansand in the southwest. It was quite a change from viticulture and very interesting and ultimately useful, as well as being lots of fun. All grist to the mill.

My workspace for the spring seedlings

My workspace for the spring seedlings

The nursery: Radesund Planteskole, Kristiansand, Norway

The nursery: Radesund Planteskole, Kristiansand, Norway

2018 was difficult due to disease pressure at critical times, particularly before bunch closure. We have continued with our biodynamic regimen which helps the vines' resilience so that they recover quickly from these adverse events. In the end we were 30% down on our normal harvest: better than some who did far worse. There are other options that we can explore with biodynamics, using other biological sprays such as whey etc, which I would like to look at in this coming season. 

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Each season is different, keeping us on our toes. We never really know what is coming. Just after this vintage young Clementine arrived into our world, a beautiful baby daughter to Lizzie and Matt and our second grandchild.

Clementine

Clementine

So far this year we have had lower than average rainfall: virtually none in March and May, as well as a dryish winter; rain periods but no mud, not a 'normal' state of affairs for this region at this time of the year, but then, what is normal these days?

We moved the naughty sheep out of the vineyard yesterday ahead of imminent budburst. We bought 10 more sheep (we now have 20) late last year and they have kept us on our toes as far as managing their grazing. They show no respect for my tentative electric tape that is supposed to shield my new plantings from their busy chewing so we have been at war. I woke up the other morning with the idea that putting the 5 most difficult ones in the freezer would solve our problems; they have been perfectly behaved since.

Our moulting sheep looking a little rough round the edges as they go into spring

Our moulting sheep looking a little rough round the edges as they go into spring

They have, I have to admit, done a fabulous job mowing the vineyard. As things really start to grow with the warmer weather, we will be back on the tractors. Last year we left large tracts between vine parcels unmown, the long grass acting as habitat for insects and small birds. The orchard that we planted in the middle of the vineyard similarly adds biodiversity as well as still producing incredible apples.

Pear harvest

Pear harvest


We have had wonderful help from backpackers, HelpX and family over the last couple of years, both during the year and particularly at vintage. Ed and his friends have come up as a change from their desk jobs and enjoyed the country air, vigorous exercise and lunch or dinner. Our international helpers from Italy, Estonia, Germany and, most recently, China, have been great fun and very interesting. Such a wonderful cultural exchange. We look forward to seeing Edoardo and Eva again in Italy and even going to China at some stage to see how the wine industry is going there.

Bella and Neal making authentic Chinese dumplings for us!

Bella and Neal making authentic Chinese dumplings for us!

I continue planting trees and shelter belts here with the intention of reforesting as much as is practical. It unfortunately requires a lots of extra fencing when the plants are small so that the horses, sheep and rabbits don't do irreparable damage. It is slow work but each year sees some progress.

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Jonathan has been busy putting the wines out to various wine shows and further developing our product distribution.  Kat has been our right hand helper with our promotions and marketing, somehow finding time in between looking after a busy 18 month old and running her (and partner's) new business venture. 

Teddy and me feeding horses.

Teddy and me feeding horses.

Lizzie, Matt and baby Clem are now in Healesville and Clare is working at the wonderful K&B in the town as well as helping us at home. 

And last, but certainly not least, we have bought some land down on the Tasman peninsula, a bush block that is part of the land conservancy scheme in Tasmania. We will build a small house but otherwise cannot do other than have some r&r and enjoy the reclusive time that it offers. I'm sure that friends and family with want to join us occasionally!

Eagle Brae, Saltwater River, Tasmania

Eagle Brae, Saltwater River, Tasmania

So, here we go, into the 2019 season. BD sprays on next week, some microbiological soil testing to be done, and thus the work begins!

Open days this year are 13th and 20th October 2018 at the winery from 10am. 

best wishes to you all

andrea and jonathan September, 2018.