As I enjoy the warm summer sunshine, I reflect back on what was one of the best springs I can remember.
Firstly, Jack Frost was kind to us here in Porepunkah but hit many vineyards as close as thirty kilometers away. It is such a nervous time of the year not really knowing if your area, or in particular, your vineyard is going to be slammed by a minus 3 or lower frost which will totally destroy all the Spring growth and subsequent crop. Our vines are looking fantastic with a good crop of fruit showing. Those tiny little bunches are about two weeks away from flowering and self fertilizing all individual berries which is the most vulnerable for botrytis infection. You see as the tiny berry flowers, it pushes off a little cap at the top, the stamen come out with a tiny puff of pollen, the ovary is open and hey presto, fertilization takes place. Nature at its best!
If botrytis spores are also present, they can enter the ovary and lay dormant inside the berry until the sugars start to increase some six weeks later. This is the critical time for us in the vineyard to make sure we get the correct fungicide on at the correct timing to prevent this from happening.
We have twenty varieties in the vineyard and each one flowers at a slightly different time. The spray program always seems to be total chaos for those couple of weeks but somehow we manage.
Back to early Spring. Bud burst was the latest experienced here at Feathertop. We put the date at second of October, while the latest date prior to this was 26th September. A late start but with the warm weather they have caught up and as I said looking fantastic.
Under Nick Toy’s directorship, Feathertop has very recently completed a massive bottling of 3500 dozen wines spread over many labels and varieties. The bottling truck with all the equipment arrives, backs in to our newly concreted piazza, runs out a wine hose and connects to the first tank of wine to be bottled. The new and sterile bottles are hand removed from a pallet and placed on a conveyor which moves them through a rinser, then a filler and labeler then down to the end of the truck where two people are working flat out placing them into our Feathertop boxes. The box then goes through a taping devise, down another conveyor and picked up by yet another team member and stacked on a pallet. We use the mobile bottlers because the alternative is to have a half million dollar bottling plant and housing sitting idle for forty plus weeks of the year.