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.
There are three new releases for this summer and I seriously recommend you get on the phone or computer and order some. Ph 03 57562356 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The first is 2018 Gris de Gris made from, you guessed it, Pinot Gris. We kept the grapes on their red skins for a few hours to get an increase in flavor, mouth feel, as in structure and body to the wine, plus a little colour from the skins. The result is a faintly pink, not quite Rose wine with unbelievable appeal on the palate.
The second is in fact a Rose made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Durif. Our last Roses have been primarily Cabernet but I’m very pleased we added some especially picked Durif to the blend which changes the profile considerably. It’s a beautiful Summer wine and will most likely be all gone by the end of Autumn. Now for the third wine. It’s our 2017 Pinot Noir and this is a serious Pinot that is all about the dark cherry flavor. No fluffy strawberry and green tannins. It will hold its own in any company and you should have some.
Also you should, while you can, get some Fiano which won the J.C.Brown Trophy at the Rutherglen show for the best Australian dry white wine made from grapes grown in the North East of Victoria. I have waited thirty years to win this Trophy and a big thanks must go to Nick for helping Feathertop and I achieve it.
In October we relaunched our restaurant as “Stone and Barrel @ Feathertop”, to reference the winery’s rustic character and I guess my handy masonry work that I have tinkered away at over the last 30 years. Our superb chefs Simon Buckley and Sous Chef Robert Clarkson have created a new look menu which can be enjoyed as a sharing style feast amongst friends which is a fantastic way to sit back, relax and enjoy the food, views and of course good Feathertop Wine! If you are planning a visit over the summer holidays, be sure to get online to book or give us a call as tables always book out.
Our team has done a fantastic job of launching some exciting new events at Feathertop. We have had two photography exhibitions in our Vaults (it makes a stunning gallery space), one by my daughter Mieke Boynton showcasing her first 10 years as a landscape photographer, and another exhibition by local photographer Jean-Pierre who exhibited his Racing For Yellow Tour de France photography. Both excellent exhibitions and we look forward to seeing more of these in future.
On February 16 we will be hosting our biggest ever live event at Feathertop – Kate Miller-Heidke. I’m not too familiar with her music but my team tell me she is an incredible talent and tickets have been selling very quickly. Jump on to our website to book as with 450 tickets available it will sell out!
In summary I’d like to say that if you’re visiting Feathertop, you will notice how beautiful the vineyard is and that we have completed our replant after phylloxera hit our vines about twelve years ago. It has been a massive job and thanks to Evan, Smitty and Mike we have finally ended the replant. Fifty thousand holes were dug by shovel and the vines carefully put in, the soil placed around their very tender roots and water applied by our drip irrigation system. They are watered regularly for the first year, less regularly the second and perhaps once or twice depending on rain in the third year, the year we get our first crop. I believe they become a hardier plant without irrigation and can handle stresses like drought much better because they have developed a much larger root system in their search for natural water.
Until then, we look forward to seeing you over the summer.
All the best, and thank you for your support this year.