Two more golds for our alternative varieties

Fiano-Classico 2013We can’t quite believe it but  both our Fiano Classico 2013 and the Reserve Graciano 2012 have won Gold at the 2014 Australian Alternative Varieties Show in Mildura Victoria.

Graciano 2012This is perhaps the most important Wine Show for alternative or emerging varieties, which we know as Strange Bird here on the Granite Belt.  It attracts entries from big and small producers all over the country and several international judges are included on the judging panel.  We are the only winery that grows Graciano in Queensland as far as we know. The variety has a long history in Spain where it is believed to be the ancestor of many of the wine grapes that now flourish throughout the Mediterranean

We had no expectation of winning a medal but entered a couple of our wines to benchmark them against Australia’s best non-mainstream wines.

And all this just a week or so after our gold and double trophy win at the Australian Small Winemakers’ Show for our Old Vine Shiraz, (Best Queensland Red Wine and Best Queensland Shiraz). It’s a wonderful beginning.

Our new cellar door and underground wine store, which was blasted from a small granite promontory overlooking the vineyard, is still on track to open around Easter 2015.

Gold and two trophies left us speechless

Best Qld Red Wine trophy 2

Not only did our Old Vine Shiraz win gold at the Australian Small Winemaker’s Show, it also took out the two top awards for Queensland wines. The trophies for Best Queensland Red Wine 2014 and Di Lucas Memorial Trophy 2014 copythe Dick De Luca Memorial Trophy for Best Queensland Shiraz 2014 were presented at a gala dinner at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism on the Granite Belt.

For the first time in many years I was speechless and Brad could only manage a few words of thanks to all the winemaking team and the judges – leading wine industry figures from all over Australia.

The really poignant thing about winning the Dick De Luca Memorial Award was that the old vines that produced the fruit for the wine, came from cuttings taken from Dick De Luca’s own vineyard more than 40 years ago.
The perpetual trophy was sponsored by Dick De Luca’s family (he was a pioneer of the wine industry on the Granite Belt)

The Australian Small Winemaker’s Show received almost 1500 entries this year from every State, the ACT and New Zealand. Granite Belt wineries represented around 10% of the total wines submitted but won about 15% of the gold medals, 17% of the silver medals and 12% of the bronzes.

The only sad note in all this celebrating is that we lost our Old Vine Shiraz to hail in 2013 and to frost in 2014 vintage, so there will be no more until we release our 2015 vintage (assuming the weather gods allow us a harvest), probably in late 2017 or early 2018. The good news is that after Brad’s expert decapitations of last year and his lovingly administered nutrition and organic spray program since then, the vines are looking happy and healthy.

Angelo Puglisi of Ballandean Estates gave us the advice after the frost disaster to just cut off their heads. We did it with trepidation but it worked perfectly. Angelo came up to us at the awards dinner and said with a laugh “I should have told you just to pull those old vines out!” before enveloping me in a giant bear hug.


While the vines are sleeping

May 2014 003There is a lot to be done in a vineyard while the vines are sleeping. This year those sub-zero temperatures that our vines need to go into a deep, deep sleep have not yet arrived – although we’ve had one or two nights below zero – but not enough yet. Some of our vines have actually sprouted new leaves. In June! We’ve given them a good talking-to and sent them back to bed. Pruning will have to be held off right until Winter’s end, or even very early Spring this year. The long dormant phase of the vineyard gives us the chance to catch up on all the things we didn’t have time to do last year once buds had burst, tiny fruits had appeared and vintage was upon us. There are always bird nets to be repaired, grafts to be done, perhaps new wires or posts to be put up. Our new cellar door is taking shape and that has added to the workload. But even so, we love this time of the year with its glorious sunsets and cold, crisp mornings followed by sunny mild days. This is a special time of year on the Granite Belt. A time for exploring the National Parks, sitting in front of log fires with a glass of one of our wonderful Granite Belt wines. And of course visiting wineries to taste the new releases. For a city girl, I seem to be coping with living in the country. I am beginning to know the vineyard – beginning to understand that each variety has its little idiosyncrasies and special needs. The charm of the vines is weaving its spell and I am finding myself drawn in. Wanting to spend more and more time working peacefully among them rather than hankering for the theatre of the shops. There are unexpected pleasures of vineyard life – like face to face encounters with our resident kangaroos as I turn a corner to enter a new row of vines, or the flocks of water birds that new make our lovely little man-made lake their home. Always some new fly-in fly-out visitor to watch for a while.