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a year in the vineyard

17th May: Harvest done and time to start thinking about pruning

Thanks to a good growing season, Kimbarra vineyard had a bumper harvest this year by more than doubling the amount of grapes picked in 2009. The vines all held on well right through to the end of the season due to good rain throughout the growing season. With that all done and dusted thing have been fairly quiet in the vineyard for the last month. We have let the sheep in to graze out the undervine and mid rows of the vineyard which saves us spraying and also provides good feed for the sheep, win-win! Adam has just finished sowing a some ryegrass and fescue into our mid rows which should start to pop up shortly. Our main priority from here in is to wait for all of the leaves to fall off the vines and then start pruning which, can take up to a couple of months.


23rd March: Riesling off ..... Shiraz next week and then look out Cabernet

We harvested 5.3tonnes of Riesling last Tuesday 16th March with a machine in the early hours of the morning. We were very happy with the fruit quality and the flavour profile so look out for the 2010 Riesling. The Shiraz flavour development is in its final stage with some nice pepper just starting to appear - we are anticipating harvesting around 40 tonnes which will be our largest pick in recent times. The Cabernet has tiny little berries which are packing a punch with flavour - due to the mild weather all of the varieties have had the opportunity to ripen slowly allowing them to gradually add layers of complexity to their flavour profiles. All in all 2010 is shaping up to produce some impressive wines from the Grampians region.


6th February: Lovely, lovely colour developing in the berries - silly season is about to start!

Veraison (colouring/ softening) of berries is well underway in Riesling, Cabernet and Shiraz. We will be checking the sugar levels of the berries to gain a guide for potential harvest dates. The canopies all still look fresh which is in part due to good management by Dad with the irrigation and also due the regular rains we have received over the growing period. We have a few grasshoppers nibbling on some shoots but other than that there has been no pest pressure on the growing vines and precious fruit. We are currently dropping fruit off young vines and finishing and vine training - our main task is to estimate our yields and to keep the canopies in good shape with irrigation. As always I have had my trusting vineyard helpers out with me on my weekly check of the vineyard - Harry was particularily annoyed with the flies as you can see him swatting them with his tounge in the photo.


6th December: Fruit set - done... Shoot growth - still going

I am thrilled and amazed to see that the fruit set has been reasonable after we flower occurred during the hot spell in November :) Thankfully our Riesling and Shiraz set looks good and our Cabernet set looks reasonable - so yes at this stage of the season it looks like Kimbarra should be able to harvest a reasonable amount of fruit this vintage... Still a long way to go until harvest though! We have been busy in the vineyard removing shoots from the trunks of the vine, about to lift some foliage wires to prevent rolling of the canopy and also continuing to check for pest and diseases. As you can see from the photos some Grapevine Caterpillars are present however, not in large enough numbers to do any serious damage.


13th November : Hot hot weather whilst vine shoots power along

The vine shoots in all the varieties are racing along due to good soil moisture at the beginning of the growing season. Mostly the shoots are all around 50cm in length and in the Shiraz there is an average of 2 bunches per shoot and a little less in both the Riesling and Cabernet - more accurate yield estimations are currently being determined. With the consistently high temperatures (high 30's) over the last two weeks all the grass has dried off and Dad has cranked the irrigation system back into action to keep the fresh new shoots from wilting. We have also had soil samples taken to check the nutrient levels and the results will be used to determine if any fertilisers are required. The main jobs in the vineyard have been to weekly monitoring for pest and diseases weekly along with soil moisture levels. It is most important that the vines are healthy prior to flowering so we will continue monitor the moisture levels in the soil and irrigate as required.


8th October: Vines happily shooting with good soil moisture

Walking through the vineyard this week I overwhelmed by the green grass which is growing in the mid-rows and surrounding paddocks - amazing to have a wet spring for a change. The vines are all off to a good start with ample soil moisture available which is critical to this very important growth stage. There is some signs of earwig damage to all varieties but it is only minimal and is visible as webbing on the oldest leaves - the vine generally grows out of the damage. At this stage we are getting ready to do the first sulphur spray which will help to protect the vines from powdery mildew, as well as slashing every alternate mid-row and disbudding once the buds have developed into shoots.


22nd September: Pruning all finished and vines back in action!

A huge thanks to George for doing a brilliant job working his way through pruning the 12.5ha of vines at Kimbarra and also thanks to Jim, Adam and Simon who help out towards the end of the run! So with pruning out of the way and the weather warming up the vines have sprung back into life and have beautiful shoots pushing through and developing. The stock (which have been eating down the undervine grass) have just been removed from all of the blocks so as to not damage the fragile little shoots that are developing. The broken trellis posts have all been replaced with thanks to Jim and Adam! One of the main risks to our vines at this stage of growth is the "F" word - frost, and we did have a couple of mild ones last week. However, thanks to rain over the last 10 days the soil is now again moist and the frost risk has diminished which is excellent news. The main jobs in the vineyard over the next month will be monitoring the shoot growth to check for any pest and diseases along with finishing any repairs to our irrigation systems - oh and praying that the "F" word doesn't strike! Interesting also to note that the vines are more advanced this year when compared with the photos from the same time last year.


11th August: Pruning coming to a end and bottling about to begin

George (our trusty vineyard hand) has done a brilliant job working his way through the pruning over the last couple of months - even after being snavelled away to help out in the shearing shed for a couple of weeks! The Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon have all be pruned and the Shiraz is over 50% completed and should be finished in another couple of weeks - perfect timing, as this will be just prior to bud-burst which will occur around mid-September. The sheep have also been put to good use in the vineyard to maintain the winter undervine growth.
The 2009 Handpicked Riesling will be bottled this week with the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2008 Shiraz will also be bottled in the next couple of months. All superb looking wines so keep an eye out for their release.