Autumn Changes



Syrah – a patchwork of colours

All the grapes are picked. The nets have been removed, rolled up and stored, and the birds are free to eat the berries left on the vines because they’re not good enough to make wine. It’s been a good harvest, well up on last year though the Syrah and Viognier were down due to the November frosts which arrived right on fruit set.

I write this at the end of the first week of May and today the expected high is 21 degrees C – warm, in other words. That photo of the Syrah was taken today on my morning walk with the dogs, a misty moisty morning, typical of autumn. Simon and Steve are busy in the winery pressing off “the rats and mice”, Steve said when I asked what they were doing, qualifying his answer with, “Simon said it’s some Pinot Gris over there in a tank”.

The marc is being dumped in our new three-bay compost bins to heat up and break down into fertilizer to be spread back under the vines.

Yesterday I hiked up the big hill behind our property, with the dogs of course, to take some shots of our vineyard in all its autumn glory before the wicked Nor’westerlies rip the leaves off the canes.

Whetu on the seat, Hawk to the right, winery & house far below.

Up, up where hawks and falcons dare. This is where my horses live, Smitty and Lily, both nearing 30 years old and I’m sure why they are so fit and healthy in their dotage. They have to scramble up and down this massive hill every day – down in the morning for their breakfast when I bring their “Old-Timer” to fill their buckets. It’s a wonderful view from up here; the public are allowed to take this walk – it’s called the Rapaki Walk – just so long as they shut all gates, and across the other side of the valley are the Canoes of Kupe, Nga Waka o Kupe. The vineyard you see below these is Escarpment, where Larry McKenna makes his wine.

Meanwhile, back down in the Syrah rows Hawk is more concerned about chasing his precious blue ball.




And Whetu, ever obsessed with food, decided she would lick the peanut butter off the mouse trap I’d set in the feed shed in an attempt to rid the place of mice gobbling up the chook and horse feed. She won’t try that again.

This week I was asked by the sommelier at a restaurant we supply to describe two of our wines in plain language so he could train his new staff. It’s so encouraging to see this – nothing worse when you’re out and nobody knows anything about the wine they’re serving or they pretend they know about it and talk rubbish. So this is what I sent him (with Simon’s approval) about the Pinot Gris Italian Style, and the Viognier.

Pinot Gris Italian Style is a flinty dry pinot gris, not so acidic that it’s had the fruit flavour stripped out of it. For those who don’t favour a sweet pinot gris.

Viognier (pronounced Vee-yon-yay) is a dry white wine but still keeping fruity flavours; it should bring to mind apricots and peaches. Because this grape is from the Rhone area and needs a longer ripening period it’s more difficult to grow than Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir in Martinborough.