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Monthly Report - October 2005

A month of new growth…


October is the month new leaves and shoots appear within the vineyard.  It is an exciting time with hopes of a classic vintage always in the back of your mind.  The cool start to the season has meant delay of bud burst with the different varieties held back by up to 2 weeks on what occurred in 2004.


The Shiraz and Cabernet Franc have really set well with the buds bursting evenly across all the plants.  Merlot is being its capricious self, with a varying rate of growth across the vines – this occurred last year and appears to be the habit of this variety.  Marsanne is well advanced and unfortunately it suffered a minor bit of damage due to a minor hail storm that passed though in late October.  With its larger leaves and canes it got caught out – we don’t expect any drop in quality however as this vine is so vigorous we can do with a bit of natures help!


Old fashioned weed control…


The working month has been very busy as we have gone all out to reduce to weed load in the vineyard as well as complete training passes though all the varieties, not to mention the planting out of more Marsanne, and two new varieties for the vineyard, Chardonnay and Teroldego.  The grape variety Teroldego comes from the NE of Italy in an area known as Trentino, it produces a medium red wine with nuances of black cherry and those Italian flavours of tar and smoke – we’ll see how it goes and hopefully have a barrel or two available in 3 years!


Our vineyard has an agricultural history of dairying, beef and pig farming.  Ripping up of this old ground for vine planting has released many weeds and old workings into the vineyard.  We are finally beating the weeds, which includes the removal of blackberry and deadly nightshade by hand.  This means a significant reduction in herbicide spraying into the future, and we hope to reduce this to zero as the vineyard stabilises.  The plus side of the various farming operations is the lovely deep soil profile that is developed within the gravels – in fact where the old piggery was the soil is black and rich from all the waste, a fantastic medium for the vines.


And winter goes on and on….


Weather during the past month has been very different to what we’ve been used to here in the south west of WA.  October has been the wettest month since 1999 and the coldest also since 1999 with the temperature data below:

October 2005:     

Avg Maximum Temp          16.0°C

Daily Max recorded            20.4°C


Avg Minimum Temp             8.5°C               

Daily Min recorded               4.6°C


Rainfall:                               126.4mm

In comparison to 2004 you can understand why we feel winter is still dragging on a bit….

October 2004:      

Avg Maximum Temp          19.1°C

Daily Max recorded            26.9°C

Avg Minimum Temp             9.8°C

Daily Min recorded               5.8°C


Rainfall:                             20.8mm

The biggest effect colder and wetter weather has had on the vineyard has been the amount of groundwater still to the surface throughout the block and within small sections of the vineyard.  This has delayed the mulching and some of our protective sprays – all of these jobs will be on the go during November.  One of the main pressures faced by the vines are insect pressures, with weevils, spring beetles and black beetle raising their horrid little heads during early spring – interestingly enough they have not made much of a showing as yet due to the cold start and they’ve delayed into November as well.


What we have to look forward to…


When we got into the vineyard game, we assumed there would be months when the work load would drop off and we would have some time “sipping chardonnay on a bench” somewhere.  Throughout the development of the vineyard it has been constantly busy, and now as the vineyard matures it seems to be even busier!  Jobs we have coming up include mulching, spraying, training, 1st wire lift, further debudding and fruit thinning prior to set, weeding and irrigating – I guess we have the attitude that great wine can only be made by great fruit so this work is essential in the meeting of this ideal.


Tasty, tastings…


Speaking of great wine …. the 2005 vintage in barrel has had a few visitors over the past month and we are pleased to report the wine is progressing well.  The Merlot has deep fruit richness with black cherry and chocolate coming to the fore, and a length that goes on and on.  Cabernet Franc has had its first racking and the palate is a wonderful rich compote of red berries (raspberries tend to come forward here) and again, a good length.  An experimental barrel of Shiraz/Viognier is looking interesting and we’ll keep you informed on how this wine is progressing over the coming months.


That’s the month that’s been at Blue Poles Vineyard.  Happy drinking…..





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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