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Monthly Report - February 2006

Will the vintage turn up trumps?…


Well it has been welcome relief to wake up to warm mornings and even hotter afternoons, the weather at last has moved in the right direction giving us at least an even chance of making wines in the style, and with the flavours, we seek. 


The month began with our last training pass through the Viognier; with a good solid period of growth these vines will be in production in 2007, giving us an opportunity then to assess the potential of this variety.  From this point on we have spent all of our time leaf plucking and tidying up wires – we could have hedged the vines, we could have even left them alone but we decided that due to the delayed and cool start to the growing season we needed to give every opportunity to the vines to ripen their grapes fully without the pressure of diseases or the risk of green herbaceous notes in our wine.


Leaf plucking opens the canopy around the fruiting zone completely.  All the basal leaves and redundant canes and laterals are also removed.  This opens the canopy reducing disease pressures and increasing the heat load on the grapes.  It is a long winded job and we even managed to get our neighbours and good friends the “Cain Clan” to help out one Saturday to speed the process along.


With such a hands on approach to the vineyard we are able to get an excellent insight into how the different varieties are going and our feelings at the moment are:


  • The Merlot and Marsanne fruit set is extremely variable with these early flowering varieties getting the worst of the early season weather conditions.  No fruit requires dropping and the quality is difficult to ascertain.  Opening the canopy definitely helped these varieties more than any other, and a close watch on sugar and acid levels prior to harvest will be required here.

  • Cabernet Franc has excelled in this weird vintage with excellent, even fruit set and veraison moving ahead faster than would be expected considering the start to the season.  Fruit may be dropped after the final check through the block, but this will be a minor re-calibration just so as to “tweak” the most out of the flavours that we get.

  • The Shiraz is behind in timing to all the varieties and is only starting to colour up now.  Plants look pale (which is par for the course for this variety), but the fruit looks in excellent shape and if the weather can wait for this vine then something really good may come out of it.


Our vintage now is in the lap of the gods, the weather over the next 6-7 weeks will be a critical factor and we have crossed all our fingers and toes….



That’s more like it….


February finally provided nice hot DRY days giving us a month of solid growth and a bit of stress on our pampered vines.  A summary of the month’s weather records are as below:

February 2006:     

Avg Maximum Temp          26.2°C

Daily Max recorded            37.3°C


Avg Minimum Temp           12.8°C               

Daily Min recorded               6.9°C


Rainfall:                               3.2mm

In comparison to 2005 the temperatures are slightly higher, with even a bit less rain fall.

February 2005:      

Avg Maximum Temp          25.6°C

Daily Max recorded            34.8°C

Avg Minimum Temp           13.6°C

Daily Min recorded               9.0°C


Rainfall:                             10.0mm

We were working in the vineyard on the day the maximum temperature of 37.3°C occurred and it also happened to be the windiest day with 65kph northerly winds blasting through the vineyard.  It was like being in a hair dryer, and didn’t the vines know it!


Finishing touches…


Well it is coming down to the wire, with all the nets to be put out to keep the pesky birds at bay and some final touch up work in the vines, we are approaching vintage.  The Marsanne we hope to take off in mid-March, with the remainder to be harvested in April at this stage.  Family and friends have been made aware of the timing and we’re hoping the grapes ripen in an even manner so as to ensure maximum numbers of pickers are available so as to make the task a quick and painless one.


It’s an exciting and nervous wait for us all involved at Blue Poles Vineyard





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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