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Monthly Report - August 2006

A New Beginning…


Having just toured through the vineyard cleaning up the bases of some of our vines, lo and behold I noticed buds were pushing their way forward and in the Marsanne little green leaves could be seen.  The 2007 vintage has begun and with it all the anticipation, toil and worry as we roll forward to vintage.


August has been a busy month with all sorts of odd jobs completed and a variety of projects just about to begin.  The vines have been in recess since we finished pruning and this has given us a chance to get in there and tidy up the roses at the head of all our rows (and there are a few), and later in spring we will post a photo of the front of the vines with the roses in full bloom – very nice.  Also a long walk completing all the minor detail of pruning which gets missed in the first pass, lots of basal buds tidied up, canes rewound, strings removed and buds checked – this little bit of effort makes all the tasks coming up in spring that much easier.  The whole vineyard has also been limed and we will deliver out some phosphate for our growing roots in the coming month – soil analyses show great pH balance and we aim to keep this as a minimum.


As with winter in the SW of Western Australia, the passing of cold fronts often brings storms that lash the coast and create mini tornadoes that touch down between Augusta and Perth.  Well to our dismay one such small storm (referred to as “cock-eyed bobs”, and no I don’t know where the name comes from!), went through our vineyard on the 14th August and caused some damage to the shed and blew out the eastern fence due to the storm picking up large sawn branches and tossing them like confetti across the next door neighbour's paddock.  Very exciting of course but not for Gary Cain our next door neighbour who had numerous fences all over his farm whacked by the storm with trees down everywhere.  Below are some photos of the damage – we got off pretty lightly really and the chooks stopped laying for a day or two, post traumatic stress disorder!

200608_Storm tree across coop.JPG
200608_Storm Trees across fence.JPG

Tree uprooted in storm, nearly collecting the chicken coop (top) and Branches strewn across neighbours paddock with fence flattened (bottom)

The building of a large fence around the lower third of our property was completed during the month and this was a job completed by Gary and I over a week or so.  It is very satisfying building fences, they provide an aesthetic that must be part of a European psyche as once the fence was built the whole shape of the vineyard has now changed in my mind’s eye.  The fence line marks the western extent to which we can plant vines on our property, and the enclosing of this lower section has provided the capacity to run some stock as well as provide a house site for the vineyard.  The house will be built over the coming year and the Gifford clan will move their worldly belongings hopefully for one last time.  By living on the vineyard we will be able to achieve much more and have the pleasure of enjoying our location which we believe to be very special.


Lastly from the vineyard the dam finally overflowed, 23rd August to be exact and this is compared to late June to early July for the previous 4 years – better late than never one could say.  One other little task that took a bit of to-ing and fro-ing was the printing of our 2005 labels, they are required for the bottling run of our wine in early September, and we are all very excited as we have watched this wine grow up and believe that it will really make a statement about the quality of fruit grown on the estate.


Hot August Nights…


Well normally August is one of the colder months down here but the weather has heated up a bit and also provided some decent rainfall.  The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:

August 2006:     

Avg Maximum Temp          17.9°C

Daily Max recorded            22.1°C


Avg Minimum Temp             9.7°C               

Daily Min recorded               5.0°C


Rainfall:                               173.4mm

In comparison to 2005 the maximum and minimum temperatures were quite a bit higher, as was the rainfall, and this may bring budburst a little bit further forward (though the Marsanne budburst in 2005 was the 25th August, identical to 2006 – the remaining varieties may budburst a little earlier however).

August 2005:      

Avg Maximum Temp          16.6°C

Daily Max recorded            20.5°C

Avg Minimum Temp             8.2°C

Daily Min recorded               3.0°C


Rainfall:                             134.0mm

An area that interests me is the comparison between our weather and the weather of the famous growing areas of France where most of our grape varieties have been sourced.  So just for interests sake I’ve located the growing season data for the 2006 vintage in Bordeaux and I’ll be putting in the temperature and rainfall information for the equivalent month of the growing season, so below is the Bordeaux February 2006 weather information which aligns to our August 2006 data.

February 2006:      

Avg Maximum Temp            8.2°C

Daily Max recorded            12.2°C

Avg Minimum Temp             1.1°C

Daily Min recorded             -5.0°C


Rainfall:                             119.0mm

Now this was unexpected, it is significantly colder all round, with minimums that would feel like it was snowing outside, and this is Bordeaux next to the coast!  I’m quite intrigued to see how the temperatures and rainfalls compare over the year, so next month with the onset of spring we will see if we become more closely aligned.


Springing back into life…


Well this is the start of the first month of growth for our vines this season and with that the vines need to be given a bit of attention to ensure the vines set well and nothing too untoward occurs.  Some phosphates will be spread along the rows, a touch up weed spray will be required to keep the under row clean, removing of excess buds in the early rising Marsanne and Viognier, re-programming of our watering system which can be a bit confusing (the controller is a bit “tricky” one could say), and continuing with general maintenance around the vineyard.  It’s a steady as she goes month and the coming to life of the vineyard is always an exciting time.  As discussed our 2005 will be bottled this month and I’ll get a tasting note out for you in next month’s missive.

All the best everyone.





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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