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Monthly Report - July 2008

It continues…


The pruning that is … with most of the vineyard complete it is starting to look like a clean slate once more.  Pruning this year has been pretty hard going as the weather has been pretty bleak, with many cold days and constant rainfall over the month making it a bit tough to stir early in the morning.

200807_Rainfall Gauge 0807.JPG

The rain gauge has had a work out this month

One aspect of this month that we hope is never repeated is the chasing of 4 sheep all over the neighbourhood.  We have purchased the sheep to keep the grass down around our shed and dam, as the kikuyu grass has grown out of control without regular gazing.  Upon arrival our woolly friends did spend all of two days doing their “job”, until they decided to push through our back boundary fence and visit our neighbours to our north.  Not a problem we thought, push them back down the hill and put some netting on that fence – alas upon asking them to go south, they jumped the next boundary fence to the west.  After contacting that neighbour, we awaited reinforcements and then tried to push them through one fence to the east and one to the south – alas they found a way of getting through this property’s boundary fence to the south.  After 4 days of trying to get the “horned devils” out, they eventually found their way on to the main road and after much fuss and bother we have finally secured them into our property again.  We have now all made a unanimous decision to hasten the process and the butcher will be turning up this week …


Future of boutique wines…


It is difficult to say this, but many boutique wines will be gone from the system unless Australian consumers become more “savvy” in their wine purchasing habits.  It is not that we do not support the local wine industry; and it is not that we are moving to other products for our daily (weekly, monthly?) tipple, it is simply that we are so easily led by the major labels that most have become a blinkered mass. 


The purchase of a bottle of wine has so many connotations to the purchaser that it is a minefield to pick through when faced with a wall of bottle labels.  Issues of repeat label purchase, price point, assumption of quality, assurance of quality, meeting expectations from others, and insuring enjoyment rattles around the consumers head when walking into a bottle store.  The consumer in many ways does not have time to consider if the wine they will purchase comes from an independent vigneron, or if the wine has been made using minimum handling in a small facility or mass produced in a tank farm, and many other aspects of big vs. small.  But why is this important at all?  Surely wine is wine and regardless of where it is made – issues of quality are not definable by most people so let's accept that the cheap major brands deserve their following.


Well fellow wine drinkers the aspect of having an active and healthy boutique wine industry is perhaps the only reason why most wine in Australia is the quality that it is.  Once that background of wineries is reduced to the founding few or those which have attained an exceptional standard, then what drives the major wine making companies?  One word, profit.  You can paint the picture using different paints if you want – yes, many major companies have top end labels (Grange of Penfolds perhaps being the best known) thus the standard for all wines must be kept high – but you would be wrong because as only 2-5% of the volume of wine make these high end labels, and the major companies are really just adding decoration on the cake as the average consumer knows of them but does not purchase them.  The other 95-98% of wine made will be made simply to a dollar price point which may continue to be squeezed as times become more economically prudent.


As soon as the independent wineries start shutting up shop as they have no capacity to be placed on shelves, or break into sponsored wine lists then the pressure builds and builds.  As one of these small independent wineries we see the industry from behind the fence it is becoming a very common thread where excellent wineries eventually succumb due to lack of visibility – marketing is the death of them.  Within this group of fine folk you find the innovation, the effort, and the detail – and all within a price that the average drinker can afford.  Unless retailers and restaurants etc start waking up and supporting this middle tier of wine in Australia then there will only be two choices remaining – expensive high end wine and generic low end wines (though they will be priced to fill the spectrum).


I too buy wine and enjoy drinking a variety of styles from around Australia and the world.  My preferred method of purchase is from the winery or importer as this supports both parties directly and means the profits can be invested in making / importing better wines, and or keeping food on the table.  I have not bought a major companies wine for 2 years now, and hope to keep this going as for every one of these big company wines there are 4-5 smaller boutique wines that are as good and worth chasing down.  I commend you all to have a look at your wine buying habits and look at maybe being a bit more proactive and moving your boundaries a touch more.  Many wineries (including ourselves of course), are keen to help you in any way they can, will answer your questions, and generally support you the client … give it a chance and see where it leads you, you will not lose I am sure.


It’s raining again...


The vineyard has had almost a constant period of rain with 25 days during the month having recorded rainfall.  This means the dam is full (started overflowing on the 11th July), and the groundwater is well and truly filled with some small springs located in the estate actually flowing for the first time in a few years.  The temperature is also cool with much of the rain coming from the south west and this means cold winds from the Southern Ocean battering the coast and our little house.


The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:

July 2008:     

Avg Maximum Temp          16.1°C

Daily Max recorded            21.0°C


Avg Minimum Temp             7.7°C               

Daily Min recorded               1.7°C


Rainfall:                               224.1mm

The 2008 maximum and minimum temperature averages were quite cool, and cooler than last year due to the predominance of southerly winds.  Rainfall is similar to last year, but still above the average and with year to date being well up on 2007 it looks like a wetter than average year.

July 2007:      

Avg Maximum Temp          16.9°C

Daily Max recorded            20.9°C

Avg Minimum Temp             9.5°C

Daily Min recorded               1.1°C


Rainfall:                             243.7mm


Keeping it clean…


Well it is a matter of finishing off the pruning and starting on some maintenance around the vineyard for the beginning of vintage.  We have had attended a few courses made available by the Margaret River Wine Industry Association and this means I am quite keen to keep on top of the spray program this year, so a little bit of preparation is required here as well, so I had better crack on to that.  Otherwise all is well in Blue Poles, and we hope it is with you all as well.


All the best everyone.





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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