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Monthly Report - October 2012


Bursting vines…


It is always a pleasure to walk up and down through a spring vineyard.  Growth is just leaping out of the vines and it feels like the world is bursting with possibilities.  Yet again I have been doing a fair bit of travelling; thus this initial walk through the vines when I got home was even more poignant to me as we consider the vintage in front of us.  We will be making some hard decisions in the coming months with regards to vintage and how much wine we will be producing. This for the first time won’t be based on simply quality issues, but financial as well as we tread the fine line of preserving quality and inputs against a difficult market place.

201210_Looking across the Shiraz.jpg

Hong Kong

A change up of our current distribution arrangements has just happened, as our current distributor has moved away from table wines to concentrate on their knitting of selling champagne.  This has given us an opportunity to review and revive many previous contacts and supporters of our wine.  And this is exciting.  We have never been blessed with a greater selection of wine, or of better wines – every one of them has character and interest as well as being age worthy and blooming delicious.  A positive move and we are really looking forward to what the future holds.


Thanks to all who took up the offer of the newly released Teroldego, Shiraz and Viognier – if you are still interested in getting some and you are on the mailing list (or wish to be) drop us a line we will be able to sort this out, or better still have a check of the wines through the “3 Packs” which offer the wines freight free for a tasting tour de force.


A quiet month one could say, and you can see this is the case throughout the industry as many wine shows are run during October, with the biggest possibly being the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, where they announce also the Jimmy Watson award winner (for the “best” 1-2yo red wine in Australia).  This award is such a lottery as many wines vary in taste and quality as they settle in to their bottles – our 2011 Reserve Merlot and Allouran for example, are still in barrel awaiting the fining trials next week, with bottling before Christmas I would be thinking.  The winner of the Jimmy Watson this year was a Victorian Shiraz from Best Winery – and this follows a Tasmanian Shiraz last year – which leads one to believe that the more finer boned style of wines are getting the attention of the judges now, which must have many South Australian wineries wondering how they are to break back into this most prestigious award.


Take Two…


Well this is the second go at writing an opinion piece this month.  I had completed a 3 page review of an article by Andrew Jefford which discussed the beauty of cork sealed wine – but as Tim told me, why discuss it?  Why give it oxygen?  The cork versus screwcap debate will always be around while the best wines of Europe stick to a cork seal in their bottles.  So I have consigned that to the back files.


There is a lot going on in the wine world, there are continual wine shows around Australia this time of year so every week you hear of one big winner or another (as discussed above), there is the wine health debate back on the agenda, government is tightening the WET rebate scheme (and about time), and regional issues of phylloxera and weather abound.  But this month I am going to discuss something completely different and get Tim to put some of own ideas in – travelling tips while abroad.


In the past two years Tim and I may have travelled to 20 weird and wonderful destinations on account of our work as geologists.  This means we get to see some very unusual sights and though our families and friends get these pearls of wisdom, not many others do (or possibly wish to).  So below is a random list of worldwide tips and advice that may make your next trip abroad that little less stressful.


  1. France: Never get a connecting flight through Charles de Gaulle – there is an extremely high probability that you may never see your bag again.  I love France, love the food, love the wine and the people can be as pleasant as anywhere else at times – but the inability of baggage handlers to transport a bag off one flight and place it on another is unerringly abysmal.  Life Tip #1 Always stopover in Paris so as to ensure you can enjoy the rest of your trip.

  2. Philippines: Always take the fixed price taxi from the international airport into the city of Makati – you will be taken to the cleaners if you don’t.  Taxis in Manila are the only way to get around and are cheap, and over a week I pay less for my taxis than I do getting to my daughter’s house from Perth International.  So start the trip the best way possible, and you won’t be annoyed when you find out how ripped off you were on that first trip.

  3. Hong Kong: Learn how to use the buses and the trams – they are a lot cheaper than the MRT train system and give you a better view while travelling around (even if it is a bit slower).

  4. Singapore: I really like Singapore – damn hard to get lost and everything is within walking distance.  But like Hong Kong, walking everywhere seems a great idea but you sort of forget the heat and the fact that everything you walk on is predominantly HARD.  Life Tip #2 Always pack your best and most comfortable walking shoes when wandering around Asian cities.  Do not worry that you will not look as fabulous as the locals – you had no chance to start with.

  5. Changing Money: No rules apply here as for the past 5 years of international travel there is no catch-all rule that can apply.  My best advice is very simple, KNOW THE EXCHANGE RATE of whatever country you are in and find a bank, street changer, hotel, nefarious looking character, that can get as close as they can to that.  Only use the VISA for purchases if at all possible as banks have a habit of double dipping on cash advances.

  6. Guinea: Now I know that almost none of you will ever go there – and that is not a bad thing!  But if you do end up located in this weird and wonderful place I offer only one piece of advice – DO NOT PANIC WHEN THEY DON’T HAND YOUR PASSPORT BACK.  Just trust me here; you will get it back, but rampaging and raving like many Americans do will put you in a place that I dare not speak its name… Life Tip #3 Always act UTTERLY calm and cool at African Immigration, regardless of your internal state of panic.

  7. Spain: If you are driving around Spain and you decide to save some Euros by deciding to avoid the toll roads – think very hard before you push accept on the satnav screen.  There is nothing more frustrating than getting stuck behind horses and carts, trucks from the 30’s, towns that have apparently have no exit apart from your entry point, and random animals walking along.  My advice is to just pay the damn toll; at least you will arrive with a full set of hair.

  8. South Africa: Cape Town - just go there.  One of the world's most beautiful places.  Great wines, food, site seeing and pretty safe.  It does not have the benefit of a fabulous new train system like the Gautrain in Johannesburg (which is safe and easy to use by the way) but Cape Town is not that big so not an issue.

  9. Morocco - go to a souk (market place) and get horribly lost in one.  It is not hard.  They are an incredible labyrinth with the most amazing energy, colour, smells (not all bad) and shops.  All the big cities have them.  The most famous are in Fes and Marrakesh but try going to the one in Meknes.  There are very few tourists so you get left alone and just great fun....intense but fun.

  10. Japan - Talking about taxis a bit earlier....avoid in Japan.  The flag fall can be ~$10, let alone the rest of the fair.  Just walk or use the fabulous public transport.  However if you must take a taxi, don't try to open the door.  It is all automatic and the taxi drivers get a bit cross if you try to do it yourself.  Life Tip #4 Don't buy a beer in a bar in Yokohama train station.  I did and it cost ~$20 per beer....back in 1995....ouch.


Well, there it is some of our little bits of advice in regards to travel. If you dear readers have some of your own, please send them in and we will put a compilation up on the website if we get enough interest. Blue Poles – makers of great wine, yet sharers of great travel tips J

Spring makes a welcome appearance...


After the stormy and wet weather of September, October has turned out to be rather benign, and maybe a touch warmer than has been encountered in previous years.  So with this warm trend and cool nights to match the clear days, we have had a great growing month in the vineyard.


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


October 2012:      

Avg Maximum Temp          21.5°C

Daily Max recorded            29.6°C


Avg Minimum Temp             8.6°C               

Daily Min recorded               3.0°C


Rainfall:                               41.1mm

The maximum temperature range is higher than last year, but the minimum is a bit lower due to the clear nights. Rainfall this year was more than last year, and this is positive, but the year 2012 is still very, very dry.

October 2011:      

Avg Maximum Temp          20.4°C

Daily Max recorded            27.9°C

Avg Minimum Temp           10.1°C

Daily Min recorded               4.5°C


Rainfall:                              34.1mm


Vine cleaning some more …


Yet again I will be out and about later in the month, but for the first three weeks of November there are literally acres of work amongst the vines that I will be tapping away at before heading off.  The vines will be setting the fruit this month and flowering is always a tricky period as varieties such as Merlot are a bit fussy with the weather to ensure a good fruit set.  Thus we are all very busy and keen to see where this vintage will lead us.  We will also be planning some Xmas specials so keep an eye out in your inbox for that.

As always if you have any queries about what’s been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email or and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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