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Monthly Report - July 2013


Pruning ongoing…


Well this has been a solid month of pruning – I have only been allowed out to complete a few days work in Perth but on the whole I have been locked in a tussle with my vineyard.  Score card as it stands today:


Merlot           Mark     1          Vineyard      0

Cab Franc     Mark     1          Vineyard      0

Shiraz            Mark     0.3      Vineyard      0.7

Teroldego      Mark     0         Vineyard      1

Viognier         Mark     0         Vineyard      1


Which is pretty good for this time of year, but I have got an extended stint abroad coming up in August, so it will be noses to the grindstone for the end of August and early September to knock this job off.  I had a birthday and I am beginning to realize I am not getting any younger and my back does not appreciate leaning over vines all day as much as it used to.  It is a funny thing age, you never really see yourself as old or young, just yourself, until you stop yourself from saying out loud “Surely he/she is too young to be a policeman/ driver/ school teacher/ enter any profession here” – and then kapow you are there.  Ah well, life goes on with or without us.

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Pruning action shot


It has been a quiet month overall after the excitement of last month and all the travel and events.  It is however great to see the Teroldego getting a run by the glass at the Settler’s Tavern in Margaret River – the reason why I say this is that Settler’s has an incredibly large and diverse wine list and regularly wins best wine list in country Australia.  It may look like any other country pub until you get handed this massive tome full of great wines, and then you realize you have stumbled on to something special.  Selling well by all accounts, and long may it continue.


Speaking of Teroldego…


We did run through all the barrels in anticipation of the bottling of the 2012 vintage this September, and what we tasted was really good.  It is quite similar to the 2011 in structure but a bit more “perfumed” nose rather than the “fruity” nose of that wine – looks good and follows on nicely.  Once bottled we will give it a few months to settle in, and then we will release it in 2014, maybe as a winter warmer.

Stepping stone wines…


The reason I bring this up is because of some of the information that gets bandied around the industry in regards to how we “raise” wine drinkers up the graduated scale from cask to Grange.  It is driven home to all that we do this by education, by providing experience, and by having wines improve in quality over the graduated price range such that the new wine lover can move along these “stepping stone” wines.  Makes perfect sense, but in reality I believe it is a myth.


So why am I disputing this cornerstone of wine marketing 101?  Well because the people who believe in this progression are those who think they have gone through it and are looking back – not those who may or may not be going forward along this magical path.  We all quietly forget that over 90% of all people drink wine do I to get drunk, or at least to get some affect.  They do not care if it tastes of lemons or limes, they do not care if it is chilled to optimum temperature, they do not care about the size of the glass or the brand, and they do not care which sub-region of which GI the vines were raised.  What they care about is basic, white or red, and if it is “alright”.  Nothing more, not much less.


And this 90% of all drinkers are NOT all young imbibers on the ladder to wine appreciation, they are everyone from old to young, rich to poor, uneducated to educated – they are nearly every sub-section of society.  Some of the richest people I have ever met have no real interest in wine and buy just to a price – they just did not care unless they were with someone who did.  We have had young couples come through the vineyard and been able to quote clonal selections for Merlot and advantages of various yeasts on white wines, and could only afford a bottle or two each.  


Theoretically on the magical stepping stone path both have failed to follow the rules. And I know why.  Well I think I have an inkling.


Every wine lover comes from a path of appreciating wine from an early age.  Their capacity to fully develop their enjoyment and purchase more and more wine at higher and higher price points revolves around how much they are “bitten” rather than any income constraints.  They are the ones that watched all the wine shows on TV, they are the ones that subscribed to all the wine sites, and they are the ones that will go through seven cellar doors in a day on their planned holidays around wine growing regions.  They are not the ones that slowly rose up through the scale based upon educational programs based out of the occasional meeting with a wine maker or marketer – moved from a sweet white to a dry white to a rosé to a red wine – and if they did, they did that in a month or two.


I have a great friend called Carl (yes you Carl), and his lovely wife Rebecca, that I have known for years.  Both of these guys just love wine, love everything about it, and while drinking with them they can quote to you vintages which were good in the Hunter Valley in the 1980’s, or the five wine makers who were at a certain winery, or the specific vineyard that the grapes came from and the aspect of the slope.  They make me happy.  As we in the industry forget, we are making little bottles of history for the Carl’s and Rebecca’s of this world – those folk who just love wine and all of its permutations.  I am near on positive that both Carl and Rebecca would have been in love with all things vinous from the time they were old enough to drink – bless them.


So where am I going with this?  Well to put it simply, let’s stop the pretense that by educating more wine drinkers on the “details” of wine that we will “make” them a wine aficionado.  Spending money through associations on wine appreciation courses is an utter waste of time – if folk are interested they will hunt down the detail without our prompting.  But at the same time recognize that the vast majority of wine drinkers do not really care about the “details”, they want to simply get the affect.  Events should recognize this and at major wine tasting events let the people just enjoy the moment and the setting – have it such that families can let children run around playgrounds and adults can picnic.  Do the educational aspect offsite – those who are keen will be there regardless and they are the ones you want to put wine under the noses of.


I know the respective industry groups feel obliged to keep up this charade that they are helping “educate” more people into drinking fine wine through all their various programs and the like.  It is the stuff we as expensive wine sellers want to see apparently.  But really?  Have a look back over your own wine appreciation history, I would say that over 90% of you were hooked at an early age and have kept that interest through the years.  Were you educated into loving wine?  You may have had some generous benefactors along the way, but you were already connected with wine, even then.


I like the way many wineries and wine regions are now tackling this issue; by having fun.  You are just as likely to be able to get someone to drink your wine with a funny quip as with a high score from a wine critic.  And for regional recognition, have a bit of fun with that too – here’s a link to the Paso Robles man and I think it is excellent and makes it all just seem so natural and simple.

Now this is how to get attention...

I know Blue Poles is a tiny blip on the scale of wine companies in Australia, and we will always be that boutique winery in Margaret River.  But if we are to pay fees to our respective industry groups we would appreciate them spending it wisely and with thought.  Old outdated ideas are the norm and this needs to change if we are to be seen to be moving ahead.  It may be a time when hell gets very cold before any of this would make a difference, but I will pen something to my associations in the coming weeks to at least say I have tried.


Winter continues...


Well it has been a typical July in Margaret River, cool and wet, and we all say hoorah for that.  We had some big fronts of weather come through, and during one event there was a line of major rainfall that fell in the region (~100m of rain in the day), but missed us by no more than 10km.  We have also had a few cool mornings and a few blustery old days, so it has been the complete range of winter weather for me out amongst the vines.


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


July 2013:      

Avg Maximum Temp          16.4°C

Daily Max recorded            20.3°C


Avg Minimum Temp             7.7°C               

Daily Min recorded               0.9°C


Rainfall:                               214.7mm

The maximum temperature average is a little lower than last year, with the minimum a little higher.  These variations relate to the predominantly cloudy skies this year keeping the minimums higher, but the weather from the south and west has meant similar maximums.  Rainfall is much higher than in 2012, but about average for July going from our records.  

July 2012:      

Avg Maximum Temp          16.5°C

Daily Max recorded            20.4°C

Avg Minimum Temp             6.9°C

Daily Min recorded               1.3°C


Rainfall:                              72.1mm


It will be done …


Pruning, that is.  I do have work abroad this coming month, but days either side of the trip involves me with gumboots, secateurs and some sharpened loppers.  All good.

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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