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Monthly Report - September 2013


Where’s Spring?…


Nowhere to be seen.  It has been such a stormy season rather than cold or wet – stormy, stormy, stormy for a word.  Tim came through at the start of the month and we cracked on to the last of the pruning and for three days this was jolly good fun, out there chatting away and getting home to some decent sized meals with glasses filled with all sorts of different delicious wines. 


The last day however I had an idea that we would replace all the steels in the vineyard that had rotted away at the base (they do this in the wetter sections, even though they are galvanized) – the morning went well with 80% of the Shiraz steels that needed replacing pulled out and sorted.  But... you can see this coming, the afternoon turned into a battle with most of the remaining steels being very difficult to put into place – to put it simply when we finished work in the dusk at 6pm we were absolutely stuffed.  (Ed. This is where Tim says those immortal and most annoying words - 'I told you so'). was done and the food and wine went down very well that night.


So the vineyard is pruned and ready to go, but the ground is soaking.  We have not been able to get the mulcher in yet and we have not been able to put out our first protective spray.  It is the wettest I have ever seen it this late in the year, and even the Margaret River has stayed in flood until the end of the month – never seen that before either.  It feels a bit odd as the days are getting longer, the chooks are laying like crazy (in fact Gail has hatched out another 20 Australorps and we should have a good sized flock of 25-30 hens by the end of the season – touch wood), but the vineyard when walking around feels like the dead of winter.


A break in the weather during September...but only a brief one

Tim, Gail and I also got to spend some time putting some promotional material together and that should be printed off and ready for placement around the traps in the coming months.  We will also be looking at upgrading the website a bit as well.  So much has happened since we started this “little” venture that when you sit back and try and distil your winery in a few sentences you tend to look out into the horizon a bit – what do you say? 


We will make the most of our Merlot and our Allouran in our promotional material, as they are our pride and joy, but the other wines have the capacity to shine as well and we need to get this presented in a way to show their potential.




I am going to be frank here – I thought this was a joke.  I was made aware on Twitter that during October there will be a series of promotional activities associated with #MerlotMe.  The originator of this little soirée I believe to be Rick Bakas (of #CabernetDay fame – and a traveler to our shores, see our September 2011 Monthly Report).


The idea is that we can generate a buzz in the social media world by having this #MerlotMe trending a few times as events are run and wineries get involved by putting on these merlot based events.  The emphasis on all of this is out of America, and when you follow all the action it is pretty heavy on the western states of America (apparently the term “Merlot me”, comes from a weary worker arriving home and seeking some solace in a glass of red by instructing their respective partner to “Merlot me” – I am not making this up!).  As this monthly report is a bit late in the making, I have actually seen some of the activity generated and yes it is very American driven and very light weight – but it is a bit of fun and no animals (to my knowledge) have been harmed in the promotion of this social media “happening”.


Don't worry, we thought it was a joke too - merlotme


I will have a think about how to get involved next week some time and see what part of the rabbit hole I end up visiting.  You just never know how it will pan out.  But I have noticed one thing about this event type and form of promotion – it is not really for the wineries to get into.  Now I know that sounds pretty silly as it is our product we are trying to promote – but for this generic type of wine promotion we need to stand back as we have actually little idea of what the “average” drinker thinks is fun and involving.


Anyone who is heavily involved in vineyards and/or their wines knows everything about them.  From protection sprays in the vineyard, depth of clover cover for nitrogen fixation, picking dates and pH spreads over the month of vintage, yeast selections, barrel treatments, fining regimes and even temperatures at bottling (for the extremely anal amongst us!).  We know this and a million other facts and for those of us that own and are heavily involved with the promotion of our wines.


We know too much.


We cannot therefore easily step into a lighthearted wine promotion without coming across as the nerd in the room.  The show-offy one.  The one that will not be quiet and let the others just have fun.  You get the drill.  And this highlights an issue which is pretty much unique to our industry where the wineries are the ones feeling responsible to do the promotion, but the retailers are very much in the background using the publicity as it comes in.  What would be good would be to have some retailers get on board with this #MerlotMe type promotion and chat directly with the customers by giving them a range from which to discuss in a social media setting – but that is not happening on anything but the micro-scale.


Just sooo wet...


We thought August was wet and windy, well we had not seen the half of it!  This has been a very wet year to date (well it is above average, but in the past 10 years that I have been keeping records this one is the wettest so far and we still have 3 months to go), and it also has been a cool winter and start of spring.


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


September 2013:      

Avg Maximum Temp          17.7°C

Daily Max recorded            21.4°C


Avg Minimum Temp           10.5°C               

Daily Min recorded               6.3°C


Rainfall:                               213.0mm

The maximum temperature average is lower than last year, with the minimum a lot 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 lower maximums for this supposedly “warming” month.  Rainfall is much higher than in 2012 once more and well above average for September.  

September 2012:      

Avg Maximum Temp          18.1°C

Daily Max recorded            23.9°C

Avg Minimum Temp            8.7°C

Daily Min recorded              2.9°C


Rainfall:                              154.5mm


Spring will have sprung …


Unless the weather goes to bedlam, we should see some warmth return to the region and the skies having a bit more blue poking through in the coming month of October.  I do have work abroad (I am actually writing this monthly report while sitting in Changi Airport while waiting for my delayed flight), but the last two weeks of the month should be amongst the vines completing those little jobs that make a big difference.

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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