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Monthly Report - November 2014


And once more…


Here I am in the Philippines working away on the other set of responsibilities and we all note that another major Cyclone is tracking ever so steadily towards the country.  As large as last year’s TC Yolanda, TC Hagupit is threatening the coast of the central Philippines.  Here IS hoping and praying that the aftermath of this cyclone’s landfall bears little resemblance to the effect of Yolanda 14 months ago.


Back to the vineyard, and I had a really good month amongst the vines with a nice even flowering throughout the varieties, nice even growth, and spraying going out just at the right time keeping all of the disease pressure at bay.  We had a cool November which is counterpoint to the rest of Australia and below is a plot of the average temperatures for the Spring period for the last 10 years such that you can see the variance and how this month’s average maximum temperature for November is the 3rd lowest since I have kept records at our site:

201411_Spring Maximums.jpg

It is also worth noting that as we approach December, the past 3 years have had the hottest December’s on record since we have made wine at Blue Poles.  We know that the 2014 vintage (which relates to the 2013 spring), was excellent in quality and the December maximum was a bit lower than the previous two years which we felt were inferior vintages, so if the temperature average this year falls between 24-26oC for December we will be back on track for normal picking times and fully resolved tannins.


A surprising aspect in regards to this little graph is the large range of average maximums we can get during spring in Margaret River.  Excluding 2005 (which made the very cool 2006 vintage), the range is 3-5oC each month, which is quite a lot when determining the amount of heat load going into the vineyard.  Also there does appear to be a warming trend over time, but that has been caused almost solely by the last three years having hotter than average Decembers.


The weather - the bastion of those who find social interaction difficult, and hence my heavy reliance upon it. :)


But in summary, the vineyard is in great shape and looking fine.  A bit of warmth this month will help set a good crop and bring everything into line.  I am still feeling the love for this coming vintage.


Time dependent…


I think for the first time ever I turned down the opportunity to travel, and the occasion was a flight to Sydney this month.  It was fully paid for and I had an opportunity to catch up with relatives and drink copious wine and beer, as well as eat very well.  But it seems that I am always travelling and I just wanted to complete something before I went gallivanting off once more (this task was green thinning the whole vineyard before flowering finished – one job that does not wear me out as much as some of the other tasks, but feels like a real achievement knowing that the vines will concentrate on ripening the fruit you have set).  And it got me thinking in regards to our attitude to travel and time itself today and how “inconsequential” it has become.  I do not know about you, but I am not sure where all of this is leading too.


This year I would have travelled about 100,000 air miles, or roughly 4 times around the world.  This is not excessive for someone in my role as managing a company in Asia as well as meeting and greeting wine buyers throughout Australia, but I must admit I do pine for just sitting still.  The great leap forward where you can just skype and network from your study is just a myth really – human interaction is as an absolute necessity to ensure acceptance of ideas and plans and then carried out.

201411_Travel pack.jpg

Thus when I am at home on the vineyard from my travels, my sojourns to town are often for simple errands and a coffee, done in an hour and often only every 2-3 days.  We had the Gourmet Escape on in Margaret River this November, apparently it was “mad house” in town – not that I noticed as I relented to make my own coffee for a weekend.


I try and read as well in the evenings, and that time is now evaporating with the instant access to the internet which keeps on asking you to check in on something or rather.  In fact I feel at times really time poor, even though there are still plenty of hours in the day they tend to get cut and sliced by the checking of emails, responding to text and viber messages, checking twitter, scanning the news sites.  And the funny thing is I do not really know why I feel I HAVE to do it on such a regular basis.  Most, if not all, could wait.  I could just have a cup of tea without turning on the phone, but for some reason I choose not to.  It is that feeling of “rush” even when you are sitting still that is becoming the problem and I’m wondering what the cure is for this “interconnectivity”.


Are we as a society able to keep this pace up without other impacts coming into play?  I am at that age when I can look back to simpler times and the expectations of my parents and relatives within a small country town.  It was pretty straight forward really – you lived within your means, you travelled as necessary, you ate from home, and you used the advice of family first.  We all had ambition but it was contained within a reality – and often it was simply to have a job. But this simple living, one of 100’s if not 1000’s of years one would think, is now being dashed on the waves of “instant expectation” and this is I think may be much more damaging than we actually know.


How does this play out in our little world of wine, from our little known vineyard in Margaret River?  Well rather mixed, as we can find a much more level playing field in the area of getting our message out now through the internet and all of its myriad of channels and that is great for finding and holding on to drinkers of our wine – BUT – attention spans are so small it scares you on how quickly all wine enthusiasts can cut and change their choices in every area of our industry.  If you are not releasing news or new wines, you become old news very quickly.  Every week there are some excellent wines released throughout Australia and this means it is a very busy market place with a dynamic, changing and evolving criterion on what is fashionable on what seems almost a monthly basis.


I look back at the many reasons on why we bought our property and planted a vineyard, and I have 100 reasons on why we did such a fool hardy thing.  But as time goes by, I am beginning to think that I wanted to tap into something that does not rush, it does not feel the need to be finished before it started, it matches into a tradition that is seasonal and rustic, and it needs time.  Time which is hollow.  Time which is settled.  Time which simply is.  Something all of us are finding less and less of.


Please excuse this bit of navel gazing, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to write this down to remind myself that being busy is not always being smart.  I hope everyone who is reading this can also take some time out and genuinely enjoy some quiet time without the rush overtaking them.  Cheers.


Just plain odd...


As we go back to the start of the report, the weather has been cool but that does not mean it has not been humid and slightly tropical as we have had a number of thunder storms run through the vineyard late in the month as well.  With the hottest day only being 26.1°C it has been a really pleasant month to be working amongst the vines, and with the steady rain, on almost a weekly basis, the ground is still soft and carrying some moisture.


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


November 2014:      

Avg Maximum Temp          21.1°C

Daily Max recorded            26.1°C


Avg Minimum Temp           11.0°C               

Daily Min recorded               4.9°C


Rainfall:                               51.1mm

The maximum temperature average is a lot lower than last years, but the minimum was only a little lower with the season moderating the minimums at least.  Rainfall this year is above average for this time of year, which means we are creeping up to meeting the average rainfall for the year – though it is likely we will fall slightly short.

Nocember 2013:      

Avg Maximum Temp          25.0°C

Daily Max recorded            34.4°C

Avg Minimum Temp             11.6°C

Daily Min recorded               6.6°C


Rainfall:                              53.6mm


Xmas Pudding …


Time to prepare for friends and family visiting, eating too much and a few lazy afternoons watching the cricket on the television.  Christmas will be here soon enough and I will be home to enjoy it and the New Year.  The vineyard will be having the occasional irrigation run so as to temper the worst of the heat, and I may take the time to slash the vineyard on more time to tidy that up.  A quiet month, but nice to know we have made it through another year.  All the very best everyone and from all of us here at Blue Poles we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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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