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Monthly Report - January 2015

Lining up…


We all like to think we have  got everything lined up, ducks in a row, on the straight and narrow, planned to a T.  But it very rarely works out exactly as you oh so carefully planned, and the advantage of going grey on the sides is that even though everything is looking exceptional out in the vineyard I still need to be wary of being over confident that this vintage is another cracker in the bag.  


The weather since the New Year has been exceptionally dry, well really just dry.  As is often the case in Margaret River we get next to no rainfall during January and that reduces mildew risk and sets the vines for veraison with little chance of splitting or other pressures.  Being careful with the timing of the last protective spray and then the nets to be placed out in a week or two and we are then all aligned for vintage in mid – late March (and possibly early April for the Cabernet Franc).


Apologies for the lateness of the January Monthly Report – it was written and ready to go but our internet provider decided to move over 350,000 websites into the cloud and then proceeded to make it impossible for every one of us to be able to access them.  At these times I am extremely grateful for having Tim as my partner in this venture as he is most capable when it comes to these issues (and many others), and after he returned from a short holiday in Japan did manage to sort it all out.  Bless his cotton socks.  But do not tell him I said so, he will suddenly think I have gone soft after 20 years of repeating stories of his failings – if I get enough replies I will pass on the infamous “Green Tea” story of yore in next month’s report.  Oh I laughed.  Still do.


So from a vineyard perspective all is well.  We have got some new ideas for our releases of the Reserve Wines from the 2014 vintage and I must admit to feeling pretty excited about the wines and just as excited about the promotion that will come with the release of the Reserve Cabernet Franc.  Trust me when I say you will not want to miss out.  It is a bit of a wait but fortunately we have a wine or two up our sleeves before then to stop you all getting thirsty…including a new Allouran sometime later this year.


I had a sojourn into the Eastern States in January with a lunch/dinner with Philip White in MacLaren Vale, dinner and concert with David Lloyd of Eldridge Estate, and a chat with Anthony Madigan from Wine Business Monthly (I was interviewed, get that! It is a quiet old day when I am considered interesting folks!) – amongst some company stuff which was all planned together.  The dinner with Philip was excellent, great company and some great wines – woke up rather disorientated through the inhalation and influence of some rather strong chilli chocolate me thinks.


Speaking with Philip White whom I consider this country’s best “writer” on wine is both daunting and boundary pushing – I have not been in this industry for long, and to reference it to only Western Australia makes it even less of a plank from which to walk along; so when Philip discusses the “actual” history and timing of events and people from the heartland of Australian wines in South Australia you get the feeling you are hearing it as it is for the very first time.  Put that together with Peter Gago from Penfolds and the Brady’s from Wendouree sitting around the table that afternoon and I took away a lot more than I put in I can assure you.


With David Lloyd and Carol at a concert in Mornington Peninsula – good times.


Illogical Logic…


I have an ear worm that at times will not go away, and it is not because of the catchy tune, but rather the lyrics which wind me up.  The little sound bite goes “All your perfect imperfections” which in my mind’s eye is just a load of old cobblers made to sound sweet and interesting.  Of course I mention this to everyone that is willing (or unwilling) to hear, that the lyrics are pure silliness and in reply I usually get two things; 1. a blank stare and 2. the reply of “but it sounds so romantic”.  This surely means I will go through this life as a curmudgeonly old man – but one with fewer oxymorons than most by golly!!


Thus going through my Twitter feed one day and I noted an article linked by its author Gary Vaynerchuk – a wine retailer and business motivational speaker / writer out of New York.  Now normally I do not have much interest in his articles apart from ones that reference wine, but this one piqued my interest.  You may remember Gary from a few years back when he was sponsored out to Australia by the WFA to promote Australian wine.  It was amusing as it highlighted how little the WFA knew about anything “technical” remotely post 1990 and how easy it was for Gary to justify the trip around the country (one or two random tweets did the trick).  But back on track…


Gary posted this article on his blog Gary Vaynerchuk Article and after reading it once, I had to read it again (do not worry, it is about the length of half an A4 page).  I can only recommend that you have a read as well and then we can meet and discuss just what was “actually” said in this article.


Okay, let us have a look at this and see where it leads us, because right now I am sort of perturbed by the illogical logic being applied and how invasive this type of thinking is becoming throughout the modern world.


  1. Gary comes back from school with a test in which he scored an F.  He is in the 4th Grade which makes him about 9 (I am guessing) and he is upset and will not face his mother over it for two more days.

  2. Obviously facing his mother over it was not great, so 3 years later he is now “...flushing every test and report card directly down the toilet.”.  So I believe he is 12-13 years old and not acing school by the looks.

  3. So as a 9yo he decided in his head to “Screw school” and he would become a “businessman”, and even though he attended class and did his homework (which led to the reports and test results to flush away), he concentrated on honing his “skills” and doing what made him “happy” and “fulfilled” him.

  4. In his head he was fighting society and stopping doing things that made him unhappy.

  5. By working on things which make you happy, may lead to disappointments but you need to just keep on going so as to gain the benefit later in life.  By being aware of your difference is your greatest advantage, and if Gary could go back he “…would fail every single test all over again.”


And why did Gary write this article?  Well this is why “Know someone who needs some reassurance?  Please pass this on to them.  It would mean a lot to me. ☺”


I know what is being targeted here, but really the examples presented here to provide reassurance actually are extremely risky and potentially destroying futures – which does sound rather melodramatic.  To be honest it appeared that Gary had a learning disability and he countered that with his quick mind and social skills – there could be no other real reason for failing every test for 3 years as we know the guy is talented and intelligent.  But to then state just do things that make you happy?  What kid would ever do the dishes, attend dinner with Aunt Kaye, wait with his mother in a queue, etc etc etc.  Thus the advice which Gary wished to impart of “follow your heart” is clouded with Cartman’s from South Park “I’ll do what I want”.


At no point did Gary state the obvious fact – it is not all about you.  Recognize your individuality but accept your social responsibility – you cannot live in this world without it.


And funnily enough Gary is more aware of this than most with his latest book having large sections about being “grateful” and recognizing the needs of others and your responsibilities to the customer.  This “pared” thinking presented in the article is pretty much an example of news and Social Media today – points being made quickly and able to be easily taken out of context.  And in a way the article was brief to accentuate his main point and to give that “flash” of interest, but in doing so he has the potential to fail as much as succeed in his advice.


Much of what we do and how we feel are the result of many millions of tiny and large events, and they have guided you to that point in your life in which you now reside.  The interrelations and the events which cast a life are so numerous that any one event may seem critical, but in reality it too is held within many other links and bonds that its independence is phantom like.  The “busy” lives we lead often fail to take the time to follow the links and as such we become easily seduced by sound bites, and even with their best intentions these sound bites can never truly represent the complexity within the point which is being made.


I am no wise man speaking from a hill.  My opinions are generally clouded by my own biases and foibles – but I cannot let this illogical logic pass me by, just like that silly earworm it had to be addressed.  Take care when seeking a clear and concise answer to your question as in this modern age the answer may only contain the bits you want to hear, but they may not have the important bits you need to know.


Dry as a dingo’s...


Well it is Australia’s month with Australia Day held last week, and we are the champions of Asia in football (in which I lost my voice in a sports bar in Manila shouting at the flat screens), so some Aussie colloquialisms are allowed just this once.  And yes it has been dry and warm, with lovely long days of sunshine and blue filling the area above the vines.  A few days over 33°C, but nights have cooled and kept the vines health in check.


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


January 2015:        

Avg Maximum Temp          27.4°C

Daily Max recorded            36.8°C


Avg Minimum Temp           13.9°C

Daily Min recorded               8.5°C


Rainfall:                               0.0mm


The maximum temperature average was a little bit lower than last years, but the minimum average was a little higher indicating a bit more cloud cover than last year. Rainfall is often negligible in January and you can’t get more negligible than zero.

January 2014:        

Avg Maximum Temp           28.0°C

Daily Max recorded             37.0°C


Avg Minimum Temp            13.2°C

Daily Min recorded                6.3°C


Rainfall:                               0.9mm



Vintage approaches…


Ahhh February, our last month of respite before we start washing buckets, delivering fruit, taking off nets, and generally looking at the sky with a little worry.  We have a similar feel this vintage to last year’s and with a slightly cooler start to the growing season it may push out the ripening by a week or so.  But the grapes on the vine are looking fantastic; they will be netted away from the parrots and white eyes this month and therefore ready to go for a March harvest.  I will be in the Philippines a bit as we start some work over here as well, but as vintage approaches I will be walking each of the rows every day and casting that wary eye.


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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