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Monthly Report - October 2016


Back on track…


In a “this is how Margaret River used to have wine vintages” sort of way.  It is part of the human condition to have a very selective memory – because if we didn’t there wouldn’t be many 2 or more children families I am sure.  And the same goes with the way we remember wine vintage conditions in days of yore – it is all a bit rosy eyed and fuzzy on the edges.  Thus, while we have been complaining about the very cool start to the season, which has been odd, only September appears to have been an anomaly as October has had a few warm days and it is looking quite good amongst the vines.  BUT this October is still 2-3oC colder than the past 8-9 vintages and it feels peculiar.  I have checked back through the data and the famous 2001 vintage of Margaret River – remembered as a hot vintage – had a similar maximum and minimum average temperature for October and all went swimmingly well.  So in this global warming apocalyptic world, it appears that we are still in with a good shot of having a solid vintage and being able to make some cracking wines – all things considered (and fingers crossed).


And as I have indicated, the vineyard has had a steady month with growth coming back big and strong and nice large leaves taking over from the rather measly effort of the first leaf separations.  There are a fair few garden snails about this year with the wetter start to the season and they tend to stunt the growth on the vines they have clobbered.  Once again we have a bit of growth around the base of vines as well, so the slow and laborious job of cleaning the bottom of the vines and running across the top of the cordon to remove excess growth becomes part of the vineyard cycle.  I do not mind the job, but my old worn out knees and back are starting to comment on my lack of flexibility which is par for the course I guess for us middle aged “folk”.


So the vineyard has had a quiet month of growth and the only exciting moment was the arrival of the Markwells to peruse their estate and take in the serenity.  Tim and Yuko, with my family, have worked together on this vineyard and wine label for 16 years and surprisingly we have always seen a way to make it work for both families.  This is testament to either our friendship or our sense of humour – as we could not but laugh at the trying times we have faced while chasing the wine and style we were obstinately making.  It was also good to see Sophie and William enjoying their time amongst the vines and chickens.

201610_Sophie and William.JPG

Sophie and William by the dam


One other exciting development was the setting up of a few bee hives down by the dam and shed.  My daughter Beth and her fiancée Aaron have found an interest in apiary and I could not be happier as I love honey (I think they have nicknamed me Pooh Bear – in a sweet way one hopes!).  Ever since I was a small child until now I remember the tastes and styles of all the honeys we have had – clover honey from Hishons (hard and creamy with a froth on top which was the best bit), manuka honey on the comb bought while camping at the beach each summer (the crunch of the wax and the sweet sweet goodness of the honey), all the various NZ honeys that popped up in the 1980’s such as Rata, Rewa Rewa, Pohutakawa and others, the local Karri and Red Gum honeys from the south west of Western Australia, and finally the first run of honeys from Aaron and Beth.  So the thought of a honey made from the bush around our vineyard and from the flowering grapes in the vineyard is super exciting.  It also lends itself to selling the excess to our mailing list if the interest is there – so if you are not on the mailing list and love honey then you had better do the right thing and join up!


Blue Poles beehives placed into position


Relentless Stupidity….


I am going out on a tangent here.  For the past 12 months, I (and at a guess most of the world) have been looking at the American electoral process with either disbelief or a sinking feeling of dread.  Not only have many in America embraced the Trump line of politics, but have gone further and have prepared themselves to fight for his jumbled bigoted misogynistic drivel as if it stands for something.  For him to be even close in this election is laughable, but to have a shot at winning?  We are looking at the end of America as the world’s policeman, but rather another Russia with self-aggrandizement and disruptive policy as the only goal.


But why can an illiterate baboon be in such a position?


The answer is simple, rural white America has been dumbed down so much that racism and misogyny have made a recovery.  And watching show after show mercilessly mocking Trump and his followers makes not a jot of difference, they WANT to be the martyrs.  The level of education is so low now that reasoning thought is not possible and anger and hatred rising to the top at the drop of a hat.  They believe they are voting to protect something yet they wish to change everything to their favour – as if you can make omelets without breaking eggs.


And sitting here in Australia, can I say we are any better?  Well we may not have the same volume of uneducated whites as the states, but they are there in sufficient volume to vote in the utter moron Pauling Hanson and her henchmen of stupid.  In both countries, the driving force for both groups is racism, as simple as that.  Over the years we have become less tolerant due to perceived threats hammered home every day by conservative elements that we actually fear them when there is no risk at all.  I have spoken to local farmers in Margaret River who are scared of and honestly believe that Sharia Law may be applied in Western Australia – Sharia Law.  I mean. Really.


Don’t be confused with this rhetoric saying that these morons are voting for “change” or they are getting rid of the “political elites” to cleanse the system.  Farcical.  They are allowing fascists into the building with glee, and thinking that will aid in rebuilding a nation while the grubs that have ridden on the back of this resentment fill their bags with loot and fire up more dissent.


If Trump does win he will destroy America’s reputation and role throughout the world.  I will be pleased as the $US will tank horrendously losing as much as 20% of its value by the new year, and as many of my exploration company’s contracts are based on $US this will be a huge saving.  Many nations will wash their hands of agreements and alliances and re-set the agenda much as Britain is going through with the Brexit debacle.


But why discuss this on a wine website?  Well for the simple reason, the thinking of the masses is seen as the path of the future.  We are continually bombarded with the message that we should do so many things to meet with what “the people want” – but when you break it down, what the people want is utter rubbish.  Honestly, if it wasn’t for those of us who seek to do something well and to strive for quality, it simply would NEVER be done.


By Wednesday 9 November we will see potentially the fall of Rome.  Regardless of who wins.  Thus comrades, never trust the masses, they are a headless beast that rampages at shadows and imaginary foes – stick to what you know is right and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  See you next month, but only if the four horsemen of the apocalypse haven’t turned the globe to ashes by them!


Retro October...


The weather has warmed up this month, but not to any startling degree.  This is best noted that no one was sunburnt at the Busselton Agricultural Show always held at the end of October, which is a rare event based on the red noses and arms I have had over the decades.  So, the October 2016 temperatures were like those encountered in the 1990’s but without a couple of hotter days which are the norm.  The cooler frontal systems kept coming through until midday on 11 October when for the first time we felt some tropical air waft in from the north.  Thus the change of season had arrived.


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


October 2016:      

Avg Maximum Temp          18.2°C

Daily Max recorded            27.3°C


Avg Minimum Temp             8.9°C               

Daily Min recorded               3.8°C


Rainfall:                               52.9mm

The maximum temperature average this month was again a lot lower than last years, with the minimum average being colder also by quite a large amount.  The rainfall total was similar at a couple of inches.

October 2015:      

Avg Maximum Temp          22.1°C

Daily Max recorded            28.2°C

Avg Minimum Temp           11.0°C

Daily Min recorded               4.2°C


Rainfall:                              50.5mm




That’s what I feel we are growing out there.  With the growth now starting to spill out there will be some wire lifting to tuck it all in and to keep the newly flowered grape bunches up and exposed for their eventual picking.  I have some time abroad once more, but this will not stop the spray programs and further slashing and mulching in the vineyard during the month.


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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