Monthly Report - June 2021

Chip, chop…

 

Well, I have started the process of pruning the vineyard.  It is a strange feeling as you finish the first row, and you look up and realise that there is 70 more to go (and most are 3 times longer than the one you have just completed).  Every year you get that same sense of dread – that same sense of oh no this is simply overwhelming – and then you just put your head down and do it.  I have started this year on the Chardonnay, and I will have that finished in a few days, and then I move on to the Merlot which will take up most of July.

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It starts here with the Chardonnay – first few rows completed. June 2021

 

Surprisingly, I currently have a bit more time to complete the vineyard work as my geology work has slowed down a touch with projects moving in and out of focus of work programs and the like.  It may all change of course but while I have this window I need to take advantage of it.  The lack of workers in the region is also a problem – I know that this year there is no magic phone call and all will be sorted if I fall behind, so I have to be a bit more focussed than I have been to date (Whisky Club meetings on a Thursday evening tend to cause fogginess on Friday morning…).

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July will have me walking down these rows of Merlot – June 2021

 

With that little bit of added pressure, I have gone out and bought a pair of electric secateurs.  After 20 years I have finally relented and recognise that

 

  1. I am not getting any younger;

  2. I do need to get it done and using these secateurs will speed up the process; and

  3. The latest versions of the secateurs have better batteries and better safety precautions so it should be that little bit better all round

 

I will provide an update next month on how I have found my robo-cop upgrade.

 

The dam has already overflowed, did so by mid-June as this is because we use very little water in the vineyard now (with most of the dam water loss due to evaporation), as well as a constant amount of rainfall over the past few months which has never placed any real stress on the soils of the region.  So, soils quickly saturated and run-off into the local dams was pretty much straight away meaning that most regional have dams topped up a month or two early.

 

On a personal note a few milestones have been achieved and that is a huge relief for my friends and family.  Also, the final components required to get Marjory home from abroad have nearly been completed so fingers and toes crossed that this all happens quickly too.

 

Allouran News (2)

 

Just a quick update that we are nearing the sold-out sign being hoisted on the webpage - unbelievable.  I do recognise it is a cracking wine, and I do think that the recognition of the value and quality has become pretty well known – but it still is super pleasing to us to have perhaps our biggest single bottling just move so quickly and put us in a solid position to look up at what we can do to keep things getting better.  Jobs we have delayed can now be addressed and that goes from the smallest of details to large jobs like replanting and new vines.

 

Outstanding. (2)

 

Continuing Pandemic…

 

It is now just a pin in our side.  This never-ending cycle of in and out of lock down for all of the various states of Australia and the “trails of blame” that circle, circle, circle.  I, like you all, am just simply over it as we are all seeking an end to the predicament that we continue to find ourselves in; but we remain one returning businessman, one bus driver, one hardheaded numbskull away from starting all over again.  Personally, I am still 5 weeks away from being fully vaccinated – but does it give me any greater chance to do anything more than what I am currently allowed?

 

No.

 

And that is the kicker for us all.  We can all be doing the right thing, following the health advice administered by the various states, checking in with our apps – and it does not make much difference currently.  Keep safe everyone and let us all hope that there is some light to be found at the end of this very long and windy tunnel.

 

Santé Tim!!…

 

I am not sure if Tim will even allow this to get to the webpage – but we must try and sneak this past his weary eye and have a chat about the other owner / worker / comrade of the Blue Poles estate.  And the reason for this little wander down memory lane?  Tim has turned 50 – the big five oh (my gosh) – and it seems only fair after I have done well over 150 of these monthly reports that I talk about him and his input into the estate.

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At Scopri’s celebrating 50 years – he rated the 1989 Edelstone better, soo fussy!!

For all of the origin stories of the vineyard, the locating of the property, the reasoning behind the planting of the varieties we have and the links to what we see in Bordeaux, the blends, and the wines – none of this would ever have come to pass if Tim and Yuko had turned around and said “No” while standing outside Cowaramup Agencies to when we were about to put the offer in on our property.  And to be honest they should have.  We knew nothing about growing vines and making wine, had no real concept of the hours required, and he and Yuko were still in their 20’s.  Madness.

 

But we had a vision, and we knew that if we waited that it would never come to pass.  One or two years later we would never have got the loans we needed, and a few more years on that we could never have afforded the property.  It was a now or never situation and away we went.

 

For many years Tim and Yuko came down 2-3 weekends a month and worked away at every job – from the marking out of the rows, to running out all the irrigation pipe, to training the vines and weeding under vine they did almost every job in setting up the vineyard as well as the all the early vintage work.  As I went in and out of full-time work and juggled work and vineyard, Tim moved up through the system transferring from mining company to mining company before moving into resource analysis and then to his current role as resource financier.  Which had him eventually move to Melbourne where he has been for the past 14 years.

 

As anyone would know, being partners in a business (and one that is as tenuous as a vineyard and winery), is pretty stressful.  There is the financial stress as you try and make ends meet, there is the emotional stress of not knowing how you will move forward, and there is the time stress where your extra hours are taken up by the business and are not your own.  We should have in all seriousness had many many arguments and tantrums over the years – and hand on my heart I can honestly say that Tim and I have never quarrelled with each other.  We have had moments of disappointment, moments of frustration – but we have always trusted each other to get through to the next stage.  Every fork in the road was talked through and resolved with clarity – no ulterior motives, no self-serving - with the best outcome chosen and agreed on by both.

 

Yes, Tim is a mighty warrior and friend – but there are stories which should be told, and I will pass on three here, if only to make sure that Yuko does not have him too big headed:

 

  1. The day before an important job interview in the early noughties, Tim and I attended a wine dinner in Perth with guys that have become strong and fast friends all these years on.  After waaaay too much wine and followed by beers in Northbridge –we arrived back at Falkirk Ave, Maylands at some ungodly hour.  We were rotten drunk.  At 8am Tim came charging in panic stricken, his interview was on in 30 minutes, and we were both semi-comatose.  He made the interview in a bit of a state, he was applauded by the staff for his “balls” and yes, he got the promotion.

  2. One of the vineyard jobs that was a bit tough due to the size of our bird nets was to “pull” them out and spread them across the rows just before vintage.  Gail and I had been doing this job for a few years, and Tim had come through and wanted to help.  Well, he was a little unfit having had a desk job for a while and after a few nets he was exhausted – tapped out – and it did not help when Gail did mention to him that she did twice as much as he had done with ease the day before.

  3. Tim has this habit of questioning me in a lighthearted way – and when working in the vineyard this, on occasion, used to infuriate Yuko.  Once while we were working in the Marsanne, Yuko had asked how many vines were missing on the 2 rows – I said 9, as I had counted them the day before.  Tim immediately said “Nah, there is more than that” and proceeded to count out exactly 9 while we walked out the row. He then turned around and said something like “Just as I thought” as Yuko flapped her arms in exasperation.

 

I have been lucky enough to know Tim for just over 25 years and he is a really great guy.  I could not do all that he does for Blue Poles, and he would say the same of me – but we never feel that one’s work is more valuable than the other.  It is a true partnership, and I am very grateful to have had him and his family be integral in our winery and effectively, existence – because if he had not of said “Yeah, why not” all those years ago in Cowaramup then there would not have been all these delicious wines that many of our comrades have shared and enjoyed over the years.

 

Santé Tim!

 

Winter woolies...

 

It has been cold, and it has been wet in Margaret River.  June has been very wet for the time of year with four days having between 25-50mm of rainfall flooding out the fields and some sort of rainfall for most of the days of the month.  As indicated, the dam was overflowing by 16 June – the earliest I can recall – and grass is up around the knees having been growing since February!  With the big rain falls coming through there has been some spectacular sunrises with “no filter” required as the sky filled with red before we were pounded by weather once more.

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

 

June 2021:        

Avg Maximum Temp          17.3°C

Daily Max recorded            20.3°C

 

Avg Minimum Temp             9.2°C

Daily Min recorded               4.4°C

 

Rainfall:                               260.6mm

The maximum and minimum were both lower to 2020 highlighting the dramatic change of seasons this year.  Rainfall total for 2021 was a much higher than last year, with at least four major weather systems having passed through in 2021.

June 2020:        

Avg Maximum Temp           18.5°C

Daily Max recorded             21.6°C

 

Avg Minimum Temp            10.6°C

Daily Min recorded                1.6°C

 

Rainfall:                                113.9mm

Chip, chop, chop, chop…

 

And so it continues.  Pruning.  Will finish the Chardonnay and the Merlot and hopefully be deep into one of the other varieties before month’s end.  Fingers crossed New South Wales can resolve their covid outbreak and the rest of the country can take a deep breath.  Take care everyone.

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 www.twitter.com/bluepoles and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.

Cheers

 

 

Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard