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Monthly Report - May 2022


May Days…


May is the month of wine releases all around Australia as all the wineries take a deep breath after a busy vintage and having pressed out the last of the reds into their barrels, look around and decide now is a time to get some booze to the people.  In that regard we are a bit behind, but by the time you sit down with your brandy and cigar, lounging back in your chesterfield and reading through this little snapshot of Blue Poles, we would have started the staggered release of our 2019 Allouran.  This means a busy June for Tim and me, but it is a good feeling to be moving a new larger release of wine again as the 2018 Allouran sold out in a number of weeks and there has been only smaller volume wines posted out since then.


I must admit the month did not start out well as I managed to pick up Covid19 with all the unknowns that that brings to you.  As always, you fear the worst when the RATS test reveals the two stripes which look back at you, and your mind starts to swirl with what you have been listening to for the past two and a half years.  Took about 4 days to feel better and about a fortnight to be fully recovered – fortunately I did not lose my sense of smell and the spicy cough was pretty much on the way out by 9 days.  Fully vaccinated here and you have to give credit to the scientists that made them available to us from 2021 and have reduced the impact of this virus to the many millions that have been exposed since.



This month has also been a month of visitors and family.  It was great to finally have Tim make a long-awaited appearance back on the vineyard after over 2 years of effectively being locked out of the estate / state.  Hopefully next time we can have his family make the trip as well and I will not need to put up with his requesting specifically made aeropress coffee and better chestnut picking awareness (completely forgot to pick them this year which would be a crime if Yuko knew).  We did however manage to share a few bottles, ate very well, and discussed all the small things (and large) that seem to be forgotten when on a phone or video call.


My mother also made it out from New Zealand for 3 weeks and made the most of having a cook and cleaner on hand.  Lots of shopping, visiting, and spending time with grandchildren (and great grandchildren), as well as walks in the vineyard and lots of reading (as is her normal routine upon hitting Margaret River).  She did however forget that it does actually get cold here during winter and duly packed some bathers and cotton dresses and not much else – to much amusement from Marjory who has been wrapped up in three layers of clothes since April.



The lack of vineyard work is now starting to pray on my mind.  This all changes as I will be setting out soon to start the Chardonnay pruning followed by the Merlot – but this month has been watching the leaves fall and the midrow grasses start to fill up the new colour palette of the vineyard.  You really do need the vines to rest, I have noted that some of the vineyards in the region have sprayed out end of season sprays to fasten up the dormancy of the vines – simply to meet a busy pruning schedule one would assume.  Staff shortages are starting to abate as new backpackers and workers are coming into town, but the chronic shortage of rental accommodation makes all of this a bit of a false mirage as they are likely to move to cheaper locations after a short sojourn in the region.  Not a major problem for us as I will be doing the pruning once more, but it does make the vintage for 2023 expensive once more for the area.


The Herd and its Foibles…

Not so much a topic this month, more of a thought that has piqued me for a while, and a recent personal event has brought this to the fore.  I have always sat a little outside of the mainstream, how to put this, a little outside of the “popular” groups.  There are a number of reasons of course and I have self-recognised them myself, and my intelligence and sporting ability when I was young meant that I could get along the edges without causing too much distrust within the “herd”, for a term.  There are always advantages and disadvantages in not sitting comfortably within the herd (big or small), but in my eyes I could not even consider giving up for a millisecond my intellectual independence for a period of “acceptance” within a herd, regardless of the prize as it takes away the one thing you do control and that is what you actually are.


Just recently a vigneron called Roger Pike just dug out his hectare of vines in front of his house in McLaren Vale.  Roger had planted the vines and made wines under the “Marius” label, and they were lauded up and down the country.  He had a past that was very colourful and as he has grown older, he has moved closer and closer to himself – and the giving of his time to the vines, which in turn meant the wines, which ultimately led to the customers was not in his version of his future.  The herd could not understand what he has done, the herd see it all as a crying shame – and when I messaged him and said he must do what he thought best, he replied with the request I continue to “fly the flag of integrity”.  Why would he say that to me?  Because I think he saw a bit of him in me – an introvert in an extrovert wine world and we paper over our inside persona to meet an outside expectation, and Roger, I believe, was over that.


Being in the herd requires a bit of skill, manoeuvring through the options to ensure you are still in line with the majority and to be able to lead as well as follow the unwritten rules of the herd in which you run.  You can most plainly see how this plays out in our woke / conservative culture where many have aligned themselves so strongly in this area, that a simple slip of the tongue (tap of the keyboard) could cause a fall from grace that only a grovelling apology could suffice to bring back order – which is often essential for their health and state of mind.


The herd is not a simple right or left, us and them – it is a gilded package which is bongga in form as it provides you with the assuredness of knowing you are not on the outside looking in like Tiny Tim Cratchit.  Recognition within the herd is never assured, as your tells of not joining in on cue, failing to follow some unwritten rule, not quite getting the easy acceptance that others fall into, haunts those that lack self-confidence and seek comfort in the embrace.  I was for a little while quite jealous of those who could easily slip into social settings and form part of the herd within the first minutes of joining – not so much now, in fact now I find myself thinking if the scene playing out in front of me is genuine or performance?  An extremely skilled performance.


I have no issues with anyone within the herds of their choice.  None at all.  It is perhaps the biggest social contract we have made with society and to not partake could be seen as almost traitorous.  But the herd has its own form of corruption, and this is when members define the way others are to behave within the herd, the nods and looks, the tut tuts and the indifference, this places you within the herd and corrals you, belittles you.


My sister Joanne is an extremely talented lady.  Like my daughter Abi, she is a talented artist but unlike Abi who continues to paint and create, she did not continue with her art until recently where she has started drawing again.  My mother brought across some of her prints that she had made for me and the one print she had framed for me to put on my desk is as below.



It confirms to me that she understands me as well as I understand her.  Grouch is not part of the Sesame Street herd, but he is critical to have within this children’s world and you have to give credit to Jim Henson and the creators of this iconic tv show that they spotted this.  When the herd becomes too saccharine, too self-serving, too wrapped up in its self-importance there has to be those that will not follow to make the herd see themselves, witness their own foibles and ignorance for there to be a balance.


Thanks to you all (especially Marjory!), for putting up with this grouch sitting at his messy desk in Margs.  I will continue to work away on my vines and wines and do my best to appreciate all of the fine comrades out there – the best herd of all.  Salut!


Chill factor...


It has been cold for a May – mainly due to a chilling wind that has been following the fronts of weather that have traversed across the SW of the state.  During the summer we had a local earthmoving contractor come in and fix our driveway and drainage and I am super pleased to announce it has worked well with water now diverted to parts that need it and not eroding away all of the sands and gravels where it is definitely not needed!  As usual we have had a few trees over roads and power outages, but this is the start of every wet season here in Margaret River.


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


May 2022:        

Avg Maximum Temp          19.1°C

Daily Max recorded            24.2°C


Avg Minimum Temp           8.7°C

Daily Min recorded             3.8°C


Rainfall:                               130.4mm

The average maximum and minimum values are lower than last years, highlighting the flip of the switch after a warmer than average summer.  Rainfall total for 2022 was similar to 2021, with both months being slightly above average for May.

May 2021:        

Avg Maximum Temp           19.6°C

Daily Max recorded             23.5°C


Avg Minimum Temp            11.2°C

Daily Min recorded                6.8°C


Rainfall:                                140.5mm


Get busy…


Groundhog Month.  “And so it begins. Pruning. Out into the Chardonnay block for me before moving across to the Merlot. Quite looking forward to it to be honest – I have had a lot of “screen time” with my geology work and this “vine time” will help clear the mind and reset the senses.”  This was from last year’s monthly report, and it could not be closer to the truth.  A few visitors coming through, some even from Singapore collecting wines from 2020/2021 which is fantastic to see.

As always if you have any queries about what has been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email, Instagram or Twitter and we will do our very best to answer any question.




Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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