Monthly Report - September 2022
Like a long-forgotten post on a second hand furniture noticeboard, time to bump this monthly report to the head of the queue after my return from abroad. The hours in each day are unfortunately limited, and as odd as it may seem, as I have progressed along my personal timeline the hours appear to be shorter – strange, because as a child I can remember the drive to the beach was the equivalent of “days” of pain as I was often stuck in the middle of the back seat as we drove along towing a trailer full of camping equipment. It was about 3 hours to the beach – but by gosh they were an eterrrrnity.
So many jobs to get out of the way during September, with the biggest burger on the menu being the pruning. Finally finished in the middle of September and all looks good for another year. Late finish to the pruning for a couple of the varieties means we may have a slightly pushed out budburst (the reason is that vines start the budburst from the end of the canes, so when you delay pruning energy starts going down the canes to the last buds thinking this is the way – you then prune that cane off leaving the basal buds and the vine thinks “gawd damn, I had better start again” and that takes a few days to regenerate the process).
It was also good to have a dog out amongst the vines once more – Marjory and I were taking the cut canes out of the trellising and Jack had great pleasure in chewing on so many sticks that his tail could have supplied energy for a small town. The growth in the mid-rows and under the vines has been huge this year, and though Jack is growing at a great rate of knots his way of walking in the tall grass reminds us of Tigga in Winnie the Pooh as he bounces from one spot to the next.
Odd jobs seemed the order of the day during September as well as we cleaned up the area around our new shed, serviced the pump, started a process of repairing the irrigation lines that “pop off” during winter (just in case we need them later in the vintage), and the swapping out of a number of broken steel posts (a job that seems to have no ending). All this comes with the caveat that I am not having to run around the house keeping the gardens and Jack under control while he fills out the puppy charter of being a great big time waster.
A big thanks to all of you who have taken up the Teroldego challenge and picked up a few bottles – it is nearing the end and we are well pleased to finally have nearly all of this wine out there to be drunk and enjoyed. Do not be afraid to reorder, while it is on the website there are a few cases left so feel free to top it up with other wines as you see fit.
In my work as a geologist, I do get to travel to some weird and wonderful places. It is usually somewhere out of the way in Asia or Africa as these are the regions of the world that remain perhaps the most under explored and have the greatest opportunity for finding new mineral discoveries. So, you could imagine my surprise at the invitation to travel to Finland to review projects from one end of the country to the other – seemed a little to fortuitous and I quickly placed it into the “If it happens” bin.
Well to my surprise – it did.
At the end of September into early October I drove from the most north-western corner of Finland, down through the southern forests and lakes, and eventually to Helsinki sitting on the edge of the Baltic. A total of about 1,700km of trees, wandering reindeer, “Beware of the Moose” signs, more trees, occasional lakes and vistas, extreme lack of coffee shops, and more trees. The driving was interspersed with walks in the aforementioned forests and the knocking on rocks and lots of geological arm waving. It was rather unique for me (staying in nice hotels for a start!), and the geology was both interesting and filled up another piece of the giant world geology jigsaw that now fills my head.
But the connection I have with Finland surprisingly is not geological, it is family based. After leaving home and having finished my studies, I scooted off to Western Australia to put my studies to use – I think we had about $500 at best. At around this time my mother and father in New Zealand were asked to look after a Finnish exchange student, Niina, after her having a difficult start with a family that lived slightly out of town. She spent roughly a year at home, became close to my parents and got to experience them during a period in which they could share quite a lot of their time and themselves. A second sister so to speak, but one I had never met.
My parents and my actual brother and sister had made it out to Finland and met with Niina and her ever growing family a number of times, with my father even attending her wedding to Aki, thus creating for himself a bank of a thousand stories that he brought out at any family gathering. This field trip had a delay of departure forced upon me by the lack of flights available back into Perth, so I did get to spend a weekend with Aki and Niina at their home in Jylväskylä, meet them and the kids and confirm if my father was just full of it, or not.
It was great.
But there are aspects of Finnish culture that you cannot ignore. And being the top bloke who you all know I am, I will outline some stuff that I took away from my time in country and with Aki and Niina:
The Finnish language is an utter mystery – there are next to no common words at all in English and there is no point in listening in on conversations to try and pick up the gist – impossible.
The Finnish are not chatterboxes – and I mean they are NOT chatterboxes. Get used to quiet settings in cafes, bars and restaurants and anywhere to be honest … they talk when the need to and brevity is given (a silent) nod of approval.
Did I mention the trees?
Sauna is considered an integral component of family life for many. It has specific traditions and is treated very seriously and many take sauna to have time to think and reset. I loved it – but by golly it was hot and when you use a literal simpulum to “whip” the stones with water the temperature explodes, and you breathe in pure heat - awesome.
The people have all bought in to the system in place of free health care, free education, support for all – but this means that they are taxed, you cannot really hoard wealth, and that you follow the social covenant of being “good” people.
No one likes to actively discuss Russia to “outsiders” – and fair enough – they all have attended military training, all hotels had bomb shelters, roads had runways built into them at random locations and they share this wariness of Russia to a person. Many of us forget that Russia took a large portion of Finland in World War II, and there are many displaced peoples that have their parents from these areas and long for the return of their homes and properties.
Reindeer tastes delicious.
I did bring some of our wine along to share. The alcohol dispersion system in Finland is as often seen in Scandinavia, a centrally controlled process, with only one liquor store to buy from (Alko) and the choices as per their purchases. Less alcohol being drunk now than in the past apparently, so I did my best to help a struggling industry while visiting little town taverns and facing a barrage of questions from the locals of “Why are you here in …?”. A drink that was far too dangerous was on pour and called “Gin Long Drink” which was a combination of gin and grapefruit juice lightly carbonated – tastes delicious, 5% alcohol, and a guaranteed hangover in the making.
The world is a large and amazing place. We sort of feel the globalization closing in on all corners and of that we are all aware, but you have to admire the Finns and their adaption to this modern setting but keeping their quite distinctive culture intact with little fuss or fanfare. If I do get to return I will enjoy the food and culture, and once again take advantage of that sauna of Aki and Niina’s, drinking a beer or three and giving myself a jolly good “whipping”…
September has felt cold – colder than normal but the numbers do not show this up due to a couple of warm days tacked on to the end of the month, the bias of averages. It has been cloudy with showers persisting during the month giving only 6 days without some form of rainfall – difficult to mow lawns and even harder to dry washing. This showery ineffective rainfall has meant the vineyard continues to dry out, but vines are not pushing on as seen in past years.
The numbers for this month and last year’s figures are provided below:
Avg Maximum Temp 17.9°C
Daily Max recorded 26.7°C
Avg Minimum Temp 7.9°C
Daily Min recorded 2.6°C
The average maximum temperature is identical to 2021, with the average minimum temperature also very similar. Rainfall total for 2022 is lower than 2021, but by the merest of margins – we are still on track for another high rainfall year.
Avg Maximum Temp 17.9°C
Daily Max recorded 24.3°C
Avg Minimum Temp 7.8°C
Daily Min recorded 3.2°C
Bursting with activity…
Vines are on the jump as budburst finishes and full-on growth becomes part of the vineyard cycle. Mulching and spraying is the order of the day and maintenance jobs are what feels like never ending. A bit of warmth would be nice to push all this along and we can then settle into the new vintage as it unfurls before us.
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.
Blue Poles Vineyard