Romantic winemaking; is an Oxymoron, or is it?

I love wine making, I really do; to me being amongst the vines beats sitting in front of a computer compiling spread sheets any day. I have also met many people in the tasting room who dream of one day owning their own vineyard and making their own wine. I can only imagine the thrill of pouring a wine that carries your name, knowing the love and passion that went into crafting and creating that bottle of wine.

But let’s be real for 2 seconds here, wine farming, like any other farming is hard work. Mother nature has really reared its ugly head these past few months and thrown all sorts of curve balls at us. Dry hot days are interrupted by intermittent down pours and periods of high humidity, creating a haven for all sort of molds and fungus in the vineyard.  The vineyard is loving the excess rain, producing canopies that are overly vigorous and difficult to stay on top of. Grass is growing faster than we can mow it, why anyone would want to be growing grapes this year, beats the heck out of me.

Well let me tell you why.

I love a challenge. We have been blessed with 4 good vintages in a row and we were bound to experience a wetter growing season sometime or other. This year just happens to be that season.

I firmly believe that the wines are made in the vineyard, it was how I was taught and I truly buy into it. For us to make quality wines this year, means spending more time in the vineyard ensuring that  only the best possible fruit arrives at the cellar door.

I have already put out over 8o tanks of fungicides and insecticides, crawling between the vines at a blistering rate of 2.5 miles an hour, sometimes waking my bosses up at 5:30 in the morning to beat the rain. I think I could drive through the vineyard blind at this point.  I am happy to report, so far the vineyard is devoid of any major disease, bar a little botrytis in the Chardonnay that has subsequently been cut out.  The guys are working hard in the vineyard,  I feel quite bad that they are out there and I am in the air-conditioned office writing this post [fear not I will join them soon].

They have done a great job in staying on top of the growth and we are about 2 weeks away from finishing up the canopy work. All that is left to do is pray for a warm August with little rain, and to fine tune the crop levels on the vine, ensuring that what we leave is fully ripe by the time we harvest the fruit. If we get that right, then the wine-making will take care of itself.

All things being equal, this year will truly showcase the best vineyard managers and wine makers. No-one knows how the 2011 wines will stack up to previous vintages, but should they be good, it will make all the hard work of this year worth it, and that ladies and gentleman  is why we do what we do, and why we love it so much.

Plus we have these killer farmers tans to boot too.

By the way, I have really come to appreciate all the members of the Keswick team and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them, from the tasting room staff to the back office staff who work hard day in and day out.  The guys in the vineyard to the grounds staff who make Keswick Vineyards a truly special place to work at, thank you. Lastly a special mention to my wife who puts up with me being here all the time and supports me 100%.

You know what, that is why we do what we do, because we enjoy working with a great bunch of people, pouring wines for our fantastic customers, and doing it in one of the most beautiful places on earth

Loving Life

Stephen

Winemaker for Keswick Vineyards.

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One comment on “Romantic winemaking; is an Oxymoron, or is it?

  1. […] The “romance” of growing grapes (from Stephen, winemaker at Keswick) […]

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