I can’t stand it. It’s like killing off one baby to ensure the survival of the other, but which one do I choose? The eldest? the youngest? The strongest? The tallest? Agony, guilt, it’s all there and finally, when you pluck up your courage, close your eyes and do the deed, there are thousands of others waiting to be cast out of the gene pool in order to achieve a vinous master race. Cuvee Aryan here we come. (Well it is Chardonnay.)
I know there is still a long way to go, and arguably there always will be, but still I feel fantastic and excited about what we have achieved so far. I wonder how many people in life can say they built their dream? Well mine is built so I thought I would try to tell the story so far with a few pictures. Enjoy. I have.
Well, they’re in and it feels good, but there were some moments of real concern. Had I chosen the right posts; were they strong enough for ramming; did it matter that they couldn’t be pointed? In the end, all it took was a good operator with good experience and rain; lots of it.
The 8’x5″ end posts are all pre-drilled and provided the biggest challenge. With the delays meaning installation didn’t begin until after Christmas, drying soils and some rocky patches slowed things up. The 100mm augur bit should have been ample but the difficulties of accurately drilling at a 30 degree angle resulted in a change to vertical posts. While possibly not as strong in design, the upside is that the posts are now 900mm in the ground which we considered plenty strong enough when combined with the 40″ ground anchors. On the other hand, trying to bang them in so far resulted in a worrying attrition rate and unacceptably high costs.
In fact, so great were the concerns, that I put a stop to proceedings until I could think of some way, (or someone,) to do it better. I was resigned at this point to having to pre-drill every hole, even for the 3 1/2″ line posts, with frightening cost implications. Eventually, pouring out my woes to a mate in the south eventuated in him making a call to someone who knew someone who was away at the moment but might be able to help when he gets back …etc…etc. It turned out that he could and, after many more delays, he did. Not only that but, after so much rain fell in April that I was worried about getting onto the site at all, by May 17th, all 620 line posts were in with no pre-drilling and with the loss of only one; a pretty incredible outcome. Love your work Ian Brown.
Nearly everything is here, very much later than planned, but at least we have been able to start. The earth anchors from Qing Dao are all we could have hoped, although admittedly a few of them provided a few problems. And believe me, we are throwing everything at it. If it moves, carries, lifts, drills or measures, it is press-ganged into service, (and that includes the kids.)
As mentioned elsewhere, since leaving school, (and for some time before then; sorry Dad,) my life has been mostly about wine. Inevitably, amidst all the fun stuff of growing it, making it, drinking it, there has been the need to sell a case or three which has required some marketing effort. Now I am not someone who thinks that “marketing” is a cover-all career description. I market WINE. That doesn’t mean that I can do the same for Ferraris or double glazing and I am sorry, but neither do I believe that a generic marketing degree gives anyone carte blanche to claim greater expertise in my particular field, (or as it might be, vineyard.)
However, I give full respect to those who have put in the hard yards to learn a product and an industry from the ground up and who use that knowledge to further their cause. Australian wine has gone from nowhere to its current prominent position in not much more than 30 years, thanks to the vision of our industry icons and their considerable marketing prowess, rather than them being dab hands with a plunger or a pipette.
So I admit to finding it more than a little ironic that marketers, rather than building quality perception and demand, which is their role, seem to have earned themselves a status in the wine world similar to cork taint or brettanomyces. With the 90’s far behind us, when everything was fun and easy, and the realities of a tough global market place biting pretty hard, more and more people seem to be jumping on the hate wagon, deriding and blaming marketers for all their woes. Even the occasional journalist, whose over-flowing cellars and busy schedules are mostly courtesy of marketing department’s efforts, are adding to the growing volume of abusive rhetoric.
So a word of warning. We are ALL marketers; we ALL have a need to constantly update and promote ourselves and our qualities and right now we need good marketers more than ever. Don’t fling abuse just because others do. Instead, work out how marketing makes a difference, because it does. Which of us wouldn’t rather be driving a Ferrari rather than a Yamaha, even though the Formula 1 results say otherwise? And with Tassie still denying us a real beginning to summer, I for one wouldn’t mind a little double glazing.
OK! So the plan WAS, if you remember right back to April, that after giving the whole site a thorough discing, all it would need in Spring was a few quick passes with the harrows and everything would be beautifully smooth, clear of grass and weeds and ready for planting. That of course was before the record busting rains in Sept/Oct produced such vigorous growth that I’m beginning to think that Jack & the Beanstalk might have some factual basis.
In fact, 5 passes with the big stump jumpers still didn’t do the trick and the upshot is a change of plan. We will simply spray off the rows and leave the rest. At least there is less rush to establish an inter-row cover crop and, as you can see from the picture, the whole slope is now beautifully graded….and nothing but blue skies at last.
On occasions, I admit to being a fan of unmemorable wines, wines that don’t demand attention or interrupt the otherwise really important conversation. And I mean it, honestly I do, as much as, when a lot younger and hopelessly intent on saving the world, I meant it when I said that I would never eat foie gras because it was cruel, inhumane and absolutely BLOODY DELICIOUS!
So a little while ago I went to a friend’s 40th. A whole bunch of us, who should have perhaps displayed a more responsible enjoyment of the picks of our combined cellars, treated some venerable labels as if they were innocuous ten dollar bargain bin specials. Many, it’s true, slipped by without a detailed tasting note; a few stuck their heads up above the crowd and demanded that some memory of them remained the next day. But somewhere in the priceless treasury of great wine, I found myself with a glass of Louis Roederer Cristal, a champagne which the vast majority of people in the world will go to their grave never having tasted. This is a scenario which we should avoid at all cost…and it will cost. Lots! The current vintage will set you back up to $400. Can a mere bottle of wine be worth that? Can it deliver all by itself an experience equal to a whole evening at Tetsuya’s or a season ticket to the Opera House or perhaps a weekend driving super cars around Mt Panorama? Hard to say. Every experience is shaped by place, time and company and is impossible to replicate. But for this drinker, on a befuddled afternoon behind the closed doors of a small east Melbourne restaurant, the lights flickered, the noise receded and perhaps even the earth moved as, with two meager mouthfuls, I experienced such a revelation, such a crescendo of flavour and texture, that it put every other wine I had ever tasted into a new context.
So for those who don’t want to be among the unfulfilled masses, for those who want to eat foie gras, drive a Ferrari 250 GTO and drink something as good as Cristal tasted to me that day, then perhaps you can glimpse what drives me. One day, I want to be your great wine experience, I want to make your lights flicker and the earth move. I want to be your foie gras moment.