Sunday, December 21, 2008

Adamson's Peak Hike

Some of us from the Far South decided to do the Adamson's Track this morning. It's on our map I hand out and people are asking about it. How can I give advise if I haven't been up there yet? :-))
It is described as a Category 3 track, for experienced climbers only. It IS hard going :-) All the way up to the plateau -3 hours- there are relentless steps going up and up..... Some places the steps were at my waist hight. In some parts it is ascending in a creek bed or over marshy spots , necessitating gaiters and waterproof boots. Near the plateau -where the hut's ruins are - little waterfalls fill your bottle with crystal-clear, cold water. I didn't go further from the hut because my leg muscles would've needed a slower ascent :-)) From there it's another 2 hours across the plateau and a smaller ascent to the summit with 360 degrees views over the Far South.
At the hut I've opened the St. Imre Tiger Blood :-)) and my friends took up what was left to the summit . Coming down took 2 hours. Found it easy albeit -across the muddy spots- my boots slipping sometimes. The forest is magnificent! At the lower parts remains of the giant trees still bear the scars the forestry boys cut for their stepping pegs 60-80 years ago. Flowering small bushes , lichens , many type of mosses and ferns ..... the serenity broken only occasionally by a rustle of a lizard or a bird calling.
Stopped at many places to take photos but now I've done it, I will take up the family, next time to the summit, to show the iconic mountain in our backyard :-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous, Blessed, Happy New Year to every one of my readers!!!


Geeezz...are you all organized yet? I'm spinning...
Presents: ticked; cards, e-cards sent, ticked; food: half in the pantry; turkey: ticked; ham on order, to be picked up Tuesday; cakes' ingredients still in the shops but at least I've decided what to bake; Christmas trees (1 for house, 1 for cellardoor):..the birds are probably still singing on them... Tue. also; drinks: that's easy...open the door in the cellar :-); decorating: I have no idea...somebody will do it...
Paul installed the screen for the small stairs
this will be behind my counter.
Kitchen tiled Tick :-)
EFTPOS machine arrived but when I move it loses the phone connection. No tick here :-(( I'll have to call Bank and sort it out.
I've made peace with Au Post. Tick. After another saga -this time shorter- finally I'm connected to the right people :-)
Bottled the whites also. Tick. Nick and Nikki from hong Kong helped
Houdini couldn't elude me. Tick. Here SHE is with mum and some of the herd SHE, because I think it's a heifer :-)) We couldn't get close enough yet to be absolutely certain. Paul must have seen the umbilical cord...:-))) AND we have an other calf, born to Piroska on Tuesday. Paul named her Ibi. No photo yet and I just might want to take a closer good look before I concede to that name! :-)))

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nearly there...

We had a good week :-)
Progress on the building is going well and the rain let up enough to allow us to do some work in the vineyard.
I'm doing the weed killing, shoot thinning and the lifting of first wires are done.
Paul slashed the grass between the rows, oiled the floor: and close to finish with tiling. This is the toilet, the grouting on the skirting isn't finished yet:
Toilet without the skirting:
Kitchen:
Houdini is still in the hiding :-)) next week I hope to get a picture of him...
10 new ducklings hatched and one of the hens is sitting.
Had some happy customers and a function booking for Christmas :-)
Thanks to my readers who signed up as followers!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Small wineries "etiquette"

One of my readers mentioned that he -so far- avoided going into a small winery because he feels he doesn't know what's the custom. Do you phone before or just knock on the door? Are they open even if no signs are out? What to expect?...so here is my 2 cent worth :-)
This is based on my experience visiting many small wineries and how my visitors behave when knocking on our cellardoor.
I'm not an etiquette expert :-) so feel free to correct me or add anything you think it might be useful for novice cellar crawlers.
  • Dilemma (D from here): They have a sign out with OPEN on it. Resolution (R form here): This is too easy :-) just wander in.
  • D: No OPEN sign, only their name. R: Is it a reasonable hour? 10 am - 5pm... or you have just waken up and want champagne for breaky... have a sunset BBQ on the beach and run out of piss? No worries mate! Try your luck. If they are home, they probably will be more than happy to show off their wines at any hour. Any sales at any hour help to pay for that tractor repair...
  • D: Phone or not to phone? R: Not necessary but if you have their number whip out that mobile 15 minutes before you turn up to let a bit of time for the poor farmer to clamber down the hill from the vineyard, wipe his mouth from his lunch, kick the dog out, wrench that stainless steel tank out of the way or tidy up that tasting area to be presentable for your esteemed visit.
  • D: You couldn't phone, you are at the door and there is deathly silence R: Make a noise. Slam the car door, toot your horn, start singing...and wait a bit before you drive off in a huff. He might be on his tractor spraying or vacuuming the carpet. He didn't hear you arriving. Don't wander around the property. You might get zapped by the electric fence, the Head of their Security might taste your calf or the resident snake will get angry. If after a few minutes you hear only the birds singing, you can safely assume that nobody is home. Oh well, next time...
  • D: He comes running and ushers you into the tasting room R: You might find written somewhere that tasting is free or they charge 2-5 $ for it. If no writing on the wall, assume: free. His problem if he has to ask for it :-) The fee covers all the wines tasted and usually it is to compensate for his time and for his wine that you didn't drink but he opened the bottles for you and now he has to sacrifice it by drinking it himself. This sounds fun to you but he will not get paid for it! He doesn't have 20 customers a day to empty a bottle for tastings and wine doesn't stay the same opened longer then 2 days even in a fridge. I use carbon dioxide on opened bottles but I can't afford yet to buy a -damn expensive- professional wine saver :-( I haven't seen it yet at any of the small places.
  • D: Buy or not to buy R: At most places the tasting fee is 'refunded' aka. calculated into the price of the wine you buy, so the tasting was free if you buy. If you do not intend to buy, pay the tasting fee upfront. (But why did you visit a small winery when you can get sloshed free at a big one?) You have tasted all his offerings and you didn't like any of them? You buy at least 1 bottle of his cheapest. Uncle Bob will like it for Christmas :-)
  • D: You're talking to the winemaker directly or his wife/son/daughter/mother-in-low not a badly trained staff member. He knows a lot about wine. Pretend or not pretend? R:If you are just tentatively straying off you Beer Path, own up :-) He will be happy to teach you and infect you with his enthusiasm for wine. No shame in learning! You have to meander your way through several hundred bottles on the Wine Path before you'll be able to know your dark berries from wet barnyard floor :-) It is an Eureka moment when you distinctly recognize a wine aroma. It happened to me with a Gew├╝rztraminer. It smelled sooo lychee that I had a picture in my mind of the luscious fruit cut in half, white flash glistening :-)
  • D: Can you ask for a discount? R: If you are buying at least 6 bottles you can!
Any other dilemmas? Yours truly is here to answer it :-))
Don't deprive yourself of the pleasure of learning, discovering obscure wine varieties or just talking to the farmer/winemaker directly. Go on! Knock on that cellardoor!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's a BOY!

No, not a human one, a 4 legged one :-)
We are pleased to announce the safe arrival of Hudini Of St Imre, bull calf of Rozsika Of St Imre.
They are over grazing at the neighbour's and last afternoon Rozsika was complaining very loudly, attracting my attention. Paul climbed the mountain, confirmed that she did give birth, her udder is over-full and no baby to be found. She is looking for it, franticly calling and walking up and down...It's 8 o'clock already, the sun is setting, but we jump in the car and drive over around where it is easier to climb the hill...looking under every clump of grass, clambering over every blackberry bush...NO calf. Did the devils eat it? Did it wander into the forest? Did it fell into a crevice?...in the pitch dark we drive home deflated and worried. Rozsika stops calling in about half on hour. She must of found the little bugger! First thing this morning Paul prepares to claim again...but fined the whole herd happily dozing around the lake :-))) Baby included! When Paul wants to take a closer look at him, he jumps up and runs for his life with dancing steps, sure as a gazelle, into the cover of willow trees... :-))) So hence his very apt name of Hudini. I have no pictures yet but I'll soon corner the 3 days old, little brown beast!!!!
We have steady progress everywhere.
The floor is sanded, (here just after the first layer), I've started Block 1 with the shoot thinning, back labels arrived, posted the wines to Hong Kong, a new batch of ducklings hatched, Fumi left because he found paid work at the back neighbor's apple orchard, Rachel IS a P driver -she obtained her licence last week! :-)) and I have a new gadget - a birthday present from them- a digital photo frame :-)
And it is still raining every day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This week

There was enough rain for a whole month now! We need a bit of sunshine to get on with the works.
Paul and Fumi are pulling out the grow wires in block 1. Not much left to do now but I have to get another roll as they've run out again :-)
We have done a bit of labeling ... until we also run out of supply. Eszter is printing the next batch of back labels. Very organized we are...It's really hectic here this time of the year even without building a cellardoor and new house :-)
Serra is taking off the new shoots which grew since last time we de-budded and I'm spraying the weeds everywhere I find them.
Not all work though :-) The young ones were out hiking
and also took a bunch of photos from our backyard. Here is Adamson's Peak, Dover's own Mount Fuji in the rays of the setting Sun.
They seem to be fascinated by what I'm cooking :-) so some dishes make it to the internet for you to join around our table. Osso Bucco with semolina , lamb shank with cabbages , sour cherry cake
The new brood of duckies are growing but at 2 days old it's hard to step up to the nest :-))
And last for today, Possum Kitty said: Good By

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shoot thinning

I've started thinning the shoots in block 2. This year it is necessary to do it. In other years, leaf plucking -later in the season- usually is enough to open up the canopy to sunlight, but this year they are pushing out many unproductive shoots from the bases of the spurs. This would make the canopy more prone to diseases and would shade the fruit, delaying ripening. It's a long, tedious job I'm not looking forward to -it takes me 2 hours to do a short row- but hey...we are making quality wines here ! :-) This job done is one of the differences what distinguishes us from the run-of-the-mill, big company, bottle shop wines.
Here they are before:
and after thinning:
Sometimes I see on the customer face that he/she was expecting our prices to be cheaper (and I'm talking here not just about us but nearly all of the Tasmanian wine producers). Please ask "why?" I'm glad to explain all the work we do here, for you to understand why we can't sell a bottle for 5 $ :-) We have around 8500 grapes in about 100 rows ...just the shoot thinning takes 2 hours each row...we planted them into the nursery... planted them out into the rows... squatted/bent down to every one -twice per year- for 3 years to prune, train/tie to the wire, select shoots, protect and nurture...when they are up on the grow wire we prune, kill the weeds, spry, de-bud the trunks, thin the shoots, put up the 3 sets of foliage wires at different times (we have about 40 Km ! of foliage wire), de-bud the trunks again, weed kill again, leaf pluck, spray -for the 4-th time- again, spread out the nets, pick the grapes and take off the nets... and I'm sure I've left out some other jobs we do but I can't recall now :-)) And this is only the vineyard part :-) The work in the winery is another page in our books...
And here is one of the result:
Fumi from Japan is helping with installing the foliage wires and he finished punching in the nails in the floor before sending and oiling.
Serra from Taiwan painted the skirting boards
At the cellardoor Jim, the electrician, is wiring in the lights and power points. The picture rails are up, the Plum Pond is filling nicely
the Native Hens introduced their new brood
All 4 chicks are grown and well :-) and we visited Inverawe gardens in Margate. Here are some pics of their flowers: