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Hitting the Peak of the Barossa Harvest

Barossa Valley Estate winemaker Stuart Bourne's 2009 Barossa Valley harvest is in full stride.
2009 Southern Harvest Winemakers
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Posted: Mar 13, 2009 3:49pm ET

By Stuart Bourne

Posted by Stuart Bourne

If vintage is a parabola (or a bell curve for the non-math geeks among us), then this week sees us sitting right on the top of the curve. What I am trying to convey is that we have really hit our straps this week at Barossa Valley Estate, and it's probably the busiest period of vintage for us, from now and for another two weeks. The peak is when we have quite a few vineyards that are all ripe, so must go like the clappers (that's an Aussie term for really moving quite quickly) to get them in at their optimal ripeness.

The weather has been fantastic this week, with warm days and cool nights bringing on the blocks of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot that we were looking to pick at flavor ripeness. Our fermentors are all now brim full, filled with gently bubbling ferments of bright red.

The first photo is of an open fermentor, stuffed with ripe Shiraz, from a block that has made its way into the Ebenezer Shiraz for many years, so we are expecting great things from it. Its deep, dark brooding color, with ripe tannins and long, long flavors of pepper, spices, cherry and plum, are making us all very excited. By next week it will be pressed off skins and wait in line to slip gently to barrel and finish its ferment in oak. Yum, yum, yum! It’s funny that in such a state-of-the-art winery that we are still using what basically constitutes a big bath tub to make our wine in. Four years at college to learn how to fill a bath, now that was worthwhile! Ha ha. It’s also funny that everything old is new again. Open fermentation has been used for thousands of years to make wine, very successfully, and the results we get from these is stunning. Such old techniques, such new technology.

Fermenting Shiraz the old-fashioned way.  
All ferments in so far are behaving nicely, so won’t spend much time on them now. Will update later. Apologies for the rushed and short nature of this week’s blog, as it really is a big week and ferments beckon and scream for attention.

And now for another episode of "Meet the Crew at BVE": This is a strapping young lad, affectionately known as "Pappsy." Michael Papps, his real name (allegedly), is with us for the vintage period, and brings a huge range of knowledge, skills, enthusiasm and passion to us for this vintage.

Michael Papps makes a boutique wine with his wife when not hard at work at BVE.  
Pappsy has held a few positions around the Barossa Valley at other wineries and, above all else, is simply a bloody good bloke. Amongst other things, he is also co-proprietor, with his lovely wife, of the emerging hot brand that is Yelland and Papps Wines. This small, artisan label from the Barossa Valley is already making big waves at home, and pulling some very impressive scores for their wines. As long as Pappsy gets to sneak off and check his own wines periodically, he’s a happy camper. It’s been a treat to have him pitch in and help us out this year.

BVE's renaissance man, Dieter.  
And this is Dieter. Dieter is staffing the weighbridge this year again, and has been with us for quite a while. During the non-vintage time, you will find Dieter in the vineyards and our Cellar Door, as a jack of all trades. During vintage, up he comes to the winery to help out receiving all of the trucks, tractors and anything else with wheels that is capable of carrying fruit. He checks each load, and only when he is happy are they allowed to proceed to the crusher. Armed with a warm smile, Dieter is a very funny bloke, loves to chat to us all, and welcomes everyone into the winery at the top of the hill. Great to have smiles on board as the long days and nights go by. You name it, he can do it.

To finish, I have also included a shot of the view across the vineyard, to the beautiful palm trees of Seppeltsfield Road, an institution of our beautiful Barossa Valley. It’s there just to remind you all that I think I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and a picture tells more than I can.

The view of Seppeltsfield Road.  
Until next time, safe travels, good food, good wine, cold beer and keep smiling, as we toil along making great wines for you all.

Ah, the Barossa Valley, beautiful one day and even more beautiful the next. (And after vintage, if it rains and greens up, is one of the most beautiful times to visit.)

Cheers to you all,

Stuey B and all the crew at Barossa Valley Estate

Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  March 13, 2009 7:53pm ET
Excellent and insightful post Mr. Bourne. Well done!
Stuart Bourne
March 25, 2009 4:28pm ET
Mr Peterson, thank you for your kind words. The term Mr Bourne is somewhat unfamiliar to me, yet very grown up. Ha Ha. How about in future it just simply be "Stuey". Enjoy your wines from the Barossa, Troy.

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