Pruning is coming to a close with all cuts made and tying down is approximately 80% complete. The cover crop seeded in Autumn is slowly starting to grow thanks to warmer nights and sunnier days.
Pruning of the close-planted Pinot Noir is best described as a tale of ecstasy and agony. The view while doing this work is exquisite, the sun is warm and glorious. The vines are only 40cm from the ground so there is much bottom sitting and constant up and down moving from one vine to the next on a steep slope. The only other option is dry tobogganing. The vineyard plot has a density of 11,000 vines per hectare that translates to a planting of 0.8 meters between vines by 1.1 wide rows.
Winter 2022 has been wetter than usual and we’re expecting this to continue into spring. We are prepared, already having purchased a second sprayer last year. This ensures when the window is open, we can operate 2 sprayers instead of one ensuring the job is done on time. Certified biodynamic operators, like ourselves, only have the option of using sulphur, both dusting powder and wettable, applied every 7 days in the peak growing season. We are unable to use systemic fungicides that have a protection period of 14 days. Biodynamics has an operating ceiling for copper use to control downy mildew so we use it sparingly.
As I write this blog we are busy taking cuttings. Some for replants in our recently planted close planted vineyard, some for replants in our established vineyard. Cultivating machinery, inexperienced machinery operators and vermin are responsible for the misses. Fortunately, there are not many replants and the spring rain helps these replants become established.
Recently we bought 2 new heards of sheep. These lovely woolley creatures do an excellent job of eating down the grass around the trunk. Biodynamics prohibit the use of herbicides; the alternative is cultivation. A more expensive and a heavier footprint on the environment. This year we have been blessed with many lambs, including at least 10 twin births and 1 set of triplets. One ewe lost a twin due to a breach birth. When this happens, the ewe is sometimes overwhelmed and believes no lamb was born at all, subsequently rejecting the surviving lamb. When we first purchased our property, we bought 2 Murray Grey heifers who were joined. Unfortunately, one calf was stillborn. Distraught, we sought advice from the farmer we purchased the property from and he told us to purchase a bobbie calf (the sale yard was only 2km from us) put eucalyptus oil on the mother’s nose as well as the calf’s nose and behind. The scent overrides any doubts the mother might harbour and she accepts it as her own. This trick worked and the bobbie calf not only survived but thrived. We used this same tactic this week with the mother with one surviving twin and they are thankfully united.
During the colder months we have bottled the 2021 Estate chardonnay and disgorged our Brut Reserve NV ready for a spring released. If you missed my last blog you can catch it here, An American Odyssey, its all about our recent trip to the United States of America.
Last week we purchased a tow and blow frost fan to help mitigate frost at our vineyard in the Huon Valley. This equipment will reduce our need to burn oil (canola) pots and light wet hay to produce smoke at all hours of the night to mitigate frost settling on the young tender shoots.
We have a new little vineyard (exciting), just over 2ha, being planted at Blacksnake Road Granton, the trellising is finished and the irrigation is being installed. Depending on the weather we intend to plant before the end of September. Plantings are mostly chardonnay ear-tagged for our, Icon, Collina Chardonnay and some for sparkling wine fruit.
That’s all from Stefano Lubiana Wines. Look out for our next blog and share our news with your friends, colleagues, family or anyone who loves Tasmanian premium wine.