We love to notice and mark the changing of seasons, the sighting of a new birds' nest, or our unceasing wonder at the seamless enrichment that biodynamic viticulture provides our pristine environment. Working in rhythm with nature ensures we're vigilant in the vineyard, and follow that attention to detail through to the winery and the table. As fifth and sixth generation winegrowers, we value family, tradition and progression, and we hope our stories strike a chord with you – hopefully so much that we're lucky enough to one day hear yours.
Steve and Monique Lubiana.
Vintage 2021 is rounding the bend and will soon be at the finish line.
This winter the vineyard was pruned by total pros, myself included, and the result is even growth with well spaced internodes.
Early cover crop seeding that germinated well and grew profusely over winter plus the addition of trace elements set the vineyard up for excellent canopy coverage. Grape bunches will fill out slowly and evenly as there are plenty of leaves to photosynthesise through summer and into autumn.
This growing season we trialled a new method of mowing one third of vegetative growth at flowering and allowing more growth and mowing before its final cut to the deck. The idea of cutting one third of the green manure is to increase the root mass and to drive it deeper. It seems to have worked as the vines exploded during spring, possibly due to increased water penetration as well as the sinking of more carbon to feed the microbes that store nitrogen.
As I write we are finalising crop levels by green harvesting where necessary and tidying up the canopy to put out the last sulphur spray for the season readying for netting. Can’t wait for technology to catch up here. It would be fantastic to have a drone in the shape of a bird that’s programmed to chase away starlings & silver eyes from the vineyard.
Covid-19 has interrupted our business but we have still received many visits from existing and new customers over the summer, mostly from Queensland and many from Victoria. They’ve been tasting our wines and enjoying our rustic food offering with the most popular dish being our onion tart that matches very well with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and ‘Primavera’ Pinot Noir. Another favourite has been our Zuppa Inglese (English soup) Northern Italian version of tiramisu.
Update on our new close-planted vineyard 1mx1m! Again growth has been good and our management systems are improving. We predict this vineyard will eventually make the highest quality Pinot Noir & chardonnay from the entire vineyard, watch this space!
Kiss the Ground is a ‘Big Picture’ film a biopic in association with 7 other entities.
Woody Harrelson is the Narrator; other prominent film, sports and fashion identities provide low-key contributions.
The golden message of the film is that we can all contribute to saving the earth from global warming and the solution is ‘under our feet’.
The star of the film Ray Archuleta, a Conservation Agronomist, is employed to teach farmers about how to sequester carbon. Sequestering carbon takes carbon from the atmosphere and stores it in the soil where it feeds the microbes. They multiply creating a sponge for water & nutrients. Both these are required to grow crops.
In the USA the bank of carbon that existed in the soil prior to the 1930s has been destroyed, mostly through tilling. Artificial fertilisers, the separation of rotation cropping from animal husbandry and pesticides use have also impacted the soil’s capacity to store carbon by killing off microbes.
The film follows a farmer who tells his story of going broke using modern farming methods. He returns to how farming was done prior to the agricultural revolution and we see a comparison of his farm compared to his neighbours and the ‘proof is in the pudding’.
The film shows us how to store carbon, 1% of organic matter equals 10 tons of carbon per acre, how animal husbandry done correctly can help the soil, how food waste can transform soil and finally how a smaller more thoughtful footprint helps everyone as well as the environment.
This affirming doco avoids laying blame yet acknowledges the legacy load of fossil fuels. The film focuses on what we can do and opens our eyes to a solution everyone can contribute to and gives examples of cities around the world making it happen.
At Stefano Lubiana Wines our soils measured up to 7.5% organic matter. Organics/Bio-dynamics is our key to success. The use of natural fertilisers, minimal tilling, and cover cropping increase the microbes in the soil banking more carbon whilst increasing water-holding capacity and all the while avoiding synthetic pesticides and fungicides.
Kiss The Ground five stars!
With the warmer days upon us, and Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to drink ‘Aromatic’ wines from Tasmanian’s true cool climate. We love them here at Stefano Lubiana! We make small parcels of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and the quick to sell out Pinot Gris. We also make 2 alternative varieties, Gruner Veltliner from Austria and the newly available Malvisia from Croatia. It is fair to say that we adore perfectly balanced aromatic crisp white wines on a warm day and we know you will love them too!
We find the topic of aromatic winemaking a great conversation starter in our Cellar-door. People are intrigued to understand the method. Unlike red wine production where the grapes are destemmed and fermented on their skins, later pressed and barrelled into the cellar. White wine production is much more sensitive from the get-go.
It is crucial in all winemaking that grapes are picked disease free as well as free of bird damage. This stops often unseen, wine spoilage and promotes clarity and precision. At our gravity fed winery, grapes are picked into half tonne plastic bins and are emptied into a hopper and sorted by hand on a mechanical sorting table. The sorting table allows us to remove any damaged or imperfect berries, leaves, stalks and the odd spider (harmless money types).
Grapes slide into the press via gravity to prevent damage. We use a tank press; this technology is a very gentle process that squeezes the grapes gently with compressed air to release the juice. The juice then arrives in a tank where it is then syphoned to the underground cellar into a large oak fermenter called a foudre. As with all winemaking at Stefano Lubiana, oak selection is critical, and Steve has long been a fan of Austrian oak when making cool climate aromatic white wines. Foudres are large oak vats, usually 3000L naturally fine grained so that the flavour imparted is genuinely subtle. Wine that matures in these vats is more textured and the wine's natural acid is often softened.
Usually the natural yeast found on the grapes ignites the fermentation. We closely monitor and cool, if necessary, the ferment to ensure it does not get out of control. If fermentation is too warm then elegance, finesse and fruity aromatics are lost from the wine. When the fermentation is finished the wine is left on its lees. Lees are the sediment (dead yeast cells) that settles on the bottom, when stirred reinvigorating, charging the wine, making it cloudy again, washing through the wine keeping it fresh, reducing the need for preservatives. This technique has been used for hundreds of years. After a winter’s rest the wine is carefully retrieved from the underground cellar and is allowed to gather itself for a week or two before bottling. Once bottled the wine sits and recovers from that process before it is released for sale.
2018 ‘Estate’ Chardonnay
A wine with strong Tasmanian credentials including an inner energy, steely reserve and powerful acidity. That’s the groundwork for a long-lived chardonnay, right there. Immediately reserved and still youthful with a grapefruit pith, lemon curd, cut pear, fleshy mango. Good strong backbone in play with a line of citrus infusion. A waiting – game kind of wine, be patient. Screw cap 13% alc. Rating 95
2018 ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir
A rocking, rolling, fruit pastille-charged, filigree-fine pinot noir from a winemaker who always delivers. An upbeat entry with small red berries, toasted spice, orange rind aromas. Class act throughout from the tight coils of concentrated fruit and supple, even-handed tannis to smooth-knit oak. With texture and presence. Screw cap 13% alc.
2018 ‘Estate’ Syrah
The first Syrah produced under this label and what elegance! Takes a leaf straight out of the Lubiana winemaking school of pinot noir with great lift and expansive, pretty fruit and spice. Highly articulate approach to the grape allowing drinkers to see the Rhone-side of the variety with full 5-spice, nutmeg, pepper and Aussie bush notes siting under blueberries, stewed plums. Clean,
Recently, there has been a growing market presence of Organic, Biodynamic and Synthetic free products being produced not only in Australia but also around the world. You may have found yourself asking, ‘are organic/biodynamic wines a healthier choice?’
Logic says yes! The less synthetics consumed, the less additives the body has to process, the healthier the individual. This makes absolute sense to us.
The trouble being it is very difficult to find conclusive evidence to prove one way or another. In my own recent research, I couldn’t verify that synthetic free, organic/biodynamic wine is a healthier choice. There were many articles that allude or suggest chemical free is healthier but then contradict by saying that it’s not proven. This could be due to research studies being unavailable and expensive to undertake, afterall who is willing to pay for them.
I came across a paper from Environmental Health called “Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review”. Click here for the full article. The study abstract tells us that ‘Organic food consumption may reduce the risk of allergic disease and overweight and obesity, but the evidence is not conclusive….’. The paper reports that conventional fruits and vegetables constitute the main source of pesticide exposure to humans. Other topics discussed include organic dairy, higher omega-3 content, animal antibiotic use, and lower cadmium in organic cereal crops.
Another discussion point is about the subjects of the study. Do people who consume organic/biodynamic food have better outcomes as they may exercise more regularly than those who consume a conventional diet.
At Stefano Lubiana we are motivated to produce organic/biodynamic wine because we believe the environment and native fauna are better off, our employees do not have to handle poisonous chemicals and our customers hopefully experience an unadulterated ‘wholefood’ benefit from consuming our wine. If these advantages were not part of organic/biodynamic farming then we would not bother with the time, cost, hassle, administration, expense and energy it takes to achieve certification.
With the festive period just around the corner I encourage you to read this article for yourself and whilst you enjoy a glass of Organic/biodynamic wine from Stefano Lubiana Wines!
Recently I came across an interesting book that Steve purchased online called ‘Organic growing with worms’ by David Murphy. It was sitting on the coffee table and I had a few minutes between the dishwasher finishing and hanging out a load of washing. (This is what I do on my days off as a part time domestic goddess!!)
One of the few challenges we’ve found in our vineyard is the imbalance of nitrogen. Why do grapes need nitrogen? Grapes with balanced ‘goldilocks’ nitrogen produce higher quality, flavoursome and stable wines that age well. Too much nitrogen is not a good thing as vines push to create canopy rather than fruit shading out bunches. This can produce unripe fruit characters with poor age-ability. One of the reasons Grand Cru wines are planted on hillsides rather than the valley floor is because hillsides have soils of less vigour and are generally warmer (less clay), and also can be of a higher PH. When we purchased our Granton vineyard over 30 years ago it was planted to a market garden producing mostly brassicas best suited to an alkaline soil type. The previous owner ran the market garden conventionally and, as a result, we inherited soils like concrete, which is a habitat uninviting to worms. Over the past 30 years we’ve set about reversing the harm done through the introduction of compost, compost teas, 500, 501, gentle cultivation and cover crops. We monitor our progress through soil testing. We’ve come a long way and we’ve increased the carbon content immensely but there is still some more work to be done. Worms can help us as they work around the clock with no overtime converting the carbon to nitrogen.
If you’re mad about gardening and want to do something to help the environment, especially if you’re keen to grow food, this is an essential book. What I learned was that worms deposit nitrogen in the soil through their burrowing and urine (wee). When worms burrow they shore up the walls of the burrows with their mucus. This is full of nitrogen that is excreted through the digestion of carbon, minerals and bacteria. Their wee is also full of nitrogen. When it rains, or irrigation is applied, this washes all the nitrogen through the burrows to the tip of the root system that is then taken up by the vine. Not only do the worms deposit nitrogen but their burrowing allows for oxygen to enter the soil. Along with carbon this is a key requirement for bacteria to flourish. ‘bacteria is agriculture’s richest source of nitrogen on the planet’ p112. Oxygen in soil feels squidgy underfoot, not like concrete. ‘Organic growing with worms’ explains how to start a worm farm, attract worms, keep them and increase their numbers. It’s an easy read full of great ideas. I give it 5 stars out of 5.