Wet harvest in a modest vineyard

2012 has been a hard year for winegrowers: lots of rain, mould attacks on grapes. Consequently, the harvest has not been generous. The crop is way down with 50% less quantity. Still, the hope to get a good year is strong in the Canberran wine region, and the winemaker’s art will make the difference.

“While hand-picking is common across the district in any season, selective hand-picking was the only choice for many growers. This increases the costs of maintaining fruit quality, as there is no market for B-grade fruit,” said Chris Carpenter, president of the Canberra District Vigneron’s Association, quoted in a media release.

The battle for recognition is not won yet. The reputation of Canberra’s wine region is still being built. The families who develop the wines in the region are linked by their efforts and their solidarity. “In Murrumbateman we are about 15 wineries who help each other as we know that the number of wineries is what attracts people,” comments Sarah Collingwood from the Fourwinds winery.

Less alcohol, more acidity; the Australian consumer’s taste has also changed over the years. In a tight market, this evolution has made some room for wines developed in a cooler climate on the heights of the Canberran region.

The Riesling is particularly adapted to that specific climate. The Fourwinds winery, a family owned property, has been distinguished with a gold medal at the regional fair. I personally liked their Merlot, which should be kept at least three more years before tasting, like a Bordeaux, to express its full personality.

The story of this winery is that of a dream. I am surprised how often engineers, surgeons, lawyers cultivate this childhood fantasy to establish a farm and live the simple country life, an ideal they sometimes fulfil late in their career. This is the profile of Graeme Lunney, a lawyer from Canberra. He and his wife Susan bought a 50 hectare property, called “Fourwinds” in the close vineyard region, on which he planted 33 hectares of Shiraz, Riesling, Cabernet, Merlot and San Giovese in 1998.

Then, his two girls and their husbands got involved. One of the sisters, Jamie, studied winemaking. During an internship in Nappa Valley region, she met a Californian winemaker who became her husband. The other sister Sarah, a marketing manager, is in charge of the promotional side. “We sell 5800 cases of bottles a year to restaurants and retail shops in the region and the rest of the grapes we produce is sold to another winemaker. The goal is to keep the whole production on the property.”

Sarah’s husband John is also working part-time as the winegrower of the property. The rest of his time, he is a physiotherapist at the hospital. Now Sarah and her sister Jamie are both going to give birth to the first generation of children who will grow up on the property, starting to write the story of a newborn tradition.

392 Murrumbateman Road, NSW 2582 Phone: 0432 060 903



About frenchozzie

I have been working in a daily Newspaper in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, amidst vineyards, close to the Olympic Games headquarters in Lausanne, and amongst world class gourmet restaurants in a land with breathtaking views of the Alps. But now I am here in Australia for good.
This entry was posted in Canberra, New South Wales, Salt and pepper, Wines and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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