I am embarrassed to realise it is nearly two months since I last wrote a snippet. Cold mornings, dark early evenings, busy days of vineyard maintenance and school holidays have all combined to make the days distinctly shorter than I remember.
Winter is the time where most vineyard maintenance work takes place. When the frosts start to threaten, the leaves on the vines die back and the professional pruners move in. There is a real science to the pruning – snipping back the canes to leave only two runners, of 5 buds each, pointing in a certain direction. Our vineyard manager doesn’t trust this harvest affecting task to us as yet, so Craig and I are merely the labourers
Our job is to untangle, snip off and pull the large amount of leftover coiling cane growth from the wires – we then have to twist and tie down each and every one of the remaining runners around the central guide wire. All 4,000 plants – or 8,000 canes. Motivation for this task is not helped by the howling southerly, snow bearing winds we’ve been experiencing, so I admit we have been picking and choosing the days we “tie down”.
But we have nearly finished – then we’ll replace around 60 damaged posts, tie up the baby vines to the guide wires and our maintenance work is done until spring.
On those rather chilly days off from vineyard work, we moved our attention to our “Spotty Dog” wine based products – inspired by our own Shiraz vineyard and using other iconic Hunter Valley Wines.
Our first products are the very more-ish wine pastes – like a quince paste but better – perfect for a cheese platter, or on a slice of block cheese and cracker at the end of your busy day.
Shiraz Paste – perfect with a soft cheese such as Camembert
Tawny Paste – a Port based paste that is simply delicious with Cheddars
Chardonnay Paste – mellow and divine with a Blue
Our pastes are made entirely of locally sourced wines, sugar, personally picked and squeezed lemon juice, pectin and citric acid. We don’t use any preservatives or fruit juice extenders so the wine aroma and tastes are paramount.
These pastes are now available for you to buy at Lovedale Café and General Store, and Drayton’s Log Press Café. We would love to sell them online, but postage costs are not viable at this stage … but never fear … one might just slip into your box of garlic come the November harvest.
Now off to the kitchen to squeeze 300 oranges (after I finished the 500 lemons) for our next range – wine based marmalades. Tangy Lemon and Chardonnay, and sweet Orange and Shiraz. Very delicious.
Here’s to good food, wine and friends