Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grape Debate '04 - Why Winemakers are Gods.

June 10, 2004

James' speech notes.

"Ladies & Gentlemen, winemakers are the gods of the industry. You know it makes sense.

I was very nervous about speaking today. I couldn't sleep last night. When I finally drifted off, I began to dream.

At the door was a messenger with a beautiful engraved invitation to a wine tasting hosted by God himself…

My company were major sponsors and I was invited.

God had deck out Chapel Hill as if it were the Sea & Vines festival to end all Sea & Vines festivals.

Tables, candles, crystal all in a giant tent.

I walked into the tent and was stunned and the music that was echoing was very familiar. Sure enough, on a giant white piano there was John Lennon playing Imagine -- just with slightly different words.

I found my way to a seat and looked around. I was sitting next to on my right Drew Noon, on my right was Steve Piombo.

Justin Lane, Phil and the garage winery crew, had a Red Heads Studio table and Micheal Fragos was half way through showing them some killer ‘04 barrel samples.

Chester was there sitting up the front chatting to Jesus about the chances of getting in some Marsanne through quarantine a bit quicker.

So there I was with Steve smiling on my left, Drew on my right, and I let my eyes wander over the other guests. There was the John Glatzer, Simon Parker, Steve Pannel, The team from Wirra.

I can only  thank my lucky stars I was invited, Thanks Bryan, but I didn't care as it was just so cool to be here and -- God's wine had to be pretty good

All of a sudden everyone scurried for their seats, and a group the apostles entered the room followed by God himself.

God stood up the front and went into a detailed very nice multimedia PowerPoint presentation of the techniques.

Half way through explaining the distinct soil and microclimate of each vineyard that went made the grade, the presentation went dead… Blank screen, nothing.

Luckly Lucy Hyde was sitting near the front & she sorted it.

After God gave an introduction we all poured the first wine, which was a mighty red, and we all begin to swirl with reverence. I put the wine up to my nose and . . . nothing.


It took me both hands to lift each glass, but I went through tasting each wine with maximum concentration -- although it was hard to ignore the oohhs and aahhs of the assembled angelic palates. My taste buds were in total confusion. Every wine looked and tasted the same. Dark purple, sweet oak, high alcohol, soft well-integrated tannins and . . . well, that was it. I could only think what the heck were you supposed to eat with wines like this?

Then God looked right at me and said, "What are your comments on these wines." Jesus Christ (I really have to stop that) -- Why me? I thought.

"Well," I stuttered, "this intensity is amazing."

 "Exactly!" stormed God. "We cut yields to only one grape per vine!"

“Oh my god... God really is a winemaker.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Winners of the Lazy Ballerina Photo Comp.

Winner of the "Landscape Category" - Andrew Bull - with his photo of Blewitt Springs.



This nice mobile phone picture by Suzie Newbury of Lyndoch in the Barossa won "Best Mobile Photo".


Congratulations to Tara Kimpton who won the "Winemaker's Choice" in #lazypics. Tara's gallery of work was outstanding and she is a worthy winner. The team at Lazy B are pleased to share what she has done with a wider audience.

Winner of the "Wine Oh" category is Jeanette Stannard with this gem from Sellicks Beach.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Timekeepers - McLaren Vale Pruning Championship

The DJ's Growers Crew on stopwatch duty, Matthew Wilson, Brad Cameron and Sam Freeman. Brad Cameron, a fifth generation grape grower in McLaren Vale is a more than handy photographer and took official photographs of the day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

McLaren Vale Pruning Championship

James Hook with the team at DJ's Growers brought back an old event from the past – The Annual Pruning Championship – as a feel good event to reward all of the workers who help produce the regions world famous wines.

Grape pruners raced cutting three panels of vines to see who was the quickest. Their work was then checked for accuracy, and time penalties were given for mistakes. The winner was the competitor with the best adjusted time.

The event was last run c. 1972 and has a long history going back to the 19th Century. Our judges for this years event were Lyndon Elliott & Fred Osmond each with 50 years of experience.


Congratulations to the winner of the McLaren Vale Pruning Championship, Jeremy O'Donald - picture above finishing. Jeremy won, both his heat and the final, with his combination of speed and accuracy.


In a notable effort Dan Wright - pictured above - from Dog Ridge wines and Swell Brewery came third.

Meet the Judges - McLaren Vale Pruning Championship

Our judges for this years event were Lyndon Elliott (left) & Fred Osmond (centre), shown with Derek Cameron, each with 50 years of experience.

After the pruning competitor completed their work, Fred and Lyndon marked any faults, mistakes or errors in cutting the vine, which added a five second penalty to each competitors time.

Both Lyndon and Fred are multi-generation grape growers from McLaren Flat. Both of their families have produced the grapes behind some of the most famous labels in McLaren Vale, Hardy's Tintara and d'Arenberg.

Fred Osmond farms McLaren Vale oldest grapes, which are thought to date to the 1840's when his farm was first settled - and Lyndon's vineuyard is made into a special single vineyard wine.

Monday, July 4, 2011

McLaren Vale Hail Storm

McLaren Vale was hit by a severe hail storm in the early afternoon of the 4th of July. Large hailstones fell all across the region, with the western edge of the town having very large stones and ice clogging the roads. We feel sorry for the pruners who got smashed by this hail, shown above, on Rivers Lane on the western edge of the township. Luckily it looks like the vineyards were already deserted.

The sound of the hail failing on roof tops sounded like a ship colliding with a jetty, as you would hear in a Hollywood disaster movie. The storm made a sickening groaning sound as it passed. In the wake of the storm ice littered the roadside and the land looked as if snow had fallen.

The hail also continued into the Adelaide Hills Wine Region. This picture by Bec Hardy of the K1 by Geoff Hardy Cellar Door looks as if you could go skiing.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the state can expect to see more wild weather in the coming days and issued a severe weather alert for the Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, the South East and parts of the Yorke Peninsula. Fortunately vines are dormant at this time of year and are not damaged by hail.