Buds burst from the bare canes in early September in the vineyard. The buds and emerging young leaves always bring a level of
excitement and anticipation for the season ahead.
Spring rapidly becomes a very busy time as the shoots lengthen and the canopy needs to be tucked into the foliage wires. Removing water shoots and lateral growth and keeping the crowns open is a major task in the vineyard.
The rapid growth of spring begins to slow down as summer progresses. Some hedging of the canopy may be required if the growth is particularly vigourous. Careful monitoring of soil moisture is required to ensure that irrigation is well managed.
In February the grapes begin to change colour – this reminds both the birds and us that harvest is not far off. The bird netting is laid out during February, and the individual nets are sewn together to make an enclosed canopy for the vineyard.
‘SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness…..’ To Autumn by John Keats.
Autumn sees the fruit gently ripen with the cooling season. The work in the vineyard is less intense allowing time to prepare for harvest and vintage.
Late autumn – early winter brings the climax of the vineyard season with the harvesting of the grapes. We aim to maintain cropping levels at about 10 – 11 tonnes to ensure premium quality fruit.
Harvest is a busy day, which we share with about 40-50 of our friends. Picking begins at about 8.30 and continues until mid-afternoon. Harvest is always a celebration marked by the sharing of good food and plenty of wine.
In the days immediately following harvest the fruit is crushed, fermented and pressed ready for maturation in the French oak barrels.
The tasks of the winter season are mainly nurturing the new vintage to maturation, monitoring the temperature and acidity of the wine and, of course pruning in the vineyard.
The vines are all hand pruned over the long cold winter months. Snow boots, polar fleece neck rolls and many layers of clothing are essential features of pruning at Nintingbool. Ballarat’s cool climate, so often maligned in Australia, is a great asset when producing a great cool climate wine.