We didn't manage to get the nets on before the birds noticed that the grapes were ripening sooner than expected, so we lost a significant portion of the crop and only harvested about 2 tonne this year
2014 vintage has been completed.
Yield was down on the 2013 crop, however five syndicates this year took away about 500 kg of grapes each.
We all agreed that the quality of the grapes (sugar, colour, taste, tannins) is pretty good and that we have been making some acceptable wines.
This was borne out at the FAWG wineshow this year, where Russell Johnson was awarded Best Red Wine of show for his 2013 The Briars Cabernet Sauvignon - congratulations Russell!
A number of other Briars entries were awarded silver and bronze medals for their 2013 current vintage wines and 2014 'barrel sample' wines (wines not fully finished - similar to the 'Jimmy Watson' trophy.
There will, hopefully, be the opportunity for other Briars volunteers to sample our winemaking efforts at the volunteers Christmas party this year.
Harvest/vintage has arrived!
The grapes were picked on Saturday 20 March - approx. 3.2 tonnes of grapes harvested (approx. half a tonne for each 'syndicate').
Thanks to Steve Brown for taking on the role of 'Spray master' and coordinating the protection of our crop over the last few months and all the other volunteers for their efforts.
All now under ferment. There may even be a Briars community barrel produced for volunteer functions, if the 'Gods' are with us.
The same day Graham & Bev Opie presented the 'rare' Briars Port 2012 - 'limited release'. Made from what we salvaged from last years disastrous crop. A total of 11,250 millilitres of port was produced (e.g. about one bottle for each volunteer fro an entire year's work!)
Thanks to The Opie's for their efforts nursing through the final product and fortifying the sorry remains of our crop of 2012.
So, now we need to start to get ready for winter. The nets need to be removed, repaired where necessary and stored ready for next season, while the vines die back a final feed should be provided.
Once all activity has subsided in the vines, we will then be into the pruning season and winter maintenance phase.
All looks good for a fully
productive season for Vintage 2014, when the second half of the vines will be
back to full productivity (we hope).
We are approaching vintage this year with positive attitudes.
With an improved spray regime and more favourable weather, we have managed to overcome our mildew 'hex'.
There is a good crop on the vines, which will hopefully come ripe at the appropriate time.
Warm, dry conditions brought on veraison earlier than expected, resulting in a hurried installation of nets before the birds got a taste for the grapes.
Our netting system of home made wire 'spreaders' and additional clips has been working well so far. The additional nets have made our task easier in the last two rows and the 'donation' of some more nets from Tucks Ridge will be a boon next year.
We have forecasts of warm dry conditions for the next week or two - so all looks good!
We are keeping our fingers crossed till vintage weekend.
JULY - AUGUST 2012
Well, 'Vintage 2012' was a flop - mildew claimed most of the crop, despite our best efforts to spray for powdery & downy mildew. We did harvest a small amount, which has become the basis of our first port (not tasted yet).
We have now pruned all the vines and wound on the new canes. Our second set of vines that were cut off to promote new growth have been wound on. The vineyard looks neat & tidy.
This year we will again have to be vigilant and begin our spraying program early, to combat the dreaded mildews.
There will also be a lot of effort required to install new trellising wires for the last seven rows. The system worked well last year.
Mulching along the rows remains to be completed.
May - June 2011
The sprouted vines have 'hardened up' and are now being pruned and trellised up onto the wires to form the basis of our next crop.
Two strong canes on each vine are being wound on to the wire and then two potential budding sites are being left to form the basis of next year's crop. The aim is to create a 'crown' on the vines a small distance below the first wire
The pruning and trellising should be completed by mid June.
Additional wires will need to be added to the trellising to support the new shoots that sprout from the new canes
We will need to determine the fate of the remaining vines before too long, as any that we lop should be done in the 'dormancy' period
Fertilising will need to be carried out early spring and we will need to be vigilant re the need to spray to combat mildew this year
Hopefully we will have a crop of grapes on the new canes this year
The vines that we cut off have sprouted very well and are close to tying up once we get the new trellising system in place.
We lost the entire crop on the remaining vines to downy mildew this year. Next year we will be ready to spray earlier - at the first sign of downy mildew or perhaps even earlier.
So to make wine this year we have had to source grapes from commercial grape growers, or like the author, make country wines from fruit in season (good crab apples this year!)
Next tasks will be re-trellising and assessment of what to do with the remaining vines.
The trials and tribulations of grape growing!
The 'necked vines have sprouted - not many 'failures'
We've had a great year for rainfall, however this has brought on another problem - downy mildew.
The rain makes it difficult to spray anti-fungal agents and the warm weather also allows the disease to spread. Some fruit has been affected already - so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the damage can be minimised.
We recently thinned the canes on the remaining spur pruned vines and completed the stringing up of the new canes from the necked vines to give them more support.
It was amazing to see the number of caterpillars on the vines.
David Wood entered a 'barrel sample' of the 2010 vintage wine in the Eltham Amateur Wineshow and scored 15/20 points (14 points and above is considered at least as good as commercially available wine).
The Story of our Volunteer Efforts at The Briars Vineyard So Far......
A group of FAWG members and other interested people have signed up to
become "Friends of The Briars" and are assisting to maintain The
Briars Vineyard. The group is volunteering their labour and possibly
contributing to some of the costs associated with the maintenance of the vines. There are
approximately 1000 cabernet sauvignon vines with potential to harvest between 3
and 7 tonnes of grapes, dependent on the season and quality of grapes desired.
View of The Briars Vineyard
The Briars management so far have been very generous in the supply of materials and we have been able to borrow some equipment to help with processes such as pruning and spraying.
In return for volunteering our labour, we will be sharing in the final crop of grapes and making a 'cool climate' cabernet. Quality and amount of grapes to be harvested is at present an unkown quantity. The vines have some dieback in some areas and we will attempt to treat these areas to minimise the affect and possibly grow on some lower canes to fill in the gaps.
Tasks performed so far:
Remedial pruning (spur pruning) under the instruction of Hugh from Mornington Estate
Spraying of Copper and Sulphur compounds for mould/mildew control on a fortnightly basis (four spays carried out to date).
Thinning of canes
Netting of Vines (seem to have held up OK in the wind so far)
of Vintage 2010 is now complete and we are 'learning by our mistakes' crop was
below expected production and suffered a large degree of bird damage due to
'flaws' in netting
(Sugar 23.5 - 24.5 Brix, pH 3.5)
harvested crop has now commenced fermentation and is on its way from being just
'must' to finished wine with many final permutations along the way, from
various treatments by the volunteers.
It will be interesting to compare the final results of the winemaking efforts!
Bird net removal, maintenance and storage
Wine decanting, maturation in barrell including malolactic fermentation
Bottling and bottle conditioning
Finally, enjoyment of the fruits of our labour at an appropriate time in the future
Treatment of vines where affected with fungal die-back; possible replacement of affected vines in the future
from our experience this year, into the future
Disease Problem - Eutypa
We have discovered the cause of the 'dead arm' in the vines - Eutypa dieback a fungal disease.
Advice has been received from Lee Duffy, of E.E. Muirs, regarding the method to control the disease including severe pruning and wound dressing, infection control and new pruning method (cane pruning)
We are to carry out the control progressively over a couple of years, so as to maintain a crop (reduced) while the revamp is under way (worst affected rows to treated first).
If the pruning etc., is not undertaken, the vines will continue to die off with reduced yields, potentially ceasing productive life in about 5 years or so.
The photo below shows the start of the process. Spur pruned vines on the downhill side, 'necked' vines vines on the uphill side.
View of a 'spur pruned' vine
Kitting up ready for spraying
New spray bar operating on mule,
this will make spraying the vines much easier
Preparing to net
This page compiled by David Wood (firstname.lastname@example.org)