Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Summer starts in the Portable Vineyard

Summer preparations in the Portable Vineyard

Two Fruitful Shiraz rows to left [east] and Pinot at right, barren Shiraz center.

This week, the portable Vineyard has been rearranged, expanded even.

Friday, October 5, 2012

constant surveillance

Disease and Constant Vineyard Surveillance...

Dear me and Gosh

So it is the start, for the backyard grape vines, the start of the growing season!
Two days ago I found yellowing leaf edges on the new leafs! And drying out ones too. Diseases?

I am trying to "count the chicks" I suppose, watching out for the flowers on the vines.
It does not look like a great amount of grapes production this year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Flowers forming

Flowering time in TPV

I am a little confused about this. I thought there would be quite a few more branchlets forming before any flowers would arrive, because there may be less fruit from what I can see!
Maybe I am being a little pessimistic, as it is only the first week of October, and we have had plenty of rain as well as watering and feeding and spraying them...

Speaking of, there are a few degraded leaves, even a few yellowish ones today, so I will have to get the mildew sprays out so to avoid last years cockup!

Garage grapes


Pinot Noir



Last years cuttings Shiraz

Last years cuttings Shiraz

Last years cuttings Pinot Noir

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Spring is Sprung In The Portable Vineyard

Wondering around the yard today and Surprise!

Did not notice any activity during the week and then...

Buddding vines! 


Pinot Noir

The Pinots

Mulched the pots today, beautiful first day of spring!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pre-Spring Preparations

Pre-Spring Preparations

The Spring of 2012


After pruning back the potted grape-vines this year, a look over the vines gave a sort of satisfying 'job well done Tone'. Some of the vines were pretty well pruned back to a few stubs really, accidental or not... We'll see later on. The cuttings from the Shiraz were successful, and you can see the fuzzy buds starting to erupt. On the Pinot cuttings, well, I think only a couple will survive the spring bud season.


Separated out the older vines into the side yard for this years growth in order to avoid any contamination by the mildews again. After last years pitiful outcome, I want this year to be anything but pitiful! The "younger" ones I will leave in the backyard, and two year old cuttings will be transplanted into the final growing pots.

Last years inherited shiraz vines from friend Harry that survived last season that were not in the final growing pots were also transplanted this last week. [my baacckk...].

2 yr old Shiraz

Younger Shiraz

Pinot Noir

Shiraz Cuttings Winter 2011

Stock as of End of July 2012

  1. 6 planted Shiraz- 10kg
  2. 33 potted Shiraz- 10kg
  3. 6 baby Shiraz- 2kg
  4. 20 potential Shiraz Cuttings
  5. 9 Pinot Noir- 3kg
  6. 6 baby Pinots- 1kg
  7. 2 to 4 potential Pinot cuttings
  8. garage Foxey Grapes- 20-30kgs

At End of Winter or early September

I intend to transplant the baby potted vines into the final, bigger pots as I did with the adopted Shiraz vines the other week. 
Weather and back...

I will really have to think about spacing this year. At least a mowers width between them this time or more?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Okay after all

Stout is Okay After All

The chocolate stout batch has worked out okay after all.
Which is good, because I did not really want to convert it to some thing else.

And tastes good too!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Woeful Dark Ale

What went wrong? What made a Woeful Dark Ale?

The constituents too old?

two dead soldiers and a craye or two of Woeful Dark Ale
Three weeks ago, I decided that time was up for a new stout batch.

Digging[true] through the Alcoholery's cupboard, on the shelves were a can of Oatmeal Ale mixture, some old dark liquid malt, bag of lactose and a bag of glucose. And a bag of choclate'd malt grain. And liquorice essence. Should be enough to make a dark ale at least.


I wanted to make a "Whitbread/Mackesons Milk Stout" type.

This would have to do.

The can was at least four years old, so the yeast was probably not going to work.
The malt was looking a bit sad. So I boiled the lot up, grain was pressure cooked then rinsed through, and the can instructions said it made enough for only ten litres. Whoa- but I thought with all the extra stuff, made it up to about 25 litres.

Added the yeast and        nothing.

Down to the homebrew guy, got some more yeast and verily started again. A slow ferment this time, v e r y s l o w...

A week later, tasted okay, racked to another 30 litre vat to settle it out.

Should have been sooner, sue me, but also let that vat sit for a week too. WRONG move. Two days should have been enough.

Worked out at about 5% on the vinometer.

Bottling the lot was easier said than done, and the capping was difficult too. I think the rigid old capper has gone too bell shaped to seal the caps onto the bottles properly. Because...

Last night, cracked one bottle  in order to share with eldest progeny, and then a second in disbelief. The dang ale/stout was FLAT!

No carbonation after almost two weeks.

Either the seals are buggered, or there was no yeast left in the liquor to carbonate with the teaspoon of sugar per bottle.

Looks like a batch to d'stil from, at 6% should recover something from the odd 25 liters.

If you make home brew- any suggestions? What went wrong with my Woeful Dark Ale? I welcome some comments on this.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vintage 2012 rack off #1

This week at the alcoholery
Wine Review and Winery Work


This week, we had a roast beef Sunday dinner, with a bottle of Saltram's 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Barossa Valley, South Australia.

The meat was great, the wine superb. The wine was not heavy or tannic, a lighter red but not brownish, so is holding well visually. Smelt just great, no worries there. Tastes fine, definitely a little hot and peppery as it should be for a cold climate wine, just not like a shiraz. For an eleven year old bottle of the best, it was the best. Allowed two glasses, one with the meal, and one after, followed by a quick snooze....
Good thing is there are three bottles left from the carton.

Today, some winery work

Vintage 2012 Rack Off#1 of Garage Grapes

Vintage 2012 rack off #1 the wine made the other month.
Smell is typical of the type, and the taste is almost of a Rosè. I will have to source a bottle of Traminer, and try to satisfy the curiosity of this strange garage foxey grape. Looks like it won't be made into brandy/rum. Just yet.
Winter Garage Grape Vine

Friday, May 4, 2012

Vintage 2006

Shiraz Vintage 2006 

Our Longford grapes Shiraz, the Hofford

My good friend Harry and I, made some red wine in 2006.
I have just opened a bottle of Vintage 2006 and it is ooh la la, beautiful!

The grapes were shiraz/syrah.

The vineyards are from across the river south of where I live, and grown in a  combination of sands, gravels and marl, basically a 'limey' situation. The area was used for a gravel pit once upon a time. The sheep farm where the vineyard is based is above the marshes or morass at Lake Wellington. Cheers Vintage 2006!
The growers- Lyn and Harry Stephenson.
Looking north over Lyn and Harry's old yards at left, square shape, and to the mid right, diamond shape, from Google Earth
The acreage is small, two yards 110x90m and 70x100m.

Wine made from these grapes have won awards for vintners who were capable of paying two dollars a kilo. Yep- 2 grand a tonne! Harry and I of course were only doing wine making at home, of 100 and 50 kilos respectively.

In the early 2000's, so a story goes, a vintner from west Gippsland was interested in some Gippsland limestone country grown shiraz grapes [?] and gave Lyn and Harry tips on what he wanted if he was to be a primary customer. The vines were carefully tended, and cropped back to avoid over-cropping and reduce disease favourable conditions. A second vineyard was created in the actual gravel extraction areas. This idea is similar to the French winemakers and grape growers idea of limestone country, the terroir for growing Pinot Noir- limestone or marl.

That vintner won an award one year, and my friend Bob of Tuckers Vineyard who I worked for 2004-2008 also won a medal for his 2004 Shiraz. But guess what? I think mine and Harry's is far better. Sorry Bob

We selected and harvested our own grapes from the old vines. We took them back to a backyard- Harry's or mine, and processed the grapes. The next day, yeast was added. A week or so later, the lot was pressed, and the waiting began...

So every year a few bottles were enjoyed.

I think I have opened my last one. But shit a brick, it is NICE!
Cheers to a few people, chin chin Tarn, Harry, Bob

Monday, April 16, 2012

Red Wine Vintage 2011 Pigeonholed

I mean Red Wine Vintage 2011 LABELED
Three takes and done

Well, I bottled the blended Red Wine Vintage 2011 vintage of Shieaz and Pinot Noir, the whole NINE yards bottles.

As there was some special oil used to protect the wine whilst in vitro while maturing, 'cos I like 12 months bulk aging prior to bottling, I had to sacrifice the last bottle.

For tasting and to have with some cabonara penne!

Well, it was Good, thank you, and I will enjoy sharing the bottles of the 2011 special blend over the next couple of years with family and friends for sure. Smooth and tasty, not as peppery as it was freshly made last year. Slightly tannic, short lived, and nice nose, not sweet.Rounded and warming At 12%, the Red Wine Vintage 2011is perfect. IMO.

Eight left over
Setting the label up was a bugger, as I only do it once or twice a year, and the previous year's label was lost... But I had saved the 2008 label, so changed it up, and printed it off the laser first- by mistake. Then printed it in colour on the ink-jet. With the sheet upside down, as per laser... In the end- you can see, done.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Red Wine Vintage 2011 Bottling Time

Time to Bottle 2011 Vintage
Screwtops this year

From the recycling and hoarding instincts of a some what very diluted Scottish heritage(?), I decided that the 2011 Red Wine Vintage blend of Shiraz/Syrah and Pinot Noir will be bottled in recycled screw-tops.

Hmph! I hear you say. Well, being a Scrooge, I like to satisfy the independence and unconformity thing I have too you know! Well, if you don't, you will over time.

The screw-top type bottles are accruing faster than normal corked types these days. There is enough to satisfy 'demand' for at least three years at the moment. Not much use for corking if possible- laziness is the mother of invention?

Sunday- prepared and washed and scrubbed  and rinsed out and sanitised nine bottles. Yeah, I know. Nine. 

Racked over the 2011 vintage into a larger container and added PMS for future protection against vinegar and other nasties. Leave it overnight to settle out some lees that went in, slackarse.

This time of the year is probably the only time I can walk in and out of the Alcoholery without tripping over anything or everything. Press, crusher and de-stemmer moved out to the backyard. When used and filthy, easier to hose out!

Vintage 2012 pressings

Next Press Please
Garage Grapes Basket Press 2012

This year, it looks like I have got a sort of mixed wine of about 12% alcohol.

One could call it a "rose" type if generous enough.

Compared to last years vintage, made only about seven litres. This will be nearly nine bottles this time next year if it tastes as good as it does at the moment.

Taste. Mmm. Well, not as Foxey as I expected, the wee half litre or so of Pinot Noir added has made an improvement on the standard very-exotic-perfumey style, sort of rose, actually, and it is sort of thin, like not enough acidity. Maybe a brandy base?

Process- clean out the vat, press, transfer gear, scrub with sanitiser and then SMS the lot too. Never too much SMS when cleaning, less to add when bottling!
Then tip the fermented grapes into the press and turn the screw, collect every drop through a sieve as seeds and mush do not add to the taste whilst it ages in vitro.

Voila, hey presto, a demijohn of wine plus.

Time taken.
Netting: 10 minutes.
Watering: rainfall only from garage roof.
Harvest: 30 minutes.
Fermenting: setup, 10 minutes and wait since last Wednesday two weeks ago- eleven  17 days on skins.
Pressing: preparation 20 minutes, pressing 10 minutes, clean up...

All up, about an hour or so actual hands on for... eight bottles.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Too Greedy

Waiting for more Brix

But failed with the garage grapes

Looks like I should have harvested last week. The summer growth was good in the backyard grape vines that had grapes left after the mildew attacks. Daily checking resulted in a pleasing appraisal for the expected harvest. But.
Just picking a berry and measuring the sugar level is not good at the last stage without careful checking on all the bush, not just the nearest odd bunch.

Last week was the usual time of the year to pick the Garage Foxey Grapes, but the sugar levels were not great, so I left it for another week, and , DoNG! 20 Brix was okay, but waiting for 25...

Wrong, shoulda done it when I first smelt the rotting like smell a few days ago. It means every critter wants a bite. A bird was hiding in there too! Small grubs or caterpillars, bugs, argh!

I just thought to pick tonight while the weather was good after a wettish week, but as I pulled the nets off, it was oh no! Rotting or mouldy berries in nearly every bunch. Bugger.

Just too greedy!

Ah well. Brandy or vinegar this year.

The Pinot was nearly the same, very small but tasty berries, and dehydrating compared to last week. Failed again.

Picked them anyway, and have crushed them all into one container, and will see what happens. With the rotting and mildewy odd berries (had to be choosy on what was worth keeping), will hit the lot with some SMS tablets, and drop some commercial yeast in.

Pinot Noir, small but tasty, peppery too.

The pinot crop...

Garage Foxey Grapes, one third the usual harvest this year.

More on the fermentation next week.

Overall, the Portablevineyard has had a very poor year, bugger. After fourteen Vintages, the worst probably.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Vintage 2012

Almost Vintage 2012... 
The Garage Foxey grapes: Are we ready?

The nice perfumey smell of the IMBY grape vines has deteriorated a little bit like a decaying smell around the garage grapes! Looks like the bees and butterflys are in there sucking that sweet syrup from MY grapes and leaving just husks behind. The birds have tried to get in under the netting to a small degree this year, but not a lot.

This is the usual time for harvest, going back to 1999 at least. The primary school has a Maypole and fete and my dad goes trout fishing at Eucumbene Dam with his brothers. I panic, worry and fumble around for the winery kit. Measure the sugar content, whinge about some diseases erupting in some bunches, scare off the ants.

Pinot Noir
Have to tidy the Alcoholery up, move "spare timber and stuff" A to B, and tools from B to C so I can move out the grape processing gear- crusher, press, SMS/PMS, buckets, vats and snippers...  And power tools from C to D...

Not ready, or excited.

Only because, I suppose, my Shiraz crop failed completely due to mildew.

Anyway, there looks like a nice crop of garage grapes and maybe some Pinot Noir to throw in it. If it turns out okay, great, otherwise... Brandy or rum. At least a couple of bottles.

Should have a home made wine made by this time next week.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rain, heck yeah.

Ah. But the green house..
Too much confidence?

The other week, you will recall, there was a lot of rain IMBY, all over the Portable Vineyard vines.

But I did not think of the poor old cuttings! The collection I spent so much time cultivating: weeding, spraying, watering, feeding the last 6 or so months, has ended up in the toilet.

With so much water falling freely the greenhouse denizens were completely forgotten about. Not ignored- that means you you know about it, but Forgotten about.
Oh dear. When I realised, oh crap. Really disappointed in me.

The Pinot Noir may have ONE survivor.

The Shiraz/Syrah in the shallow trays are Dead, but the ones in the pots will be fine. I think.
The rest of the vines are fine, sort of. I think that the garage grapes are nearly ready for harvest this week or next, and the Pinot Noir is too. The Shiraz group looks like it has been attacked again by mildew.

There is a small consolation in the "cemetery", a few sprouts have arisen from buried old cast offs, as it were. Voila:

In the next fortnight- Harvest 2012, blow by blow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Closer to Harvest

late Summer

nearly Harvest time 


The Brix on the backyard grape vines- the Pinot Noir grape bunches, nearly only A bunch... is at 16 to 20... So harvest time is almost upon us. The bunches are mostly small, with small berries. And not approaching sweet or nice even! The garage grapes are less than 20 overall, so maybe mid March for picking as usual,

  The pots were netted last month because the birds thought it was the right time for Their Harvest, the buggers, but the kilo(!) or so they removed were not close to ripe, so HAHAHA hope they choked on the seeds- bitter as all heck and all. have to net that little bit earlier next year.

I do not think it maybe worth making a brew with the crop, it looks like only a few kilograms this year- sort of like last years crop- which I threw in with the Shiraz anyway. It will probably get mixed in with the garage grapes to make either a sherry style or brandy type drink.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Regrowth in the Shiraz

New leaves almost automatically appear!

After the new attendance to details- like removing bad leaves. the vines are all recovering well, sans fruit on the shiraz. The spraying of the commercial copper compound and a mix of some olive oil and bicarb-soda alternative weeks maybe doing the trick.

This weeks progress in the Portable Vineyard.

Below- regrowth on the deleafed Shiraz vines- pity the vines do not regrow the lost grape clusters.

Below- Garage Foxey grapes- almost marble size- no sign of the mould affecting these vines

The Pinot vines are doing okay- veraision seems to be on its way on some pots