Newsletter Volume 18

Newsletter Volume 18
December 2019

Dear highly-valued Wine Club Member,

Is it “A call to Arms” or “A Call to Alms”?

Well…who cares, but both can be true and apply (worth a ‘Google’). It’s mid-December, vintage is approaching, and we are in search of a trusty band of volunteer grape pickers.

The Timing

Despite the severe drought, we remain in good shape. The vines are disease free and the bunches are continuing to mature. The pace is slower than in previous years with many berries still hard and adolescent. The leaves lose their lustre for 3-4 hours every day when the sun reaches its zenith and the temperature hits 40 degrees. The night time temperatures of 19 degrees are restorative though and every vine awakens at dawn with a fresh glow of health and beauty.

We have been watering daily for almost six weeks and are using one quarter of one million litres every week. The inter-vine rows, usually resplendent with manicured blue couch, are dry and crunchy but the subsoils are still rich with moisture and nutrient.

Whereas we have traditionally taken the first crop of Vermentino at the end of the first week in January, it could be a week or two later in 2020.
Interestingly, the two reds (Montepulciano and Tempranillo) are more advanced than the whites for the first time and are already delicious.
So, what does this mean? I’m suspecting we will be retrieving the bounty a week or so later this time. Expect a call in the second week of January or soon thereafter.

How does it evolve?

We will start testing for sugar content and maturity in the next few weeks. We use a variety of techniques and measure Baume or Brix. These parameters have a direct relationship with carbohydrates and subsequent alcohol content. The aim is to have the fruit ripe but not over-ripe and to harvest before storms, hail and bird-strikes spoil the crop. It becomes a delicate balance and our frequency of testing increases as we approach the precise date.

Whilst I will keep you posted, the final call is often not made until the night before. If you are free…fantastic. If not…I understand.

What do you do?

Harvesting is deliriously joyous (!), soul cleansing, emotionally exhilarating and definitely not to be missed. It will be the highlight of your year.

We start at 0530 sharp. If you are travelling from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, allow 75 minutes. Warwick, the Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba are a little further.

Bring a hat, gardening gloves, sunscreen, a long sleeve shirt and a water bottle. Don’t forget your camera.

We provide everything else including some friendly, relaxed tuition at the outset. It’s easy and there is no pressure, rush or expectation. This is an event that is meant to be savoured and enjoyed.

It will take about 4-5 hours and we then enjoy brunch with hearty food, drinks and friendship.


I draw up a list of those who are interested and willing. Information is then circulated as we draw closer.

It is easiest if you could respond now with contact details. Please send your preferred email address and your mobile number to me at


This is a family affair and you should bring loved ones, friends and colleagues. Kids are welcome too although please keep a close eye on machinery and equipment moving around the vineyard.

I will send easy-to-follow directions well in advance.

Warmest regards

David Morgan (and Nero)