Cool Climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Bended Knee Vineyard

Earlier Happenings...

Anyone with a small vineyard needs to be multi-skilled and able to juggle a number of tasks at one time. It also has its compensations. These pages track the many events in the life of the vineyard, here are some earlier weeks

5 August 2007


It has been a few weeks since my last posting to the blog – perhaps a sign that things have been quite hectic, alas with little to show for it from outward appearances. This IS meant to be the quiet season but it doesn’t feel like it. Pruning continues at a steady pace, and even though the vineyard is not that big it seems never ending - we just wouldn’t get through it without Ross’ help. We are just over half way and probably have another 6 weeks to finish it off (bud burst starts late in this cold climate) along with trellis repairs etc. The weather for pruning hasn’t been that bad, with one major exception, a few weeks ago we had a major dump of snow in Ballarat and here on nearby Mt Buninyong. We get snow most years bit usually not enough to settle unless it is overnight. This fall saw a good few centimeters on the ground most of the day; it really did look like Falls Creek or Lake Mountain with snow hanging in the trees. It even made it a bit slippery under foot and on the roads. Luckily, we anticipated the conditions and postponed work outside for that day! Pruning continues despite distractions, including a magnificent sighting of a wedge tail eagle only metres off the ground and cruising slowly (it had obviously seen something) just over the lower part of the vineyard. A magnificent sight, however our ducks and chooks did get a little distressed and came bolting over to us for protection, heads down and making a racket!


My involvement with the Ballarat and District Vignerons Association and the Great Grape Touring Route has also demanded considerable time lately. We are busy with preparations for an event in Ballarat over Melbourne Cup weekend, but more on that later. In addition, there have been a number of meetings and Media Releases to prepare for. In the middle of all that, James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion was released. Congratulations to Nintingbool, Sinclair of Scotsburn and Tomboy Hill, all gaining 5 stars and the large number of other Ballarat vineyards who also did well with 4½ and 4 stars. Once again, demonstrating that Ballarat is particularly well suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


The preparations for bottling continue (it has to be soon!) with blending decisions, checks on sulphur levels and stability tests etc. This is something that has to be right first time, once it goes into bottle there is no going back. This is a tedious, time consuming part of making wine and not at all “romantic” as some imagine a Vignerons life is. There is however still time for some great meals. Two weeks ago we enjoyed a Slow Food dinner at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. Peter Ford was the chef, ably assisted by some Slow Food members. The dinner for approximately 70 people was a great evening, the menu was as follows:


1. Emu Rillets / Duck Wontons

2. Roberto’s Rabbit Stew on potato mash (rabbits caught nearby at Maryborough).

3. Roast Boned Quail stuffed with duck liver, currants and herbs, served with braised red cabbage and spaetzle.

4. Marinated and grilled legs of Chevon (kid) served with roast vegetables and large cous cous

5. Quince ice cream served with quince paste and wafer of pastry.


It was great food, most of it sourced from within 45 minutes of Ballarat, I think the quail and or kid was sourced from over near Castlemaine. For me, the pick of the dishes was the kid with roast vegetables and cous cous - sensational! The wine was BYO and we had a great selection of wine on our table. We had of course the 2005 pinots from Bended Knee and Rokewood Junction and I had also taken an older Rochford from about 1996 which was absolutely superb, displaying great secondary bottle characters.


Just last week we had a wonderful dinner at Café Lekker, celebrating a birthday with some friends - but not allowed to say too much about the birthday! Café Lekker is a great venue for coffee and lunch during the week; for some time they have also opened on a Friday night, with subtle additions to the menu for dinner. In the near future, they plan to open Saturday nights as well. I would happily recommend them; the food (and service) is consistently very good.