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

8 June 2007.


More food discoveries…

What was it that made us drive half way across Melbourne for a loaf of bread? The sensational quality of the loaf we had bought the week before.


On a recent trip to Melbourne with a good mate Graham from Rokewood Junction wines, we had the good fortune to have a coffee at Cacao in Fitzroy St, St Kilda. Not only do they make chocolates on the premises but also great pastries and they serve very good coffee. I am not sure if they make their own bread but this is also good-particularly the olive bread!


Later that day, we were in Glen Era Rd, Ripponlea and came across a non-descript looking shop front with a quite simple sign describing the premises as artisan bread makers. This was the home of Firebrand Bakery (69 Glen Eira Rd, Ph: 95230061) and of course we each had to try it out and buy a loaf. If this wasn’t the best bread I had tasted then it came awfully close. Luckily, we were back in the same neighborhood last week, so a 15 minute detour really wasn’t a hard decision. The breads are sourdough (ie made without commercial yeasts), hand shaped and baked in a wood fired oven. I have a weakness for good sourdough bread. Certainly the results explain some of my interest, but perhaps also the timeless practice of using natural yeasts and being in tune with the whole (unrushed) process of making a loaf-for instance Firebrand have different specialty loaves on certain days. However, these are available only after certain times-a reflection of the variation in how long different breads take to prove. This interest in natural yeasts extends to the winery, where at Bended Knee we have employed wild ferments in part since 2005. The results have been very rewarding, adding some complexity, different flavours and some length to the pinot. We will continue to use wild ferments for part of our production each year; at some stage we may even be game to risk all our fruit to natural yeasts.


Firebrand Bakery sits in amongst a number of interesting shops, a fruit and veggie shop with high quality produce and a fish supply with fish so fresh they look like they have just been caught. The Esky goes with us next trip!


If you know of any other food suppliers we should try, please let us know and we will endeavor to investigate.


From the vineyard.

This week saw the long task of pruning commence-something we will be working on for the next three months. Some may find the task monotonous (which it can be) but it can also be a most relaxing chance to clear your mind and have some space to think. Being winter, there can of course be some days where the temperature doesn’t rise above 5-6°C even without wind chill. There can also be glorious days with sunshine and no wind, 5-6 layers of clothing ensures warmth is not an issue. An added bonus is the number of different birds we have around to distract us. Just today, there was a wedge tail eagle “hang gliding” above the vineyard; we also see Little Eagles regularly and robins brighten up the drab winter landscape. Yesterday, a large flock of black cockatoos went overhead right on dusk. These are all in addition to the ever present kookaburras and magpies. Mount Buninyong is a bird-lovers paradise.


We employ the cane pruning method throughout our vineyard – this is the more conventional technique to employ in many cool climate regions. However, it is much more labour intensive and slower than the alternative method of spur pruning. This year we will trial a small section of spur pruning in the vineyard and compare the results. We expect we may have lower crop levels on the spur pruned vines, but that is not really an issue as we crop thin each year anyway. The big test will be fruit quality and flavour…


Until next posting.