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Day 1 of Clare Valley vintage: it's like a first date

Published:  23 July, 2008

G'day folks. I'm an Aussie girl with a wine track mind. There I said it - totally and utterly captivated by regionally distinct Australian wines and in particular the sunny Clare Valley.

It seems that this may be the reason why I'm bringing you the latest harvest report since I'm quite sure they were confident I'd share all the juicy bits with you. Just like the first day of harvest I'm excited to be here.

There is something very special about the start of a new vintage. It's almost a bit like a first date really. You're filled with butterflies, full of anticipation and trying to gather some sort of poise whilst you remember how it all works. In terms of a romantic date for Valentines Day today - I'd say it went rather well really. At least I'll certainly be going back for more tomorrow.

One of the beauties of being a winemaker is being able to celebrate the diversity of different terroirs and styles. I create wines for my own label KT and The Falcon and another small producer in Watervale for Crabtree Wines.

Today we started picking some Clare Valley Shiraz. A whole 1 tonne of Shiraz at 14 .1 Beaum and full of deliciously ripe sweet fruit flavour. The all important Riesling is locked in for next week after a few warmer days of 34 degrees C on the horizon and with natural acidity holding at around 10.5 g/l we couldn't ask for a better set of numbers.

These figures really highlight the diversity of this vast country. Whilst in South Australia we have enjoyed a perfect warm and even ripening period, the Hunter Valley some thousands of kms away on the East coast has experienced one of the wettest seasons on record. I've heard that even their leather boots have grown mould.

I suppose a little extraordinary for us to be starting with Shiraz before Riesling but with some hungrier soil and leaner crops some things can ripen quickly before your eyes. There is no such thing as recipe winemaking here since plans can change in an instant. So at this stage we've planned to hand pick Riesling next week and even the Tempranillo is on the move now sampling at 12.5 Beaum. Our elevation of around 400 - 500 m allows the warm days to assist the ripening but cooler nights to retain freshness. I suppose this is the secret to our success of producing Riesling with such delicacy and finesse right alongside Shiraz with great concentration and power.

There are only a few producers in Clare to have planted Tempranillo but I'm really very excited about the prospects given our continental climate. I think it's the Prince Harry of the grape world Tempranillo - a little naughty but generally a bit of fun.

Let's hope it's a sign for the rest of vintage. As my old friend Dr Seuss reminds us.. 'Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to great places! You're off and away!'