In September a rare frost froze the newly emerged chardonnay shoots which necessitated a second pruning (seen above) to stimulate re-growth. The disappointment of losing most of the chardonnay crop has been partly offset by seeing particularly fine budburst in the other varieties. As the new shoots climb onto the trellis, the inflorescences are unfurling and revealing the flowers that will develop into clusters of grapes.
It is wonderful to observe spring unfold at Grace Farm. From mid-September the flowering nectarine, peach, plum and apricot trees hint at what is to come in the orchard, as do the early apple varieties and quince. In the vegetable garden the broad beans stand out, with garlic, onion, potato, carrot and French beans also ripening. Kangaroo paw, wedding bush, Grevillea, Darwinia and Banksia are blooming in the farmhouse garden, which will form a colourful setting for the Grace My Table lunch on Saturday 17 November.
Grace Farm continues to embrace organic principles and is now totally pesticide free in the vineyard. Weeds are controlled by vinegar sprays used in conjunction with a highly efficient under-vine weeder imported from Italy. The vineyard rows reveal a carpet of green with ryegrass and clovers between the vines. Sulphur is being sprayed onto the leaves to ward off mildew as the vine canopies push out fresh new shoots. A tonic of fish emulsion and seaweed extract is also applied to stimulate beneficial microbes.
With summer approaching we look forward to the magic of fruit set, when tiny berries signal the onset of a new vintage, attracting bees and the many beneficial insects that add to the natural diversity of the vineyard.
Late spring will bring the release of two new wines, Grace Farm 2017 Malbec and 2018 Cane-Cut Semillon. Expect more news about these small-batch wines soon and make sure you have joined the wine club to be first find out.