Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Grape harvest is looking good

Avonmore Estate’s Pauline and Rob Bryans are busy preparing for grape harvest.

ELAINE COONEY January 30, 2013 4:29am

Pauline and Rob Bryans are getting ready for a busy harvest season.

The grape harvest in Elmore is just a couple of weeks away, according to Avonmore Estate’s Pauline and Rob Bryans.

The Bryans’ have been bio-dynamic farmers since the 1980s and in 1996 decided to expand from bio-dynamic cattle to viticulture.

Mr Bryans said it was a type of farming used in his family for generations and enjoyed not being dependent on chemical companies.

Yeast gained from the naturally-forming white powder on skin of the grapes is used instead of manufactured yeast.

He said some yeasts bought by winemakers in Australia might give the wine a character similar to French varieties such as Beaujolais or Burgundy.

‘‘We know our wines have a distinctive Elmore flavour,’’ he said.

In 1996 Mr and Mrs Bryans began planting the vines and four years later reaped their first harvest.

Mr Bryans said he monitored the grapes closely every year and specifically noted that Australia Day was when the véraison (ripening where red wine grapes change colour) occurred and they then needed to be watched closely to get the right baumé (sugar) content.

He expected the level to reach 14 this year which would equate to an alcoholic content of 14 per cent.

Mrs Bryans said it reached 15 to 16 per cent during the drought due to the adverse weather conditions but was still a robust wine.

‘‘It was a big full bodied wine,’’ she said.

In 2011 they did not produce a vintage because they were unhappy with the quality of the grapes due to the high humidity, but last year was ideal.

Mrs Bryans said 2013 was shaping up to be another good year for the grapes but hoped the weather would remain hot for a few weeks.

She said the small grapes with thick skins gave the wine its complexity, as well as good cellaring potential without adding sulphites.

‘‘They can keep for 10 to 15 plus years,’’ she said.

She said she never encountered a pest or disease problem in the vines due to careful planning.

‘‘It’s like laundry on the line, it needs to be aerated,’’ she said.

Mrs Bryans said because the vines were more than 1m high and far apart, disease did not harbour or spread and they were lucky to be far away from other vineyards so disease would not blow in.

She uses the leaves as a canopy to protect the grapes from sunburn.

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