On Sunday Quarry Hill vineyard (on the Barton Highway just past Hall) harvested their Shiraz grapes. It’s been a difficult season for vineyards in the district, and particularly so for Quarry Hill, as despite the site being very steep, heavy rain leaves boggy areas across the vineyard that have, in previous wet years, swallowed tractors (and a bulldozer on one occasion).
Unfortunately, once the rain had stopped and the vineyard had finally dried out enough to get in and spray for any disease caused by the prolonged wet conditions, the special Italian steep-terrain vineyard tractor went and caught fire.
Without a replacement tractor available, the vineyard was unable to be sprayed or netted. Despite this, what Shiraz grapes there were exhibited good flavours, and good-quality fruit is in high demand this season. Normally the fruit from the Shiraz block is split between Clonakilla and Alex McKay (Collector Wines) who uses the grapes in his own wine and makes the Shiraz for Quarry Hill. This season, with the very low yield expected, the whole harvest was assigned to Clonakilla, and a team of pickers who harvest Tim Kirk’s vineyards came to selectively-pick the Shiraz block.
In the photos you’ll see a picker trimming bird-pecked and shrivelled berries off an individual bunch – this process made for a very slow harvest – each tonne taking almost 3 hours to pick. At the end of the day, just 3 tonnes were delivered to Clonakilla from a block that would be expected to produce around 16 tonnes.