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The autumn shiraz harvest at Quarry Hill

By 12 April 2012 9

shiraz vines

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.

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9 Responses to The autumn shiraz harvest at Quarry Hill
#1
Ben_Dover10:54 am, 12 Apr 12

Another nice us e of HDR, well done Russ.

#2
Russ11:40 am, 12 Apr 12

Actually no HDR – I’m far too lazy to lug around a tripod – just a grad here and there to bring back the overcast sky.

#3
EvanJames11:45 am, 12 Apr 12

What’s a HDR?

#4
smiling politely12:33 pm, 12 Apr 12

Bugger about not having your own shiraz this year but what about your other varieties? How are they looking?

#5
Ben_Dover12:36 pm, 12 Apr 12

Russ said :

Actually no HDR – I’m far too lazy to lug around a tripod – just a grad here and there to bring back the overcast sky.

I shoot my HDR handheld. If it’s not HDR you have some amazing colours in those vines!

EvanJames said :

What’s a HDR?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging

#6
Russ1:35 pm, 12 Apr 12

smiling politely said :

Bugger about not having your own shiraz this year but what about your other varieties? How are they looking?

There’s a “strategic backlog” of a few vintages of very good Shiraz to tide us over, thanks to woeful marketing efforts. The Pinot was a write-off, but the whites managed to ripen before the tractor burst into flame – we picked Sauv Blanc and Savagnin in late Feb which will get blended into a dry white called North Block, and the report from Alex at the winery was that the flavours in the juice coming out of the press were excellent, so there’s hope for something decent from this vintage.

#7
pajs1:42 pm, 12 Apr 12

Good stuff Russell.

#8
Russ1:44 pm, 12 Apr 12

Ben_Dover said :

I shoot my HDR handheld. If it’s not HDR you have some amazing colours in those vines!

Hmm, you must have a very steady hand.

The vineyard really was very pretty – we’ve never had that variety of colours across the block at harvest time. As for the pics, I’m not usually one to blame the gear, but most of the shots were with a 135mm f/2 which has gorgeous contrast and the sensor in the 5D MkII gives heaps of latitude to push around.

#9
rosscoact1:56 pm, 12 Apr 12

Thank goodness some wines are going to be made. It’s a heartbreaking business

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