I was in the vineyard in the early morning. The sun hadn't topped the Marri redgum trees, which are in full blossom, (literally driving my bees into an intoxicated frenzy), and there was the unfamiliar presence of dew on the ground. Fall has really arrived down under and it continues to be strange to me, a Northern Hemisphero, to be experiencing autumn at this date in the year. Doubly strange to be hearing of all my friends' Spring doings back in the States, with their hankering to move outside, when my attention is heading within... We picked the Chardonnay a couple of weeks ago and the leaves have yellowed considerably, with some shriveling. It feels decidedly different to walk through now - not just that the fruit is gone, but also there's that tangible sense that life is going inward, that the energy of the block has shifted. Even the spiders seem to be less active here. Generally I encounter many more webs as I walk through, but their activity seems to have diminished somewhat. Echoing Holden Caulfield, I wander through the vines wondering where the spiders go in winter.
At harvest we whole-bunch pressed the Chardonnay right into barrel where it immediately began to ferment, entirely with wild yeasts. The entire batch took off running and didn't stop until it was dry. We topped it off a few days ago and I had a taste and was overwhelmed by our great good fortune at having made such an astonishingly complex and elegant wine. Here's a picture of a few berries that made it into the barrel. Note the high-tech spoon used to remove them:
Afterwards I gave the barrels a loving scrub and they looked so nice I had to posteriticize them.
After pressing the juice out of the Chardonnay, I took the pressings back to the vineyard where I will be composting them soon. Their sweet liquid was a magnet for every insect in the territory, but no competition for the Marris whose scent is on the breeze even now. Here's a snap of the pile (weeks after sitting here) to which I will be adding grass clippings and cow manure and various biodynamic preparations:
It's a way of returning the nutrients removed from the vineyard to the soil in a way that makes them bio-available, that is to say in a form that is easily absorbable by the plants.