In the vineyard

There’s always something happening in the vineyard year round. While harvest is the most intense, busiest time, the work continues on throughout the year. During your stay at Stonewell Cottages you can experience life on a working Barossa vineyard, talk first hand with Evan or Dan, see the seasonal activities in action and learn about the grape growing process. Depending on the time of year you visit, you can take a ride on the harvester, pick a bucket of grapes, learn how to prune a vine or even take a ride in the tractor when seeding cover crop. Read here and learn about what’s happening seasonally in the vineyard, what’s been keeping Evan and Dan busy and the latest antics of Reggie our vineyard dog!

Reggie, the naughty one!

I have learned that the only one that can give Reggie a command and he will obey is Evan.
Reggie and Tilly were up by the vineyard shed, having a sniff around. Whilst talking on the phone I became distracted and Reggie took full advantage of this and decided to go exploring. Tilly thought it was a fabulous idea and decide to go along and see what might eventuate.
First stop the lake, where both dogs took a little dip as it was a warm day, next a meander through the bush vine Grenache and then up to the Shiraz. The whole time I am calling him using a commanding voice, a cajoling voice and finally a pleading voice. Reggie always managed to be about three feet out of my reach, just enough distance for me to still see the disdainful look of pity he was sending me. By now all my hope of catching him or him actually obeying a command had completely dissolved, I thought i would be walking around the vineyard for hours!!
How was this resolved? I called Evan who drove up the vineyard driveway, one call and Reggie was by his side……..
he was in trouble for taking off, but, I don’t think he was too concerned.

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Harvest 2020

Well, it’s that time of year again, Harvest time!
Sugar level check of all the Shiraz blocks this morning, using a refractometer, revealed some blocks are close to being ready for harvest, which is typical timing for our Stonewell location. We measure sugar level in baume’, which is directly proportional to alcohol level in wine. Typical target is 14.5 baume’. This is only one metric for determining being ready for harvest, but is a key indicator, along with flavour, colour, ph, and titrateable acidity. Perfect ripening conditions at the moment with day time temperatures between 25-32 deg C.
Final wash of the harvester and we’re ready to go.
Bye bye sleep, see you on the other side of harvest!
If you are lucky enough to be staying with us over the next month, you are welcome to come out and be involved with harvest.

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Yayyy for Rain!

Friday night was welcomed with the beautiful sound of 23mm of steady rain! Our Shiraz vines are just going through ‘veraison’, which means the grapes are developing sugar and colour. While the rain was welcome, too much rain too quickly at this stage of the growth cycle can cause the grapes to suck up too much moisture too quickly, causing them to split. That wasn’t the case though, it was just the right amount at the right fall rate! A nice low humidity cool breeze the day after was also perfect to dry the leaves and fruit, to minimise the risk of disease.
This week brings mild sunny temperatures 25-32deg C, optimal conditions for ripening. Everything looks fresher now, including our new young native plants!
3 weeks to harvest! Hope to see you soon at our beautiful part of the Barossa! 

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Pause for reflection

On the last day of 2019, it’s a time for reflection. Pause and savour the happy memories and personal achievements you made in 2019 before seeing in the New Year and a new decade!

A highlight of the year for us here at Stonewell has been the continued work on our property with native re-vegetation. Through our co-operative work with NRM Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board and Barossa Grape and Wine BGWA we are proud to be a leading example to other vineyard properties in the region. This winter we planted 1000 more plants which totals 4000 since 2014. The newest project we have become part of is the “Wildlife for Wine” program. This program incorporates important research into beneficial insects for grape growing and wildlife in the vineyard such as micro bats. We have also recently joined a small Seppeltsfield Road focus group, the aim will be working with our neighbours and local council to re-vegetate surrounding sites, the first being the Seppeltsfield Road/Stonewell Road Information bay area which will be planted up with native trees, shrubs and ground covers in winter next year. In this land, the driest continent on earth, which is ravaged by drought and bushfire, it’s important for us to do what we can to help the big picture of climate change. We encourage you to do what you can too, every little bit counts.

Best wishes as you embark on a new decade, may it be a happy and fulfilling one for you. We look forward to welcoming you and sharing the Barossa and the beauty of the different seasons with you in 2020.

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The regeneration continues

Happy with today’s work. The Barossa now has 350 more native trees than it did this morning. More tomorrow… ?
(by tomorrow night, we will have planted a total of 4000 over the last 5 years on the Stonewell Cottages and Vineyards property).

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This week, we’ll begin planting the next phase of our Barossa indigenous planting project. 1150 Barossa native trees, shrubs, bushes and reeds will planted around the property to help our continuous improvement of the bio diversity of the Stonewell Vineyards and Cottage grounds. Our youngest daughter, Elsie, 2, helped me collect some of the plants from Barossa Bush Gardens this morning!
By the end of next week, we will have planted 4150 Barossa natives over the last 5 years. Giving back to our natural environment is important to us at Stonewell.

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Ahhh the view

Thinking about your next getaway after the long weekend? Here’s the view this morning! Stonewell Cottages awaits your arrival. Nothing better than putting your feet up in front of a wood fire, enjoying a glass or two of Barossa’s finest. Such a beautiful time of the year here…..

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Early knockoff

Early knock off bbq after a big week of pruning. Plus too nice a day to be working!!

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It’s been almost 2 years since we’ve seen water flowing into our irrigation dams! Last night, we welcomed 34mm of much needed rainfall. A happy day here!

Winter rain is critical for our vineyards. It is needed to fill the soil profile with moisture, down to a depth of 1 – 1.2m so that when the vines begin to come out of dormancy in early spring, they can grow new shoots vigorously. Insufficient winter rain can mean the vines may sense dry conditions in early spring, which can have a negative effect on crop levels. If we have average winter rainfall, the vines will generally crop well, and will continue to utilise the stored moisture in the soil throughout spring, minimising the necessity to irrigate until summer. Early winter rain is also important to saturate the soil profile, so that further rainfall in July and August will flow to our irrigation dams. This provides us with the irrigation water, required for the vineyards through summer. Good winter rain is also great for our broad acre farmers. No rain = no food!

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Winter in the Vineyard

We have been lucky so far and Jack Frost has only made a minor appearance, we have also had some winter rains which the subsoil desperately needed, however, we will definitely say a big “YES” to more rain!  Although everything looks green, looks can be deceiving as that is not necessarily an indicator that there isn’t a drought. To produce good crops we need good subsoil moisture. The rainfall for June was 53 mm and the long term average is 57 so we are pretty much on target. The way that rain fell came in two heavy falls which gave the ground a really good soaking. All the waterways on our property are mowed and kept clear to allow the free flow of water to the dams.

Pruning is making good progress with approximately 40% of the vines pruned. Dan and his team will be kept busy for the rest of July as they move through all 28 hectares, pruning each vine, a highly skilled and important job as it sets the vine up for bearing fruit for the next vintage.

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