Down under: Autumn time – harvest time

April 23, 2010

During long walks in the vineyard and around the paddocks we collected quite a few delicious mushrooms. The specimen above was particularly significant. Together with some other mushrooms it made a great pasta ai funghi porcini.

My olive grove was bady damaged during the bushfires last year. Only about 30 of my 100 olive trees escaped unharmed. Although there is lots of new growth from below, it will take years before the olive grove will take shape. However, there were still some beautiful olives to be harvested.

And of course, there were grapes, lots of them. Below a ripe Merlot bunch. It’s a pity that we could not sell all of our vintage this year. The grapes were very sweet and full of juice.

Autumn is a wonderful time in the cyle of the year. It was only the second time that we had the chance to experience it on our farm first hand. Happy days.

The good life on the farm

April 22, 2010

We have hearty good food when on the farm in Glenburn. The beautiful autumn weather allowed us to sit outside and enjoy pasta dishes, meats, salads and other rural food in the mid-day sun. And we all love Italian cuisine.

Zucchini pasta

Insalata caprese

We also have wine with the food. Often we just open a bottle of Two Hills Merlot. But more often than not, we are tasting wines made by our friends in the wine industry. The cucchini pasta we had for instance with a bottle of 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Steve Sadlier’s vineyard, Nenagh Park, in Yarra Glen.

It has no label as yet, what Australians call “clean skins”, but it’s a ripper of a wine, not in the New Zealand style but rather the one of Sancerre, France. Epicurus would give an arm and a leg to be with us, for sure.

Steve’s Sauvignon Blanc

Backyard vintner

April 20, 2010

Pips Paddock, Springvale, Yarra Glen

The current overproduction of wine grapes is a great worry for many of the small, medium as well as large producers. Especially for fruit growers the outlook is bleak. Nobody wants to buy your grapes if the slightest deviation from “perfect” is detectable. They just walk away from you and let you sit on the fruit. It’s a buyers market.

However, there are options. One is to make your own wine. Not much equipment is required and space is usually available, even if it is on the back porch of the house.

The new stainless steel tanks on the back porch

My friend Gayle Jewson from Springvale, Yarra Glen did exactly that. The grapes were hand picked and sorted, pressed, destemmed and dumped in new stainless steel vats for fermentation.

When we arrived I tasted the “brew” for the first time. Two weeks later I had a second tasting opportunity. What a difference two weeks can make? Amazing. I think Gayle’s Pinot Noir is on the right track and her Chardonnay is just lovely. Lock out for Pips Paddock Pinot and Chardonnay this year. There is only very limited supply. Visit Gayle on her farm and/or order by phone.

Tasting if fun

The backyard vintner in action

Restaurant Review: Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company in Yarra Glen

April 19, 2010

Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company in Yarra Glen

Where to go for lunch on a Sunday in the Yarra Valley? Ample choice it seems. But many of our choices turned out to be fully booked, to be precise the wineries cum restaurant were. So why not going to a beer place? Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company in Yarra Glen came to mind. They had seats available (online booking available!!) and off we went.

A beer tasting paddle

We started with a beer tasting. For this purpose a “tasting paddle” is available with six different beers. As a German I was pleased to find some German style beers such as the ‘Hargreaves Hill Hefeweizen’ and the ‘Hargreaves Hill Kellerbier’. But the paddle also includes classic English (Hargreaves Hill ESB, Hargreaves Hill Stout and and Hargreaves Hill Pale Ale) and Belgium style beers (Hargreaves Hill Abbey Dubbel). I liked the ‘Kellerbier’ best.

The beer tasting notes

The various aromas and tastes are neatly described on the beer tasting menu. Amazing what you can taste in a beer. I just loved the experience. This was a good start to a Sunday lunch, I thought.

The food was equally good. Below you find pictures of what we ordered. Needless to say all the dishes were delicious. The service was excellent. I loved the salmon on the bed of herbs and veggies.

The seafood pasta

Some side dishes

Slow cooked pork belly

My salmon dish

The desserts were equally delicious.

Simon Walkenhorst, the “brew master” and one of the co-owners

At the end of the meal I went over to the bar and asked one of the owners, Simon Walkenhorst, the micro brewer, if I could take a photo for my blog to which he kindly agreed.

From my friend Steve Sadlier I learned later that the brewery had burned down in last years February bushfire and that Simon and his partner Beth had lost their house and all their possessions. Now the beer is brewed in Lylidale. The quality of the “hops drink” has certainly not suffered. We had a great time at the Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company.

The good news for the wine aficionados is that Simon offers a fine selection of local wines. Among them the fine wines of boutique vintner Timo Mayer and the Mayer Vineyard of the Yarra Valley. I am a fan of the vintner and his wines . Try them if you can.

Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company
25 Bell St
Yarra Glen VIC 3775, Australia

The last sip – a Delatite Riesling

April 18, 2010

Leaving Two Hills Vineyard in Glenburn is always a sad affair. The evening before departure we bid farewell to our old friend Steve and our family, Michael and Helen. On Sunday morning we said good bye to our neighbours, Hillary and Ken. Then we drove to Yarra Glen where we left the car at Gayle’s farm. We had a morning tea, moved the luggage into her car and off we went to Melbourne Airport. Gayle dropped us there and we did the usual stuff.

Fortunately, there was a nice bar called “Plonk”, right next to gate No. 4 from which we were to depart for Bangkok. We went through their wine list and chose a wine from our wine region (the Upper Goulburn Wine Region), a ‘2008 Delatite Riesling’. What a delight this wine was, fresh and fruity with citrus and passion-fruit aromas, a good structure and a long finish. The waiter was particularly charming. Here we said our final good bye. Reminiscing about the past is an old man’s vice, but the memories we took with us are treasures of a very special kind.

Kioti tractor, a Daedong from Korea

April 15, 2010

My new Daedong

My new toy is just awesome. A new tractor is just great after two years without agricultural machinery. Toys for boys, one could say. I really enjoy getting to know this new machine. I am slashing the vineyards and some of my paddocks.

Kioti is the name

Sunday live music at the Yarra Glen Hotel

April 14, 2010

Live music schedule at the Yarra Glen Hotel

We just love live music. Many places in the Australian countryside offer such occasions. The Yarra Glen Hotel is one of them. This time it was the Leslie Avril Band which stepped in because the Chorlie Owen Band could not make it. When we arrived they played a country piece which did not go well with us. But we were rewarded for our patience. The Leslie Avril Band could also play blues, rock and many other music styles. I loved the violinist, she was just great. It was a very pleasant Sunday afternoon.

The Leslie Avril Band

The Leslie Avril Band in jazz mood

In the glasses

PS: I needed to cleanse my palate and drank beer.