2013 in review

February 5, 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Back on the farm

December 29, 2013

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After two years of absence we finally returned to our small farm in Glenburn, Victoria. All of us, the whole family, was exited and nerveous at the same time. What would the place look like? What to expect? Would it look devastated, neglected and run down?

Well, it was all rather normal. Our neighbour Victor had cut the grass to make hay and to feed his cows. The grass in the paddocks was green and fresh. The vineyard was in good condition as well given the dire circumstances of the mothballing regime. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir looked very good; only the old vines of the Sauvignon Blanc seemed to suffer a bit.

It took me two days to clean the cottage. I still have to do the windows. After a round of repairs the water taps were functioning again properly, and the hot water system was ready for action.

THV Cottage

The Melbourne weather with four seasons in a day, is a stark contrast to what we are used to in the tropics. So far we had sweltering days with hot northerly winds and temperatures in the 40 Celsius. But the nights remained cool. The heat was followed by cool changes and more often than not one needed a sweater and warm clothes.

Our two dams are full to the brim, so are our two water tanks. The spring was very wet. The trees around the cottage have benefited from the abundance of water. Especially the young gum trees have grown quite a bit. But also the deciduous trees from Europe are doing well, especially my oaks.

The morning walks are a delight. I usually bump into two families of kangaroos. The long grass makes it easy for them to hide. The birds are noisy and plentiful. Water birds splash in the irrigation dam. The creek at the end of the property is running and full of water. The vegetation is lush though some of the beautiful gums trees near the creek have died. After the bush fire of 2009 many of the old trees have not survived but young growth is everywhere.

THV Brotzeit

On the wine front I discovered that our old vintages are still drinkable. Two Hills Merlot 2004, 2006 and 2008 are all holding up. The 2006 vintage is rather an “umpf” wine. The 2004 is not as elegant as it was but nonetheless we are enjoying drinking it.

The New discovery is the Fratelli vineyard and winery. Their 2012 Riesling is superb. The fruit comes from a vineyard near Mansfield, the old Upper Goulburn wine region.

We have more than a month ahead. More bliss on the farm to come. Stay tuned.


Back from paradise

August 13, 2013

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The Mosel river near Trittenheim

In the picture above you will see the wine village of Leiwen (left). Further around the bend of the river (to the right) is the wine village of Trittenheim. This is basically the view of the Mosel you will get when you drive though the Hunsrueck mountains.

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Trittenheim, Mosel

And this was also our first view of the Mosel when we arrived in Germany for our summer vacation this year. We were mesmerized. What a splendid view, what a splendid landscape, what a splendid river, how good to be home.

From the outset let me tell you we had a great time (only about 3 weeks), and despite our at best erratic planning and our lousy preparation, we were able to line up some unique, memorable and exquisite encounters with the wine and food world.

I intend to write in more detail about most of these encounters. But let me not be too optimistic as regards the time available for blogging.

So what were the highlights of our visit?

Well, we had the best pork-knuckle ever (!) after a two hour march through the forests near the Ammersee on our way to the monastery of Andechs, a famous location for catholic pilgrims. Bavaria is a fantastic place to visit especially if the weather gods are smiling on you, and smile they did. We had warm, at times even hot, weather during the whole time of our holidays.

Along the Mosel we visited three wineries – two along the Ruwer, one on the Sauer, both tributaries of the Mosel – and had one wine tasting in Trier city at Oechsle. Wonderful, exquisite, I can only rave about the many fresh and zesty wines we had the opportunity to sample.

The wineries we visited were:

Fuerst Winery, Metzdorf, Sauer
Karthaeuserhof Estate, Eitelsbach, Ruwer
Maximin Gruenhaus C. von Schubert Winery-Estate, Mertesdorf, Ruwer

Another highlight was the visit of one of the best restaurants in the Alsace region of France. For a family lunch we went to the Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Lembach, Alsace near Wissembourg in the Vosges mountains.

Needless to say we spent many afternoon and evenings in wine bars and beer gardens, among them the wine bar Kesselstatt and the wine bar “Weinsinnig”, two of my favourite places to relax and enjoy a good glass of wine in Trier.

More soon. Stay tuned.

PS: I made some gorgeous pictures.


New website: It’s Riesling in Bangkok

April 19, 2013

Its Riesling web

It’s Riesling – cover website

As a lover of Riesling wines, I am always on the lookout for new initiatves promoting my favourite white wine grape. The other day I came across the facebook page of It’s Riesling.

I assume they are working from Thailand but I am not entirely sure about this. However, many of the pictures they posted on facebook show scenes and people from Bangkok. Also the telephone number seems to be a local one.

The motto of It’s Riesling is: “Wine is our passion; Riesling is our life”. I sincerely hope that this is true. Then I will have access to top German Riesling wines which would be fantastic.

They have some interesting wines on offer. I will keep you informed about my progress.


Culture and wine – Gran Monte Family Estate, Thailand

March 29, 2013

Remember I promised you two more pieces about the Gran Monte Harvest Festival last February? Here is number two.

What was very positive at the the Gran Monte Harvest Festival is that the event is also a means to educate future Thai wine lovers to grape growing, wine making and wine appreciation. Moreover, such events can be used to promote tourism and local specialties, products as well as culture.

GMonte 20 web

The program of this years Gran Monte Harvest Festival was full of both. At the various food stalls one could sample local cuisine including the Gran Monte wines. Moreover, the Gran Monte shop carries all kinds of food and non-food items made from local raw materials. Furthermore, all visitors were presented with a beautiful traditional piece of cloth to be wrapped around the waist or used as shawl.

But also an entertainment program was carefully prepared consisting of dances and dance performances. This gave local dance troupes an opportunity to show off their skills and promote local culture, the backdrop to which were the stunning mountains of the Asoke Valley.

GMonte 200

From the vineyard emerged the first group of dancers

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Colourful Thai costumes and head gear were displayed

This was not all. Gran Monte Family Estate is also deeply involved in supporting charitable organizations and other good causes. One could attribute this to their pro-active corporate responsibility policy. Three cheques were presented and they went to the following initiatives:

1. The Thai Elephant-Assisted Therapy Project (TETP)
2. The Forest Fire Prevention Unit, Khao Yai-Nakornrachasima
3. The Vajiralongkorn School, Pak Chong-Nakornrachasima

Apart from traditional culture, Gran Monte also promotes contemporary arts. The highlight for me is the rock band playing in the evening. Many songs remind me of my youth, the good old days of rock and roll of the 1970 and 1980. It does not take long to get people off their seats and on to the dance floor.

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The rock band

Because of the neighbours, the band cannot play all night (this is most likely what the Gran Monte guests would want) and that is one strong reason why one has to come back to the next harvest festival.

Enjoy more excellent wines and the music at the next Gran Monte Harvest Festival in 2014. The 2013 vintage promises to be the best ever.


Women in the wine industry

March 8, 2013

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Lucy and Charlotte Adam

Today is international women’s day. It is a very special day especially since exactly 25 years ago I have met my wife Margit for the first time (in an Italian language class in Rome). So we are celebrating today, and I will tell you what wine we will drink at this special occasion.

But before I come to this, let me also say that the next generation is getting ready. My two daughters Lucy and Charlotte are in the middle of their preparations for the IB examinations. They have big plans. Both want to study at Melbourne University.

At this, I admit, very preliminary point, both will have some connection with the land and country, it seems. Lucy intends to do an oenology course (but she will study politics), and Charlotte wants to get involved into environmental science for sustainable agriculture. If they stay course, we might welcome two new vintners at Two Hills Vineyard.

This is of course the future calling, but the two have not disappointed at no time.

By the way, my role has also been defined in advance: farm hand, is my destination.

OK back to the present. What will we be drinking tonight? Can you guess?

It will be a ‘2012 Maximin Grünhäuser Riesling trocken’ by Schlosskellerei Maximin Grünhaus C. von Schubert in Mertesdorf, Ruwer. I have written an entry of the earlier vintage of this wonderful wine from my beloved Mosel river.

PS: Thanks to another “Man from the Mosel”, my friend Thomas Weber, I am in the possession of the above bottle. Thank you Thomas for carrying this treasure more than 10,000 miles to the other end of the earth.


My Valentines: Australian wine industry outlook

February 14, 2013

I know it is Valentines day, but I could not care less. Today I would like to draw your attention to a topic right at my heart, the Australian wine industry.

The questions which occupieds me most is what can we expect during the next few years after the “wine lake burst its banks”, overproduction made producer prices drop and many businesses collapsed in the wake of overplanting and overproduction.

Is the boom and bust of the primary industry in grape and wine production coming to an end any time soon?

According to a recent study by the International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) commissioned by Vinexpo, this will not be the case. The Australian wine industry is contracting further (by about 15%) whereas global wine production will,only shrink by less than 3%.

But in the long run (longer than 5 years from now) prospects are much better. And this is what I am interested in. Sure there will be less volume, but better quality and better prices. The adjustment will not make everybody happy though.

But I am confident that I can continue my boutique vineyard once the restructuring is completed. One of my daughters is also keen to let this opportunity not slip away. This should make me optimistic too.

Cheers to you all, and happy Valentines day.