Upper Goulburn Vintage Celebration

April 26, 2010

Autumn is a splendid time in Australia. It is the time of colours and, of course, harvest festivals. The past weekend saw two such events celebrating the 2010 vintage of the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association.

The first was the traditional “Day on the High” in Mansfield, High Street, which is a street festival. The second event was the “Upper Goulburn Long Lunch” which was held in the Mansfield showground pavilion. Both events are the highlight of the year for many of our winery members and the many related trades displaying their wares and produce, meeting friends, eating and drinking and being merry.

Australia’s 2010 vintage was the smallest in a decade. Instead of 1.8 million tons of grapes, only about 1.4 million tons were harvested. The wine industry is being plagued by oversupply in general. Moreover, 2010 was another drought year with poor grape prices. Many grape growers just gave up. More than 8,000 ha of vines have been pulled already and many more vineyards have been abandoned.

So therefore, this autumn was also a great time for the birds feasting on the many unharvested grapes on the vines. The wine industry crisis is hitting many family businesses, not so much the very small weekender and backyard vintners, but the full-time and medium-sized ones. Some of the investor driven schemes have also suffered. The corporates, however hard hit, are shedding “the fat”, meaning they are “selling the crap” and keeping the profitable brands and vineyards.

For many vintners 2010 was not a good year and for many more, crunch time is still to come. But on this weekend those sombre thoughts were stashed away for a few hours. Let the good times roll on (even if only for a couple of hours).

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Upper Goulburn Vintage Celebration 2009 – A Day on High and Long Lunch

April 24, 2009

ugwavintagecelebration2009web

This coming weekend I would love to be in Mansfield, Victoria. That weekend, our association, the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association (UGWA) is going to host its 2009 vintage celebrations. What a treat, I tell you, the best of our wines are going to be on display, what a wonderful tasting out there in the High Country. On Saturday, 25 April (11:30-17:00) a day of wine and food tasting is going to be held, titled: “A Day on High”.

ugwa2009festivalweb

And on Sunday it is followed by the so called “Long lunch” at Orchard Farm Cottage where various chefs present their food combined with Upper Goulburn wines. The menu sounds delicious, though for a conservative European like me, Australian food is often too rich. I explain this in my postscript, no offence.

The following wineries are presenting their wines:
– Buller View
– Buxton Ridge
– Delatite
– Gioielle Estate
– Growlers Gully
– Kinloch Wines
– Mt Samaria
– Murrindindi
– Nillahcootie Estate
– Penbro Estate
– Sedona Estate
– Snobs Creek
– St Winifred’s

Apart from the wines, one can also taste local food produce and buy a whole lot of other things. There is music and a program for children, in short it should be a fun day out there.

At the “Long Lunch” on Sunday, things are more structured. The dishes on offer are appropriately paired with the various wines from the region. I leave out the food so that there is something left for you to be discovered by yourself.

First, there will be canapés served (prepared by Café 41 and the Mansfield Regional Produce Store) with the following wines:

– Buller View Sparkling Merlot
– Buller View “Scarlet” Rosé
– Buxton Ridge “Molly Jean” Sparkling
– Delatite Riesling
– Kinloch “Don” Sparkling
– Murrindindi Shiraz
– St Winifred Pinot Noir

Entrée is by Christian Bergmoser (twice cooked goats cheese soufflé with a lot of other stuff) and paired with:

– ‘2008 Buxton Ridge Sauvignon Blanc’
– ‘2005 Murrindindi Riesling’

The main course is by Dave Livingstone of Crawford Kitchens (roasted quail on another assortment of various items). The wines are:

– ‘2007 Growlers Gully Pinot Noir’
– ‘2008 Kinloch Pinot Meunier’

The dessert is by Michael Nelson from The Deck on High in Mansfield to which a ‘2008 Delatite “Catherine” Gewürztraminer’ will be served. Goodness me that sounds all so nice. We have never participated in the vintage celebration ourselves, but the time will come, I am sure. In the meantime I will further explore Thai and other wines and train my palate. If anyone who reads this is in the vicinity of the High Country, I suggest you better check it out.

Cheers to all the good wines, the producers and presenters and: have fun.

PS: Australians like to not just use one or two main ingredients for a dish but many, many. I give you an example to illustrate that: a typical pizza margherita, with only tomatoes and cheese with some basil leaves, is considered by most Australians a kind of rip-off. There needs to be more on a pizza, at least 3 to 4 toppings and heaps of it (a little mountain on top of the dough). If you read the above menu, you see what I mean.


Vintage Celebration 2008 – Upper Goulburn Wine Region

May 9, 2008

I missed this year’s vintage celebration of our wine growers association – the Upper Goulburn Wine Region (www.uppergoulburnwine.org). The last weekend of April saw wine ethusiasts, vintners, and other local folks descend on the picturesque rural town of mansfield at the foot of Mount Buller where soon the ski and other winter tourists are going to converge for joyful days in the snow.

For the time being it’s still autumn, all grapes have been harvested and the juices of young wines are working hard to become as excellent a wine as in this part of the world we are able to produce. Thanks to our clean natural sorroundings, the hills and northerly slopes, the terroir and our cool climate, the Upper Goulburn Wine region produces outstanding wines.

This year the vintage celebration weekend (25-27th April) consisted of three major events.

1. Cocktails on the Deck on High – an evening reception at this new venue – normally offering Thai cuisine as well as tapas, with a stylish piano bar and an “oriental room” (whatever that means) – in the High Country with cocktail canapes and the best of Upper Goulburn wines matching these delicious finger foods. The guests were entertained by a string duo from Melbourne named “Take Two”.

2. A Day on High – starting at 11 am until 5 pm and covering the main street of mansfield where regional food, wines and other produce are displayed and cwhere all kinds of culinary delights can be tasted. You just purchase a glass for A$ 5 and off you go to taste the new releases of the regions superior wines. This time the entertainment consisted of “Derek Guille and his Ugly Uncles”, a performance band in blues, folk and jazz (more than the usual country stuff of Country and Western).

3. Long Lunch – the lunch took place in the gardens at Highton Manor , a restaurant in a 1896 historic country house right in town. The lunch does not come cheap but with Mount Buller as a backdrop, the selected four course meal prepared by local chefs and served with the best wines from our region, was a true delight.

The 2008 vintage has been very erratic in Australia. In many places, South Australia for instance, it started very early (one month earlier than normal) with many varieties ripening in unpredictable and abnormal order. Various heat waves partially destroyed the crops, gain an example from South Australia where about 100.000 tonnes of grapes were left on the vines. Wineries had to cope with a mass arrival of fruit concentrated in a very short time band.

But in other regions, Gisborn or McLaren Vale for instance, 2008 produced a great vintage. I have not heard too much from neighbours and other members of our association.

We at Two Hills Vineyard had a good year. We did not overcrop, kept yields low for a maximum of flavour and intensity. Our fruit enjoyed great demand. Finally word has spread around that our fruit is of excellent quality and as a consequence we have more interested buyers than we can satisfy.

A small portion of our Merlot fruit will be made into wine, as always at Yering Farm, by Alan Johns and we are looking forward to another excellent Two Hills Merlot wine.


Upper Goulburn Wine Region – Vintage celebrations

April 17, 2007

On Saturday, 28th April, 2007 at Delatite Winery in Mansfield, Victoria, a great new festival will be brought to you by the Upper Goulburn Wine Growers Association (www.uppergoulburnwine.org.au).

Come along and enjoy new and museum vintages of elegant and aromatic cool climate wines.
The region is ideally located for the production of crisp and racy aromatic white and sparkling wines and elegant textural red wines.

The following fruit and wines are grown and made: Riesling, Gewuerztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Marsanne, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Temperanillo.

Taste the flavours of the Upper Goulburn, listen to music from Connie Lansberg, enjoy a balloon flight chill out in the high country!

Showcasing
– A variety of aromatic whites and elegant reds – over 20 labels
– Gourmet food from the region’s best restaurants and cafes
– Regional products – olives, oils, breads, trout
– Art and sculpture
– Vintage cars
– Fun activities for the kids – puppet shows, face painting
– Balloon flights over the Delatite Vineyard
– Musical entertainment (sponsored by Crazy Johns): Jazz n Shiraz featuring Connie Lansberg

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Two Hills Merlot 2004


The Upper Goulburn Wine Region

February 1, 2007

Today, after all these Mosel meals, I want to take you back to Australia and write about the wine region in which our vineyard is located: the Upper Goulburn Wine Region. I also would like to inform you a little bit about the activities of the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association (UGWA; www.uppergoulburnwine.org.au).

The Upper Goulburn is located in central Victoria. The region derives its name from the Goulburn River which is one of the main features of the area. It is a cool-climate grape growing area setting it apart from most other parts of Victorian. The region has only recently been classified in the geographic indication system. Grapes, however, have been grown in this part of Victoria for almost 40 years. In comparison to the Mosel this is indeed a very young wine region.

The Geographic Indications Committee of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC; www.awbc.com.au) determines wine zones, regions, sub-regions and their boundaries. The system was introduced after lengthy negotiations with the European Union which did not accept Australian wines unless it complied with European regulations. The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act of 1980 was amended in 1993 to accommodate those requirements.

Map of the Victorian Wine Regions

Wine Regions of Victoria Map Dark blue formerly Central Victorian High Country and now divided in Strathbogie Ranges and Upper Goulburn Wine Region (www.wineaustralia.com/australia

The region is very diverse in terms of altitude, climate, temperature, rainfall, and soils. Site selection is of ultimate importance. Rainfall varies from 700 to 1400 mm. Some vineyards even rise to the snowline at 800 m. Many locations are ideally suited for sparkling wine production consisting of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Aromatic varieties such as Riesling, Gewuerztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc can be found but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Shiraz. (www.greatwinecapitals.com/melbourne/mel_reg_centralvictorianhighcountry.html)

The Upper Goulburn is very picturesque and one of the gems of Victoria. It extends from Tallarook in the west to Mansfield, Lake Eildon and further north Lake Nillacootie. Regional centres like Yea, Alexandra and Eildon are located in the region. Mount Buller and its skiing slopes, the lakes, the small rivers and the high planes are a premium destination for national and international tourism.

Mount Buller

Mount Buller with snow cap

Two Hills Vineyard can be found at the most southern edge of the region on the way to Yarra Glen. Today there are about 25 wine labels and more than 30 vineyards in the region. Recently a branding workshop has identified the key characteristics of the region which include:

● high diversity of vineyards and wines
● climate very suitable for premium cool climate grapes and wines
● aromatic whites/sparkling wines and elegant reds
● hand picked and hand crafted grapes/wines
● family owned businesses
● environmentally aware producers
● low environmental footprint
● shared experience between producers and customers
● good infrastructure
● unknown – Victoria’s secret

From these few words it is clear where you have to spend your next holidays: in Central Victoria. See you there (www.visitvictoria.com/wineries).

Two Hills Vineyard

Two Hills Vineyard