Vintage reports from ‘our girl in the Barossa’

Another one of my lot has left to help the Aussies with their 2015 vintage. Wordsmith Nikki is the newest cellar hand at the RedHeads Wine Studio in the Barossa Valley. And although she may be making wine rather than writing about it, she’s not straying far from her keyboard … here’s the first entry in her diary of the vintage.

First Day … a gentle introduction for me, Dan’s new cellarhand 

Landed at Adelaide airport last night … only from New Zealand, so I’m pretty much in the time zone at least (2.5 hours difference), and managed to find my way in the dark to lodgings. Ok, that was only thanks to ‘Audrey’, the satnav. For once the barking voice was reasonable company on the drive up.

It was Audrey again who guided me to 733b Light Pass Road, to RedHeads-of-the-Barossa Wine Studio. Glorious sunny morning – maybe it always is during the summer – and found Dan at work.

I’d been talking about treading grapes by foot for weeks; my Hunter Valley companions on the last flight were sure that wouldn’t be happening, but first job … climb in the big tub and get marching on those little McLaren Vale Grenache berries. I couldn’t wait! And yes, it’s tiring, especially with short legs! Gotta get those knees high.

mclaren grenache trodden

These are the McLaren Grenache grapes all trodden – it was too sticky to get a picture in the vat

Next job – pressing. It was the Shiraz today. That’s quite a manual job. Hands go quickly from normal colour to deep purple-grained hue … bucketing all those skins and juice into the basket press. It smells wonderful though – deep, chocolaty, raisiny aroma, leaving you quite heady (that’s the alcohol evaporating). Then gently, gently, squeeze, squeeze in the basket press and all the juice is pumped into the stainless steel vat.

dan grapes into press

Dan enjoying getting up to his elbows in grape juice and skins as we load the mix into the basket press

Outcome, when you release the basket press, is a wonderful tall cake of skins and stems. Looks great, but it’s hard work to break up and shove in a container for disposal. Sticky, too.

breaking cake

The cake of grape skins and stalks left in the basket press after the juice is extracted is pretty dense and hard to break up – looks sort of pretty though

Did three containers worth … quite a few to go.

Laithwaites Wine

About Laithwaites Wine

Started in 1969, Laithwaite's Wine is still owned and run by Tony and Barbara Laithwaite and their family. We take around 40,000 wines each year to find just 800 that are good enough for our customers and are suitable for every occasion from everyday wines for dinner to celebration sparkling.

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