The Weathervane

CHASE’S PATAGONIA BLOG – POST #5

It’s been a little while since my last post, but in terms of harvest, everything is finished! A couple days ago, we pressed the very last lot of Pinot Noir we had fermenting – a sad but exciting feeling. Nowadays, work has consisted of racking wines off of their fermentation lees, barreling down, or creating blends for their three wines, Barda (entry level), 55, and 32. It’s been a trip getting to taste all of the components and understand the decision making. I have also spent quite a bit of time barreling down wines after completion of blending. Many hours in an air conditioned barrel room!

Yesterday, the bio dynamic consultant, who guides and educates Bodega Chacra in maintaining their certification, came to the farm. I got to spend the morning and part of the afternoon with him, touring the farm, asking questions, and also tagging along while they went to collect organic cow manure from a nearby farm for compost preparation. Very interesting stuff!! Here are a few pictures from the farm!

Compost piles.

Garden where they grow vegetables and also plants necessary for biodynamic preparations.

Opening soil jars from previous years to check development.

Cow at local farm.

One of the tractors at Chacra.

CHASE’S PATAGONIA BLOG – POST #4

Well, as was the same last week, more pressing! However this weekend we finally got a Sunday off, so I think it goes without saying that Saturday night (into Sunday morning) was a long one! This Sunday we slept in, which was long awaited, and then headed to the Rio Negro for the afternoon, where we met up with a friend who operates a small bar on the river. Relaxation in the sun, a few beers, and some tapas were the perfect way to wrap up the weekend. Here are some more pics of pressing, and also one of the crew while at the river!

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CHASE’S PATAGONIA BLOG – POST #3

More and more pressing the last couple of days, all Pinot of course! Here at Chacra, they use a horizontal or basket style press. Although it can press much less quantity at one time, the theory is that the actual pressure on the grape skins is less, therefore extracting less harsh compounds and more of the good stuff! At Carhartt we have a couple of these, however they are about 100 years old and made out of wood and heavy metal!

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CHASE’S PATAGONIA BLOG – POST #2

Wow. A couple weeks have blown by faster than I could have ever imagined. When I set out to write this blog, my idea was to pair everything down so I could write short snippets while continuing to work the almost certain long days of harvest in Patagonia. What I did not anticipate was that this year, the 2017 harvest, would be the warmest season in the last 44 years, therefore rocketing the grape picking and in turn the working hours of a harvest intern, into what I would call “beast-mode.”

To give a small reference point, Bodega Chacra produces around 175 ton of grapes per year, about 1.75 times the size of Carhartt. In a normal harvest back home, we pick our grapes over the course of 2-3 months. Something to keep in mind is that we also make 20 different wines, ranging from the early ripening Pinot Noir, to later ripening Merlot. Here at Chacra, we only grow and produce Pinot Noir, so when it’s ready, there is no choice but to buckle down and get the fruit picked. Since my first day of work about two weeks ago, we have been running an average 13+ hour day. In the world of harvest that isn’t necessarily abnormal, but pair it with the fact that in Argentina, like most of Europe, the culture eats later, and so by the time we cook dinner and get to bed, its already past midnight. Hence, that didn’t really leave me a lot of time to look through my pictures of the day, and write about what was happening at the time.

This post will then tally the activity of the last couple of weeks, so I can play catch-up, and get back on track!

Upon arrival, we (the interns) were greeted with a bbq of meat and some awesome wines! This bbq area and pizza oven is right outside of our casita.

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The next morning, we started work so I took a photo of the beautiful scene in our backyard.

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From day one it was all about sorting fruit (processing it) and getting it into tank to begin fermentation. The winery is set up with three sizes of cement tanks that all sort of connect to each other so you have two levels to walk – the winery floor and above the tanks. At Chacra they believe in fermenting in cement and that for their style it brings forward the best quality wine. The winery floor isn’t necessarily huge, so we have to get creative when sorting fruit. Some is processed as whole cluster (with stem) and some is de-stemmed. It goes from a sorting table to a giraffe (a conveyor belt that brings the fruit from the winery floor into a tank of our choice). If we de-stem, it has to go from a sorting table to a small giraffe, into a de-stemmer, then into a larger giraffe that puts the grapes into tank.
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Once in tank the grapes are allowed to ferment by native yeast (no addition of a specific strain). Fermentation here is definitely different than any winery I have ever been to in that they treat their grapes and fermentation more like a tea bag infusion. The idea being to not aggressively extract tannin, structure, color, and aromatics from the wines through a series of cap management techniques like punch downs and long pump-overs, but more to delicately infuse the juice with soft tannin, soft aromatics, and finessed structure through cooler ferments, and non-macerating techniques.

We accomplish this by keeping the cap (top section of the ferment) constantly wet with a series of short pump-overs, usually accompanied by a cooling of the juice/wine to keep the temperature in check. As fermentation progresses, especially in the whole cluster lots, we will do a very delicate foot-stomp on the top of the cap to break open some berries and produce some liquid, but not macerate the skins and extract harsh compounds. It has been very eye opening for me and really interesting to utilize new techniques and see the incredible outcomes!

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On a non-winery level, one thing I think is amazing about this place is its landscape. I’ve been told that the colonization of this area is only about 100 years old, so it is free of most diseases or problems that we often see in vineyards all over Europe and the U.S. This is basically a massive desert with a thin stretch of civilization down the middle, right next to the river. As you can see from the photos below I took from the plane, the green sliver is the cultivation of man, while on both sides are vast desert lands.

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In fact, here is a photo from the kitchen window where we make our lunch every day!

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Along with this big sky country (no mountains) also comes quite amazing natural beauty. The sunrises, sunsets, and cloudscapes that I have seen here are some of the most amazing of my life. As Piero, the owner and head winemaker would say, “you don’t need a filter on your phone to capture the beauty here.” Below are some photos I snapped over the last few weeks.
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Yesterday, Sunday, we finally got an afternoon off, and were invited to have lunch at Piero’s house next to the winery. It was created by two bothers who own and operate a restaurant in Neuquen, a city an hour away from us, called Toscana. It was delicious! We even got to go in the pool!

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Chase’s Patagonia Blog – Post #1

I took a plane from Salta today to Buenos Aires and then to Neuquen, the airport closest to the winery. I met 2 of the interns on the flight, both Italian! When we arrived to Neuquen there were strong winds, and very warm! The ride to the winery was about an hour, and upon arrival we were greeted by a grand bbq! We had dinner with a small crew of people that work for Chacra, shared some great wines, and got a full belly before heading to bed early. I am staying in a small house with one of the Italian guys and supposedly at the end of the week we will have a French intern. Lots of languages at the dinner table. Work starts tomorrow!!

Below, Chacra BBQ & Backyard

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Chase’s Patagonia Blog – Introduction


For many years now I have wanted to work a vintage in South America. The more well known choices would be Argentina and Chile, probably the most popular being the Mendoza region of Argentina. Truth be told, Mendoza never piqued my interest, not because they aren’t making great wines, but mostly because it is a warmer growing climate. The wines therefore are representative of that heat – riper flavors and higher alcohols. That combination can make excellent wines, but our winemaking style at Carhartt is very different from that, and my track record in other parts of the world has been in cool- climate regions, usually producing fresher style wines with higher acidity and lower alcohols. Quite often these are Pinot Noir producing sections of the world. With that said, I decided to focus my attention on cooler climate areas of Argentina, which brought me to the south, specifically Patagonia. Patagonia is a large region that actually reaches far into Chile also, but I knew I wanted to work in Argentina, so I did my research.

After many emails back and forth, I finally secured a job at Bodega Chacra, a primarily Pinot Noir producing winery, with a biodynamic farm and some of the best wines in the country (obviously subject to personal opinion).

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Now not only does most of the world not know anything about Patagonian wines, neither do a large portion of Argentines! The fact is that most wines drinkers in Argentina drink big Malbecs or Cab-Malbec blends. Pinot is barely on the radar, and so Patagonia is not really in the limelight – exactly my type of place!!

If you would like to learn more about the winery, just google “Bodega Chacra,” pretty cool history! The gist of it is, they make 3 main Pinots – Barda (a field blend I think), Cincuenta y Cinco (a vineyard planted in 1955), and Treinta y Dos (a vineyard planted in 1932). They also make a rose, and a single varietal Merlot.

You might be thinking that I am making wine on a glacier in Patagonia – not quite! The Rio Negro valley is actually a desert climate that has warm days and cool nights. Hopefully if we finish work early I can explore the region beyond the winery, but we will see.

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All in all this is a great opportunity for me. Not only do I get to further my knowledge under the guidance of a great winery, but I get to work in a region that is atypical, unknown, and up and coming!

I will be writing a short blog to document my time here, accompanied by pictures to give a visual of my experience. Please excuse any poor grammar or lack of in depth descriptions. I need to focus on my work here, but I wanted to make sure that those who were interested got a taste of my adventure in this new environment! I will be instagramming my journey on the @carharttvineyard account, and will be using #chaseingpatagonia17 to compile my pics in one album.

I will be back in the states in late April, so down here for 2 months. Thank you for your interest in my work, it means a lot! I hope you enjoy!

Chase

Wines for Women in Winemaking Event – March 8th

Contact Persons:
Danielle Dauphinee, Danielle@kscateringandevents.com
Karen Steinwachs, Karen@buttonwoodwinery.com

For tickets to the March 8 event, or for additional information, please visit womenwinemakersdinner.eventbrite.com.

Women Winemakers and Female Chefs Join Together to Celebrate International Women’s Day

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A family feast that will benefit the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County

Solvang, CA — International Women’s Day has been celebrated worldwide since 1909, with a focus on working women’s achievements and issues. All glamour and romance of the wine industry aside, winemaking is work; hard work that generally sees about 10% of that industry as female winemakers. Santa Barbara County, however, has a much higher percentage of women winemakers than most places in the world, with nearly double the average. Out at dawn during harvest, hauling wine hoses and wrangling barrels in the cellar, and utilizing keen sensory skills to create wines of finesse, balance and deliciousness, are part of a routine day – followed by swapping the boots and jeans for business attire, and hitting the road to spread the word and sell the wines and the region. All of this, is often accomplished while raising a family and participating in community service.

On Wednesday, March 8, 2017 (5:30 PM-9:00 PM), many of the women winemakers of Santa Barbara County will gather in solidarity and camaraderie to celebrate International Women’s Day over glasses of wine, fine cuisine and convivial company.

“During these turbulent political times, we believe people can come together if we simply sit down at a table with wine and a meal,” states Kathy Joseph, owner and winemaker at Fiddlehead Cellars. “Stop the rhetoric and pass the Pinot Noir!”

The dozen+ female winemakers will be joined by some of the Santa Ynez Valley’s most inventive female chefs, who are creating a five-to-seven course meal to pair with their winemaker colleagues’ wines. Participating wineries include Buttonwood, Cambria, Casa Dumetz, Cebada, Dreamcote, Fiddlehead, Harrison-Clark, Kitá, La Montagne, Lepiane, Lumen, Nagy, Rideau, Rusack, Sanford, Story of Soil and William James Cellars (additional participating wineries, TBA). Chef Pink of Bacon & Brine, Chef Brooke of the Union Hotel, Cheesemonger Janelle McAtamney and Baker Amy Dixon are slated to create the menu. The Women Winemakers Dinner will be held at K’Syrah Catering & Events’ new venue in downtown Solvang (478 4th Place, Solvang, CA 93463).

Chef Pink, co-owner/chef at Bacon & Brine, continues, “There are many similarities between women in the wine industry, and women in the restaurant industry. There are by far, fewer female chefs and restaurant owners than male, and it’s much more of an uphill battle for us than for our male counterparts – in many more ways than one.”

Proceeds from the March 8 event will benefit the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County, a giving circle where individuals combine their money and/or time so that they can have a bigger impact on the causes most important to them, than they would by donating individually. In 2016, the Women’s Fund distributed $50,000 in grants to organizations serving women and children.

For tickets to the March 8 event, or for additional information, please visit womenwinemakersdinner.eventbrite.com.

2014 Mourvedre Food Pairing Recipe

Roasted Veal Chops with Mushrooms and Madeira

Ingredients
1 cup rich beef stock or canned double-strength broth
1/2 cup water
4 baby turnips, peeled
4 baby carrots, peeled
4 pearl onions, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 veal rib chops (3/4 pound each), cut 1 1/4 inches thick
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, quartered
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, caps quartered
1/2 cup Madeira
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Instructions
In a small saucepan, bring the beef stock and water to a boil. Add the turnips, carrots, pearl onions and garlic, reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, transferring them to a plate as they are done, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve the garlic cloves and the broth.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Season the veal chops with salt, white pepper and the cloves and nutmeg. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet. Add the veal chops and pearl onions and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until the chops and onions are nicely browned, about 8 minutes. Return the onions to the plate with the other vegetables and transfer the veal chops to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the chops in the oven until pink in the center, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the skillet. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and white pepper and cook over moderate heat, without stirring, until browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Madeira, cover and cook over low heat until the mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of Madeira and cook over moderately high heat for 2 minutes longer.

Transfer the veal chops to dinner plates and keep warm. Pour any veal roasting juices into the mushrooms. Add the vegetables and the reserved broth and garlic and simmer over low heat until warmed through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and season with salt and white pepper. Pour the sauce and vegetables over the veal chops, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.

My Final Tassie Post

My final two and half weeks in Tasmania have been absolutely awesome. The weekend of the 25th and 26th, Alessio, Monia, Irinna, Alice, Marta and I all drove up to Freycinet National Park for some exploration and a hike to Wineglass Bay! For those of you who don’t know, Wineglass Bay is supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world, so I had to find out for myself. The basic hike to the bay is only about 2 hours, with awesome look out spots along the way. Once you get there however, you will want to have a lunch packed and hang out because it is a spectacular site! Below is a selfie of me from one of the lookouts on the hike to the bay. Also here is a photo of the cool rock trail that takes you there, as well as various shots from the bay itself.

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We walked all the way around the beach and found the bones of this massive whale, so we decided to build our own art sculpture. On the other side there was this yacht that looked like it had been anchored for a couple days…not a bad place to hang out!

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On the way back we took rests, and did a little bouldering. The landscape, besides the trees and bush, reminded me a lot of the Santa Barbara Mountains. Massive ricks lined the trails, some looking like they would tip over at any moment. Here are a couple pictures of the fun we had!

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When we got back to the car park we came upon a friendly wallaby that we played with for a little while. I think this guy knew the ropes a little too well as he was very tame and basically hopped right up to us. Here are some photos….

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My final week and a half in the winery was not anything too dramatic. Basically I ended up barreling down the rest of the wine we had, and making sure the ground cellar was clean, organized, and ready for a year or more of ageing. This meant cleaning the barrels, writing on each row what block and wine it was etc. But, on Thursday last week I took the day off and went deep sea fishing with Marc the vineyard manager!

Since I arrived here I have wanted to get at least one day of fishing in, and it finally happened! We got up super early and drove to Port Arthur, which is southeast of Hobart, right next to the Tasman National Park. It was about an hour and a half drive to the port, and we were on the water by about 8am. We set out to fish for Tuna, of which May is basically the end of the season because the water gets too cold and they head out. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. We boated around the Tasman Sea, only about a mile or so off the coast. The deeper water gets to almost 400 feet, deep enough for Tuna and also plenty of rockfish. As beautiful as the day was, the fishing was not as hot as we had wished it would be. However, I did end up catching a small Stripe Jack Tuna, a Perch, and some rockfish, so we went home with enough for a couple meals. Below are some pictures from the day on the water.

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This last weekend we visited one of the other wineries down the road, Morilla, which is connected to the Estate and museum “Mona.” If you come to Tassie, this will for sure be recommended in most travel books, and for good reason. The owner of the company is a professional gambler who made a ton of money and used it to buy art from all over the world. He bought this piece of property close to Hobart and built this incredible museum to house his collections, and it has turned into quite the attraction. Not to mention they have multiple places to eat on sight, complete with their own winery and brewery! Below are a couple pictures of the winery and some of the wines we tried.

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On a total side note, I posted an Instagram picture of something called “The Jerry” which I thought I would share on this blog. Below is a picture of “The Jerry.” Basically this is referring to the thick layer of fog in the distance over the river. All of the cold air from the mountains filters down towards the river, and as it collides with the warm air coming off the river, it condenses into this dense fog that briskly flows through the valley. It’s crazy that on one side of the river it is covered in fog and about ten degrees colder than what I was experiencing on our side which remains in the sunlight. As I said in the post, its things like this that contribute to this areas micro climate!

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A couple nights ago we had what I would refer to as our “last supper” together, and we opened some truly awesome wines. We started off with Brut Rose that Steve has not even released yet, but it is tasting awesome! We also had a 2012 and 2013 black label Riesling, which were both fermented and aged in large format casks. And for dinner we had a 2010 Nebbiolo of which he has no more of, and a 2012 Settebello that is his single vineyard Pinot Noir. Everything tasted magnificent, and I felt so honored and thankful to get to try these wines, before their release, and also many that have been long sold out. Below is one photo of the first three wines.

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All in all I have had the time of my life here in Tasmania. I feel honored to have worked in a place that I believe will soon be on the map as one of the premier wine regions of the world. Not only that, but I got to work at the premier winery in all of Tasmania. This harvest I learned not only new winemaking techniques, but realized once again that winemaking is a constant journey. It never reaches a plateau unless you want it to, which is scary and inspiring at the same time. I am so grateful of Steve and Monique Lubiana for opening up their home to me, for feeding me, and giving me a roof over my head for the last two months. They have made this the most comfortable harvest I have ever worked abroad thus far. I am so excited to take what I have learned back to the states and use what I can to make the best wine possible.

Thank you very much for reading my blog. I could not fit all of my experience in writing or else I would have had no time for work! If you are ever considering a trip to Tassie, do it. You will not be disappointed. It is a beautiful place with so much to offer. I hope you enjoyed my adventure, sorry for any grammatical mistakes I may have made, and I look forward to seeing you at the tasting room!

–Chase

Best Day Since I Arrived

The last week and a half have been pretty busy, not with processing new fruit but with pressing off Pinot and racking whites! All of our Pinot has finished fermenting, so after about a week or more of post maceration, it’s time to drain the tank, dig out, and go to press.

The first step is to drain the tank. Since the winery is gravity flow, we usually hook up one hose from the fermenting tank to an empty tank, and let the free run wine drain out overnight. In the morning, we disconnect the hose, hook up the shoot which goes into a bin below, and hop in the tank to shovel out the skins. Most of the tanks are open top, so CO2 poisoning is not a problem, but if it was closed top, you would have to allow that tank air circulation to make sure you could breathe in there!

Below is a picture of me shoveling out one of our open top tanks.

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Once the tank is shoveled out, we take all of those skins and juice to the press and load it up. Obviously, after pressing, the wine goes into tank, followed by barrel for long term aging. Lubiana makes mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so the barrel aging time frames are from 6 months to about 18 months.

One new addition to the winery this year has been legen…wait for it…dary. Steve purchased, and just got up and running, his own still to make grappa! It was originally used to teach at a university in Adelaide, but he came upon it, installed it at the winery, and just the other day we produced the first batch of Grappa from Pinot Noir grapes. It was so cool! For those of you who aren’t into Grappa, like my dad, not to worry, you probably haven’t had the good stuff. I am not saying we can make the best here, but what we tasted yesterday was pretty good, and it hasn’t been cut, matured, or aged with different flavors at all. Alessio’s girlfriend’s father makes his own Grappa in Italy produced from the Quince. I have to say, it is some of the best I have ever had. Steve also has a bottle of it made from the Moscato grape. It is much more floral and fruity than any I have ever had. Below are some pictures of the still, and different Grappas.

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We have also been finishing up all of the white ferments. We have a room downstairs with casks (1000L wooden) and Fudras (3300L wooden). Those contain Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and a little Gruner Vetliner. Upstairs in the main cellar we have more Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. Below is a photo of the main winery floor, the large format barrel room, and the regular barrel room. Remember, the whole set up is gravity flow, so when we barrel down, no pumps are used. I have been getting quite a work out in each day. I don’t have a fit bit or anything, but my iPhone says I walk about 70 floors each day!

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IMG_4078 - CopyThis week we also got in about 6 tons of Merlot, the last of the red fruit! Now, all that is left on the vine is some Pinot Gris that is drying in order to make Vin Santo, or an Italian sweet wine. Here is a picture of the Merlot we got in.

This past weekend was an absolute blast. We had such little work in the winery, so it was really the first weekend we got to take advantage of both days, with only a small amount of work in the morning and evening. On Saturday, we went into Hobart, had some seafood and beers, and went to the museum downtown. The museum has exhibits that come and go, but the Tassie history and its native species is always there. We saw history surrounding the aboriginal cultures and also a ton on the wildlife in Tasmania. One particularly interesting native beast (which is now extinct) is the Tasmanian Tiger. The last tiger was shot and killed in 1930, a sad history of a hunted and depleted species that Tassie is not proud of. Below is a picture of the beer we drank (Moo Brew Pale Ale which is a brand under the company Mona) and also some shots of Hobart as a bit of rain was coming in…

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IMG_4129 - CopyAfter the museum we went to the Lark Distillery Cellar Door in downtown Hobart. I had been waiting to go there as the Lark has now been recognized in the Whiskey Hall of Fame in Scotland!! The owner, Bill Lark is now a consultant for many distilleries in Scotland. A Tassie telling the godfathers of Single Malts what to do, go figure! Anyways, we tasted through a couple of the whiskeys they produce, and after I sipped on a Tassie Coffee, the Tasmanian version of an Irish Coffee. They had about 150 different brands of whisky in the house, so if you wanted single malts from Japan to Belvanie, they had you covered. Here is a picture of the Distillers Selection (my favorite of the Lark) and the wall of other whiskeys they had to offer. Didn’t see much American!!

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IMG_4182 - CopyThis past Sunday was the best day I have had since I arrived here. We got up early, got some light work finished, and took off in the ute to Bruny Island. Bruny Island is a small piece of land off the coast of Hobart, an absolute must see if you are in the area. It costs $30 to ride the ferry with a vehicle over to the island, and then you can have as long as you want to explore. There is camping and overnight accommodations if you want to spend multiple days. We spent just the full day in total, but what a day it was! There is actually a North and South Island, and it takes around an hour to get from point to point. We went directly to the South Island, and stopped at some awesome places along the way. This spot in the picture is called “The Neck” which is a thin strip of land separating the two islands and Isthmus Bay and Adventure Bay.

We then drove to the Southern Point of the island to the lighthouse, which was erected in 1830…here’s a picture of that and the beautiful surrounding area! Bruny has some incredible beaches.

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IMG_4311 - CopyWe headed back through Adventure Bay and ended up at Bruny Island cheese shop, another must stop on the island. We tried some cheese and purchased one that is rolled in whiskey from the Lark, and another that is aged and kept in Pinot Noir skins to give it an extra special taste. It was simply delicious! We then headed over to “Get Shucked” which is the Bruny Island Oyster company. They harvest and shuck oysters right out front of the shop, as natural and fresh as it gets!!

IMG_4306 - CopyWe bought some bread, ate our cheese, drank some beer, and Alessio, Irinna, and I ate oysters till our hearts were content. It cost $16 for a dozen! That was one of the best prices I have ever seen!! Here is a picture of the scene…right out front on the water is where they harvest the oysters!

Here is a picture of the sunset on a remote beach on Bruny…

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