The Weathervane

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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Gone Fishin’

One of Steve’s daughters Isabella, has a boyfriend named Joel who went fishing over the weekend. On Easter Sunday he brought us a massive amount of fresh blue fin tuna filets as well as “stripy trumpeter.” We have been having cooked stripy for lunch as well as fresh sashimi from the tuna. What a treat it has been! Below are some pictures of Alessio cutting the sashimi as well as the big chunk of meat (tuna) and the stripy that we rolled in flour and cooked in a pan.

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That’s all for now, stay tuned for the last of the white grape harvest and also some pressing of Pinot Noir!!

An Intense, but Satisfying Week

IMG_3729Phew! What an intense but satisfying week it has been! Within this past week we brought in the rest of the Pinot Noir, all of the Chardonnay, and all of the Sauvignon Blanc, totaling around 75 ton. Everything has been processed and is in tank, barrel, or ferment. Here is a picture of Alessio and I sorting Sauvignon Blanc and also a picture of the final lot of Pinot before processing.

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This is a picture of us pressing some Sauv. Blanc into the catch tank before pumping it to the receiving tank.

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Having these long days also meant early mornings, and my bedroom gets an excellent view of the sunrise. Here is a picture of just one of the many sunrise shots I have – full of beautiful colors.

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IMG_3765One reason amongst many that this winery is so rad is that Steve is not afraid to experiment. One example of this would be using an “amphora” or ceramic egg tank that we have to ferment a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, on the skins! For those who are not aware, white grapes are not usually fermented on the skins like red. They are typically brought in, cold soaked for a couple days and pressed, or pressed off immediately. This is done for a number of reasons, but the point is that he pushes traditional thought and tries things, usually in small quantities, that others don’t, resulting in a wide range of styles which can be used for blending components in the end. Here is picture of me doing some manual punch downs. This is also represented in his Pinot Noirs, where he does a collection of ferment styles using some whole bunch, some not, some with heavier extraction etc. In the end, he doesn’t have a singular wine, but rather one with many layers and complex in aromatics, mouth feel, and palate.

IMG_3775This week we actually had all of our red ferments go dry, which means we had to give quite of bit of TLC to the reds. Mostly this involved punch downs and pump-over’s, but also in between, we would incorporate oxygen via fish tank bubblers or something to push small molecules of air into the wine. All the while we took baume’s and temps of course (below is a picture of testing ferments while pumping over and my hands in grapes while pumping some air into the wine). Speaking of pump-overs, we also tried out this piece that Steve bought in Austria that spins the juice and throws it over the cap while being pumped from above. Below is a picture.

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IMG_3892One cool thing that I am sure most of you will enjoy is that one tank we have is completely whole bunch, meaning we didn’t crush it or destem it at all, but rather poured the grapes straight into tank. Today it started fermenting, and to make sure we had a homogenous tank, three of us got inside from the top and foot stomped the top layer to create a little juice. Given that “do you ever stomp grapes with your feet like in I love Lucy?” is the most commonly asked question in the tasting room, I figured I would include this bit and answer ‘yes,’ but only in very specific circumstances. Here is a picture of the action taking place.

Now, on to a bit of food!

On Good Friday we went to a Chinese food restaurant for a little lunch with Steve. There are plenty of Chinese on the mainland and also in Tassie, and the food is similar to what we have in the states, with some slight variations. The reason I am even referencing this lunch is because we tried something, per Steve’s recommendation, that I have never had before…chicken feet! They were actual chicken feet prepared by what looked like a light fry, and topped with a soya sauce. Very gelatinous in texture and not much meat. Conclusion: I wont be getting them again anytime soon, but at least I gave them a try! Here is a picture of the feet

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Of course the best day of the weekend would have to have been Easter Sunday! We bought a lamb to rotisserie on the spit. Here are some photos of us putting it on the spike in the house on the kitchen table and us (Alessio, Steve, and I) holding it after it was prepared. There is also a picture of it roasting during the day.

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Then it came to mealtime. We had a massive lunch with 2 of Steves kids, Steve and Monique of course, Alessio, Monia, all of the Woofers, and one of the family’s friends that lives down the street. It was a true feast! We had the lamb of course, plus roasted potatoes, salad, a bit of fish, and this dhal (Indian condiment) that I put all over the lamb. Below is a picture of us dishing out the food and a picture of my plate! There is also a picture of all of us eating together.

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I would also like to highlight the plethora of dessert. We had salame di cioccolato, sticky date pudding, pavlova (Australia’s famous meringue type dessert with banana and passion fruit), bienenstich (German honey cake). Here are pictures of the desserts.

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We also had some incredible wines! Honestly we have incredible wines everyday at dinner and lunch. We taste through most of Steve’s lineup, young and old.

A long week, great food, & wine

IMG_3664Wow what a long week! The winery in total crushes around 200 ton a year, and so far we have brought in a little over 100 ton as of Saturday. Here is a picture of the white board we write on each day when we take samples. Every day we have to take Baume (which is the Aussie equivalent of Brix or sugar left in the juice), temperature, and make sure it smells good. Depending upon all of these variables, fermentation might be starting, in the process, or almost finished. Along the way we make additions, control the temperature, and practice cap management techniques. One thing to note is that about 90% of the winery is run on native or spontaneous fermentation, meaning we do not add yeast or inoculate the must. As most of you may already know, this can be a risk, and is not practiced by a large quantity of new world wineries. However, Steve has done this for many years and feels confident in it, which is half the battle. Here is a picture of a spontaneous ferment beginning on Pinot Noir.
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FullSizeRenderBecause the weather has been a bit cool, it took almost a week for this ferment to take off, and we actually had to do a very light initial pump over while we ran the juice through a heating jacket in order to “wake up the yeast.” When the must/juice is too cold, it is very difficult to ferment, so we must lightly warm the tank in order to get things moving. After fermentation gets going, we make sure the temperature does not go too high, and if it does maybe run the juice through some cooling jackets. Without getting into too much detail, its all about maintaining a steady clean fermentation, all in the effort to not produce off aromas and end up with a clean, healthy wine. Here is a picture of me doing some pump overs. If you check out our instagram @carharttvineyard, there is also a video of this process.

As we speak, we have finished two native red ferments, and have plenty to go. This coming week, we are looking to bring in around 60 ton or so, amongst dealing with all of the current fruit in the winery, so my work should be cut out for me.

In addition to work, we have also been drinking some great wine and eating some great food. We have had two more BBQ’s with the woofers. Here are some pics of the food. The first is a plate of salad, potatoes, bread, and kangaroo! I know it probably sounds strange to some, but because of their abundance on the mainland, it is a very common source of meat over here. It is almost 100% pure protein with no fat, so when we BBQ it we make sure not to over cook the meat as it will turn out very tough.
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These other pictures are of a lunchtime BBQ we had where we ate vegetable kebabs made mostly from stuff grown on the property, coupled with some potato salad, asparagus salad, pork sausage, beef, and pork tenderloin. Here is a picture of me right before we ate.
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There is also a picture of the deck where we cooked with the vineyard in the background, steaks on the BBQ, and Alessio with Thomas making some tapas.
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That is all for now. Stay tuned for more!

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A Day of Rest

Mount Wellington peak (1270 m)

Mount Wellington peak (1270 m)

Today is finally a day of rest for us before a long week ahead. On the weekends we still have to do a bit of work in the morning and afternoon, but for the most part we are free to do what we want. This will all change when harvest is in full swing of course, but for now I am trying to take advantage of the free time. Yesterday we had another sunny day in Hobart. We went to Salamanca market, a local bazaar in town, ate good food, and drove to the top of Mount Wellington, a peak (1270 m) which looks over the whole city. Here is a picture of us getting some beers. Changes in latitude don’t change some things… “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine.”

It takes a lot of beer to make good wine

It takes a lot of beer to make good wine

In the evening we got some dinner and drinks and then went out for a night on the town. I will not bore you with the details and pictures of the evening, but below is a picture of all of us in the back of the “ute” (our vineyard vehicle) at the end of the night!

The "ute".

The “ute”.

My First Week in Tassie

Me taking baume, or checking the process of fermentation.

Me taking baume, or checking the process of fermentation.

So the first week of work is basically finished. So far we have harvested and processed all of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for sparkling production. It’s been enoculated and is currently going through fermentation, or already finished. However, certain lots of the Chardonnay are also going through native (spontaneous) fermentation in new oak barrels in the downstairs cave. Here is a picture of me taking baume or checking the process of fermentation (drop in sugar) every morning. The native ferments are going really well and tasting incredible which is a positive testament to using native yeasts.


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At the beginning of the week we also brought in Pinot Gris.  We processed about 8 ton in one day, but allowed that juice a two day skin contact in the press before we pressed off. After the two days, we separated the free run, pressings, and hard press. Eventually it will all be barreled down together, but for now it is easier to see the differences and treat the harder presses with whatever they may need to maintain quality.

Alessio and I sorting fruit

Alessio and I sorting fruit

This week we also brought in some Pinot Noir from another vineyard across the way. Steve buys fruit from only two vineyards, which aren’t biodynamic, but he uses that fruit in a cheaper Pinot. Besides that everything is grown on site. Here’s a picture of Alessio and I sorting fruit.

In addition to all this we have been making small additions to the sparkling ferments, checking baume’ each day, and prepping for next week. Next week I am told we will be bringing in about 150 ton or so, which represents about 75% of the entire harvest!! It should be really long days, but that’s the life of a farmer and winemaker. When the fruit is ready, it’s ready, and we must do what we can to make the best wine possible.

The team eating dinner together.

The team eating dinner together.

Aside from winemaking, also living on the property are a group of woofers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) who work for free but get to live on the property and eat for free in exchange. It is basically a way to travel for free. They may stay as long as they please, no contracts. We had dinner at the house with them the other night. There is a Frenchman, Thomas, a German, Irinna, a Californian, Marissa, and and two Italians, Alice and Marta, all twenty something’s. It is so cool to be at a table with people from all over the world. My last experience with this was when I lived/worked in South Africa and would frequent the backpackers hostel there. It is refreshing to meet and discuss the world and all that it has to offer with people from different backgrounds. Everyone has something different to say, and I have always known it to be culturally enriching. In the end you may even have a friend to stay with in another country!!  This is a picture of all of us eating dinner together.

Oxtail gnocci and charcuterie plate... Yes, please!

Oxtail gnocci and charcuterie plate… Yes, please!

 

The food at lunch is equally delicious. They have a restaurant (Osteria) on site, and so Thursday through Monday we get lunch cooked for us! It is so delicious. Here’s a picture of some oxtail gnocchi we had alongside a charcuterie plate at lunch the other day. Tough life I know!

A Bit of Tassie Honey

A bit of homemade Tassie honey

A bit of homemade Tassie honey

Today we went into a small village outside of Hobart called Richmond. We saw the Richmond Bridge which is apparently the oldest bridge in Tasmania. We tasted some wine at a winery called Frogmore Creek, and we collected a bit of honeycomb from various hives that Steve has working on the property. Some of them have been making honey for the last two years! Below is a picture of one us getting honey out of the hives…

 

I’ve Arrived in Tasmania!

Front yard of the house looking over Derwent River

Front yard of the house looking over Derwent River

Well what a ride it has been so far. For many people, including myself not too long ago, Tasmania is not really on the radar. “Tassie,” as most locals and people in the know call it, is an island off the coast of Australia. So far it seems to be a step back in time with its beautiful rugged, and very wild landscape.

Same view from the house after rainstorm came in quite quickly

Same view from the house after rainstorm came in quite quickly

I decided to try and get a harvest job here because Tassie is a much cooler climate than the rest of Australia. In that way it is similar to the Santa Ynez Valley, and so they grow some excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Tasmania is also well known for their sparkling production, a craft I am particularly interested in studying. The winery I am interning at goes by the name Stefano Lubiana. It is about a twenty-minute drive north of the capital city Hobart. More of a distant suburb, Granton (the town I am in) is home to a whopping 300 people. It runs along the Derwent River, which I recently learned from Steve, the winemaker, is the second highest flowing source of fresh water in the southern hemisphere. The first would be the Amazon. Pretty amazing.

I arrived yesterday after a 24-hour trip from the states, and so far it has been warm, windy, and a little rainy. I don’t think it will be as dramatic of weather swings as South Africa was, but definitely a land in which layering of clothing is a smart move.

Cascade Brewery – oldest Australian brewery still functioning

Cascade Brewery – oldest Australian brewery still functioning

So to set the scene a bit, the winery produces roughly 13,000 cases. We grow Pinot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, a bit of Gruner Vetliner, Merlot, and Malbec. It is a biodynamic winery, which is really a subject in itself. The winemaker, Steve, and his wife Monique run the place. They have a right hand man Pat who has been with the team for about 10 years. I live in the house with Steve and his wife, and also an Italian intern named Alessio and his girlfriend Monia. Alessio worked here two years ago and is now back for a second harvest. He lives in Italy where he works full time making wine, but he has also done plenty of harvests abroad. All in all, everyone has been very nice and welcoming. We all work together, eat together, and drink together. I am very excited to try more and more Tasmanian wine. That’s all for now!

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