There are many exciting innovations taking place in Heathcote at present and I would like to share some of them with you.
The monthly Farmer’s Market is held under the shade of beautiful trees in Barrack Reserve on the 3rd Saturday of each month. You can support local growers of fabulous produce, enjoy a leisurely shopping experience and meet with friends to spend time in this lovely setting. She-Oak Hill provides wine tastings and sales at the Farmer’s Market each even month this year.
On the same 3rd weekend of each month 12 of Heathcote’s excellent cellar doors will be open as part of the Heathcote Cellar Door Experience. You are guaranteed a warm welcome at each of these cellar doors by people with a passion for their vineyards and the fruit of their labors.
I am also recommending you visit the delightful Heathcote Wine Hub @ Cellar & Store for great coffee, light meals, sundowners on Friday evenings during summer and of course the opportunity to taste the best of Heathcote’s wines. In the winter months there is a welcoming and cosy open fire place. On the long weekend in June, Heathcote Wine Hub will be a central point of the annual Heathcote on Show Weekend
The recently refurbished Willow Room at Emeu Inn under its new management team – Jody at the front of house and her husband Brent by the stove – lifts the bar for dining in Heathcote. I can recommend the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus having tried them all and thoroughly enjoyed each experience. The zucchini flowers are exceptional, delicately battered and cooked to perfection. Willow Room prides itself on featuring largely regional wines paired with exceptional local produce.
If you are extending your stay over night, the recently completed Cranford Cottage offers unique and luxurious bed and breakfast accommodation for 2 couples in the heart of the Heathcote wine region. Contact Cally by email – email@example.com or phone 0418 342 957 for enquiries
On the third Saturday of each month join us at the Heathcote Farmers Market to purchase fresh produce and small batch condiments, talk to the passionate producers, enjoy the rural environment and catch up with friends. It’s a beautiful way to spend the morning and an excellent way to stock your fridge or get organised for a picnic.
When the mandarins on my tree in Melbourne turn sweet and golden I know it is time to start pruning.
What relevance does this have to grape vines? Well, for all the years as I have worked alongside Laurie who has pruned our vines for 36 years I have brought him 5 perfectly ripe mandarins which he has carefully rationed for each day of the working week and enjoyed after his ham and cheese sandwich on his favorite ‘Country Split’ bread accompanied by a Light Ice. Laurie is the best sort of worker to have at a vineyard – he does not drink wine! This year Laurie’s health has, much to his frustration, prevented him from doing the work at which he is so skilled and that he has loved for such a long time.
In the past cold days and freezing winds have just been part of the vineyard year for Laurie as, with the eye of an artist, he selects the canes to lay down for fruit in the season to come and those to ‘spur’ for next year’s canes. This year the cold weather is proving too much of a challenge for him. Recognized as an expert throughout the region our old friend has pruned at many vineyard including Jasper Hill and Mt Ida but has retained a special place in his heart for his vineyard, She-Oak Hill.
Each day in my garden as I walk past the golden fruit on the mandarin tree I think about the enduring impact Laurie has made on my life, the support he has generously offered to our vineyard, the pride he has taken in his work over the years and I share his sense of despair that, at the age of 84, he may need to start taking things a little more easily.
I love the sounds which accompany harvest – the rumbling vehicles of the pickers arriving pre dawn to begin the day’s work, the warning signal of the tractor as it moves ahead of the team with bins ready to accept the ripe and sticky fruit, the rhythmic snip as bunches are culled from the vines and the intermittent calls of ’bucket!’ indicating another 15 kls of fruit is ready for collection.
Most especially I love the sound and tone of friendly chat among the vines. People who may not see each other from one harvest to the next exchange news of their family, holidays and health. They chat about hobbies and interests – last week it was quilting and the restoration of vintage motor bikes that seemed predominant. They congratulate us on the quality of the fruit and of course I am particularly pleased by this but Julian says they probably say that to all the fruit producers they work with! While our team of local pickers, many of whom have worked among our vines for many years, all know each other they warmly and quickly welcome new comers and draw them into the conversations. The buzz of the gossip continues throughout the morning but becomes quieter as the day progresses and the focus concentrates on completing the days pick. While harvest is a busy and exciting time for us it is the friendships that are formed and the sharing of chat that makes it most meaningful.
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