After harvest

Posted by Jane Leckie. Filed under Vineyard

Since the end of harvest I have been trying to capture an image of  the peace that descends on the vineyard after vintage – but it has proven a challenge.

How can you visually reproduce the sigh of relief when the fruit is safely in the winery, the tractors are silent, the crowds of pickers have finished their work and the gas guns are turned off?  When the rising temperatures and  blistering winds are no longer an issue.

Gone is the tension created because the new barrels are held up by customs until the day before we start picking and the stress caused by the kangaroos recently developed appetite for grapes because there is so little other moisture around in a season where there were 36 mls of rain between the beginning of January and vintage in mid March.

It proved impossible to record the tranquility of an evening when the buckets are sterilized and stacked, the snips are counted and oiled and the kites are removed from their poles, the sugar testing equipment is stored away and the remnants of seemingly countless morning teas are cleared away.

So it is time to just breathe deeply and enjoy the quiet calmness – until next season.

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Welcome to a new growing season

Posted by Jane Leckie. Filed under Vineyard

Visitors to the vineyard and tasting events regularly ask  ’Is this the quiet time at the vineyard?’

In response I usually roll my eyes. Work at the vineyard continues throughout the year. We seem to have just finished three months of pruning and the tiny buds have burst from the canes so it is time to apply protection from fungi to maintain the vine health. Like a child at kindergarten our small block of Chardonnay is particularly susceptible to pests in the form of damaging moths and fungus infection which can spread to the Shiraz if we are not vigilant in our crop protection.

The warmer weather encourages the growth of grasses in the vineyard so mowing is an ongoing task for fire protection during summer and to provide clear access to the vines.

In a few months the vines will flower and move on to set fruit. At this time we will thin out bunches and manoeuvre the canopy to ensure sunlight and air can penetrate the rapidly developing fruiting shoots, supporting the development of fruit with the ideal characteristics for fine wine making.  And this just takes us up until the beginning of December!



Vale Laurie

Posted by Jane Leckie. Filed under Vineyard

She-Oak Hill is deeply saddened by the death of our much loved and admired friend, teacher and inspiration,  Aurellio ‘Laurie’ Conforti who worked tirelessly at She-Oak Hill for thirty seven years. His integrity, knowledge and passion for our vineyard will be greatly missed. He will remain always in our hearts and among our vines.



Delights of Autumn

Posted by Jane Leckie. Filed under Vineyard

Autumn is a beautiful time at She-Oak Hill.  As the vines gently work  to store carbohydrate reserves in their canes and trunks before losing their leaves and becoming dormant for 3 months, we can relax and enjoy the bright sunshine and mild conditions during the day. In the evenings  the clear skies provide a wondrous display of planets and stars, never seen in the city where urban lights pollute the night sky. In fact the  Astronomical Society of Victoria have a Dark Sky Site at Heathcote which members of the public can visit twice a year

So far this year we have barely needed to light the wood stove but as winter approaches the Nectre baker’s oven will provide comforting warmth and be the center of activity as I prepare slow cooked meals, ox tail and lamb shanks are favorites, and hearty soups.

Our olives are ripening and the vegetable patch is being prepared for winter planting. The nets have come down from the orchard of peach, nectarine and apricot trees and the fruit in the citrus grove is beginning to color.

We have time now to invite friends for picnics and meals, purchasing most of the ingredients from local farmers markets and enjoying the rewards of the labor of  our market friends with a glass or two of our own wine.

How satisfying and emotionally nourishing this is.  Should you be in the Heathcote wine region during the next few months give us a call, we would be happy for you to visit  and share this  delightful time with us.