Pressing at Dromana March 2017

Today, 2 weeks after picking we were ready to press the grapes. Most of the sugars have been fermented so it is time to get the wine off the skins and into barrel.

We managed to fill 2 barrels using a combination of free run and pressings. We use a basket press which, after some set up issues worked very well. The pressing are deeper in colour and add structure and weight to the final wine. Some years we blend the 2 together before bottling, other years we bottle each barrel separately. We make a decision just before bottling, which will not happen till towards the end of the year.

All the students will be back before the end of the year to bottle and take over 2 dozen of their own Pinot Noir home.

the course for 2017-2017 at Dromana starts next weekend, we’re full sorry. But if you would like to join us for 2018-2019 please contact either Darius or Peter.

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Dromana Vintage 2017

On Saturday 11th March 2017 Vintage commence for the 1st year students at

The vintage was about 3 weeks later than recent year, even though there was a hot summer. Mornington benefits from cooling sea breezes.

Berry sizes within bunches were very uneven, with some very small berries. This may reduce yield but perhaps enhance colour. Picking was hot and hard work but we were able to select sufficient quality fruit for what we hope will be 2 barrels.

We should be back in 2-3 weeks to press the wine off the skins and into barrel.


Crushing is by foot, destemming by hand by students.

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Today we were at Winbirra vineyard pruning. 11 rows, 4 different clones. Mainly cordon pruned. Great effort by all students. We have a number of students who now own their own vineyards, in Victoria and Tasmania. Skills learnt on the Heartbreak Grape course run by Peter Mitchell will ensure they produce great wines.

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Vintage 2016

On Saturday 27th of February 2016 we undertook vintage at Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula.

Picking commenced at 9 am, prior to this bins and fermenting vessels had been cleaned and readied. We picked in 3 tranches, moving along the rows a number of times. The first pick aimed to get more than half of the fruit in, that which was of the highest quality, ripe, free of bird or wasp damage and no shrivel. This first picking was used in the group wine which will make its way into barrel. Subsequent pickingsĀ  we made for individual wines and a group wine that may only see stainless steel.

All fruit came into the winery with good sugar and pH readings. Sugars between 13 and 13.5 Baume and pH around 3.5, so very pleasing figures, no required acid additions, though this will be monitored.

Crushing is by foot! De-stemming is by hand a long and laborious task. (We think next year we may use mechanical assistance.)

Participants were also able to make a small batch of their own wine, perhaps 20-30lt. We are able to do this in years that have good yields.

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Final Tasting

After our work in the vineyard we headed indoors for our final tasting. In this tasting the top wines from each session and some additional wines including 2 Burgundies were tasted.

The score across the group has not yet been collated but my own favorites were:

  • 2014 Dalrymple Pipers River, sweet red fruits and earthiness, all elements well integrated, good acid and fine tannins.
  • 2013 Thomas Bouley Bourgogne, a fine and complex nose, red fruits good structure. will age.
  • Heartbreak Grape Dromana Estate 2015 (student wine, barrel aged), what a surprise, cherry, nice acid, not complex but youthful and fresh and a great”everyday” Pinot Noir.
  • 2013 Bellingham Estate, unmistakable, pale wonderful mix and fruit and forest floor, complex with intensity but not heaviness. Perfect Balance.
  • 2103 Farr Rising Geelong, an ongoing favorite of mine, herbal, cherry, mocha, earthy and intense aroma, sweet fruit, fine tannins really well made.

These wines are not ranked but were among the top wines of what was a very strong tasting.

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Vintage approaches

Today we removed green or damaged bunches.

We also did bunch counts and bunch weights to determine the approximate size of the crop from our 400 vines. We estimate we will get over 1000kg, a g0od size crop, if all goes well (no birds please). this may be enough for 2 barrels.

Our last task outside was to assess sugar levels. A refractometer indicated 11.5 baume so vintage may be about 2 weeks away, but the fruit is assessed a few times a week and we will pick before acid drops away too far or baume gets too high (for Pinot Noir over 14).


Sugar readings are done with a refractometer (shown) and a hydrometer.


Green or damaged grapes are removed now, about 2 weeks before harvest

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Preparing for Vintage 2016

On Sunday the 17th of January at Dromana Estate we had our first day in the vineyard for the new year.

We were doing some maintenance on the vines to ensure their health and good ripening of the grapes. Firstly we removed leaves around bunches along the fruiting wire. We only remove a few and only on the eastern side of the vine. (The vines run North South). Leaving leaf on the western side protects the fruit from harsh afternoon sun. Removal of leaves from the eastern side allows some morning sunlight onto bunches and reduces potential disease load in the lead up to harvest.


Leaf removal and general maintenance prior to Vintage 2016

Secondly we remove any secondary bunches, small green bunches produced away from the fruiting wire that will not ripen but use up energy from the vine.

The day ended with our last regional tasting of the year, New Zealand Pinot Noirs. It was a strong line up with only one wine not well received. Sub regions covered were, Martinborough, Marlborough, Canterbury and lastly Central Otago. Many of the wines tasted had a herbal character that did divide opinions. A stand out wine for me was the 2012 Amisfield from Central Otago “Sweet, soft with good balance, perhaps a bit ripe and plummy”



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