Vintage 2016

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Preperations for Vintage 2016

Today we prepared for the upcoming vintage which should be about 2 weeks away, depending on weather.

We removed green or damaged bunches.


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

Most importantly we undertook a bunch count and weighing in order to estimate our future crop. Bunch counts were done on randomly selected vines and this provides an estimate of the number of bunches across our 400 vines that we tend. Then we randomly take 4 bunches per row and weigh them in order to estimate crop size. All going to plan (the birds don’t attack) we estimated we will get about 1300 Kg of grapes, which should give us 700 litres of wine, perhaps 2 barrels and some spare if individual want to ferment small batch of their own.

The sample bunches taken for weighing are then crushed and sugar reading done. Two readings were taken, the refractometer indicated 11.5 Beaume, the hydrometer indicated a little below that. Acid readings will be done later today.


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


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Pressing Winbirra Wine, approaching the end of vintage.

Today we pressed the wines from Winbirra vineyard.


Vintage is reaching its end. Due to a small crop we managed to fill our new barrel but only one barrel with a small amount of pressing wine, perhaps 40lt held in a variable tank. This will be used for topping up the barrel.

Unlike Winbirra, Bellingham had very good yields this year. one can appreciate why vignerons ideally have a range of sites and perhaps varieties to reduce risk.

A very late vintage with some late ripening varieties (Shiraz) struggling to ripen and time is running out. Recent wet weather an low temperatures over the coming days are signalling the end of vintage on the Mornington Peninsula.

As you can see pressing requires a large number of men looking at one or two people actually doing anything. where as pressing down the cap of the wine requires only one woman being supervised!

The wines pressed today will sit in barrel till early 2018 when we will be back to bottle.

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Vintage at Winbirra

The Winbirra vineyard is about halfway between Red Hill South and Point Leo. 

Here we are fortunate to have to have 4 clones to work with, MV6, 114, G Clone and D Clone.

2017 vintage did not produce high volumes but we do hope to get at least a barrel and some extra from the crop. We pick in a single pass but into 2 buckets for each picking group. the very best fruit, free of any bird or wasp damage or excessive shrivel went into the 1st bucket, remaining fruit into the 2nd bucket though some was discarded completely.

Once but at the winery (Bellingham) the 1st selected fruit went straight through the crusher destemmer. Due to the limited quantities we were unable to separate clones as we have done in some previous years.

For the 2nd selection of fruit we used a sorting table and though time consuming we are sure the effort to remove unwanted grapes from this selection will ensure superior final wine.

Juice showed good levels of acidity and ripeness so no need for any additions.

We will be pressing the wine tomorrow so we will then know how much we have produced. Fingers crossed.



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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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