Wed 08 Dec 2010

Guest blogger: Ben Glaetzer

Ben Glaetzer

Ben Glaetzer

Ben Glaetzer is one of Australia’s ‘young gun’ winemakers who in a short space of time has had a massive influence in South Australia. He has the rare knack of making high quality wines at all price points, from the fruity, everyday Stickleback and Heartland range of wines right up to cellar-worthy modern Barossa classics (Ben is behind the iconic Amon-Ra label). He is also a dab hand at writing blogs, the first we publish below which he has written especially for Wine Society members. Pierre Mansour, Australia buyer

Ben Glaetzer, 8th December 2010

The first hints of summer have arrived today with all the subtlety of the English Cricket team.

After one of the coolest springs on record the mercury hit 36 degrees here in the Barossa Valley by 10am. Ample winter and spring rains have rejuvenated the groundwater and the vegetation around the valley is now bathing in sunshine with renewed vigour after what had been an incredibly arid 2007 and 2008. The local gardening enthusiasts have proclaimed 2010 to be the best bloomin’ year in decades, the grape growers are eagerly watching the weather as flowering approaches, the local businesses are booming with the influx of tourists all keen to experience a dose of spring in the Valley, and as per usual the local graziers are whingeing about the cold, the heat, the dry and the rain. Life’s getting back to normal after a few very lean years for us all.

My garden in spring

My garden in spring overlooking one of our vineyards

It feels like only yesterday since the last load of grapes from 2010 finished ferment and was transferred carefully to barrels for maturation, and now vintage 2011 is little over eight weeks away. The travel agenda has been no less hectic this year which has compounded the speed of time. Since May I’ve been fortunate enough to visit our importers, distributors and customers throughout the world and although it feels like I spent most of the time in airports and on planes there is a noticeable buzz about the wine industry and positivity about the future despite the economic hardships that many have been battling through.

I’ll be down to Langhorne Creek tomorrow, about an hour and a half from my base in the Barossa, to look through our Heartland vineyards and try to make an early judgement, pre-flowering, of likely crop levels, vine vigour and overall vineyard assessment. There’s always a large degree of approximation at this early stage, although it may appear that all is in good balance tomorrow, we may experience strong winds combined with extreme heat or moisture next week which will have a dramatic effect on the success rate of flowering and thus ultimately will dictate what fruit we will have available to us. Certainly an exciting time of the year and an everlasting reminder that we can try to predict the grape growing and winemaking process as much as we like yet the overriding influence is not ours.

On the winery side, we’ve had a few wines being bottled but the majority of that action is in August each year. With vintage just around the corner we’ve been in full cleaning and preparation mode. There’s something soothing about a warm bucket of suds and a scrubbing brush this time of year…at least that’s what I’ll be telling our new crop of junior cellarhands who’ll join us later this week.

Ben Glaetzer 

Categories : Australia

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