North of the Border, East of the Sun

26 May 2007

One step into Ho Chi Minh City and you realize that it’s nuts. Motorbikes are everywhere, a howling fleet of girls with bandanas driving together in giant schools along the beat up roads. Observe with awe as they swerve in unison, riding double, triple, or loaded up with absurd cargo…

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A Quick Smile

16 May 2007

Vietnam is a country that’s newly wide open to the West. It’s intensely green and wherever possible, and I mean wherever, it is festooned with rice paddies. These people can farm with the best of them, along the mountains they coax corn out of the rocky ground and work the…

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Combat Vietnam

23 April 2007

Currently, I’m sitting in a garden in Hoi An, Vietnam. The parched vintage in Oz is over and the dampness in the air here is palpable and pleasant. The weather is sunny and humid. There is a flute being played in the pagoda adjacent to my garden. Vietnam has one…

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The Woolshed Chronicles

06 April 2007

I have moved from the commercial winery, Belvidere, to the small scale winemaking facility at Clarendon called the Woolshed. The difference between the two couldn’t be more striking. Belvidere is an industrial plant and the Woolshed is, well, a former woolshed. Of course it’s been rebuilt, but it still is…

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Carry the Zero

01 April 2007

I’m winding down in Australia. The vintage will be coming to a close in a few weeks, at least for the growers and viticulturists. The winemakers have much to do still, as they consider how to divide up the many different parcels of grapes resting in tanks or barrels. In…

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Bungs of Mystery

22 March 2007

I have finally begun to make wine. Well, not exactly, but I am doing barrel work. This includes all things related to oak barrels: washing, coding, filling, stacking, and smelling. Smelling is important. Lisa W., R Wines winemaker, told me that last year they had some 60 barrels contaminated with…

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Fog on Mengler’s Hill

21 March 2007

I was driving from the Barossa this morning, and found myself in some thick fog. I pulled over on Mengler’s Hill to observe the damp cloud, to feel it on my skin, and got out of my little red Getz. So often the air here has been hot and dry,…

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In Darkness Lurks a Chance

19 March 2007

This is the time of my life. I can feel it like one feels the approach of the end of a love affair. The telling moments are impossible to ignore, but they are absolutely true and unstoppable as they reveal themselves. Where all this travel and work is leading me…

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A Pair of Regular Hands

11 March 2007

I’ve been able to watch the progression of this vintage in South Australia from the early stages. Meeting all the different characters who contribute to the final product has illustrated how much work goes into producing one bottle of fine table wine. Certainly, the physical labor in the production loop…

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The Righteous Boxheads

05 March 2007

The landlocked Barossa Valley is a deeply rooted agricultural region still strongly, and strangely, influenced by their German and English heritage. It’s been odd speaking German with the locals here and eating phenomenal bratwurst, but in many ways it’s refreshing to see an area remain so true to its past.…

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