There is something incredibly energising when I walk around the garden to see what has come out to greet me each day.
You know how all true gardeners love to share their plants and associate plants in their gardens with people, places and times in their life…. I had to take flower photos so I could share my pleasure and a few of my memories. Pity you can’t smell them!
These iris were shared with me by my neighbour several years ago. Good neighbours!
After an amazing 596mm of rain from January through to September the flowers have been cheering with great splashes of colour.
I remember buying one Dutch iris bulb at a fete in Perthville many years ago. This is one of several patches from that one bulb.
These poppies take turns like the bang and spread of a firework in the sky. They only last for a couple of days but are replaced by the next and then next.
My mother gave me poppy seeds years ago along with many of the plants in our garden. She’s gone now (but not really).
And these roses. I can’t wait each year for their romantic, full bouquet of deep claret abundance, gracing our trellis. My sweet hubby gave me a rose plant each time one of our boys were born.
“Look up here, we’re here”.
Corsican Sweet pea seeds were given to me to try to grow. So excited when they came out in bloom. They have the most delightful fragrance. The same sweet hubby is complaining because I planted them on the vege patch fence and he cant eat them!
And my sole, struggling, unwavering tulip. I bought several bulbs more than 13 years ago and being a lazy gardener have never treated them the way I should.
This guy popped out to say “I’m still here”.
What a year for the Ceanothus. The bees were in pollen heaven! Am glad I captured this before the hail storm which knocked all the tiny saphire florettes to the ground.
Then there’s the white chiffon of the poppies, looking out over the vineyard….
And the daisy bush….. It has come back into its full glory after almost dying during the last drought.
Lastly, my Augustus Pembroke Eaglebeak Kanga lavender garden….the last time my dad came to stay (he’s gone now too), he helped me gather rocks, dislodging them with his home-made walking stick and we built this garden around an old tractor tyre (a brainwave to solve our disposal problem).
We planted this lavender, which he had previously struck for me and named the garden after the nick names he had been given throughout his colourful life.
We live on a small country property just outside of the quaint village of O’Connell in the Central Ranges wine country of NSW. It is about half way between Oberon and Bathurst and both Sandy and I consider it our own little piece of paradise, especially when we get to see one of these amazing full moons at dusk.
Looking over our vineyard and to the east.
At present, despite the fact that it is the middle of winter, the countryside is green and vibrant. This is largely due to the huge amounts of rain (almost 250 ml) we have had since June this year.
But, you can only sit around and look at the view for so long…..there’s plenty to get done around here and always grapes to prune, wine to make and meetings to attend. I have recently become part of the Bathurst Tourism Reference Group which has prompted me to write a little about all the great things there are to do and experience in this fabulous region of the Central Ranges of New South Wales.
There’s bushwalking, bicycling, villages to explore and 4-wheel driving for the more action focused travellers. Places like the Blue Mountains, Kanangra Boyd and Newnes National Park are less than an hour away and have a myriad of hikes, canyons and historic locations to explore. While on the way to these great hiking locations, you can also explore some of the historic small villages like Sofala, Hill End, Milthorpe, Rockley and of course O’Connell. The Bridle Track and roads close to the Turon River are great for 4-wheel driving.
Our special local hiking spot. Evans Crown, Tarana
One of our favourite things to do in the Autumn (if vintage allows) is mushrooming in the pine forests around Oberon. If it is a wet season and your timing is right, you may come back with a great sense of satisfaction having foraged for food and enough slippery jacks and saffron milk caps to last you for weeks.
Two Slippery Jacks amongst many beautiful Saffron Milkcaps
We have a great pickled mushroom recipe (found in the Sydney Morning Herald years ago) that we use and we’ll share with you. These are a fantastic addition to any tasting plate with some good cheese and crackers.
2 cups olive oil or (half canola as this doesn’t solidify in the fridge)
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
Bring the vinegar, salt and water to the boil in a tall narrow pot (you can use a bigger pot but you’ll have to double the amounts of pickle solution). In batches cook the whole mushroom for a few minutes until tender when pierced with a skewer. Remove with a slotted spoon to a rack and continue until all the mushrooms are cooked. Be careful not to overcook the mushrooms as they absorb water quickly and can become soggy. Now gently press out excess liquid with a tea towel and cut into thin slices.
Taste to see whether they need extra salt. Place in a sterilised jar with slivers of garlic, the rosemary and enough oil to cover. They keep well in the fridge for a few weeks.
The city of Bathurst really does have a lot to see and do. As Australia’s oldest inland settlement as decreed by Governor Macquarie in 1815, it is fantastic to have many sites and buildings of great historical significance. Several historic buildings are now being used as venues for food, local wine and beer. You should check out the Church Bar on Ribbon Gang Lane for great woodfired pizza, the old Webb Chambers which now house a fine restaurant (Cobblestone Lane) and wine bar (Webb and Co.) and Crago Mill, now home to Two Heads Brewery. Just a few examples of heritage sites where you can sit and soak up a bit of history along with a great meal and some locally produced wine and beer.
A few pictures of some of the wonderful historical architecture you can see in Bathurst
Bathurst Court House
St Stanislaus College
The National Trust Bathurst has produced a number of great brochures called Experience Heritage Bathurst that are perfect to use as walking tours. Check out www.heritagebathurst.com for more information. Yes, walking is a great way to experience Bathurst. Other places well worth a visit are; the Fossil and Mineral Museum, Mayfield Garden near Oberon, LeGall Patisserie for mouth-watering tarts and brulees, great coffee at Al Dente in Keppel St, the Motor Racing Museum and the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit. We will cover some of our other favourite places in future blogs.
Phew!!! finally, vintage 2016 is over! It feels like it lasted forever when in reality harvest only lasted about 7 weeks. We picked the first grapes (Chardonnay for Cobbers Sparkling) at Mt Panorama Estate on 13 February and the last of our grapes were picked on 3 April (Cabernet Sauvignon) from 3 Views Vineyard.
A few of our hardy volunteer pickers, Rhonnda and Alan Pearce and their grandchildren
In many ways the 2016 vintage mirrors the 2015 vintage especially with the dry and warm finish to the vintage. The biggest difference between 2016 and 2015 vintages was the water profile going into Autumn. In 2015, we had a full water profile at the beginning of February while in 2016 we had little water in the soil at the beginning of February. 150 or so mm of rain in January helped but really only helped to keep the leaves from falling off. Amazingly, we picked the Cabernet Sauvignon from Mount Panorama Estate Vineyard on 14 March – 11 days earlier than 2015 which, to date, was the earliest picking day for these grapes. Both 2015 and 2016 will be excellent years for fuller bodied reds…judging by the 2015 reds in barrels right now, we have a lot to look forward to.
As usual, the work in the Mount Panorama Estate Vineyard performed by Ros Stitt was exemplary. Thanks to Ros and the owners (Garry and Susan Baxter) for ensuring the vineyard was kept in the best shape possible. I am also excited about the red grapes I have purchased from Don and Ruth Anderson’s 3 Views Vineyard. It is in Caloola about 25 kms south of Bathurst and, at well over 900 metres, is a very cool climate vineyard. I have a small batch of Malbec and Tempranillo to play with as well as additional Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. This allows me to have more options in blending and/or experimenting with a new wine or two while still maintaining my focus on local grapes.
There’s still lots of work to do to make sure the 2016 reds are racked and in their proper maturation vessels, the 2016 whites are fined, filtered and ready for bottling in late August and the 2015 reds are blended and fined/filtered for bottling in late August as well. But…..thank goodness the picking, crushing and pressing are finished.
A couple of other pieces of news for your information. First, in a previous blog I talked about an upcoming piece of noteworthy news to report. Well, most of you may already know this but, for those who don’t, the 2013 Bella Luna Chardonnay was chosen by NSW Government House to be included on a wine list from which select wines will be served at Vice Regal lunches and dinners over the coming year.
They placed their first case order last week. I am happy that the Governor of New South Wales (Governor The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC) is committed to showcasing New South Wales wines along with other products and we hope this exposure of our wine will help put Bathurst on the NSW wine map. Unfortunately, we have only a small amount of this wine and have been required to hold back all of our remaining stock for Government House for 2016.
Government House Reception for NSW Wine Awards Gold Medal winners