In the winery in November.

Making wine, like tending a garden or following a footy team, is a yearly cycle.  The vineyards of course make their annual progress, from bare vines, to lush canopies full of ripening fruit, through the burnished bronze of autumn, back to their skeletal start.  In the winery too we follow a steady round.  Here then, are some of the jobs for this month, with a commentary on their regularity or position in the calendar year.  

Cup Day: Breathe a sigh of relief, because this marks the end of the frost season in Rutherglen. Now all we have to worry about is hail, heatwaves, damaging winds, rain, fires and plagues of frogs...

Topping the barrels: This is done in the first week of every month.  Each and every wine barrel has to be opened and the level of wine topped up to the bung.

Moving barrels: As the weather starts to warm, so too does the winery.  With its simple corrugated iron roof, the building magnifies the outside temperature. This is perfect, indeed essential, for the fortified wines, but potentially disastrous for any table wines we have been working on in barrel in the old buildings.  They all have to be transported carefully to the cooler spots, such as in the Family Cellar under Indigo Cheese.

Order barrels: We get most of our barrels from France.  They need to be organised now so that they can be made to order (you didn't think they'd have stocks of 3-year seasoned, Troncais forest, medium-long toast, toasted heads, tight grain, 228L Burgundy export-shape barrels with chestnut hoops and a ferment bung just hanging around did you?), then negotiated though French dockworkers' strikes and onto a boat so that they can be ready for vintage next year.

Plan bottling: January and February are very busy with bottling.  Lots of wines have finished their maturation and are ready for their final step of being put into bottle.  Wines such as our lovely All Saints Merlot and always fascinating Alias I white wine are packaged at this time.  It takes lots of preparation to get a wine ready to put to bottle and of course plenty of logistical planning to make sure we have all the appropriate bottles, labels, caps and cartons ready to go.  Given that most of our service industries shut up shop for all of January, we have to be completely ready to go by Christmas.

There is plenty more of course.  Laboratory analysis to do, fortified wines to bottle for the Christmas rush, the last of the cold stabilization and so on.  In fact, looking at the list, I'd better get back to work, it will be vintage again before we know it!