We used to have a botrytis Semillon at cellar door, I think the last vintage was in 1996 or 98. I tried it a couple of times and the wine was lovely. But I was never really convinced about its place on our list. Rutherglen is known for its warm dry autumns, which are the reason we are able to make our famous fortified Muscat and Tokay, and also the reason why Durif is able to ripen soundly. Botrytis is rare, and a problem when it does turn up. So I thought we should try something a little more ‘climatically correct' and Vin de Paille is a perfect fit. It is a traditional method almost as old as winemaking itself. By drying grapes the sugar in the juice becomes concentrated, and eventually concentrated to the point where yeast will not be able to use it all up before they pass out from exhaustion. The result is a sweet wine. Because of their sweetness and alcohol, these wines are inherently stable and millennia ago they became some of the first icon wines to be traded long distance around the Classical world.

The simplest method is the dry them on the vine or on mats in the open, but this will only work where the weather is reliably dry and warm. It only takes a few days and leaves the grapes out for the birds and bugs to eat. Slower, more labour intensive, but producing a better product is Vin de Paille, where the bunches are laid out on straw inside airy drying rooms for a few months. Alternatives are wooden trays or even stringing the bunches up on string! Check out Google Images to see some amazing photos.

We'll have some links up on You Tube soon, so you can see what we have been doing.

We'll keep you posted,