Capetown and Table Mountain, South Africa

South Africa's 2016 harvest was early this year... short and sweet... and the growing season was hot... which seems more to be the trend in global wine regions these days.



Thelema Mountain Vineyard, pictured here, near Stellenbosch, experienced fires that destroyed some of their vineyards this year. What remained was a short but good quality crop. You can get their Mountain Red Blend at the LCBO General List for a good price.


  Capelands vineyard at season end

At this time, the grapes are picked, the weather has turned cool and the tanks are bubbling in the Cape Region.  

The cycle continues...


In vino veritas,
Mac MacDonald

(updated 2016-04-26)

(Previous Newsletter Update...)

(and something different...)

The view from Bethany Winery, Barossa Valley

2016 has been hot this harvest season in Australia. I have never been, after 14 vintages, in a situation where the thermometer has exceeded 38°C on so many days. The last thing you want to do is to harvest grapes under those conditions.

Distant wineries... and a white horse outstanding in its field, Yarra Valley

Despite these uncomfortable conditions, the harvest is proceeding well with good yields and above average quality, although the time frame is compressed. Another early harvest with warm conditions reflects the obvious change in climate over the past two decades.

I have spent time in the Barossa, Eden Valley, Yarra Valley, Strathbogie and Heathcote. All are early this year with Shiraz being picked just after Pinot Noir where both are grown.

Coldstream Winery Vineyards, Yarra Valley

The Hunter Valley is lower on yields because of previous rains.

Victoria has been variable and Tasmania seems to have avoided smoke taint on grapes due to bush fires.

...and For Something
(Completely?) Different...


Thirsty Camel Bottle Shop

Liquor, wine and beer retail outlets are found throughout Australia in far greater number than in Canada. Although there are large warehouses and chains (Dan Murphy's, First Choice, etc.), they are located in larger centres.  The rest of Australia must, for the most part, rely on "Bottle Shops ".

SipnSave Bottle Shop - Walk-In, Drive-In or enjoy at the Hotel

These bottle shops themselves may be tied to a chain (Cellarbrations, SIPnSAVE, Thirsty Camel) and are found throughout urban and rural Australia. Many are also found within hotels.

Thirsty Camel Bottle Shop Drive-In

Opening hours are liberal and access is as easy as driving your car into a designated lane. If you wish to browse, there is ample parking, but most just idle their vehicle while they pick up their "slab" (24 or 36 cans or bottles) of beer – not at all unlike picking up a “large double-double” at Tim’s on the way to work.

 Beer, surprisingly, is more expensive than in Canada starting at more than $2 a bottle or can. But, by pulling up to within a metre of a cold walk-in beer cooler, you are guaranteed your visit will be cold and fast.

... and (surprise?)

France is a small country by Canadian, US and Australian standards and their fine wine production represents a very small fraction of the total vineyard area.

 New plantings in Barossa

Wine is a global business and after a domestic wine company reaches a certain production volume, a company will often chooses to go beyond their national borders to achieve their business goals. This practice is noticeable in new-world wine producing countries such as Auatralia.


Pernod Ricard, the giant French liquor and wine company, bought Jacobs Creek Winery in the Barossa in 1989. They now distribute to 70 countries and the varied origins of customers in the tasting room reflect that fact.

From a walking trail near Angaston, Barossa Valley 

The well known champagne house, Moët et Chandon, has expanded to the Yarra Valley, producing still and sparkling wines more in the new world style. Sparkling Shiraz/Pinot Noir anybody?

Doamine Chandon Yarra Valley
Domaine Chandon, Yarra Valley 

Perhaps trying more to replicate the product back home in the Rhone, Chapoutier has located to similar climes and soils in Australia and is producing mainly Syrah in the French Rhone style. The areas designated are Heathcote and other parts of central Victoria as well as coastal South Australia

Chapoutier Winery and Cellar Door
Chapoutier Winery & Cellar Door

We'll be home soon with more to come....

In vino veritas,
Mac MacDonald

(updated 2016-03-18)

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