To grow a lemon and turn it into a delicate marmalade is within reach of the well intentioned amateur gardener and cook. Grapes into wine? Well, that's another story! Experts are required and we are blessed at Optimiste to have the services of Paul Baguley to grow our grapes and Michael Slater to make our wine. From watching these two artisand at work, we've picked up a thing or two about the art of wine production...
SITE SELECTION MEANS EVERYTHING
We spent a long time choosing the site for the Optimiste Vineyard - just the right combination of soil, slope, climate and altitude. The hills to the south of Mudgee gave us all we sought and also access to a thriving wine industry where real expertise is on hand.
PLANT THE MOST DIFFICULT SPOTS ON THE FARM
The rocky slopes certainly proved challenging to us when we planted back in 1997 and also to the young vines as they established themselves. The virtues of tough conditions are now wonderfully apparent in intense flavour concentration and colour. The slopes also give us good air and water drainage after frosts and rain.
BALANCE IN THE VINE, AS IN LIFE, IS A VIRTUE
Achieving equilibrium between leaf canopy and fruit load is critical to ensure full ripeness, protection of the delicate fruit from sun and wind and to get good airflow through the vineyard. Our crop loads are generally 2-3 tonnes per acre but Paul seeks balance in the vines far more actively than a defined crop level.
PATIENCE IS NEEDED
Our vineyard is now about 12 years old and is really starting to settle down - we've been amazed by the early vigour of some varieties like shiraz and petit verdot but we are now starting to see some real depth in the fruit from these vines as the roots penetrate the deep spaces and become less sensitive to short term climatic variation.
TAKING RISKS PAYS OFF
All of us at Optimiste have shown enthusiasm for unusual varieties. Out petit verdot, tempranillo and viognier are all showing great promise which is just as well given how few opportunities one has in a single life to experiment with one's passion!