Sunday Sessions are the perfect way to cap off a weekend, and avoid the dreading weary blues of returning to work on a Monday.
I was one of the 20 lucky people to have attended Austins & Co. Winery’s Sunday Session, hosted by the Austins themselves. The event was an intimate vineyard and winery tour of their property, topped off with wine tasting, cheese and chacturie platters at the end.
Austins & Co. Winery is located near Geelong in the Moorabool wine region, about an hours drive from Melbourne.
To kick start the winery tour, Scott Austin – Managing Director, gave us a run down of the history of the winery.
The property was bought back in 1989, with the purpose of planting Pinot Noir. Fast forward to today, and the winery produces approx 240,000 bottles a year, ranging from Chardonnay, to Pinot Noir, Rose, Shiraz, Prosecco, and even Reisling.
The terrior (procouned ter-wror) of the winery, which is the land, soil and climate where a vineyard is planted, is based on top of a volcanic rock-base, topped with limestone soil, in a cool-climate region. This hardy land-base and cooler climate means that the vines have to work that extra bit harder to produce the fruit for the wine, which ends up producing some cracking vinos.
Up The Hill
Following the introduction, we then headed up the hill where we took in the great view of the winery, and the dam they occasionally use to water the vineyard, particularly just after harvest time (March), and in early Spring. We also learnt about the pruning and picking of the fruit.Scott explained how to know when a wine is handpicked vs.one that is machine picked:
With handpicking involving many labour intensive hours, anything above a price point of $30-$40 will most likely involve part of that cost going to the handpicking of the fruit – anything below $20 will most likely be machine based picking.
So what are the benefits of a handpicked picked wine?
Handpicked means there is less damage, and more care placed in the handling of the fruit, meaning a better quality wine produced at the end.
While Scott explained all of this to the group, we were happily sipping on a glass of their delicious 6ft6 Prosecco, which came straight from a screw capped bottle! Yep, it’s one of the first wineries to be doing this with a sparkling. One of the key benefits of a screw cap sparkling is that you can screw the top back on, and place it back in the fridge or in the wine bucket, and not lose its sparkly goodness. Genius!After we finished our glasses of Prosecco, we then continued back down the hill to the shed containing the vats.
Here in the shed were a variety of different vats and barrels used to house the wine during the wine making process. The types included stainless steel vats, plastic vats, French oak barrels, and even stainless steel barrels.
There was one other type of vat that really caught my eye, and that was the concrete vat! or the concrete egg, as Scott had coined it. Such an interesting and cool shape!
I had never seen one of these before. These vats are used in France, particularly for Bio-Dynamic wines. The shape of the vat is in an egg shape, which allows the wine to move around naturally. These vats are used to store the wine for at least 5 to 6 months, and are then transferred to the barrel for ageing and flavour.
Once we had learnt all there was about the vats, it was then off to Scott and Belinda’s home for wine tasting and food.
The wine, cheese and chacturie board
When we arrived to their home, we were warmly greeted by a bubbly Belinda Austin, Scott’s wife, and Marketing Director of the winery. We were handed a glass of Prosecco, and tucked in to some brilliantly prepared cheese and chacturie boards. These boards looked amazing, and were even better than the cheese boards I had ever dreamt about.
Following the Prosecco, we then moved throughout the Austins wine range tasting Pinot Noir, Rose, and Shiraz. One of the tastings also included, what they called, their Pinot Project – this involved two separate winemakers, taking the same batch of Pinot Noir grapes back to their work-space, to develop their own signature Pinot Noir’s.
It was amazing to taste the difference between the two wines, which came from exactly the same source:
Wine #1 was somewhat a classic Pinot Noir – light in colour and light bodied, which was a result of the winemaker only using the grapes (excluding the stems) in the wine making process, and storing it in barrels for 16 months.
Wine #2 had a lot more complexity to it – deeper in colour and medium bodied, with medium tannin. Kind of alikened to a Shiraz I felt. This complexity was achieved by the winemaker using the full bunch of grapes complete with stems, and storing it in barrels for 12 months.
Fair to say, we polished off the cheese and chacturie board good-andproper, and were well satisfied with the variety of wines tasted.
With this session being the first one held, I cannot recommend this highly enough to go and jump onto their next session, if they hold another one. Be sure to sign up to their e-news to keep up to date on their events and happenings.
Thanks Scott and Belinda for a great Sunday. Now…back to work I go.
Until next time winos,