What happened to a year?

Emma and I at Mission Ridge

Emma and I at Mission Ridge

Well, after we finished pruning in 2010, Emma and I went back to New Guinea with Frank Taylor’s mob, Kokoda Treks and Tours, and, with a small party of seven, we trekked Shaggy Ridge.

Apart from just the experience of again walking in the footsteps of heroes, we also sought to raise monies for the reestablishment of Life Education here in Tasmania.  And we did that!

Like Kokoda, trekking WWII battle sites is physical (how did they do it?), emotional, historical and cultural.

As we were amongst the first 50 white people to visit Shaggy Ridge since the end of the war, much of what we saw was as it was left:  a lot of military hardware, guns, munitions, helmets, barbed wire and even human remains.

One example of the Australian initiative was the finding of a bread oven at the southern end of the ridge.  The story behind it was the desire of the troops to have fresh bread.  A 44-gallon drum was carried, rolled and lifted up onto the ridge and buried in clay at the southern position previously occupied by the Japanese.

We spent nine days trekking the ridge, Kankyrio Saddle, Crater Hill and walking the Mindjim River to Bogadjim and then in the back of a truck with no suspension to Madang.Life Education logo

Growing pains

The 2011 growing season was perhaps the greatest challenge we have faced at Providence.

In fact, it was probably the most challenging year for the whole of the south east Australian viticultural region.

Rain very early in the season brought our first attack by downy mildew.  This occurred as the florets were first appearing and the end result was that we lost close to 50 percent of our flowers, hence, 50 percent of our grape crop!

What followed was persistent powdery mildew attacks, rain preventing an important botrytis spray at flowering, more downy mildew and more rain!  But, it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good:  With Summer virtually absent, the remaining crop that we managed to carry ripened fully – something that would not have occurred had the entire crop survived to that point.

Yesterday, our newly installed solar array was connected to the power grid.  I am still to be convinced that the not insignificnt outlay will ever be recovered but I rest in the thought that we are trying to reduce power consumption.

In addition, our beaut vegie garden is also supplementing living costs.  Brenda is keen on doing something about the hot water as well but that will have to wait until our bank account recovers!

We are about to release our 2009 Miguet Reserve Pinot Noir.  Not uncommon for Providence wines, this one is a slow starter with a big future.

At a Duck Crawl held in Melbourne by mine hosts Roy Morfield and Ron Leslie (if you haven’t done one of these then you must!), the 09 Pinot was voted the most popular wine out of the nine presented.

I love these duck crawls: whilst they are an excellent marketing tool, the food and wine combintions are simply brilliant.  Basically, for the uninitiated, a duck crawl consists of three restaurnts, up to nine duck dishes and nine Pinots – all in one lunchtime!

The experience finishes at a wine bar (in this case, JWOW) where Ron and Roy swap hats and become the Australian Rose Alliance.  Providence 08 Rose was the feature and very much enjoyed (and sold!)

About Stuart

Born Bushey Herts UK in 1945. Migrated to Australia 1949. Schooled in Launceston Tas. Served in the RAAF 1963-1986 initially as an instrument mechanic, graduating from 64 pilots course in 1968. Service in Vietnam 1971. Graduate: Navy Staff College in 1984. Retired as Wing Commander 1986. Graduate: Charles Sturt University 1987 with BAppSc (Wine Science). A decade of wine politics 1987 - 2007 including state president (Tas) and national vice-president of the Winemakers Federation of Australia. State services member: Veterans Review Board 1991 - 2015 and chairman of Life Education Tasmania Inc 2007 - 2013. Passionate about wine; keen trekker in PNG; military history.
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