TOP DROP: Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, handmade, preservative-free wines.
TOP DROP: Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, handmade, preservative-free wines.

Meet the growers who celebrate dry weather for crops

IF YOU fancy a drop of red, you might start viewing the recent dry spell in a different light.

As a wine glass half-full scenario, you might say.

For vintners like Tony Brierley from Brierley Wines, the region's prolonged drought has made for a great grape season and picking is just around the corner.

He said with next to no rain since budding last spring, he could control the water levels by irrigating to favourable sugar (fructose) levels for a more flavoursome drink.

"It was like this 30 years ago when we planted," Mr Brierley said.

"It's come full circle.

"I've been waiting for this dry."

Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, hand-made, preservative free wines.
Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, hand-made, preservative free wines.

With a good bunch on his vines, Mr Brierley said he was expecting between five and seven tonnes of grapes, which could mean up to 7000 bottles of wine.

He uses the vines he planted three decades ago but said vines could last up to 200 years.

Mr Brierley said a group of about 20-30 people, customers, friends and Facebook followers alike, would start picking early in the morning on Australia Day and knock off around lunchtime.

 

Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, hand-made, preservative free wines.
Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, hand-made, preservative free wines.

He said the sugar levels were highest in the morning, before the heat of the day made them drop.

Once the grapes are picked the fruit goes into a de-stemming machine, through a fermenting process and then it's all "smoke and mirrors from there".

After 30 years in the vineyard, Mr Brierley said he still thoroughly enjoyed making wine.

In fact, he still does much of the winemaking process by hand.

Where larger businesses use pumps to move their wine, his methods are a little more old school, using a bucket to move the grape juice, giving him quite the workout.

Mr Brierley said he originally got into the industry because he liked to drink wine.

After having completed a few courses, he met with an Italian family who taught him how to "do it properly".

He said their crop at Brierley Wines, on top of a hill, had excellent drainage so the crops feet didn't get wet.

With kangaroos and birds the only real pest threatening his fruit, Mr Brierley said they invested in nets rather than sprays.

 

Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, hand-made, preservative free wines.
Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, hand-made, preservative free wines.

Growing chambourcin vines, Brierley Wines produces a shiraz, chambourcin, mulled wine and honey mead range.

With the bushfires potentially keeping some tourists away, Mr Brierley said throughout the Christmas period they had been well supported by locals and their families visiting for the festive period.

Mr Brierley said that during the winter months the vines were dormant, but that disn't mean they stopped working.

 

Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, hand-made, preservative free wines.
Tony Brierley with his estate-grown and produced, hand-made, preservative free wines.

During the crop lull, Mr Brierley runs tours in his restored GT 1971 Falcon throughout Childers, out to Paradise Dam and back to his vineyard for lunch.

For more information or to make booking to visit the winery, phone 4126 1297 or 0409 579 051. Brierley Wines is at 574 Rainbows Rd, Childers.



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