Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Kangaroos in the Vineyard...

This blog comes to you from Renae and Ben's kitchen table an hour outside Melbourne; a lovely home amid the eucalyptus groves with kookaburra's chattering in the night. An image as iconically Australian as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, it still pales in comparison to seeing kangaroos lolly-gagging about the vineyards of the Hunter Valley this past Monday.
Yes, kangaroos in the vineyards. Turns out that kangaroos are not so much a pest as they are helpful landscapers, munching the dawn or dusk grasses between the rows of vineyards. I asked if they also served a dual purpose of natural fertilizers, but was told by both our guide Erin and Renae that chooks ("chickens") do better with that. Mental note to self: must follow up on my dream to have layers at home to enhance my own garden. Sticking with the avian theme, it seems birds (cockatoos, magpies, warblers) are a bigger pest than kangaroos or bears (the 2009 "bear infestation" at Painted Rock in BC resulted reduced crops). This means netting needs to be put over the vines to prevent loss of fruit, resulting in what looks like a mid-summer frosting of the vineyards.

The Hunter Valley itself is located about 2 hours north of Sydney, and my cousin was kind enough to bring me up (along with aunt and two kids) for an overnight stay in Sydneysiders' favourite foodie weekend destination.  After an appointment at Tyrell's, we also visited Scarborough, DeBortoli, and Brokenwood to sample the Semillon and Shiraz wines that are famous in the Hunter Valley.  As it was a school day, I'm happy to report that the kids did learn alot about the history of the Valley and science of winemaking.

Today was the Mornington Penninsula's turn to open its arms and bottles for yet another visit by yours truly.  The Mornington juts out south of Melbourne, and like the Hunter has been an urban weekend playground for generations.  Although wines have been produced in small quantities for years, high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are gaining global recognition. Yabby Lake and Stonier were on the agenda today, both providing great hospitality, and more important, great wines. If you have the chance, definately check out Yabby Lake's new lunch patio overlooking the vineyards.

The Kookaburra's have gone to bed, and so must I for now. Next blog will likely be from the Adelaide, so we'll chat then.

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