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Jan 21, 2020

Connie Paur Griffiths is winemaker and vigneron at Tranquil Vale Vineyards in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia joins to educate us about this fascinating region, discuss the bushfires that have threatened it, and to talk about the challenges facing wine and climate in Oz's future.

Connie shares how her parents found Tranquil Vale advertised in an Australian paper, while living in London, and took a chance on a total lifestyle change. From there, they moved their lives and two kids, including then 8 year old Connie to the hot Hunter Valley, 2.5 hours from Sydney to begin their adventure. They learned to make wine and grow grapes and have won multiple awards for their Semillon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz.

Tranquil Vale makes 3,000 cases of wine and is a family-owned and run boutique producer. 

 

Connie tells us about this unlikely place, which is the oldest wine region in Australia. Hunter Valley characteristics include:

  • A subtropical climate with maritime breezes in some areas, but also with humidity that can cause rot
  • Temps that get above 40˚C/ 100˚F on a regular basis
  • Great diurnal temperature swings that allow for the three main grapes to maintain good acidity and keep alcohol levels lower
  • Gently sloping hills with lower altitude
  • 3 big subregions: Upper Hunter Valley, Broke Fordwich (we discuss how many producers will not harvest in 2020 due to smoke taint), Pokolbin, which has many of the famed wineries and is in foothills of Brokenback Range.

The main grapes of the area are:

  • Semillon – which miraculously, with time,  turns into something like Oak aged Chardonnay in spite of the fact that there is no oak and no malolactic fermentation ever done in the winemaking process
  • Chardonnay -- a lightly oaked, lower alcohol versio
  • Shiraz -- which in spite of sometimes punishing heat, still keeps a lighter style, lower alcohol, and a peppery note that is often "baked out" of other styles of Shiraz in regions of Australia

 

The second half of our conversation focuses on the bushfires of 2019-2020 and the havoc they have wreaked, but also on the endemic climate, infrastructure and land management issues that Australia will likely need to deal with to prevent the kind of historic fires we have seen this year. A fascinating perspective, and a thought-provoking conversation!

 

Thanks to Connie for reaching out to us and sharing her story! 

 

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