Seasons Diary

Using digital weather data, art, stories, and being here, we continue to learn about this place and the people who have cared for it before us.

For each season, these paintings are inspired by colours and senses, the words describe different times and happenings in the vineyard and winery, and the graphs depict the typical micro-climate this nestled at the top of the valley place brings.

August

Pruning usually happens around this time since the cold weather is coming to an end, and the vines have had a good rest. Looking critically at the structure of each vine, we select the two strongest canes (branches)and tie them down carefully by hand; they’ll bear the fruit for the vintage ahead.

We see Guling (orchids) and Muyan (Silver Wattle) flowering everywhere in the valley. Sometimes Ae-noke (caterpillars) of the common brown butterfly feed on the grasses at night. They don’t eat much.

References: Living With Fire, Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths, CSIRO Publishing, and MuseumsVictoria.com.au. Artwork by Christine Mullen, dear past resident of Steels Creek.

September – November

Everything moves very quickly around this time since the temperatures are rising and the rain continues. It is wonderful to see the buds burst in the vineyard. They start with a woolly bud, then the iridescent green pushes through.

Since pinot noir is an early growing variety, we are always relieved for the new growth to make it through any frosts. Apart from that tension,there is happiness everywhere with the Pied Currawongs calling loudly, the Myrnong (Yam Daisy) flowering, and the Gurrborra (Koalas) bellowing as they mate at night!

References: Living With Fire, Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths, CSIRO Publishing, and MuseumsVictoria.com.au. Artwork by Christine Mullen, dear past resident of Steels Creek.

November

Usually around this time the vines, and Kangaroo Grass, are flowering. The weather is warm, and it is often raining. The bunches of grapes gradually take form, every time it is amazing to observe.

Buliyong (bats) are catching insects in flight, and Male Common Brown butterflies are flying. The beautiful Coranderrk (Victorian Christmas Bush) is coming into flower. It’s a special plant in the Yarra Valley, given that Coranderrk is near, on the other side of Healesville.

References: Living With Fire, Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths, CSIRO Publishing, and MuseumsVictoria.com.au. Artwork by Christine Mullen, dear past resident of Steels Creek.

December

The vines continue to grow rapidly in what can often be changeable weather. We’ve even had frost at this time! It can be thundery too; very dramatic.

Dhuling (Goannas) are active although we’ve only seen them a few times. Perhaps they’re napping, since days are long and nights are short around this time. Seeing Bundjil (Wedge-tailed Eagle) flying around little patches, or taking centre stage swooping right up the valley at this time is enormously exciting.

References: Living With Fire, Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths, CSIRO Publishing, and MuseumsVictoria.com.au. Artwork by Christine Mullen, dear past resident of Steels Creek.

January – February

In the hot, usually dry weather, the grapes start to ripen. Gradually, but can happen quite quickly, sometimes only days, depending on the weather.

The Bowat (tussock-grass) is long and dry. Female Common Brown butterflies are flying, but our biggest concern flying about is looking out for wasps, who are also waiting for the grapes to ripen.

References: Living With Fire, Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths, CSIRO Publishing, and MuseumsVictoria.com.au. Artwork by Christine Mullen, dear past resident of Steels Creek.

March

When the days and nights are of equal length, and Lo-An Tuka – the Hunter, the star Canopus – is seen almost due south at sunset, is when we harvest. John Evans, Viticulturist decides when, and we gather a crew and dear friends to help hand-pick.

It’s a beautifully balanced time.

The grapes go quickly and directly across the Creek and up the hill to Winemaker Ben Haines, who knows the vineyard well, and is agile in the face of nature’s whims.

References: Living With Fire, Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths, CSIRO Publishing, and MuseumsVictoria.com.au. Artwork by Christine Mullen, dear past resident of Steels Creek.

April – July

After natural fermentation, the grapes are gently pressed. No fining or filtration. Nothing added. Nothing removed. Simple.

This is our most enjoyable time of year. The colours in the vineyard and garden are spectacular golden yellows and orange reds. There are cool, rainy days after misty mornings, and often bright blue skies.

Waring (wombats)emerge to bask and graze in the sunshine, and to the north on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, the Bulen-Bluen (Superb Lyrebird) males perform their courtship displays.

Days are short and nights are long. It is a wonderfully regenerative time.

References: Living With Fire, Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths, CSIRO Publishing, and MuseumsVictoria.com.au. Artwork by Christine Mullen, dear past resident of Steels Creek.