As Christmas fast approaches the winery team are busy putting together the final blends of our 2013 Chardonnays: Leontine and the new Simone, named after Maurice O’Shea’s only daughter. Also being blended is our staff favourite, the coveted ‘Mothervine’ Pinot Noir. These three blends will be bottled in the New Year and are looking pretty special already.

2013 has proven to be a very good year in the Hunter, with low to moderate crops producing wines of real intensity and great depth of flavour.

2013 wines will go down in the books as ones that drink well young, yet will reward patience and careful cellaring.

The last jobs of the year include: topping all the 2013 red barrels, checking all the crush equipment is ready for the impending harvest and…Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning! The winery team have been known to call me OCD when it comes to cleaning.

Harvest this season looks to be quite early due to the warm and dry conditions throughout spring and summer. We expect to kick off as early as mid-January with the first of our whites, and if all goes well finish by mid-February with the last of the reds. A typical Hunter Valley Harvest starts around the Australia Day long weekend and often runs through until March. However Harvest seems to be getting earlier and earlier, with some locals joking about there being a vintage 2013 ‘b’!

Joining our harvest team this season is a diverse group of nascent winemakers from around the world, including those from Brazil, Canada, New Zealand and America. This allows a wonderful exchange of ideas and experiences between these interns and our local team. Everybody learns a lot and it makes for a great end of vintage party!

The Festive season sees me and my girls off to Tasmania, to enjoy the milder weather and wonderful seafood. My typical Christmas fare involves plenty of Bruny Island Oysters, a couple of live Crayfish (lightly grilled, with butter, garlic and herbs), the obligatory Christmas ham, mountains of fresh summer berries and plenty of fine Champagne.

Have a great Christmas and see you in 2014