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March, 2019... and it's been a Hot Time Down Under!

This bin of handpicked Shiraz is destined for Yalumba Winery - about fifteen minutes away - to go into a blend called "The Caley". The blend is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra Region further south. A bottle will set you back about $350 Cdn.


Turkey Flat Vineyard in the Barossa Valley has plantings of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre dating back to 1847.  These old vines are dry farmed so they have to drive their roots deep to find available water to sustain themselves in a hot and dry year like this one. This past Australian summer has been the hottest on record for this country and the vineyard has had no substantial rainfall for five months. Yet there is sufficient canopy and a small crop that the vines have produced.


This is Toby, a retired vineyard dog seeking some respite on a 40°C day in the Barossa Valley. Toby has survived snakes, bushfires and all the perils of rural life. His owners still have the truck, after selling their Shiraz vineyard and are building a new home in the town of Angaston with views over the northern Barossa and Eden Valleys. Toby didn't indicate which region's wine he prefers, but he sure likes the view: hilltops, rooftops, vineyards and no cats - heaven!

So that's it for Harvest 2019 from way Down Under...

in vino veritas,

Mac MacDonald

(dated 2019-03-20)

February, 2019...  and now, the NEWS from TASMANIA...

The island state of Tasmania is located 240 km south of the  Australian mainland. It has a cooler climate than most of the mainland and that fact is reflected in the crops produced here.  Apples and pears have always been important but in recent decades, wine, spices and cherries have shown the greatest increase. It is also known for award winning cheeses (King Island) and dairy products. 

Throw in world class seafood, brewing and a strong farming culture (25% of land area) and the tourist will not go hungry.

The wines produced here reflect the cool climate: Pinot Noir, sparklers, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Red grape plantings are showing increases in the warmer regions of the island.

The wine sector is focused on the quality end.  Tasmania produces only about 1% of Australian wine but that amounts to almost 5% of the value produced by the industry. That translates to an average bottle cost of about $22 Canadian on the island versus an average bottle cost of $8 on the mainland.

Climate change has pushed some companies like Brown Brothers of Victoria to hedge their bets on continued access to cool climate grapes in the future by expanding to Tasmania.

The majority of vineyards are located near Launceston in the north along the Tamar Valley and a few regions around Hobart to the south.

If you are touring wine country, bring lots of plastic.  Bottles often start around $30 at the cellar door and head up from there.  It is interesting that 95% of Tasmanian wine is sold domestically but it is all at a world quality level.

One of the island state's unique features is the Tasmanian Devil. The Devil population has unfortunately been in decline in recent years because of a facial tumour disease, a cancer unique to this species. The disease is transmitted by biting and fighting.... which the Devils engage in constantly. Today 90% of the wild population has died and the disease is still spreading.

The only hope for the Devil is an unproven vaccination programme and a captive breeding programme.

Josef Chromy Winery - Launceston, TAS

The island's current 2019 harvest is under way with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being picked for sparkling production. Earlier fears of smoke taint from fires seem to have dissipated. The crop appears to be a bit below normal but given reasonable conditions during harvest, it should turn out to be a quality year.

... a fine example of TAS wine barrel mail!

So, for now, from way down under....

in vino veritas,

Mac MacDonald

(dated 2019-03-02)

(Attribution - Tasmanian Devil photos above crtsy of:
 Willis Lim [CC BY-SA 2.0 (] and JJ Harrison ( [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Mac's 2019
Groundhog Day Report

Shubenacadie Sam, 2 Feb 2019

After a large 2018 wine grape harvest, the tanks  in California are full. Right now, there is excess supply which should mean that prices will be stable in 2019. For us in Canada, however, concerns regarding the dollar and transportation costs usually have a more serious impact on prices.

We have already had our first meeting discussing Harvest 2019. Things will pretty much be the same this year except perhaps for sourcing more grapes from the Lodi AVA, California.

For those of you who are interested in Brehm Vineyards frozen must and juices, during 2018 Peter  expanded his roster of grapes and juices into new sites in Oregon, Washington and California. There are also new varieties available along with the old favourites. This information is available at Peter's web site. Contact us at if you are interested or have any questions.

I am off to Australia where there are no groundhogs... but plenty of ‘roos. My local groundhog says that there are definitely at least 8 weeks of winter left so I’m out of here! I will send a report on the wine scene in Tasmania and the latest on the state of the Tasmanian Devil.

(dated 2019-02-01)

We're part of the Preston Hardware Family.....

Preston Hardware, located at 248 Preston Street, Ottawa, in the heart of Little Italy, is Canada’s largest Independent hardware store. The store was founded in 1945 and has been a  banner.  

From September to December, PrestonWine offers a large selection of grapes and juices from California, Washington State and, more recently, Spain. Our premium grape selection is centered on Lodi California - the “Bread Basket” of grape production in that state. Virtually every other wine region in that state uses Lodi fruit to a maximum of 20% in their wines. The hillsides of Amador County and El Dorado County are also offered as premium fresh grape choices for the home winemaker.

On the frozen must and juice side, we offer each year popular grape varieties from Spain and occasionally pails from Brehm Vineyards based in White Salmon, Washington. Brehm Vineyards is considered the top source for frozen grapes and juices and they access fruit mainly from Colombia Gorge, Washington, as well as Sonoma and Napa Valley, California.

Of course, we also offer other popular priced fresh grapes and juices from California’s Central Valley as well as wine supplies and equipment.

We at wish you and your winemaking partners a  Great Vintage New Year.

in vino veritas,

Mac MacDonald and
PrestonWine Team

(dated 2019-01-05)



Field sorting Zinfandel at Noma Ranch (Lodi)
(crtsy: LoCa: The Wines of Lodi, CA)


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Enjoy your readings,
Mac MacDonald
your Team

(updated 2018-09-04)

We have revamped our NEWSLETTER history file to include other articles from past seasons...
check it out.

To read about a typical harvest cycle at PrestonWine...
Click Here.

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