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Questions & Answers – Interview

How long have you been operating Harris Organic Winery?

We invited Duncan Harris to give some questions and answers about his venture into winemaking.  He purchased the property in 1998. He has always grown organic grapes and made organic wine, however, only became certified in 2006. Prior to him purchasing the property the land had 13 years of rest as the vines were removed in 1985. The Baskerville property was sold by the original owners who held it from the 1920s in approximately 1985.

Obviously you grow organic grapes, do you grow anything else or are you a mono-crop?

I grow lupins, sour sobs, turnip, radish, vetch and grasses of varying kinds between the 30 rows of vines. I use these plants to create green manure. That is there’s a lot of goodness in the plants, I chop it up and turn it into the soil which provides nutrients to the soil. In the summertime, I grow watermelons and pumpkins. I also have olives and oranges growing in the orchard.

Organic wines
Organic wines

Do you do companion planting?

Yes and No. I plant lupins which produce nitrogen for the soil. There are nodules on their roots which are released to the soil microbes and plant roots to use. I grow it and harvest the seed for the following year. The plants take in carbon dioxide and produce cellulose, a carbon-based material, which in turn returns carbon to the soil.

Do you sell anything other than wine?

Yes, certified organic vodka and an un-oaked brandy I call eau de vie and three and 10-year-old wood-aged vintage brandy.

Have you ever had a year wine where you didn’t have any grapes to harvest? No, the Swan Valley is a most congenial place to grow grapes.

Swan Valley vines
Organic vineyard

How long does it take to create wine from beginning to end?

From the planting of the grapes, it takes 7 years for the best vintage wines. You can get a crop of grapes in 18 months but it’s not very good for high-quality wine. From the picking of the grapes to the bottling of the wine can take anything from nine months to ten years.

I grow 24 madeleine vines that produce delicious table grapes that go to organic retailers between Christmas and New Year. If you keep the grapes in your fridge they can last up to a month.

What do you do to manage pests?

I employ a variety of techniques. Chickens, known as chooks in Australia, help to manage the weevils and other soil-based bugs, usually the larva of such and we love the spiders in our vineyard – they eat some of the bugs and some of the bugs eat them! They also catch lots of different flies.

What are some sprays a conventional grower could use on their crops? Any known side effects? There are many sprays available to conventional farmers. Ask Monsanto about herbicide resistance and residue levels in domestic animals and humans!

Would you personally ever drink conventional wine?

There are lots of conventional wines I have tried. This gives a good basis to understand what good wines are available in particular styles. All part of a good education!

What kind of nasties can you find in there? Heavy Metals?

See our page on additives:
Wine Additives and the mean residual level in the grapes can be found here: Some of the greatest users of chemicals in the table grape industry.  Poisons used in vineyards.

What do you use to preserve the wine? There are natural preservatives in wine, they being alcohol, tannin and sulphur dioxide (SO2). SO2 is added to keep the wine fresh, clean and clear appearance in the bottle and give it longevity.  The organic standards allow up to 150 ppm SO2 even more in dessert wines.

Question: Do you have any preservative free wine?

What does this entail?

I have some small quantities of “pet nat wines”. Pet nat stands for petillant naturel. An ancient way of making a fresh preservative-free sparkling wine.

Question: Have you seen much growth in the organic wine market?

The organic industry continues to grow, promoted by the number of exports to other countries, including the USA and EU.

Question: If you turn back time would you do anything differently?

No, just keep learning from my mistakes.

Dosage in Sparkling Wines

What is “Dosage” and what is it doing in my Sparkling?

Festive Season

It’s December and its time for a dosage of the holiday festive season. A time for family get together at the beach, and a time for reflection.  Time to enjoy the fruits of a vignerons hard work, sparkling wines. Traditional sparkling wines are not that easy to produce.

At the family get together, tension can be high so sparkling wine is the answer to calm the nerves. One thing we can all do to arm ourselves by learning a little bit about the wine we’ll be drinking.

If you’re lucky, that’ll involve some sparkling wine or what the French are allowed to call Champagne.

One of the best words you can chuck out there is “dosage” (you can use a French accent if you like.)  Of course, then you need know what it is.

Enjoying Harris Organic Wines
Enjoying Harris Organic Wines

Essentially, dosage is some form of sweetness (sugar, or wine and sugar and brandy) added to a sparkling to balance it the palate structure.

Grapes in the Champagne region have to struggle to ripen so they end up with less sugar to offer the wine. Many European sparklings and Champagnes are aggressively acidic and low in alcohol. The dosage is a simple corrective measure, to either balance the acid or to actually impart some level of sweetness. And depending on the amount of dosage added, you’ll end up with a variety of sparklings, defined by terms that can be a bit confusing but are basically a scale from sweetest to driest.

In Australia’s warmer climate the wines have a higher potential alcohol and less searing acid allowing for more balance and less dosage to balance the palate.

Watch on Youtube: Disgorging Sparkling Wine

Dosage in Sparkling Wine

Here are the recommended dosage for a particular style of sparkling wine.

Doux: 50 or more grams of sugar added per litre. This will taste outrageously sweet to most sparkling wine palates. It’s about 2 teaspoons’ per bottle—but back in the days of yesteryear, Champagne tended to come a lot sweeter. Do you remember the hollow stem glasses with the cube of sugar in the base, exuding the effervescing bubbles to continue? I do.

Demi-Sec: Dosed with 35 to 50 grams of sugar. Again, higher on the sweet sparkling spectrum than most of us are willing to go.  In Australia there are a lot of cheap sparkling with this dosage, namely the Australian invention of red sparkling “burgundies” .

Dry

Sec: “Sec,” in French, means dry. But dry here actually indicates a medium-sweet sparkling. 17 to 35 grams of sugar, on average a teaspoon per litre.

Extra Sec: Literally “Extra Dry,” which would seem to indicate a very acidic wine but here means a bit less sweet than Sec, thanks to about 12 to 20 grams of sugar.

Brut: A mere 6 to 15 grams of sugar added, really for balance in Australia. Slightly rounder than “Extra Brut” because of the increased added sugar, and the type of sparkling we tend to drink most.

Extra Brut: With fewer than 6 grams of sugar added, this may come off with usually a higher apparent acid on the palate and accentuate the carbonation. However with ripe grapes the acid is reduced.

This is the style of modern handmade traditional method sparkling of the Swan Valley.

Brut Nature: For the winemaker to showcase the essential nature (hence the name) of the sparkling wine or Champagne with no sugar added. This is not common, however more common in the the Swan Valley that other regions. Higher notes of minerality and acid, basically a party in your mouth, and everyone’s invited, except sugar!

Enjoy in moderation.

 

Twenty One Year Celebration!!!

Celebrating 21 years

Harris Organic Wines
Harris Organic Award Winning Wines

Organic Sparkling

Wine club members  and your friends are welcome to attend our organic sparkling celebration on the December 3rd.  Furthermore it’s a Saturday evening from  5 – 8 pm .
We are celebrating 20 years of organic winemaking and 21 years of ownership with our organic sparkling chardonnay and sparkling shiraz. Besides a few nibbles and good conversation at Harris Organic Wine and Spirits.
Watch the sun go down with a few friends, and then merrily depart for dinner at one of your favourite Swan Valley restaurants.  Also, bookings are essential  for this event please.

organic sparkling - Form one Planet
Form one Planet at Harris Organic

For more information contact Harris Organic Wines.

Sunset over the swan valley
Sunset over the swan valley

Harris Organic Wines are celebrating 21 years of cellar door sales with a festive season sundowner on Saturday the 1st  December. Members of the Swan Valley community and guests will celebrate the festive season with organic sparkling vintage wines made by Duncan Harris, vigneron and proprietor.

Duncan said, ” He started his organic vineyard from scratch and cant believe that we have been open for 21 years”. Where have all the years gone?”

Established in 1998 and open for business in the year 2000, Duncan has been busy establishing the only certified organic winery in Perth. Duncan makes a wide range of wine styles. Made from grapes from his organic vineyard, the wines including hand disgorged traditional method sparklings.  In addition, these are the wines that will be available at the festive season sundowner for all attendees to enjoy. And the opportunity to stock up for the festive season.

In addition, always look for the logo on the products you are purchasing for your assurance of being “organic”.

New Southern Cross Certified logo
Southern Cross Certified logo

Long Lunch – Organic News

Long Table Lunch

Long Lunch and a long table
Long Lunch at Harris Organic

Food & Organic Wine Long Table Lunch’s

Come to a long lunch in the underground cellar with the organic winemaker, where we are hosting a series of Spring and Autumn long table lunches. Be our guests and enjoy a delicious three-course feast with winemaker Duncan, including lots of organic wines to match the foods. While you are in the underground cellar, experience a barrel tasting of some rich liqueurs.
The cost of the degustation includes a discount on our organic wines for you to take home.
Ph: (08) 9296 0216.  for more information contact Harris Organic Wines.

chicken in cellar
chicken in cellar

Down in the underground cellar amongst the casks of organic wine awaiting your arrival.

Serving Dessert
Serving Dessert

Long Lunch

Dessert sometimes consists of a slice of salted caramel tart or tartlet, this year the mulberries have finished early.

Last years menu consisted of :

The Menu: Entree: Cold savoury platter of selected cheeses, dips and bread served with verdelho and chenin blanc.

Main Course:  a hot savoury platter to share and a vibrant and colourful salad served with shiraz and chardonnay.

Dessert: Salted caramel chocolate praline tart served with rose muscat and our nine-year-old liqueur verdelho.

Also, the above will be similar but not the same as the last long lunch.

Book now for the next long lunch at Harris Organic Wines.