Category Archives: September

In What Ways Drinking Brandy With Hot Water Is Beneficial?

It’s been said that a little of what you enjoy serves you well, try drinking brandy with hot water. If you like sipping brandy now and again, you’re doing the right thing. You will be amazed to discover that this popular drink in your hand has several health advantages too.

Brandy combined with warm water has long been used as a home treatment for keeping the body warm, but it’s also thought to help with health issues if used in moderation.

Brandy is a warming drink made from a spirit produced from wine (or occasionally a fruit mash). The liquid is stored in oak barrels after first distillation, giving most brandy its characteristic amber hue.

Its name originated from the Dutch meaning “burnt wine,” which is most likely related to the extraction process. It was first produced in the 16th century. The majority of brandy is 50% alcohol in content.

Are you thinking of taking brandy with hot water? When consumed with hot water, can brandy provide any extra benefits? There’s just one way to know for sure. Continue reading to learn about the advantages of mixing brandy with hot water.

organic brandy and a brandy bottle
Organic brandy

What are the advantages of drinking hot water brandy?

Brandy should be appreciated as a natural remedy when used in moderation. Let’s look at some of the critical health advantages of drinking brandy with hot water.

Brandy Health Benefits

It Can Aid in Cold or Flu

When you’re suffering from the flu, it is natural to drink warm water during cold weather. But you can combine it with brandy as well. A soothing brandy with hot water may provide much-needed comfort. Its antimicrobial qualities aid in the treatment of throat irritation and other infections.

One of the most common methods to take brandy for a cold is in a delightful hot toddy, which combines it with honey and lemon, both of which possess healing properties. Meanwhile, a few sips of straight brandy may ease a sore throat and create an excellent combination that leverages the health benefits of both ingredients.

If you want to experiment with something new, you may try Harris Organic brandy. They offer an industry-leading selection of organic brandy’s. However, they also create novel tastes that go well with genuine organic brandy. 

Organic Brandy in a glass
Organic Brandy

It May Impact Cardiovascular Health

Brandy, like many other kinds of alcohol, may have a significant impact on the heart. Like the grape from which brandy is produced, it has a wide variety of beneficial antioxidants that help your heart, according to studies.

This antioxidant capacity may assist in regulating cholesterol levels and prevent plaque build-up by lowering the quantity of bad cholesterol in the heart.

One of the most excellent methods to avoid strokes and heart attacks is to prevent atherosclerosis. Brandy contains polyphenolic chemicals that assist in decreasing artery irritation. It also helps to reduce blood pressure and avoids other heart issues.

Furthermore, brandy’s polyphenolic components decrease inflammation in the circulatory system. It lowers blood pressure by easing blood vessel tension.

However, like with alcohol, excessive intake may be harmful to the heart, so exercise care while monitoring consumption.

After supper, a single glass of brandy diluted with hot water is suggested as a safe and healthy quantity.

A glass of organic brandy and hot water
A glass of brandy

Its Anti-aging Potential

The antioxidant chemicals present in brandy linked to copper in some of the distillation equipment may have a powerful impact on the body.

Antioxidants are organic molecules and substances that neutralize or remove the effects of free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are harmful leftovers of metabolic processes that may cause healthy cells in your body to mutate or die (cell death).

Antioxidants may help prevent cellular death in various places, including the skin, scalp, vital organs, and the brain.

As a result, brandy with hot water has been proven to successfully prevent wrinkles on the face, cognitive problems, impaired eyesight, and other chronic diseases that develop as you age.

It Can Be Beneficial For Your Skin

Although excessive alcohol intake has been linked to the treatment or prevention of some malignancies, brandy has been linked to preventing or treating specific skin issues.

Ellagic acid, a potent chemical molecule that may inhibit the formation and spread of malignant infections, is one of the critical components of brandy.

This acid helps in minimizing bacterial and viral infection. One can experience better overall health when resorting to optimal brandy intake.

Organic Brandy and Cigars
Brandy and cigar

It Can Help With Sleep Problems

Most people associate consuming alcohol with falling asleep; nevertheless, brandy has some calming, warming, and relaxing properties that may aid in the induction of good, deep sleep.

The high alcohol level will help your system due to its inherent sleep-inducing properties, so brandy with hot water is often recommended as an after-dinner drink to aid sleep.

May Support Weight Loss Journey

Unlike carbohydrate-heavy alcoholic beverages such as beer, brandy has no carbohydrates and does not fill you up. Hot water brandy may be savoured as an aperitif without spoiling your appetite.

It does not add to the artificial sweetener breakdown of carbohydrates that are readily stored as fat, including those present in beer.

How to drink brandy for cold

How to drink brandy for cold and cough, is a question often asked. Here is the answer, it’s a hot toddy.

Hot toddy recipe

A hot toddy for a cold or cough is made from brandy, honey, hot water, lemon and optional spices like cloves or cinnamon. A shot of brandy, a large teaspoon of honey, juice of half a lemon and then fill your mug with hot water to dissolve the honey. Sip away.

In conclusion

Brandy is more than simply a drink to assist you with a cold. There are many health advantages and numerous ways to experience this wonderful beverage. But the best way to consume this potion is to mix brandy with warm water and sip while enjoying the delicious flavour of the drink.

Trousseau comes to the Swan Valley.

This is a story about the grape variety Trousseau. In 1998 in the Swan Valley Western Australia, my organic vineyard was not established.  I wanted to purchase grapes from good Swan Valley growers.

I was introduced to Bill Vinicombe.  His family owned the old Socol property on the eastern side of the railway line in Herne Hill.

Trousseau in the Swan Valley
Trousseau in the Swan Valley

Bill had three vineyards, one on the red bank along the Swan River, another in Herne Hill beside the highway and the rest east of the railway line. On Great Northern Highway the block contained muscat a petits grains rouge, pedro ximenez and a few alternate varieties. Bill called one “black riesling”.

So fond of the variety he grafted a row of cabernet sauvignon over to this unknown variety on his home block beside the Swan River.

Several knowledgeable persons had looked at this variety regarding identification. At one stage petit verdot and petit merceau we discussed, however the grape matured to high baume and much earlier than cabernet sauvignon. These were discounted.

Further identification in 2007 with the leaves and fruit  matched against the pictures and description in the book ,” Wine Grape Varieties” by Kerridge and Antecliff I identified this as Bastardo.


Bill gave me half a tonne of grapes to process into wine in 2005.  French style wine was made. That is; minimal intervention, natural yeasts, fermented warm on solids. Matured in a barrique for six months prior to bottling. Sold in 2006 at the cellar door under the label LEDASWAN 2005 Petite Verdot.

A young French winemaker Kevin Mazier came to experience the 2012 Swan Valley vintage with Harris Organic Wines. He brought with him two bottles, one was a bottle of Cotes du Jura, Domaine des Ronces, 2010 Trousseau.

I was intrigued to note that this was a wine I had seen before. In 2005 I tasted the variety bastardo. Luckily there were two bottles of the 2005 left in my cellar to taste against the younger 2010 bottle.

Kevin confirmed that even with age difference, these two wines were made of the same variety.


There are numerous references to the variety bastardo and trousseau being similar varieties. Robinson, Jancis (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine, third edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198609902 mentions  ampelographer Comte A Odart.

Wikipedia sates:

Bastardo (Trousseau Noir, Trousseau) is an old variety of red wine grape. It is grown in small amounts in many parts of Western Europe; most famously it is used in Portuguese port wine. It makes deep cherry red wines with high alcohol and flavours of red berry fruits.

Why would it be Trousseau?

A French man Joseph Millard lived in the Swan Valley many years ago.  From Guildford he would ride his horse to the vineyard each day and ride home again. His vineyard had many varieties. He brought these directly from France when customs clearance was not an issue.   To be continued….

Bastardo – Swan Valley

Bastardo comes to the Valley of the Black Swan

What is Bastardo and Trousseau and why is it in the Swan Valley?

As you may recall, I was investigating the origins of a wine grape varietal called Bastardo found in the Swan Valley. I discovered a cache of a grape referred to locally as Black Riesling. Having identified the variety as Bastardo, I decided to make some Rose’ with it. It sold out quite quickly. I gave the mystery little thought thereafter, being preoccupied with establishing my organic vineyard and winery.

The variety Bastardo is not only Spanish for bastard, it is also an Italian Town in the Perugia province. Bastardo is a baseball player (Antonio Bastardo) for the Philadelphia Phillies, an Ibiza artist, and a music single by Charlotte Hatherley.

Bastardo Swan Valley
Bastardo Swan Valley

Jura, France

Then, in 2012 a young French winemaker named Kevin Mazier came to stay with us. He came to complete an Australian winemaking internship.
Kevin wanted to include Bio or Organic winemaking in this experience. Kevin’s family are viticulturalists and winemakers in the Jura, in the north east of France. Kevin brought with him two bottles of wine. One of these bottles was a Cote du Jura, Domaine des Ronces, 2010 Trousseau, a lovely red wine similar to a light dry Shiraz!

The region of Jura, by the way borders France and Switzerland.  Jura gave its name to the Jurassic period of prehistory. Upon tasting,  I was transported to the making of the red wine Bastardo vintage I had made.  When tasted I had a very strong feeling I knew this varietal.

Fortunately, there were two bottles of the red 2005 “Petit Verdot” wine still left in my cellar. Upon tasting, young Kevin agreed that despite the age difference, it was doubtless that the French Trousseau and the Swan Valley Bastardo were indeed the same variety. Further, this was confirmed upon research when I discovered that indeed, Trousseau Noir (Trousseau or Bastardo) is an old variety grown in small amounts in many parts of Western Europe. This includes the winemaking region of Jura.

In Australia a small amount of Bastardo is grown under the name Gros Cabernet; so the must thickens. This variety is also famously used to make Portuguese port red wine. So, how did the French Bastardo come to be in Bill Vinicombe’s little vineyard in the antipodean valley of the Black Swans?

Where from here

Mr. John Kosovich OBE a friend and neighbour and another Valley vigneron who was born and grew up in the Swan Valley commented. He said that in the early to mid 20th century there was a French Canadian man who owned a vineyard in the Swan Valley. Joseph Millars was his name and he apparently resided at Margaret Street, Midland Junction.

His vineyard was about 40 rows and possibly just 5 acres, containing nonetheless over 20 unknown grape varieties. I myself have 5 acres under vine and grow 8 varieties in my organic vineyard, so it is not especially unusual.  Mr Joseph Millar’s story is not known.  It may never be known from where this gentleman procured the cuttings for the Trousseau or Bastardo. If this vine could speak, what stories it could tell!

Organic Brandy Distillery – Western Australia

Organic Brandy Distillery

organic brandy
organic brandy

Duncan Harris started his organic brandy distillery in 2008 when he had an excess of grapes. In the hot climate of the Swan Valley where the worlds best organic fortified wines are made, a brandy distillery is necessary to produce organic fortified wines.


Harris Organic has two organic brandy stills. The first one is a 300L stainless pot still with a copper condenser.  The capacity of the condenser is rated at 20kW. The pot is fired with wood, which is highly unusual these days. Most stills are gas-fired or electric. The wood used is provided by the vine arms pruned off with the chainsaw during the winter pruning.

This organic brandy still is used firstly to “knock down” the freshly fermented wine into a stable alcoholic organic brandy solution (low wines) so it can be used later. Later the brandy low wines are redistilled to produce eau de vie to make fine wood-aged organic brandy.


Bertha is the second still at Harris Organic. It is a 50-litre beer keg modified with a four-inch triclover fitting to allow the column to fit. The four-inch hole allows for easy cleaning of the still too. The beer keg has legs welded to the base and an outlet with a drain valve. Attached is the 1.5 metre column that is made of 2 inch stainless steel tube filled with stainless steel pot scrubbers. The pot scrubbers add surface area for increased refluxing within the tower, this increases the purity of the organic brandy spirit. Black foam insulation sleeve helps with the efficiency of the still. On top of the column is attached a crossflow condenser. This two-inch condenser was designed by Harry Jackson in Queensland.

Under the condenser is the working part of the organic brandy still. This is a vapour management (VM) controlled still, which means the vapour is controlled with a valve. A one-inch stainless tube is teed off the main column with a one-inch brass gate valve as the controller of the vapour. From there the vapour condenses in a one-inch vertical condenser. The maximum rate obtained from this still at 95% is about 900mL per hour. A rate of one litre per hour is easily obtained at 92 plus per cent.

When the spirit is over 90 % by volume alcohol the product is very smooth to the taste when it is diluted to an acceptable 40%.  This organic spirit is classed as a neutral organic brandy spirit.  Instead of calling it N.B.S. or spiritus vini rectificatus (SVR) we call it vodka. This smoothness is due to the ability of grapes to give a wonderful mouthfeel, compared with other grain-based organic vodka spirits.


These two stills are all that is required to make a range of high quality certified organic spirits. The organic brandy spirits are available for shipment from Harris Organic online at their online organic brandy store.

Wood Aged Brandys – Classifications


VS, VSOP and XO refer to the age and quality of the Brandy. Each corresponds to how long the brandy has been aged in oak barrels. In 1983, following a request by the BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac)*, the French government drafted regulations governing the terms used to describe a cognac”s quality.

These designations, which may be included on the label, refer to the age of the youngest eau-de-vie used in making the Brandy.  VS stands for “Very Special”: only eaux-de-vie at least two years old can be used to make a VS Brandy.

Other denominators and expressions are permitted, such as “3 stars” or “luxury”, and as such are included in the VS Brandy category. VSOP stands for “Very Superior Old Pale”: VSOP Brandys are created from eau de vie aged for at least four years.

The VSOP category includes designations such as “Old” or “Reserve”. XO stands for “Extra Old”: XO Brandys are made only from eaux-de-vie at least six years old. Brandys such as “Napoleon” ( 6 years old) were equivalent to XO Brandy but not since 2018.

XO is now greater than 10 years old.

Australian brandy has to be aged for a minimum of two years in oak casks and in Cognac, it is also two years. The age of the organic brandy or cognac is calculated as that of the youngest component used in the blend.

The blend is usually of different ages and (in the case of our organic Brandys) our blended XO brandy has a minimum of ten years of age.

Thus being the only organic XO brandy in Australia.

Organic Wine in the West

Organic Wine in the West

By Louise FitzRoy; “We’ve created a niche and people come to us for that niche.” Harris Organic Wine in Western Australia is the only certified organic distiller in Australia making brandy and vodka for the national and Asian markets. Owner Duncan Harris says, “We sell a lot of wine and spirits online and have just started exporting our certified organic brandy and organic vodka that was released in 2010 to Asia.” read more about our organic wine blog.

Harris Organic Wines
Harris Organic Wines

“It is proving extremely popular with Asian countries and here in Australia. Our spirit is used in making the only Australian fortified organic wines, which are winning medals at the Swan Valley Wine Show. We were producing spirit for our fortified organic wines, so thought we’d make the most of it. Vodka has the same spirit base used to fortify our ports.

Selling  Organic Wine Direct

“All our sales into Australia and Asia are done with online sales. No intermediary; no wholesalers. We ship direct, door-to-door, with no import duty for Hong Kong.” In 1998 Duncan Harris bought a property in the Swan Valley – the oldest wine region in Western Australia and about 30 kilometres from Perth – and started establishing an organic vineyard. Their first vintage was in 1999 using Swan Valley grapes from a neighbouring dry grown vineyard.

Duncan says, “Most of our handmade produce is sold at the cellar door, which opened in 2000, besides one bottle shop in Perth. We prefer to sell “cellar door” as we are able to give seated tastings, build a relationship with our customers. This develops our brand. We don’t need to worry about competing against other organic wineries in established wine states in Australia.” “We have no desire to sell interstate because the wholesalers want 30 per cent markup.

This means we would have to make twice as much wine for the same income. “We are looking for more markets in Western Australia however. Some years ago we sent out a survey asking our customers where they would prefer to buy our wine.

People asked us to supply bottle shops in the city.  We asked a few stores about their range of customers and whether they would like to stock our organic product and most were not interested. This has been disappointing considering how close we are to Perth. “I’d also like to target more overseas markets, but you have to consider whether the effort of doing so is worth it.

Organic Wine overseas markets

Duncan would like to sell his wine to an organic wine, all-natural wine bar in New York or Paris, but with the continual trips required – not to mention the import and export permits that are necessary – you’d spend a whole year doing it and may not even end up selling any wine. You would need to be there several times a year to service the customers, the wholesalers and the importer. Personally, he would prefer to be at home driving the tractor.”

According to Duncan, there are only about 10 organic wineries in Western Australia. “We are the only certified organic winery in the Perth area. We became certified with Australian Certified Organic in 2006. There’s a big enough market for more than one of us, however, not many wineries want to venture into the organic industry. It starts with the vineyard. There are only a few viticulturists that have the energy and passion to get out and dig weeds and walk vineyards day after day.”

The environment, social aspects, customs and economics are four important elements of Duncan’s sustainability plan. “I built an underground cellar for naturally cooler storage temperatures and we bottle our wine in recyclable glass and cork. We use very small amounts of electricity in producing a litre of wine. This is low compared with the average usage for most other wineries in Australia. We also use low amounts of preservatives and additives.”


Being an organic producer in a state well known for producing high quality wines has not influenced Duncan’s price point.  I add up the production costs plus margin, but being organic doesn’t mean that I need to raise the price point. My wine is competitive with other high quality wine in the country.

He says the business’s online presence,  continues to be very important to its growth and viability.  This includes being on Facebook and Instagram. This is where people look for answers and this is how many of our customers have found us. You’ve got to be on line, otherwise you’ll miss out.

Organic Wine Chemicals

People in general are not aware of the herbicide, pesticide and chemical fertiliser residues found in wines. More marketing of the differences and health benefits will increase the awareness and the demand for organic wine.”

Swan Valley Wine Events

It’s not unusual for Duncan to host the occasional ‘Brandy evening’ at the winery. This gives him the opportunity to educate people about his products, enabling guests to ask questions about organic viticulture. “To make a supply chain work, it’s like building a brick wall. Do it one brick at a time.” Harris Organic Wines is the only certified organic winery and vineyard of Perth’s Swan Valley wineries.

“We believe that the organic wine movement is a world-wide trend because smart consumers are demanding to know exactly what is going into their foods. It represents a social backlash against corporate monopolies who are fundamentally only interested in extending shelf life and profits, rather than human life and ecological sustainability.

We say: think biological welfare – not warfare… it is the way of the future.

Wine Fermenting on Solids

Organic Wine Fermenting on Solids – blog

Fermenting on Solids

  “Secrets of fermenting on solids” by the Australian Wine Research Institute  (AWRI).
Duncan Harris at Harris Organic Wines ferments his white wines on “solids”, while most Australian winemakers ferment off solids, what does this mean? read on.

organic grapes
Praying mantis after organic grapes

Fermenting white grape

organic grapes fermenting on solids
organic grapes

Grape juices containing high levels of grape solids can result in increased hydrogen sulphide production during primary fermentation. However, excessively clarifying juices may result in fermentation difficulties. Attenuated or stuck primary fermentation resulting in elevated levels of volatile acidity may occur.


Well says winemaking text 101. While there is a lot to be said about winemaking 101. For Winemaking 101, previous work by the (AWRI)  has revealed that fermenting on grape solids also results in significantly more polysaccharides in white wines.  This is due to more than extensive skin contact, using pressings, and even more than partially fermenting white juice on skins. Higher levels of polysaccharides are thought to positively contribute to white wine mouth-feel. Polysaccharides also enhance both protein and cold stability resulting in less bentonite fining and lower refrigeration costs.

While juices will naturally clarify under the action of gravity given time. Commercial vintage logistics dictate that the settling process be achieved as quickly as possible.

“We never say we have plenty of time, it’s vintage”.  We don’t say this.  Adding pectolytic enzymes achieved fast clarification.  Adding enzymes, which within minutes, ‘mulch down’ the juice polysaccharides that inhibit settling.  This hastens clarification. Alternatively, settling grape juice can be sped up by adding bentonite as its charged surface helps to agglomerate grape solids into heavy particles which precipitate more easily.

Meanwhile, the AWRI investigated the effect of different types of juice clarification (natural settling, enzyme and bentonite assisted settling) on the macro-molecular composition of white wine.

Clarification methods and the time taken to achieve various levels of clarity are being investigated. Polysaccharide, protein and phenolic composition levels are also being investigated by AWRI.

For more information about the fermentation of our wines, please contact me by email in the first instance.

More info can be obtained from the article,  PROJECT 3.1.4 by AWRI.

Organic Natural Wine – What does it mean?

By Duncan Harris ” WINE, ALL OF ITSELF – Organic Natural Wine. “
When Duncan talks about organic natural wine he is talking about more than the fact that his Swan Valley winery and vineyard  is certified organic.
He is an Australian natural wine specialist and is quietly surprised how natural wine has become such a hot topic of conversation among many a wine aficionado’s.
Swan Valley Natural Wine maker
Swan Valley Natural Winemaker – Duncan Harris

Natural Wine Definition

What is Natural Wine?

The definition of natural wine seems as plastic as there are vintner’s making it. Duncan would like to state for the record that his philosophy of Natural Wine is an organic wine.

A wine that begins in an ideal vineyard, is always hand-picked, gently pressed, fermented with natural yeasts, unfined, unfiltered, aged and sealed preferably with cork.

The wine should be stable and not liable to spoil. Therefore, a scientific approach to the basic chemistries of winemaking needs to adhere to.

The electrical energy used should be sustainable sourced also. Ideally, he recommends all the free solar energy that vintners have at their disposal during vintage should be harnessed with photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Natural Wine specifications

1. The Vineyard – must be not irrigated. This means that the fruit does not uptake artificial moisture as from dammed water or underground water. This means that the water is sourced by the (quite resourceful) vines – making for high-quality fruit.

The vines are hand-pruned and dressed, de-leafing is carried out to reduce fungicide spraying and the fruit is hand-picked when the sugar level is optimal for good wine-making.

2. Natural dessert wine fruit should be picked late in the season and very high in sugar. It is crushed before ferment starts.

Fermentation via natural yeasts (another gift from the Gods of wine). Thereafter, the must is pressed by any means practicable. Duncan uses a basket press, to extract the partially fermented juice.

3. The wine should be unfined and unfiltered. There is a saying,” Good wine falls bright”.

This means very little to no sediment most of which can be avoided by age settling prior to bottling and decanting after opening on the part of the consumer. Any protein haze is a natural part of the process of maturation.

4. The still wine should be sealed with cork as it is a naturally sustainable product.  Cork is a renewable resource and uses 1/2 the electricity to produce, and hence half the CO2 than alternatives like aluminium. Unfortunately, electrical energy is cheap and aluminium screw caps are about half the price of corks. Pet Nat and Sparkling wines may have a crown seal. They keep longer.

Want to know more about Australian Natural Wine?

Want to know more about Australian Natural Wine? ABC natural wine article

In conclusion, organic natural wines are better for you and the environment. Enjoy in moderation.