Rent a Vine Insider – Chardonnay Blending

RAV Chardonnay Workshop 4 – our triumphant return to the winery!

Is there any better way to start a sunny Sunday morning than sipping bubbly in the sunshine amongst your very own vines?  Seriously? 

Even one (of many) festive season hangover(s) couldn’t dampen my spirits today, because we were out of lockdown and back at the winery!

The day began with puppies, vaccination certificate checks and maskless catch-ups, before we were bundled into the minibus to start our final workshop properly. 

When we arrived,  Heaven.

We spent some time wandering the vines, casually sipping our Austin’s Cuvee, checking up on our own babies and talking through how this season’s crop is shaping up with our fearless leader Dwayne.  P.S. It’s looking great apparently.  Better than last year’s and time to put up the first wire to train the vines to grow upwards to optimise the sun coming through.

Perfect growing conditions for these babies include warm, sunny days and cool nights.  And not too much rain.  Rain means more potential disease pressure.  Hail is also to be avoided at all costs.  But not even Dwayne can control the weather gods.

Once we were properly convinced the day couldn’t get any better, we all trooped back onto the minibus to be transported to the brand new, not open to the public yet, Austin’s CELLAR DOOR!

And I’ve got two words for you…

That view.

If Austin’s isn’t written up next year as one of the “Top 10 Cellar Doors with a View”, I will eat my hat (I mean, I could just write the article myself, to save on hat calories, but let’s pretend the stakes are higher than that).

The brand new cellar door is in what was once the old wool shed, at the top of the long driveway near the Austin’s offices.  We are only the second group to have the honour (yesterday’s Pinot RAV were the lucky first), and while it’s not 100% finished (strict instructions to NOT use the back two toilets), more bubbly was flowing freely from the custom built 360º bar, the sheet glass windows overlooking the valley were calling our names and the atmosphere was immediately festive.

The cellar door will be opening to the public early in 2022 for regular tastings Thursday-Monday, as well as for private functions (yep they do 40ths, I checked).

Next on the menu was a comparative tasting of our baby Chardonnay (or foot juice as no-one appreciates me calling it).  We did a series of tasters and threw around serious wine words like “fruity” and “lees” and “malolactic fermentation” until everyone was blue in the face.  We discussed what our final blend would taste like, we saw proofs of our labels (yay!!) and we drank more wine.

By this stage, there was only one responsible thing to do next…


Our lunch was catered by Sticks n’ Bones (who will be renting out the kitchen at the cellar door on weekends) and was everything we could’ve dreamed of after a morning in the vines.

Tasting platters, including tacos and sliders and everything that is good.  Bowls of saucy mussels.  More wine.  If this is what the cellar door is going to be like on weekends, you can count me in (can I get a permanent table?  With my name on it?).

And so ends the final instalment of my chardonnay making journey.  We now wait with breath that is bated for our bottles to be filled, labelled and delivered and cross our fingers that next year’s celebration party (for both the 2020 and 2021 RAV contingent) will go ahead and not fall victim to any COVID related shenanigans as it has in years past.

If you’re looking for the PERFECT last minute Christmas gift for the wine lover in your life, I could not possibly recommend this experience highly enough.  Every workshop has been an experience and a pleasure.  The company is always great (you get that with likeminded folk), the food is always mouth-watering and the wine… well I guess you’ll just have to taste for yourself.

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