I really love going on tours of factory type places and learning how things are made, I think it gives you a nice appreciation of what you’re tasting/looking at – it’s also a great way to learn more about the place you’re in and do something different from just swishing and tasting wine (that came after the tour).
Really love the guys at Mt Pleasant, they’re super friendly and helpful and don’t push with sales, but know their stuff! For five dollars we signed up to do one of their winery tours and because it was during the week there was only six of us, the man and me and a family from Brazil, so we had lots of opportunity to ask questions.
So first things first, Mt Pleasant is one of the best in the region because of their vineyards, they’re 132 years old! The older the vineyard, the better the wine and their original Old Paddock and Old Hill are considered some of Australia’s most prestigious vineyards. What is interesting is that they’re originally from cuttings in Europe and are now more more authentic than 90% of the vineyards in Europe. A lot of the wine growing regions in Europe had originally imported their vineyards from the US – unfortunately these particular plants had bugs – and now they only last for 70 years.
It takes about 40 years for the Shiraz grapes to start reaching their full potential, so with 132 year old vines you can bet it’s pretty good by now.
Hundreds of backpackers descend upon the vineyards in the third week of January to start picking the grapes.
Quick facts on wine making:
- the grapes need to be crushed immediately after picking to ensure quality
- to create a white wine the skins and seeds must be removed immediately
- if skins are left on it will be a red wine
- the harder the press the worst the wine – skins will become squashed and create a bad flavour
- red wine is fermented with yeast and fermentation takes 5 days
- Mt Pleasant use French or American oak to store their wine, although the French oak is considered a better spicy flavour
- each barrel of French or American oak costs around $1,900 each and can only be used for four years
- each barrel of wine is emptied, cleaned and refilled every 6 weeks
- barrels beyond their four year use can be used for ports or muscats
- cork is slowly being phased out of wineries and screw tops are considered better since about 9% of bottles with a cork become ruined through air getting into the wine.