Biodynamic duo real deal in Hunter wine

PASSIONATE: Ross and Derice McDonald, of Macquariedale Wines, use biodynamics on their farm. Picture: Marina NeilIT’S Australia’s oldest winegrowing region, and it’s right here in our own backyard.
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The Hunter Valley was first planted to vine in 1833 by the Godfather of Australian viticulture, James Busby. Busby planted the Hunter’s first vines on his property near Branxton, known as Kirkton Estate.

Nowadays there are more than 140 wineries and cellar doors to visit in the Hunter Valley, each with their own unique story to tell.

Macquariedale and Krinklewood are two such wineries that tell an alternative Hunter wine story, because of the unique way they farm their property in order to grow their wines. Both wineries are farmed biodynamically, which means they treat the whole property, including the vineyard, winery and anything else living on the farm as one interconnected organism.

‘‘Biodynamics follows a natural way of enhancing soil fertility by applying catalysts for soil bacteria and fungi to flourish and provide the plants all the necessary nutrients to grow the best fruit possible,’’ explains Ross McDonald, owner and winegrower at Macquariedale Wines in Rothbury.

‘‘We use biodynamics on our farm to obtain a better, more sustainable, and healthier end product,’’ says Rod Windrim, owner and winegrower at Krinklewood, situated near Broke.

‘‘It considers the farm in its entirety,’’ continues Rod. ‘‘The soil is seen as an organism in its own right and it is the most natural agricultural farming philosophy.’’

IN order to promote the health and fertility of their soils, Macquariedale and Krinklewood utilise various preparations associated with biodynamics, including Prep 500, which is cow manure that is packed into cow horns and buried over the winter to ferment and change from a sticky, smelly substance, into a soft colloidal, crumbly and sweet-smelling matter, full of active microbiological life.

The finished Prep 500 is sprayed underneath the vines, directly on to the soil and acts as a natural substitute to synthetic agrochemical fertilisers, which can be harmful to the environment and, over time, actually degrade soil health.

‘‘Chemical agriculture has developed shortcuts to quantity by adding water-soluble minerals to the soil,’’ Windrim explains. ‘‘The plants take these up via water, thus bypassing their natural ability to seek from the soil what is needed for health, vitality, and growth. The end result is deadened soil and artificially stimulated growth.’’

‘‘If the vines are healthy, you get less disease,’’ McDonald says. ‘‘By overfeeding the plant with a synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, you actually make it more susceptible to disease pressures. By using the natural methods of biodynamics, our vines are better able to resist such problems.’’

Biodynamics promotes biodiversity in the vineyard, establishing a vineyard specific ecosystem in which many species of plants and animals can live side by side.

‘‘We have a diversity of grass species which provide a natural habitat for bug life on the farm,’’ Windrim says.

‘‘When we mulch, we only ever do every second row so as to allow the bugs to live in their own little environment and not bother the vines. This also attracts natural predators, such as spiders and ladybugs, which helps create a natural balance in the vineyard. These natural predators will deter unwanted pests themselves, and through the unified force of the entire ecosystem.’’

2012 was a terrible vintage for red wine in the Hunter Valley. It rained almost non-stop leading up to harvest, and as a result many growers lost their entire crop.

‘‘In 2012, most of the red grapes in the Hunter Valley were lost to many forms of mildew and rot from the excessive and untimely rain,’’ McDonald says. ‘‘However, we managed to harvest about 80per cent of our balanced red grape crop, including our first ever pinot noir, which was a stand-out drop and sold out just three months after release.’’

Together, McDonald and Windrim believe that growing their wines biodynamically makes for more authentic wines with an inherent sense of place.

‘‘Great wines start in the vineyard,’’ McDonald says, ‘‘and biodynamics is a system that allows us to grow the best, most flavoursome fruit, which is a key ingredient to creating premium-quality wine.

‘‘Biodynamic wines are alive. A wine that is produced from biodynamically grown grapes and made with minimal intervention shows a clarity and intensity of flavour, and is able to best reflect the place that it comes from.’’

Windrim echoes the point: ‘‘The biodynamic processes allow us to create wines with a clean taste with greater fruit intensity. As biodynamic farmers, we are in search of quality, not quantity of wine … and any winemaking intervention is kept to a minimum to allow for the best possible expression of our place.’’

NESTLED at the base of the Brokenback range, Krinklewood was established in 1998, and, after a few years of organic trials, made the shift to organic and then biodynamic farming practices in 2000. Macquariedale first planted their shiraz vineyard in Rothbury in 1999, and in 2005 it became the first certified organic/biodynamic vineyard in the Hunter Valley. Krinklewood followed suit two years later, becoming certified in 2007.

‘‘Certification recognises that we operate within the standards set by the Biological Farmers Association,’’ Windrim says, ‘‘and we know there are consumers who give preference to products wearing the bud logo when comparing to conventional products claiming to be ‘green’ in some way.’’

‘‘Certification is important to our business,’’ McDonald says. ‘‘It takes at least four years to obtain and it underpins our integrity, which is a key part of our daily life. We use the bud logo to allow the consumer to make an informed purchasing decision about our wines.’’

Macquariedale and Krinklewood are the only two certified biodynamic wineries in the Hunter Valley.

‘‘Commitment to the biodynamic system can take many years to be fully realised, and it is very much a lifestyle choice,’’ McDonald says.

‘‘The interest [in biodynamics] is growing nationally and locally,’’ Windrim says, ‘‘and we would love to see more biodynamic vineyards in the Hunter Valley.’’

Daniel Honan is founder of thewineidealist南京夜网.

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Catches bode well for classic (28/3/14)

EVERYTHING is in place for the Twin Rivers Fishing Classic at Raymond Terrace this weekend, according to Junction Inn Fishing Club secretary Gerard Cunningham.
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WRIGHT ON: Corey Wrightson wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this striped marlin caught last Saturday fishing with his old man, Craig, on ‘‘The Workshop’’. ‘‘We also got four tuna and a dolphin fish and at one point had a double hook-up with a black marlin,’’ Craig reported.

“This bit of rain is only going to help things,” Gerard said.

WRIGHT ON: Corey Wrightson wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this striped marlin caught last Saturday fishing with his old man, Craig, on ‘‘The Workshop’’. ‘‘We also got four tuna and a dolphin fish and at one point had a double hook-up with a black marlin,’’ Craig reported.

“It should flush some of the bigger fish out of the tributaries.

“Guys fishing in kayaks west of Irrawang bridge got half a dozen flathead the other day, so that’s a good sign, and we’ve been seeing a few jewie and bream down in the harbour.

“My wife outfished me down there the other day . . . as usual.”

Competitors can register until 7.30 tonight at the Junction Inn Hotel at Raymond Terrace and can fish anywhere they like, from the junction of the Hunter-Paterson rivers near Morpeth down to the end of the Stockton-Nobbys breakwalls.

The only requirement is to be back for the weigh-in at 3pm on Sunday at the Junction Inn to be eligible for the prizes on offer. And of course there’s the free sausage sizzle for all registered warriors.

“We’ve encouraged it as a family affair over the years and there will be stacks of prizes and giveaways on offer for nippers and juniors,” Gerard said.

There will be a raffle tonight as well as the major prize giveaway on Sunday – a box trailer, valued at about $2000.

“This is our ninth year and over that time we’ve donated nearly $12,000 to the Westpac helicopter rescue service alone as well as other charities,” Gerard said.

Good-sized kingfish

BILLY “The Machine” Gillon reports plenty of big kingfish in close from Moon Island off Swansea down south towards Bird Island.

“Live yakkas are producing fish,” Billy said.

“I got smoked by a couple of monsters on Sunday. One I nearly had at the boat before I pulled the hooks.

“There is some nice squire and trag on the reefs in close around Catho.

“Up at the bay a few longtail are showing up at Tomaree and Broughton and the dollies are still going off at the FADs.”

Challenge results

MORE than 8500 anglers competed in the nationwide Pirtek Challenge last Sunday.

Organisers are judging the photos and will announce winners on the website (pirtekfishing南京夜网.au) on Tuesday, April 8.

This writer bumped into a competitor at the Wollombi pub and was told he had caught and released at least 60 bass in rivers and streams around Paxton up to the pub. Corey Malone and Chris Inglee managed a few nice bass at St Clair last week.

“The bite was a bit slow in the afternoon but about an hour before dark, the bass started taking surface lures hard and fast. Corey landed a nice bass that measured 45 centimetres among a few more smaller fish,” Corey said.

Club reels in crowds

BUDGEWOI Fishing Club had a good turnout for their monthly outing last Sunday.

Bill Ingram took out the estuary division. Rob Duff (deep sea), Rob Mainey (secret weight) and Cody Rappa (junior) were the other winners. Special mention to Steve Bott who hooked a 2.5-kilogram diamond trevally in Lake Macquarie, and Rob Duffy, who got some nice dolphin fish off Terrigal. The next fishing competition will be the combined fish-off against Wallarah Bay and Lake Munmorah on April 4 to 6.

Teams come up trumps

SWANSEA RSL Fishing Club held its annual teams event last weekend.

C Judd, G Cross and F Cox took honours with a mixed bag of tailor, bream, flathead, drummer and leather jackets. C Boyce, K Stanley, B Bridge finished runners-up with a similar bag. Daniel Grimma won the junior crown with his bag of flathead and leatherjackets.

Mel Rudzinski was ladies’ champ with a four-kilogram jew. However, special mention goes to her husband, Terry, for his salmon which, on closer inspection at weigh-in, turned out to be a lovely tailor, 1.5 kilograms cleaned.

“Should have gone to Specsavers, Terry,” club comedian Cameron Judd quipped.

Mixed success reported

“THE game fishing has continued to be patchy with the strong current out wide persisting, pushing the baitfish down south,” according to Newcastle Gamefishing Club secretary Scott Morris.

“Some of the Newcastle Gamefishing Club boats are having mixed success with a few marlin caught out wide and a few caught in the 40 to 60-fathom marks. There have been quite a lot of mahi mahi caught around the FADS and trap buoys. Most success is coming by flicking lightly weighted baits at them. Keep your eye out as there have been some small black marlin hanging around with them also.”

Meanwhile, NGFC performed well in its first showing at the NSW Interclub. It provided two tag and release teams.

Tycon was runner-up in the Champion Boat Capture division. Bailey Blance, fishing on Tycon, won most points tag and release for a small fry and tagged and released the most sharks.

Steve Norris, on Rocket, took out most other gamefish tagged and released day one, and Danny Curtis, on Ningaloo, took out most marlin tagged and released day three.

“All up, a fantastic result for our first ever representation for NGFC at the NSW Interclub,” Scott said.

Dust off your trailers

IT won’t be long before the Trailer Boat Fishing Tournament is upon us.

The huge family-oriented event will be held over the weekend of April 4 to 6 at Nelson Bay.

Register online at tbft南京夜网.au.

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TOPICS:Kurri Kurri, you got that longing feeling, video

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What do you think when someone mentions Kurri Kurri? Is it Bulldogs? Paul ‘‘Chief’’ Harragon? What about nostalgia?

This weekend (starting today) it’s the latter, as the town rolls out the 11th instalment of the annual nostalgia festival.

It makes sense when you think about it; every time Topics has been to the place we’ve felt nostalgic for the times we weren’t there.

Each year the festival attracts about 40,000 people to the town, and is a celebration of rock ’n’ roll, classic cars, hot rods, fashion and the 50s and 60s.

This year the main attraction is Cherry Dollface, a pin-up model and YouTube star who will be judging the festival’s best dressed competition.

Cherry, whose real name is Cherokee, will also be judging a pin-up throwdown competition at the Cambridge Hotel next Saturday.

Cherry’s big among the increasing scene of young people buying into rockabilly, particularly because of her hugely popular videos on achieving the pin-up ‘‘look’’.

The heavily-tattooed model is in Newcastle at the moment, and yesterday Topics caught up with her to talk about the benefits of peanut butter vs chocolate on a desert island, classic cars, and nostalgia.

There’s a video of our chat below which, aside from Cherry, features Topics doing our best impression of a TV journalist (We reckon we’ve got Nat Wallace covered, you may disagree).

Please enable Javascript to watch this videoCherry Dollface video

IN the war of words that followed the federal government’s decision to reinstate the titles of Knight and Dame to Australia’s honour system, it’s fair to say the Labor party have had the better running.

Senator Sam Dastyari’s ‘‘Game of Tones’’ speech, and opposition leader Bill Shorten’s alleged humming of Rule, Britannia in Parliament stand out in particular.

But the Hunter’s only Liberal MP, Bob Baldwin, got one back yesterday, delivering a region-specific zinger at some of his Hunter rivals on social media.

‘‘Very disappointed by Hunter ALP members speaking against the idea of knights,’’ Baldwin wrote. ‘‘Thought they would all be [Newcastle] Knights supporters’’.


Australia has a storied history of political barbs, most of them delivered by former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating (one of our favourites is his remark to now-retired Liberal politician Wilson ‘‘Iron Bar’’ Tuckey: ‘‘You boxhead you wouldn’t know. You are flat out counting past 10.’’)

But we’re wondering, are there any politics tragics out there who can nominate a Hunter MP past or present with a particularly sharp tongue? Got some examples?

MORE dispatches from those suffering from the hilarious Newcastle/Newcastle Upon Tyne mix-up.

Reader Glen runs an Instagram page @newcastlelifestyle that posts photos from around our lovely city, and reckons people in the UK regularly tag his account in their photos.

So far he’s escaped mistaking Geordie Shore for Bar Beach, but does worry about looking like a ‘‘Newcastle newb’’ if he ever slips

Jess Hemmings and Cherry Dollface give Topics a taste of what Kurri Kurri has to offer. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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Teens go deep for title shot

NCH SPORTSpear fishers Taylah Martindale, right, and Sam Morgan, left, train at The Forum in preparation for Inter Pacific Spear Fishing Championships in Tahiti in April. The Forum Gym, Callaghan.26th March 2014 NewcastleNCH SPORT PIC JONATHAN CARROLL Spearfishing Taylah Martindale
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THEY say if you’re not prepared to put the hard work in, you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for success. But when it comes to spearfishing, nothing could be further from the truth.

Sixteen-year-olds Sam Morgan and Taylah Martindale know this well as they prepare for the prestigious Inter Pacific Spear Fishing Championships to be held in Tahiti in April.

The events require competitors to catch a designated list of fish species in a six-hour competition period.

Morgan booked a berth to the Polynesian paradise by winning the national junior spearfishing crown at the national titles at Kangaroo Island in January.

Martindale did likewise, defending her open ladies crown won in Sydney last year at the tender age of 15.

They fly out to Tahiti on April 4 to compete against divers from New Zealand, Guam, Hawaii, Tahiti and New Caledonia in what is considered one of the showcase spearfishing events in the southern hemisphere.

“I’ve been upping my training in the pool, doing 50-metre underwater laps,” says Morgan, brother of former Knight Anthony Quinn. “I can dive up to 25 metres [as can Taylah] but the pressure can be pretty uncomfortable.

“The rule of thumb is you should dive your age. Some of the Tahitians can dive up to 50 metres, and stay down a minute so they will be tough to beat. Plus they’ll have local knowledge on their side.”

A year 10 student at St Mary’s, Gateshead, Morgan has just completed a free diving course to improve his stamina.

Apart from the ability to hold your breath for upwards of three minutes, spearfishing requires great athleticism, composure and skill. It is recognised as one of the forms of fishing that has the least impact due to the selectivity of the kill and physical limitations involved. And there is an element of danger.

To win their national titles at Kangaroo Island, Morgan and Martindale, like all competitors, had to set off from the beach each morning, swim to where they figured their targets were, fishing in pairs for six hours each day, for three days in shark-infested waters.

Tragically, one of their mates whom they competed against, Sam Kellett, was taken by a great white shark a couple of weeks later on a club outing near Edithburgh.

Sea life is not the only enemy.

Competitors fish in pairs to guard against shallow water blackout, which occurs when blood supply starts running low on oxygen. In such conditions, oxygen will be drawn from the last reservoir in the body, the brain, and consequently, a diver can faint and drown.

“With competitive diving like this, you spend six hours in the water, you swim maybe three kilometres, you have to hydrate a lot and take your food, it’s tough,” Morgan says. “There’s pressure to get points, so you can’t relax.”

Upon arrival in Pape’ete, Morgan and Martindale will take another flight to a remote island where the competition will occur.

Local knowledge will be a big advantage.

“We’ve been given a list of the species to target, we don’t have a lot of those fish over here and when we get over there, we’ll have two days to scout the area and find where they live,” Morgan says.

Competitors will be diving in two regions; shallow (to about 20 metres) and deep (below 20 metres).

“The water over there will be clearer, which means you can dive deeper but that can put your shooting off too,” Morgan says. “You think the fish are much closer than they are and your spear tends to pull up short.”

Morgan is getting a new gun for Tahiti, which will have a “double wrap” (two rubber bands), extending his range to about eight metres. A normal spear is connected to the gun by line and powered by a single rubber band with a range of three to four metres.

Morgan will be hitting Tahiti in form having just won the South Coast Championship at Ulladulla a fortnight ago.

Martindale, who is in Year 11 at St Francis Xavier, is looking to defend her Inter Pacific Crown won with Kaylee Andrews last year in Gladstone.

“The world championships are in Peru this year, which I’ll probably miss, but one day I hope to contest them,” she said.

They will be heading to Tahiti with an Australian team including eight-time national champion Rob Torelli, whose company Diving Down Under is providing Sam and Taylah with wetsuits.

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