|Grapegrower & Winemaker||Wine & Viticulture Journal||Wine Industry Directory||
||Daily Wine News||
Fred Peacock, Bream Creek Vineyard, Tasmania
Name: Fred Peacock
Fred Peacock was born in Hobart and graduated with a degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Tasmania. His experience includes being a horticulturist with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries for more than 14 years, the last five of those as the State viticulturist. Peacock left the DPI to manage and consult at various vineyards in South-East Tasmania. In 1990 he purchased Bream Creek Vineyard where he remains as owner/manager.
'Like most small vineyard owners/managers, I end up tackling everything from export paperwork, PR, packing orders, accounting, purchasing, carrying buckets and tractor driving at vintage - nothing is excluded from the job description. But the closer to the land, and the further from the paperwork then the better the job!' Peacock said.
What inspired you to become a viticulturist, and how did you get to where you are now?
I remember meeting Maynard Amerine in Tasmania back in the early 1980s, when I assisted in a tasting of Tasmanian wines with him. I was astounded at his ability to describe the vineyard characteristics and even the appearance of the vines from just tasting the wines. It was his first visit to Tasmania - and he had only landed here in the preceding hour! His advice on how to improve the wines by making adjustments in the vineyard made me realise that the interaction of vine treatment and climate was the key to producing great cool climate wines. I already knew that fruit such as raspberries, apricots, cherries, apples from the cooler regions had exquisite flavours - so why should winegrapes be any different? All seems pretty obvious now, but back then the concept of wines being made in the vineyard wasn't so widely accepted.
Do you have a mentor who has influenced you, or your direction in viticulture?
Crikey, it's hard to single out just one! Until the last 20 years or so, 'real' cool climate viticulture was quite a rarity, so everyone was experimenting. That made for lots of opportunities to swap vineyard experiences - good and bad, so there were quite a few mentors. Being based in the Tamar Valley back then, I was involved with the Pirie Brothers, Graham Wiltshire and many others. Each person was developing their own viticulture methods and each contributed to our understanding. I admired the tenacity and determination of those early growers. Don Martin (ex-CSIRO) was quite an inspiration - a very good horticulturist and lateral thinker. More recently I've enjoyed many viticulture discussions with Ray Guerin from whom I have learned a lot.
Which are your favourite varieties to grow, and why?
That's a tricky one. For a challenge you can't go past Pinot Noir. No forgiveness in this variety! Make a mistake in the vineyard and it shows out in the wine to remind you every time you taste that wine. But get it right, and it becomes your favourite variety (I like the challenge). Schonburger is a joy to grow - reliable and always looks like a postcard, so it has to be my pet variety. Good for the days when you've had quite enough challenges.
What is your least favourite variety to grow, and why?
I'm not sure I really have one. In one of our rare wet autumns like 2003, probably the entire lot! Riesling can sometimes drag out in our climate. Picking in late May is not unusual, so that would make Riesling one of my least favourites to grow. Once you get that far through vintage I am anxious to just have it all picked and safely in the winery.
Which alternative variety do you see as being the 'next big thing' for the Australian industry?
I suspect we haven't had much exposure to that next variety yet. Some of the Spanish varieties look pretty interesting, but the next big variety will largely depend on who runs with it, and how much promotional effort is expended in having it widely accepted. See what has been done with Sauvignon Blanc! Our consumers are becoming a lot more adventurous so there will be plenty of scope.
What is your favourite time of the year in the vineyard, and why?
Well that depends a lot on the weather! A long dry vintage like 2008 with fabulous crops and no disease worries makes it just a joy to walk through the ripening vines. But in general I guess seeing rows of young shoots in spring around 10cms long before they start to look untidy would rate pretty highly. All the promise that lies ahead and the excitement of a new season. Plus I always have this awful vision coming into spring that the vines might forget to wake up!
What do you like to do when you're not tending vines?
Sailing is my other passion - the satisfaction of harnessing the wind and that fabulous freedom of gliding through the water is one way of taking a reality check and chilling out. I used to do a lot of bushwalking pre-vineyard days - but I doubt my old bushwalking mates would still regard me as a walker nowadays!
If you had an unlimited budget available to establish your existing vineyard all over again, what (if anything) would you do differently?
For one thing I wouldn't be paying 16% on borrowed funds like I did in the early 1990s to get going! Often wonder how we survived those times. I reckon the great thing about unlimited funding would be to have time to undertake comprehensive planning, soil testing, site mapping and not having to compromise in the face of commercial reality or make 'off the cuff' decisions.
What was the last piece of equipment or machinery you bought for the vineyard?
A new tractor - and what a difference! Enough power to spray up the steepest slopes with a full vat and enough hydraulic oil flow to run extra bits of equipment.
What has been the most difficult business decision you've had to make in your time as a grapegrower and why?
Vintage 1996 was awful in southern Tasmania. The wines turned out great but productivity was horrendously low. The Bream Creek business was young and vulnerable and I really had to decide to either 'go for it' or look at exit strategies. Years in primary production had taught me that there would be long and short cycles of weather, and cool climate vineyards are very 'weather prone'. I decided I really was in it for the long haul, so the climate risk was best managed by getting a foothold in a different climate zone in the north of Tassie to guard against another 1996. Virtually doubling our investment in the industry on the back of a very tough vintage was a huge decision, but it turned out to be a very good one. We ran the northern vineyard for 10 vintages and sold those grapes under contract whilst consolidating the business. Turned out we had great vintages both north and south after that - Murphy's Law reversed?
If you had one tip or 'trick of the trade' to share with your colleagues, what would it be?
Manage your risks! My team must get sick of me ranting on about risk minimisation as it applies to just about everything you do in primary production, where we are largely governed by something as unpredictable and potentially unforgiving as the weather!
If you could remove one vine pest or disease from the face of the earth forever more, which would it be?
If I say Botrytis does that mean no more Botrytis stickies? Ok then I would have to say mealy bug at present. I am just starting to see them getting about in many vineyards and they make me nervous. But then there is Phylloxera - I'd be happy to see them both expelled.
Which areas of grape research do you find of most interest and most practical benefit to your work?
I'm still fascinated at what makes vines react in certain ways, so vine physiology and the determinants of bud fruitfulness and fruit quality gain my attention. I am currently following work on bunch architecture which I reckon has the potential to deliver higher winegrape quality and minimise pest and disease risk. Investigations of vineyard factors influencing flavour and aroma also attract my attention.
What do you think is the number one problem facing today's grapegrowing industry? What would be your solution to this problem?
If it doesn't seriously rain soon - water! But really apart from that we are entering an era where getting seasonal labour is becoming more difficult. There seem to be less people out there keen to really work at agricultural jobs. Rural population decline and opportunities of more comfortable indoors work are having an effect. The solution is maybe to cooperate more with our neighbours so that our rural industries can provide more consistent work over longer periods to try and halt the decline in rural populations.
Other feature articles
- Natalie Fryar, Winemaker, Jansz Tasmania
- Angelo Puglisi, Ballandean Estate, Queensland
- Dave Cleary, West Cape Howe Wines, WA
- Kim Chalmers, Chalmers Nurseries, NSW
- Tiffany Nugan, Nugan Estate, NSW
- Doug Bowen, Bowen Estate, SA
- Drew Brent-White, Windance Estate, WA
- Ian Hollick, Hollick Wines, SA
- Andrew Nugent, Bird in Hand Winery, SA
- Jim Chatto, Pepper Tree Wines, NSW
- Tony Keys, The Key Files
- Forum in pursuit of Pinot excellence
- Andrew Naylor, Pernod Ricard, NZ
- Samantha Scarratt, Fishtail Vineyards, New Zealand
- Adam Hooper and Elena Golakova, La Curio, SA
- Kathleen Quealy, T’Gallant/Balnarring Vineyard/Quealy Wine, VIC
- Richard Smart, Tamar Ridge Wines, TAS
- Terry Lee
- Ben Glover, Wither Hills, NZ
- David Fonseca Guimaraens, Fonseca and Taylor’s Port, Portugal
- Sam Temme, Lloyd Brothers, SA
- Peter May
- Colin Kay, Kay Brothers Amery, SA
- Mark Deegenaars, Sirromet Wines, QLD
- Peter Dry, University of Adelaide, SA
- Simon Thistlewood, Bimbadgen Estate, NSW
- David Lehmann, Barossa Valley, SA
- Mark Lloyd, Coriole Vineyards, McLaren Vale, SA
- Tom Harvey, Chalk Hill, SA
- Albarino – potentially Australia’s great white hope
- Ian Hendy, Tahbilk, VIC
- Oak trials instigated to create the right balance
- Jason Conti, Paul Conti Wines, WA
- Swan Valley goes organic in its approach to wine production
- 100-year-old vines saved from destruction
- Paul Boulden, Margaret River, WA
- Pinot trophy wine a close call
- Grenache finds its place in the spotlight
- Ashley Ratcliff, Yalumba Wine Company, SA
- Lessons from a fiery day in February
- Prolific Penfolds takes a double triumph
- Great win for Tatachilla Shiraz
- Ian Long, Yarraman Estate, NSW
- Capercaillie looks to future
- Tolley leaves AWBC in good shape
- Julian Parrot, Mandala Wines, NSW
- Yarra Valley’s Sticks grows up
- Rebuilding Bianchet Winery
- Kalleskes take organic grapegrowing to heart
- Vineyards benefit from WWOOF program
- Organic producer in touch with the earth
- BackVintage adopts integrated IT solution
- Lark Hill achieves full biodynamic certification
- Joseph Gilbert of Pewsey Vale – early maker of the classic Australian blend
- Sam Statham, Rosnay Wines, NSW
- Young achiever to study in USA
- Evolving Durif at Morris Wines
- Diane Miller, The Vintage Wineworx, WA
- NZ’s star producer guided by the cosmos
- On the rise: Pinot Gris secures its place
- Killeen wins Winetitles’ scholarship
- Rebecca Wilson, Tamar Valley, TAS
- Liz Riley, Vitibit, Hunter Valley
- The Gilberts of Pewsey Vale: the next generation
- Mark Cairns, Riverside Wines, Hawke’s Bay
- Craigow wins Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year
- Cornwall’s Camel Valley sets Sparkling pace in the UK
- Fred Peacock, Bream Creek Vineyard, Tasmania
- Arneis a winner, no matter how you say it
- WA’s Vanya Cullen named ‘woman of the year’
- McWilliams Mount Pleasant Estate award-winning cellar door
- Planning eases heatwave burden for Mount Horrocks
- Supplier of the Year proves customer service goes a long way
- Meet Ken Murchison
- The journey of Tempranillo to Australia
- Successful events have wineries bursting into song
- Jim Barry Wines winemaker chooses biodynamic option
- Meet Belinda Gould
- Hard grind is paying off for Sangiovese
- Biodynamic viticulture benefits Nazaraay Estate Winery
- Monitoring the key to reducing water use
- Consistently improving the quality and reputation of Australian Cabernet
- Making sure vines are true to type
- Lessons from the drought
- A story of Cuban cigars and a good nose
- A Murray Valley winery has released one of Australia’s first 100% carbon-neutral wines
- John Casella: The brains behind the brand
- Quality Tasmanian Pinot Noir stems from varying degrees of stalk removal
- Young leader forecasts positive future for Australian viticulture businesses
- China’s light shines on Aussie export radar
- Driving the blue bus of industry exposure
- Noble wine proves sweet for Australian wine industry
- Solar energy schemes lack uniformity in Australia
- Solutions for the wine industry’s fiddlier labelling jobs
- Carbon neutrality: The new black
- An understanding of excellence: James Irvine and his life in wine
- Can Australia overcome a harsh reality in the US
- Cape Mentelle treats itself to first place
- Aussies export their expert advice to China
- Bruce Tyrell: the Don Quixote of Semillon
- Why the past could help unlock grape’s future
- Brazil opportunities beckon
- Cool wine regions to benefit from research on new pathogen
- Wineries embrace sensory analysis
- Author reveals first steps to marketing magic
- China - emerging market or competitor?
- Young Vine Decline is studied closely in NSW
- Is the Shiraz berry the biggest loser?
- Small players the big winners for tomorrow’s vineyard
- Save money and wine by choosing the right bentonite
- Significant variations in an Iconic Coonawarra vineyard lead to radical solutions
- Sustainable pest control – now and in a changing climate
- Is there value in adding tannin to wine?
- How do country of origin, closure type and label style affect purchase decisions?
- City sellers
- Selective science – from the vineyard to the winery
- Change agenda includes new thinking
- WineCloud provides future direction for winemakers
- The iron(III) tartrate photochemistry of wine: impacts of bottle colour and weight
- How important are wine medals and how much can we rely on those who assign them?
- Big rewards in fine detail
- Italian inspiration for novel Nero d’Avola making
- Oak deserves its fine environmental credentials
- Machinery maintenance is key to vintage success
- Wine: does vine age really matter?
- SA wineries make a positive and lasting impression
- Magazine pages bring history to life for Rutherglen grower
- Coles tells small wineries to ‘work with us’
- Distinguished vineyard sites are essential for quality fruit production says Petaluma
- From vine to bottle: sustainability a core value for Barossa winery
- Adapt and innovate in a challenging wine business world
- Verduzzo - a 'crazy' white
- Australia’s grapevine germplasm collections under threat
- Expo offers suppliers a chance to shine
- Wineries celebrate end of vintage
- Artisan by name and nature
- Barossa symposium delivers tips for Shiraz vineyard management
- Research to reveal best irrigation practice in dry winters
- Lake’s Folly proves its credentials over 50 years
- New research sheds light on flavour additives in wine
- It’s a three-ringed circus
- Trying to paint the world red
- Where do little winemakers come from?
- A chip off the old block
- The rise and rise of Gatt Wines
- Bizot and Croser – a marriage made in the vineyard
- Wine’s wild man rides into town
- Jeff Bond – a licence to thrill
- The Visionary – who’s laughing now
- Chilling out in Australian wine’s own Ice Age
- Quarter of our wines face Chinese ban
- Four-year research project investigates early influence of oxygen
- Australian winemakers’ views towards oak barrel alternatives matures
- Ready…set…tweet! How you can bank your social media benefits
- Wine show season: It seems not all wine shows would earn a gold medal
- January 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
- Smart & Sustainable: Jana Shepherd
- Lazy bones: Jo Perry’s ironic nickname
- Can’t sit still: Bleasdale’s energiser bunny
- Meet New Zealand’s best young viti
- Suzie Muntz
- Clare Burder: Ideas are nothing without action
- Steve Baraglia: A tale of two valleys
- The terror of terroir - By Tony Keys