These truly majestic trees have to be seen to be believed – in full fruit they are a sight to behold, and what better way to appreciate their unique beauty than sitting beneath one feasting on their very unusual fruits. Don’t forget to look up and marvel at their ancientness (is that even a word?) and typical pine form, with branches at right angles to the trunk. As an added bonus, the fruits are packed with antioxidants and cancer fighting phytochemicals, according to this report from 2012 (which has a very long title so click and see for yourself!). We like to think that at least some of these qualities are preserved in our Plum Pine dessert wine, just as grape wines do with the antioxidants from the juice of the grapes.
Plum Pines in the picking net
So May is harvest time for the plum pines, and we are always keen to hear from landowners who have these trees on their property – not least because only the female trees fruit, and usually every second year – meaning we can only pick fruit from one out of every four trees annually. And if you have fruit to spare, we will be happy to return the favour with a bottle or two of elysium’s finest! Of course we drag the kids along to help (?) and when they’re not complaining they entertain themselves quite nicely as you can see from this photo… they also love it when they find a “double-seeder” which is sort of like finding a four-leaf clover.
“Barbed Wire with Plum Pines”, by Rocco Sharman
Yes after a whole year of waiting… the dessert wines have been released! In elegant 375ml bottles with a gorgeous label – designed by our daughter Juliette – the lovely rich plum hues are a sight to behold. And then the taste… amazing is an understatement! In fact, we have had 100% positive feedback so far, including the (unofficial) launch of the wines at Illawarra Future Fest – a sustainability expo which we attended at Kiama in early June.
Jim discusses native fauna & flora with his fellow horticulturists
And speaking of the travelling winemakers, Jim and I will be stallholders at the Capital Region Farmers Market on the first and third Saturdays of the month beginning in July. So if you live in the ACT, you can now purchase our wines without coming all the way to Mogo first! By the way, our dessert wines and more will soon be in stock at Wines on Wallace at Braidwood (definitely worth a visit for all you foodies and wine lovers out there).
Just when I thought it was safe to step out of the winery……
in comes Jim, ‘bagged out’ with Illawarra Plums. An interesting fruit, not least because the seed is on the outside. So began three days of deseeding and crushing, giving us plenty of time to try to think of a more efficient way of processing the fruit (no joy, by the way).
So the Illawarra Plum Pine is indigenous to that area, with its latin name Podocarpus elatus meaning ‘outside seed’. The fruit was harvested from the wild around Gerroa and Foxground. They are olive sized, black and go by several other delightful names such as ‘snot berries’, due to their mucilaginous texture (which is relished by chefs for use with meat dishes). Being, as we are, ‘vegaquarians’, we just decided to turn the whole lot into high-class plonk. Plus we have come to appreciate the plum juice’s effectiveness as a dye – particularly to our hands, clothes and the winery floor.
I do believe we may be cooking up a batch of jam and cordials after the next harvest – I’ll keep you posted!