Last year I remember writing the newsletter with Spring in full bloom. We had had just enough rain, weeds and grass were abundant and growing rapidly and the vines were visibly elongating each day. This year it is a different picture. I have tried to distance Santa Claus time from our wine marketing programme, and so I look out across a vineyard that is dormant except for some early leaves in the Chardonnay and wooly red buds in the Pinot Noir. Elsewhere we have been awash with over a foot of water covering all the flats. Cattle are safely on high ground and must be hand fed. Work in the vineyard is very sloshy. Paradoxically there are very few weeds anywhere owing to the very low May, June and July rainfall. Birds have been active for weeks, magpies particularly aggressive and attacking us as we move in the garden and the vineyard. Cattle starting to get fat and shiny on lush early Spring growth.