It was the day after Australia Day, and I can’t remember a vintage starting and finishing so quickly in my life!
None of us expected the unrelenting heat that would consume our days over a two month period while we juggled fruit coming from all directions – our own vineyards, and the vineyards further south where they also started picking earlier because of a lack of rain.
We finished a month earlier this year, meaning we compressed what is normally a three-month vintage into two.
Usually we expect our South-West fruit to arrive up to a month later, which gives us a slight breather.
But it wasn’t to be, and with all hands on deck and tempers fraying, that obligatory cold lager at the end of the day was the only thing that kept us sane… almost!
The whites from our Carabooda vineyard were the first to come off and they were in great condition, however had I left things a little later, the outcome would have been less than ideal.
Little did we know that with the combination of cyclone threats along the coast, coupled with the ensuing hot weather, we may have lost our years’ worth of fruit.
In hindsight, Mother Nature forced my hand, and I’m glad she did. It just goes to show that every vintage is different, and you never know what she will dish up.
I feel great sympathy for the growers on the east coast who’ve had nothing but rain, which opens the door to disease and rot in their fruit.
They’ve only just started their vintage, which seems almost surreal from where I’m standing.
Through all of this, it became really apparent to me how well certain varieties thrive in our climate.
Chenin blanc, grenache and shiraz, which we planted many years ago in our northern vineyards, really prospered in the warm environment, as did our tempranillo.
Still, there’s no rest for the wicked and there’s plenty of work to do.
We’ll get the whites cleaned up over the next couple of weeks and ready for bottling in May, and meanwhile, we’ll enjoy the Indian summer and cooler nights.