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Brokenwood Wines

Current Vintage Reports

Vintage Report
17 January, 2017

There is always slight trepidation talking about the Brokenwood vintage when a grape hasn’t been picked. Hopefully the next few days will change that as the hot weather has meant a jump in sugar levels. Semillon from the Oakey Creek vineyard will be first in and then the week starting 23rd will see all hands on deck. Some local winemakers have already started and are reporting high quality and good yields of Chardonnay and Verdelho. The season is also back (nearly) to picking dates of 20 years ago with the red grapes being in early February.

The Hunter Valley does have some history of hot dry years following a previous wet vintage and dry winter. Years that spring to mind include 1997 then 1998, 2002 then 2003, 2004 then 2005, 2010 then 2011 and 2012 then 2013. Of these the lead up to 1998 and 2005 resemble 2017 in that the winters before were very dry. The middle 6 months of 2004 saw only 126mm of rain over 16 days and for 2015 it was 190mm of rain over 17days. Temperature wise, January 2005 had 4 days over 40C and we’re heading that way in 2017. The forecast for the next month looks to be in our favour.

Sadly the Umpires Decision Vineyard at Cowra was severely damaged by hail towards the end of October 2016. Orange was not affected and has a very good crop of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Indigo Vineyard at Beechworth is also in great shape although the crop is lower due to poor weather at flowering. The cool wet spring has also meant a much later harvest than usual. McLaren Vale is also late with the vineyards looking terrific.

This is Brokenwood vintage number 8 for Stuart Hordern (they add up quickly) and the second for Kate Sturgess and they have an experienced team of cellar hands. Sadly missing the experienced Sebastian Shard who has moved onto to look after The Great Lakes Winery up the coast. All the best Seb.

- Iain Riggs, Chief Winemaker & Managing Director

Update
8 February, 2017

A quick update; yesterday saw the last of the Hunter Valley white picked and the first pick of the old vine Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz. In a word or two, quality is superb.

Another 7mm of rain today (no we didn’t get the Sydney deluge) to cool things down and we’ll need it as rising to 45C on Saturday. Picking the next 2.5 days which will entail balance of old vine, Tallawanta and Mistress Block. Then the next week to get the balance off.

Chef Andy Wright and his team are keeping everyone well fed.

Cowra starts in the next few days with a much reduced crop due to the hail storm last year. Beechworth not too far away but they have continued to get the cool damp weather. Fruit is in good condition. Orange has had similar heat to us but some time off. McLaren Vale is also late.

Don’t forget to follow the Brokenwood Wines adventures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. ​

- Iain Riggs, Chief Winemaker & Managing Director

Update
6 March, 2017

The Hunter Valley grapes were all off by 17th February and I can report the wines are fantastic. Whether it’s another 2014 for the reds or better is yet to be determined but it is bloody close. Surprisingly given the heat, there were very good volumes as well.

Speaking of the weather, how did the vines survive? How did we survive? December had 20 days above 30C with 8 above 35C and the hottest day at 41.2C. Rain for December was 75mm. January had 19 days above 30C with 13 above 35C and the hottest day at 44C. Rainfall was 23mm on 2nd and 26mm on 25th. February had 18 days above 30C with 11 days above 35C and the hottest was actually a run of 3 days 44/47/46C on 10th to the 12th February. Not much rain at 42mm.

The vines survived in great condition thanks to the diligence of Katrina Barry and Stuart Hordern. Mid-year rain was pretty scarce, but we had full dams and subsoil from the 325mm in January 2016. The Tallawanta Vineyard responded to better management with great Semillon and Shiraz. Also, the old vine Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, Verona Vineyard Shiraz and Mistress Block Shiraz all did well.

Hunter Valley Semillon, we’ll have 3, maybe 4 single vineyard bottlings of Trevena, Tallawanta, Draytons and Poppy’s from Marsh Estate.

Lower crops at Beechworth but excellent quality. We have picked up much needed Sauvignon Blanc (never thought I’d type those words) from Griffith.

McLaren Vale is a week or so off and Margaret River is nearly a month off.

Big thanks to Katrina Barry, Stuart Hordern, Kate Sturgess and a great vintage crew.

- Iain Riggs, Managing Director & Chief Winemaker