Happy New Year to everyone, I hope that you had a good Christmas with friends and family.
A new year closes out what was our third consecutive wet year, La Nina continued to make herself felt though the first three quarters of the year, with widespread floods again experienced across South Eastern Australia. Up to the 31st of December 2022 we received 1365.5mm of rain with 97 rain days at Brokenwood. Pokolbin reached its annual rainfall by the end of June, with 2022 the wettest year that we have had on record. The start of the growing season was particularly challenging with vineyard access and Downy Mildew pressure a constant issue. Despite these challenges, Kat, Fletch & Remy did a sterling job keeping sprays on, and both the undervine and mid-row grass under control.
Thankfully the weather cleared up in late October, with relatively benign conditions taking us through the final two months of the year. Fruit condition and canopy were excellent, though tracking 10-14 days later than the past few years due to the cooler/wetter start to the season.
As if any reminder was needed that nothing is final until we have picked, we received a hail storm on the evening of January 4th just as the grapes were going through veraison. This storm caused widespread damage to vineyards across Pokolbin, particularly those that are bordered by Broke Rd, McDonalds Rd and the Brokenback range. Unfortunately for us, that is where the majority of our Single Vineyard Shiraz vineyards are located, with Oakey Creek also receiving a touch up. Thankfully north of Palmer’s Lane was relatively untouched, so vineyards such as Dalwood, Latara, Kindred and Stanleigh Park were unaffected. Despite this storm, we have had good dry weather for the last fortnight which has helped to dry out the worst affected fruit.
Kate and the team sampled our first grapes last week, with flavour starting to come on in the Chardonnay. Oakey Creek Chardonnay will be our first pick, I expect this to come off mid/late next week, weather dependent. Semillon is still a little way off and at this stage it is looking like we will not start picking Sem until well after Australia Day. Shiraz is in good condition despite the hail and is still going through veraison. I don’t expect to pick any red grapes until mid-February.
The forecast for the next week is a little patchy with hot weather forecast for today and tomorrow before a cooler change arriving later in the week. Hopefully there is little moisture in this system and the grapes can continue ripening evenly.
The vintage cru arrived yesterday and have started work today. Snorks, our vintage chef, will be starting on the pans early next week.
This year’s vintage cru is made up of:
Max Staggs: South Australian, 4th year Oenology student, 5th vintage.
Paul Williams: Canberra boy, 2nd year Oenology student, 11th vintage.
Roberto Canestrini: Italian, Oenology graduate, 9th vintage.
Darcie Linnell: Brains 2023. South Australian, 4th year Oenology student, First vintage.
Charlotte Lumby: English, Second vintage.
Louis Tolley: South Australian, First vintage.
Will Carter: South Australian. First vintage.
Henry Barnes: Returns once again for his third vintage.
In other exciting news, we have recently received confirmation that the Oakey Creek Vineyard is now certified under the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA) program for vintage 2023. SWA is Australia’s national program for grapegrowers and winemakers committed to making sustainable wine. This is the result of a lot of hard work by Loz St Vincent, Kat Barry and the vineyard team. Oakey Creek joins our other SWA certified vineyards Graveyard, Verona, Tallawanta and Mistress Block which were all certified for the 2022 vintage. This means that all of the vineyards that are currently owned or managed by Brokenwood are certified as sustainable, and we will be able to rollout the SWA trustmark on the labels of these wines on future releases.
In the meantime, keep your fingers and toes crossed for a continuation of this dry weather so we can enjoy a grape hammer in the sun and make the most of a high quality 2023 harvest.