Three weeks have passed since my last vintage update and it has been a slow start to the season. We received 88mm for the month of January and despite the hail storm on January 4th and a subsequent smaller hailstorm on January 24th, the weather has been relatively kind with warm/hot days and mostly cooler nights. We took in a small pick of Oakey Creek Chardonnay on January 31st but otherwise the first week of February was really where we kicked off, which is the latest in my time in the Hunter. As of this morning we have taken off just over 170 tonnes from the Hunter Valley with the majority of this coming from the Upper Hunter as well as Chardonnay and a small amount of Semillon from the Oakey Creek Vineyard
The fruit that we have picked so far has come off in sound condition with good natural chemistry. Yields are lighter than expected due to a challenging season with restricted growth due to waterlogging, disease pressure and hail all having an impact.
We have a busy fortnight ahead, with all of our Semillon scheduled to be harvested in the next 10 days, following which I expect to continue straight into the reds. We will have Shiraz ready to sample towards the end of this week. Quality looks promising for the Hunter Valley Shiraz, with much of the early uneven bunches having caught up.
The weather forecast looks reasonably stable, with the chance of some rain tomorrow and heat returning quickly thereafter. A little rain will not be an issue as conditions have dried out and the vines will welcome the relief.
Regions outside of the Hunter are also experiencing a similarly late season, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Beechworth are currently finishing veraison and I don’t expect to commence picking there until very late February/first week of March. Unfortunately, a hailstorm hit Indigo Vineyard on Monday 16th which caused some crop loss, thankfully due to the late season we have sufficient time for the damaged fruit to dry up and fall off, so the impact should be on yield more than quality. Hayden Tinkler will be heading down to Beechworth to look after the winemaking this year, which is an exciting opportunity albeit much later than originally planned.
McLaren Vale has had a mild wet summer, which means that Rayner and Wade Block 2 won’t be picked until late March. Easter is looking like a busy time of year in the winery.
As per my last report, keep your fingers and toes crossed for continued dry weather across our growing regions and I’ll update again in a couple of weeks.