All systems ‘grow’ as vintage 2013 moves along…

Although we now enter the new year (and best wishes to all our readers), for the vines they are already half way through theirs.  We refer here of course to the year from the vines perspective, which really runs from winter to winter.

Below is a basic chart that shows the year according to our vines, in terms of their major phases.  In terms of importance, not one of these steps outweigh any other, as they all ultimately combine to define the nature and quality of the resultant vintage.  The seasonal attributes of each year never fails to infuse its unique pattern into the distillation of a vintage.  These effects can range from the sublime to the obvious, and one thing is for sure, you never have exactly the same vintage twice.  This to us, is ultimate hook of wine.

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Back to Vintage 2013 and needless to say the theme now, after an inconsistent start (hot/cold), it is now of course generally hot and much more the matter, very dry.  This is all thanks to the intense high pressure system currently sitting over central Australia, that is keeping clouds away and letting heat accumulate.  Eleven days into January, we are still yet  to open our rain account for the year and we are currently utilising our gentle drip irrigation to sustain the exceptionally good condition of our vines.  Alarmingly these dry conditions stretch back to September 2012, where we have received at best, 53% of the LTA (Long Term Average) rainfall for our region.  This is currently the driest start for a vintage on our records with an cumulative deficit which stands to date at over 150 mm of rain in comparison to the LTA. The challenge for the remainder of the vintage is adequate hydration, to maintain the canopy to ensure the grapes achieve optimal ripeness.

Sep_Dec2012 RainfallAs farmers we are naturally obsessed with the weather and we’ll do a blog at some point dedicated to our approach to weather and how for us, and now for a lot of people, is far from just being small talk.

Below is the vine year in review with each photograph tracking the development of our 2013 Vintage.

Budburst! First buds open on September 19, which is around 'normal'.

Budburst! First buds open on September 19, which is around ‘normal’.

Developing Inflorescence on our 96 Chardonnay

Grape inflorescence begin to form, each individual berry is first a flower. This is a bunch of grapes at the embryonic stage!

Pinot Noir Bunch just before flowering commenced

Pinot Noir Bunch just before flowering commenced.

From Late November to Early December flowering begins. Each of these flowers are potential berries. Stable, moderate weather is preferred for uniform ‘fruit-set’. Please note this photo is not our own and comes courtesy of Wikipedia.

Fruit Set 2013

Fruit set takes around three weeks usually completing mid December onwards.  Warm, dry weather saw very uniform and healthy fruit set.
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Here is how a bunch looked on January the 11th. Berries are now starting to swell and entering a phase called Bunch Closure. From here, the space you see between the berries will disappear as they swell, to form a tight cluster of berries.

This shows the uniformity of growth in our vineyard. To have a balanced wine, you need a balanced vine!

This shows the uniform growth in our vineyard. To have a balanced wine, you need a balanced vine! The next step here is to control the canopies growth, to do this we put a hedger on the tractor to trim along the top of the row. See next photo.

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This is the same row after the hedger has been through. We hedge the canopy to stop the two sides of our lyre trellis canopy from joining in the middle. This keeps the canopy separate and open allowing for maximum sunlight inception and airflow.

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This photo illustrates what we mean by keeping the canopies of the one vine separate. Hedging is the most practical way to achieve this. From here our skilled vineyard team fine tune the canopy whether it be shoot or fruit thinning and guide the vintage home.

Next phase: Veraison We’ll keep you posted to as when that starts in a few weeks…until then, stay cool!