Scenes from Curly Flat -winter 2016

Here’s a variety of shots taken over what has been a winter that has been mostly wet, very wet! As you get all sorts of weather in between, from the sometimes sunny days which serve as the sucker punch to the days of howling wind & driving rain. The rain is welcome though as it has been in deficit of recent years so this sustained soak will hopefully work its way down deeper into our soils. This will help get our vines into a favourable space for budburst and hopefully vintage 2017 overall.

Although 31st May, this frosty start set the tone for winter!

Frost 2000 block

Frost upclose on a vine

Sunrise on June 1st

95 block – 21 years old this year!

Purple haze – sunrise over Lake Lacuna July 18th

Pruning workshop & more with Simonet & Sirch from Italy

Pruners finishing after a long day

Arty shot of CF winery

We’ve had a few beautiful days too!

Daylight hours are extending…

…but it’s still very cold most mornings!

Above average rains have got the creeks flowing

An epic sunrise, 9th August

The big push – one (big) block left to prune!

Finishing on a positive note… while rainbows have been pretty common this year, they always look spectacular!

A new year begins…

As the new year begins, the path leading to our 2015 harvest has now entered its eighth month.  Each vintage starts from the commencement of pruning, as this is where the template for the harvest is (literally) laid down.  Since the completion of pruning, budburst began on the 11th of September, which is later than last year but this is historically speaking still earlier than say 10 years ago.  That said, it has been a case of so far, so good with the growing cycle in vineyard as we have successfully navigated the inherent frost risks of the cool climate of the Macedon Ranges, along with maintaining adequate moisture to the vines at key points throughout the below average rainfall we have/haven’t received going way back to last August.  The weather itself has been fairly moderate, with only a few days reaching above 35 degrees (so far).  This relatively balanced weather, along with robust vine & soil health contributed to a successful flowering period throughout the vineyard which has resulted in good yields along with healthy looking bunches.  But it’s early days as harvest is at least 14 weeks away, and January & February is being predicted to particularly hot by our good friends at the Bureau of Meteorology, so as they say, it’s not over till it’s over!   Meanwhile for a different perspective of Curly Flat, below are some aerial photos taken of the vineyard back at the start of December 2014, along with a photo denoting the successful flowering. Next step for us now in the vineyard is to do a population sample of the bunches which allows us to gather an approximate tonnage for harvest in a few months time.  We’ll keep you update on how this vintage unfolds, but by all means come and visit us and talk to us first hand, along with a wine tasting of some Curly Flat to help celebrate the new year that lays ahead!

Curly Flat Vineyard from a distance.  This photograph was taken facing to the South-east looking upon the pastoral landscapes, of Lancefield, Romsey and onward.

Curly Flat Vineyard from a distance.  This photograph was taken facing to the South-east, looking upon the pastoral landscapes, of Lancefield, Romsey and onward.

Curly Flat Vineyard, a closer inspection.  The dark green areas of the vineyard denote where there is frost protection via overhead sprinklers.

Curly Flat Vineyard, a closer inspection. The dark green areas of the vineyard denote where there is frost protection via overhead sprinklers. For more on our frost protection click here.

Successful Fruitset

Just an example of the good fruit set in the vineyard. Pictured are bunches of Mariafeld Clone Pinot Noir, which is classically a looser bunch than the classic tight knitted ‘pine cone’ shape normally associated with Pinot Noir.

 

Budburst! Vintage 2014 is underway…

Although 1st of September marks the start of spring (in Australia), this date is a simplification as true spring starts with the arrival of the spring equinox on the 23rd of September.  This is when the plane of the Earth’s poles are the same distance from the Sun. The amount of daylight is roughly equal to its absence, heralding the true exit of winter as the daylight hours increase from there on.  In the cool climate of the Macedon Ranges, classically budburst begins occurs from anywhere from late September to early-mid October, roughly following the spring equinox. But this year budburst has followed the calendar with almost bullet precision, occurring on the 3rd of September.

Budburst underway on our 96 block Chardonnay

Budburst underway on our 96 block Chardonnay and a close up of a bud (inset)

So this year (or vintage) is already different from any other as we have now had our earliest budburst, 10 days earlier than any other on record.  The dates below relate to the past 5 vintages plus this current year:

  • 2008 – 19th September (Vintage 2009)
  • 2009 – 29th September (Vintage 2010)
  • 2010 – 11th October (Vintage 2011)
  • 2011 – 13th September (Vintage 2012)
  • 2012 – 19th September (Vintage 2013)
  • 2013 – 3rd September (Vintage 2014)

It is worth noting that an early budburst doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an early vintage, far from it.  Our warmest winter was in 2001 (average of 10°C) but it led to our coldest growing season which culminated with the 2002 vintage.  The next warmest winter was that of 2005 (average of 9.9°C) which did lead to warm growing conditions, and the resulting 2006 vintage is one of our most celebrated.  This winter was the third warmest for us (average of 9.8°C) and with the above in mind, the passage of weather can be cold, hot and everything in between, all of which effects the ultimate harvest date.  The best indicator of harvest date though is flowering & fruit set.   If that is early, then harvest will most probably be early too and vice versa if it is late. We’ll keep you posted on that.

From there the longer term forecast (from the BOM) is for moderate to above average warmth and above average rainfall.  With the weather still not committing to being in a La Nina/El Nino pattern, but rather remaining in a neutral state, this can lead to wetter than ‘normal’ conditions, but not as prolific as it would be if it were in La Nina pattern.  So as always we wait and see what the year delivers and of course we look forward to hopefully putting it into bottle.