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Our News

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2017 Vintage Report + Vineyard News

Edwina Yeates

After a run of really great vintages starting in 2014, the 2017 defies superlatives to describe the bounty delivered. I haven’t met a grape grower or winemaker who isn’t ecstatic. Believe me the latter are hard to please!

Our shiraz was picked in mid-March and the cabernet 3 weeks later. The grape vines held their leaves beautifully until a frost finally arrived on the 2nd Monday in May to deliver the coup de grace.  Within 24 hours the leaves were burnt off chocolate brown and crispy – they started dropping off the vines the next day.

Vines that hold their leaves are healthy and vigorous; they throw their propulsion system into reverse gear reabsorbing priceless nutrients being held by their leaves that are well into senescence. This annual process sets the vine up for the following spring.

Once the vines had shut down for the winter, the ongoing process of chainsawing diseased cordons (and cutting cordon wires that are inseparable from the wood) on cabernet vines planted in 1990 re-commenced and the cuts sealed to prevent further infection. The 3m high pile of wood and wire from a hectare of vines will be burnt on a cold night to remove fungal spores. The wire will be raked, compacted and sold to the local scrap dealer. 

The hands, arms and elbows will get a well-earned rest until pruning starts in early July just after the bottling of the 2016 wines is completed. The vines too, will rest over winter and clean new shoots will appear in spring with no disease. Fresh tissue means better nutrition and tasting grapes. 

16ha of grapes; restorative surgery completed on 10.5ha – the rest will be done in the years ahead.

The pursuit of beautiful red wine is relentless; the wheel never stops turning!

Vineyard News - Veraison & The John West Walk

Sandy Yeates

Much is written about grapevines being part of magnificent symphonies where all the key components arrive harmoniously at a single point in time – vintage.

Harmony is the key. Grape clusters need to arrive on time, be beautifully dressed in dark colours and perform exquisitely under the conductor’s baton with no hi jinx! Recalcitrants and non-conformists are shown the door.

This means the drummers have to sober, the seductive violinists need to keep well apart and not go smooching and the gorgeous sopranos shall not arrived under-dressed or sunburnt.

Veraison (colour change) is like the last lap around the stadium in a long distance race that started on the 15th January – 12 days later than last year.. The process in our Shiraz is likely to be complete in a week’s time, after which sugar levels will increase until the juice triggers a target level (brix) and the grapes taste ripe.

Veraison is a good time to check each grapevine to make sure they are meeting the orchestral standards to deliver exceptional wine. Bunches that are too green are decommissioned; entangled and knotted bunches are separated for better air circulation, weeds growing under the vines are pulled out (organic management) and the vines are skirted (trimmed) to achieve free under vine air movement. It is the same process John West performs with his tuna!

February is Mudgee’s highest rainfall month and the risk of fungal disease (botrytis) triggered by high humidity is at its peak. The next 3 weeks will be like walking across a bed of hot coals in the hope of still having an intact foot at the finish line.

The John West walk takes hours & days and most vineyards don’t do it because of the cost. Our wine consultant’s assessments of our last few vintages vindicates our attention to detail has paid dividends. We are hoping the initiative will work this year as well. All looks good so far!