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!