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VINTAGE REPORT 2015

If there was a theme for this year’s vintage it would be ‘no, I’m not picking any grapes unless it’s a long weekend and there is a festival!’

Vintage began in last week of February when we picked all our whites just before the March Long Weekend and the annual Great Southern Taste Festival. Tonnage was down 50% for our Chardonnay (12.8 baume) and Muller (11.7 baume) due to bad weather resulting poor flowering followed by a dry summer. Most vineyards in the WA reported low tonnages for their Chardonnay so we weren’t alone. But as dry years continue to produce lower yields I think it will be more difficult for WA wineries to produce wines under the $20 mark.

Linda Tyrer remarked how ‘she remembers picking Riesling after Easter’ in the old days and how different the times are picking it at the end of February, which seems the norm now.

Riesling (11.7 baume) however continues to shine. An excellent quality crop, and yields were normal. Acidity looks excellent and makes for a very happy and excited winemaker. After the award winning success of our last year’s Riesling the extra flavour and acidity this year looks to produce another fine Riesling at the optimum quality.

The boys harvested all week. As we moved into the weekend of a busy cellar door and Graze Mt Barker Festival Nigel pulled a long day with starting harvesting at 10pm the night before and working until 6pm the next day. Crazy!! Kim and Nigel had the extra pressure of vintage with a newborn baby who was 6 weeks at the start of vintage. But who sleeps much during vintage anyway!

Then there was a big pause and wait for our reds. They were slow to ripen which is excellent for flavour but all made us nervous. With ends of cyclones crossing the coast bringing nightmares of the disastrous 2005 vintage and slow ripening baumes of reds reminding us of an even worst 2006 we all had to remind ourselves it was only mid-march!

A very large fire in Northcliffe burning 13,000ha provided some concern with a full day of heavy smoke over the property. Visibility was poor but the smoke did not settle or prove heavy in the vines canopy and quickly went away when the afternoon sea breeze came.

The trick with reds is to leave them out on the vine as long as possible without losing quality. This provided many discussions in the lab on grape sample days with a studious nature studying the weather which no one can really predict.

We could see Easter Long weekend approaching and knew the Shiraz would be ready at the same time. Our busiest time at cellar door and the Festival of Sea as well, prove to be another busy week with the Shiraz coming off. Picked at 13.4 baume and crop level normal again the shiraz is full of flavour and continues to grow as favourite in the Galafrey brand. Deep colour on skin will also really help this wine develop in flavour and colour.

After Easter as another tail of a cyclone came through, the Cabernet Sauvignon (13.4 baume) was finally ready to come off. At 14% and beautiful flavours of cassis and violets we picked the Cab Sauv on the 9th of April. Tonnage was the most disappointing here with a 50% loss. We are very confident we will be making a great Cabernet for 2015 however there will be very little of it to sell again putting pressure on pricing.

Overall vintage we expected good quality wines but falling yields will continue to put pressure on prices and availability. Early rains provided an optimistic start however we were caught by surprise at poor weather during flowering followed by a dry summer which dramatically effected yields. No disease or bird pressure. A solid vintage.

After we picked our Cabernet sauvignon we all enjoying much needed rain of 3 inches…….why thank you……. They say at vintage timing is everything!