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Vintage 2020…. where does one even begin?

2007 was the earliest vintage we ever did, and we started on 16th Feb. This year we started on 16th Feb picking our chardonnay. Volumes were down again due to dry conditions and this year vintage conditions look like last year.

High temperatures leading into vintage brought on an early season however over the past 10 years you can see summer and winter rains being normal but spring and autumns rains significantly lower.

Three days after the Chardonnay we handpicked our Pinot. Volume was low but the quality looked excellent. The next day we picked our Riesling and Muller. The Riesling looked stunning and good volumes here. The muller had lower than average volume again this year. A few days after that we picked the other half of our pinot. Volumes like last year, low.

So, like that in a week the first half of vintage was completed. Normally we head into the March long weekend and begin vintage. This year we headed in March long weekend with no pending picks. It was an unusual feeling.

Vintage continued into March 11th when we decided to pick all our red grapes before pending rain over the next 2 days. Crazy- all our reds to come in at once and just leaving one block of Shiraz out under nets to ripen further. The rest were ready and with the dry conditions starting to shrivel. A sign they are ready to come off and with low volumes we weren't prepared to lose volume to more shrivel. Again, quality looks good, but the volumes were lower than average.

On 15th March the region was meant to hold the annual re scheduled Grapes and Gallops festival but due to thunderstorms it was cancelled. The same weekend life as we know it changed forever as the government restricted events over 500 people. Our long table lunch on 29th March, as it was less than 100 people and we were prepared to go ahead.

But everyday brought a new restriction and by 18th March the whole of Taste GS events were cancelled including our lunch. Restaurants were being closed for business restricted to take away. Within 2 days my busy calendar of events had been wiped for the year and all the income they bring. Every day was a new distraction as we rolled with the punches and vintage become something we had to do, second in our thoughts rather than first in our mind.

On 22nd of march we decided to pick our last block. Normally we would hand pick this block for our whole bunch shiraz. But with the new world we lived in we decided it would be best to mechanically pick as the costs were significantly lower and this was now the time to save money where we could. Normally you would celebrate the end of vintage with good cheer and celebrate, but everyone was too shocked and just relieved to get it off.

It wasn't long before we were restricted at cellar door to takeaway sales only. By March 25th the WA government brought in liquor restrictions to stop bulk buying off alcohol reducing us to 3 bottles per person per day sale including wholesale. Some heavy lobbying, we were able to get the restriction overturn 3 days later for wineries to 12 bottles per person per week. I remember spending the morning writing emails to politicians rather than spending time doing pressings and lab work.

I would start the day positive and by noon I would be mental exhausted and reactive to whatever that day brought. By the end of the day I would be devasted by the reality before us. Before I knew it, it was the 29th March, the day was meant to be our annual long table lunch. So much has happened in 2 weeks and instead of celebrating our work we closed our cellar door and began to self-isolated as a family. Easter which is our biggest time of the year for cellar door sales was no longer going to happen and we began to count the cost on 2020.

Vintage 2020 is like last year low volumes, good quality and we are in desperate need of good winter rains. We have just finished our last press and I still have much wine to put into barrel and lab work to do. I am looking forward to some down time and gratefully for the government subsidies which will help see us through. We are lucky that we live where we work so we can continue to make wine however production has come to a halt until things pick up again.

A solid vintage no doubt with blood, sweat and of course some tears

Stay safe and healthy and enjoyed the down time with your family. Enjoy a good glass of wine as we refocus on supporting local.

King Regards

Kim Tyrer

CEO & Winemaker

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Thursday, 22 February 2024

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