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"It is what it is!"
After a dry spring we had cool conditions this vintage providing a perplexing vintage of both a dry and cool vintage in one. I have never seen one like it before.
We started Vintage on March 18th for a small hand pick of Chardonnay and Pinot. Usually, we start the first weekend of March but a later start reflected the cool conditions.
We were ready for Monday 20th to mechanically pick our Muller Thurgau and Chardonnay. The boys start at 3am to get the fruit into the crush pad by 7am however I awoke to find the mechanical harvester in the shed first thing Monday morning. Never a good sign. After some fixing, we learned it needed a new pump- again- never a good sign. Followed by there are no pumps currently in Australia. A…..pardon? I book the Afghans team to come and hand pick on March 23rd and it became a race to see which one would be ready on the day. After two days and many phone calls a pump had been order and would be here by the end of the week, which it wasn't. We proceed to hand pick both blocks of Chardonnay and Muller for a full 8 hour day. I have to hand it to the Afghans who were doing Ramadan. No food or even water for sun up to sun down. I don't know how they did it. Everyone was relived when it was finished but Nigel and I continued into the night processing the fruit. A huge day of physical work and the first one in a long time. The body and mind were not prepared.
We even attracted some media attention from the ABC radio regarding the harvester and the wait for parts. Ask how to solve it, Nigel replied buy a new one. We received a few phone calls from people selling their harvester that week!
The following week the rain came, and we continued to bring what fruit we could handpicked. Mainly Pinot. Finally, the pump turned up and the harvester was fixed literally just in time for the Riesling. The boys spent the next 4 days straight picking Riesling from various vineyard including our own. The Riesling and all our whites look excellent this year, with good volumes.
From April 11 the slow process of bringing all the reds in began. Some Shiraz for rose. The Cab Franc. The Merlot. Nets on and then nets off. A bit of handpicking. It was a small battle with the birds as rains and no blossoms made them hungry for grapes. The mild temperatures brought about slow ripening but some days the max temp was 12 degrees bringing early winter vibes. The vines themselves began to look like autumn leaves as the vines as we began to question if there were beginning to shut down ready for winter.
It was school holidays and our 13 year old son become our new worker. Staff becomes an increasing issue especially as there is no cheap local accommodation. This vintage Nigel and I have predominately done it ourselves. No mean feat.
By April 21st it was time to pull the rest of the Reds off. Both Shiraz and Cabernet came off. A big couple of days as many vineyards were being picked at the same time with the pending rain due.
The following week the workload becomes heavy with daily pump overs for 7-10 days followed by 4 hours pressing and cleaning the press per variety. Again talks of who we could get in to help but no accommodation made it difficult so we persevered on our own.
Before we knew it, it was our annual Long Table Lunch. We had 80 people on our verandah. Luckily, we had excellent staff for the day and the day went so well. Such a great day and a feather in our cap. With another function the next day the exhaustion started to set in. And truth be told we are still going in June getting wines ready for bottling and reds into barrels.
The term " it is what it is" was used so much this vintage. We must wait a week for the pump to turn up! Well… it is what it is. We must organise handpickers for the Chardonnay and Muller. It will be expensive, but it is what it is. The birds are eating the Cab Franc we will have to pick it or there will be nothing left! Well, lets do it, its not ideal but it is what it is! And so it goes on.
After a very dry but mild summer we had cool conditions during vintage. Temperatures were low but so was the rainfall providing both dry and cool conditions for the grapes. Whites look excellent. While reds will be lower in volume, pH and alcohol.
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