As wine producers this time of the year is like a game of poker, we are constantly gambling with the weather conditions. In November 2021 meteorologists declared a La Nina weather event, with the wettest spring in 10 years continuing into early summer. These cooler weather conditions have meant that this years vintage is two weeks later then what we have traditionally seen over the most recent years, therefore seeing a slower ripening for the grapes across this period. Fortunately early January saw a sequence of warmer 30 plus degree days, building on ripeness and flavour across all varietals. The decision to harvest the grapes is made when we see the right flavor profile we are looking for to produce our wines.
Next week we anticipate the start of vintage, harvesting the McLeish Chardonnay and Verdelho.
With the slow start to vintage due to the mild conditions we are pleased to report that the warmer weeks that have since followed in the second part of January provided our vineyards with even ripening across all white varietals and we have harvested the Verdelho on the 24th of January. Followed by hand harvesting all blocks of estate Chardonnay on the 27th of January, then block 2 and 4 Semillon on the 31st and 1st of February. The fruit is coming in clean and in pristine condition, our team has managed to avoid the predicted rainfall by harvesting over the last fortnight. The last block of Semillon will be hand harvested on Saturday 5th of February.
Now that all of the white varietals have been hand harvested we look towards the reds. The continuation of dry, warm weather conditions has allowed for the reds to hang on the vines underneath a lush canopy. Sampling has started on our Merlot which will be the base for our Rosé and we anticipate harvest to be early next week.
So far the conditions leading into the reds harvest have been ideal and we look forward to the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon to come in over the following weeks.
This year we celebrate the 11th vintage for our brilliant vineyard manager Ted Nicolai. Producing wine in the Hunter Valley is not an easy exercise and Ted bears the brunt of that reality. Early starts, generous humidity and torrential rain are all part of his job… A job he’s been doing for 45 years!
Over the past decade Ted has nurtured the 11ha estate vineyard, producing phenomenal results and ensuring the vineyard is in the best condition it has ever been. This week 74mm rain has fallen (202mm so far this month of February) Ted has been sampling fruit and waiting patiently for further ripening across the reds.
In to the next week we will continue to track the progress of the reds and assess the quality. We would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Ted for all his efforts in making 2022 vintage a success.
Vintage 2022 is now complete with all of our Hunter vineyards finishing harvest this week. This season has seen us living on the edge, with healthy crops and good yields, however the wet conditions have meant that we have had to be more patient with ripening and in trying to avoid the imminent rainfall.
The team are pleased with the result this week, hand harvesting the final parcel of block 3 Merlot on the 28th of February and on the 2nd of March, the final day of harvest a record tonnage of estate Shiraz was picked just before the storms. This season we are grateful for the efforts of the local picking teams, as we usually hear a myriad of European accents in the vineyard at vintage. It has been a long season, but the results are great and we look forward to the first of the 2022 vintage wines being released at the end of this month.