So what did we end up with? A crazy spring with plenty of rain and plenty of wind followed by one very hot summer, with only 8mm of rain over three months... Not the most friendly of conditions... At least it wasn't wet!
The spring - Was wet, and windy.... Really effecting the flowering stage of the vine (inflorescence). Cross pollination occurs during this period and the conditions could not have been more challenging, resulting in uneven fruit set and uneven bunches.
Summer then arrived and it was hot, damn hot..... and dry! More importantly it set in quick. This isn't so bad for the plants as it reduces disease pressure to an extent but the lack of water meant that the plant started to express signs of stress quite often resulting on us managing the watering regime on nearly a daily basis, or at least we kept an eye on how the plants where reacting. Generally we don't have to water our plants too much as they are nearly 20 years old and can hunt for their own water, but after a good two months of crisp conditions we could see that even the oldest and hardiest of plants would struggle.
Vines are as hard as old boots but they have an optimum temperature range. Too cold and the plant shuts down, too hot and the plant also shuts down, its an automated mechanism to ensure all energy is controlled and not expelled unnecessarily...At first we thought we would have an early harvest but in fact it was about three week later than last year. We suspect that this was due to the plant overheating and shutting down before the fruit had a chance to mature at its normal rate...
Is this bad? Not at all. Actually we think we will get some really well developed flavors from an elongated ripening period - we could go all science geek on you but we will save it for another day.
In summary, small bunches, varying berry sizes, amazing flavors, great colour and fantastic smells... Overall, we estimate most vineyards that picked will have fantastic vintages, just not much to share around....Get your hand on the stuff if you can...
First we picked the Chardonnay on Saturday, 5th of April followed by the Pinot on the Monday. Total Pinot yield was 1.85 tonnes to the acre, picked at 22.7 brix and 6.9 TA. Chardonnay ended up with 0.7 tonnes to the acre, picked at 23.1 brix and 6.6 TA. The Pinot was down 15% year on year (a result compared to other vineyards), whilst the Chardonnay was down a whopping 45%.