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Tim's Ravings

Posted by Tim Stevens on

Growing grapes and making wine

I love the annual rhythm of growing grapes and making wine. For us vignerons it’s all about the weather and thus every vintage and every wine is completely different. 

There is no better illustration than the contrast of this season and the last. 

This time last year we were enjoying one of our best winter and springs. It was wet and this is one of the few times of the season when that’s good. Spring is a time when vine growth explodes and a platform is built - new leaf growth and flowering begin the growth of berries that, come summer, will be ripened by the leaf. But this year we have endured a very dry and frosty winter. 

By Spring the vines had no moisture to feed hungry roots and carbohydrate reserves were depleted by the severe frosts. Luckily we have a good water supply, and boy, have we used it. It’s never quite the same as soaking rain but it will suffice until Mother Nature rescues us. 

During summer ripening, the climate dictates the complex metabolism of flavours, acids, tannins, even colours, mostly by influencing the amount and type of leaf and reserves with the vine structure. The ambient temperatures are also important for this metabolism and not just during the day. 

Ripening is a busy and complex time for the vine so night is a critical period for the vine to catch up with daytime operations, much the same as a supermarket might restock at night in readiness for the demand surge of daytime. Mudgee’s cool nights are part of our secret to success.

I love the way that a season starts in winter with pruning and ends a year later when the wine is either in barrel or bottle. In between there is hope, opportunity, hard work and drama. Every one of these vintage journeys is unique and while much of the enjoyment is in the ebb and flow, at the end there is a vinous recording that is quite personal.

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