In a word, wet. Another word, bloody. Bloody wet sums it up nicely actually.
The vines are as happy as pigs in muck, the Vineyard team not so much...
With over 50 times more winter rain than last year so far, and more days of rain than not, pruning was an absolute nightmare to finish. There is a very specific window in which to prune – it begins after the first serious frost when the sap is no longer flowing, and ends when the sap starts to move again, and the buds start to swell. Conditions have to be right too – if the vine is wet, disease can enter the vine where it’s cut, so no pruning in the rain or immediately after it. Somehow the team managed to finish the job before bud swell.
And still the rain came...
The next challenge was to get on the vineyard to look after the vines without getting bogged and stuck there for a week. Slashing the rows, managing the under-vine, and most importantly getting the sprays on to protect the vines from disease has been a struggle – not least because the minute it dried up, the wind started blowing which renders a spray useless... poor Paul ended up working nights to get the job done.
These last 2 weeks we’ve enjoyed the most glorious spring weather, with cool nights and brilliant sunshine. Latest forecasts are for rainfall to normalise, which would be the most tremendous result for the quality of the vintage, to say nothing of the sanity of the team. The vines are set up to withstand any stress, harvest should be at a more normal time of year – mid February vs end of January and Mudgee has never looked more beautiful at this time of year. Everything is so lush and verdant, which of course leads to endless mowing...
Happy vines make happy wine. And happy wines make a happy winemaker.So it was with the 2016 Vintage just finished.In one of my recent Ravings I may have given the wrong impression that I wasn’t happy when I moaned about all of the hurdles in front of us poor vignerons; from droughts to floods, frosts to heatwaves. [...]
Vignerons do not have a natural inclination towards optimism, and I’ll tell you why.It starts in winter each when pruners brave freezing cold and bitter winds to prune the dormant vines. It takes many months and is always a race to beat Spring’s wake-up call for the sleeping vineThen comes budburst, when the vine starts [...]
Dear Aunt Wine Agony,I have a particular grievance that may be ruining my life. It prevents me from enjoying dinner parties and I am even afraid to invite friends around for drinks anymore. I am a social outcast, desolated by blandness.In short, the wines I see lately in bottle shops are overpriced, overhyped and just plain boring. The Wine World seems [...]
Tannin is a strange beast, it is responsible not just for astringency and grip but also helps a red wine feel smooth and even sweet. The fact that one element can be responsible for both bitterness and silkiness is one of the most beguiling aspects of making wine.Mudgee – and Huntington Estate in particular – has some of the best, most [...]
Mudgee produces the best red wines in Australia.This is a claim that I am sure will be disputed by many but allow me some space to explain exactly why I feel this.There is no doubt our style of red wine is unique; we have high levels of high quality tannin and acid that can the [...]
I have often spoken of the need for old vines to produce our wines. Here goes an attempt to explain why.Firstly, what counts as an old vine? There are no official definitions but the general view is that anything over 30 years is old, although some vines in Australia’s more historic districts have managed to [...]
A bottle of wine from a single vineyard is truly rare and special.All year, year after year, vines are rooted to the one spot, growing and ripening their fruit amid sometimes dramatic climate changes. This year it’s floods, last year it was drought.The vigneron requires discipline and experience to be able to react to the [...]
Buying fine wine today is nothing like it was 40 years ago. Back then, when Huntington Estate was established, there were merchants galore, mostly operating independent wine shops.These merchants travelled extensively through wine regions in Australia and overseas, finding the best wines. They discovered and nurtured winemaking talent and celebrated diversity, and in response the [...]
The weather in Mudgee is glorious at the moment; cool, crisp nights followed by clear, sunny days. Winter and Spring is a great time here, invariably green and languid.For those who haven’t been to Mudgee lately, allow me to paint the scene. Mudgee has rejuvenated its famous streetscape in recent years and is one of [...]