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 [...]
My predecessor Bob Roberts once told me that he has never seen two vintages even vaguely the same. We were talking not just about the actual weather conditions but also the tastes of the wine. From my limited perspective in Mudgee, he is dead right. The red wine vintages from 1997 to 2007 were, respectively; elegant, [...]