Vignerons do not have a natural inclination towards optimism.
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 vine
Then comes budburst, when the vine starts growing each September. But the nights are still cold, close to freezing, and sometimes a frost will wipe out the tender young buds that will later produce flowers and then grapes. If the temperature in the early morning drops below zero degrees a frost hits, the fruit is wiped for that season so there will be nothing for a year.
Dodge the frosts and we keep throwing the dice until flowering a month or two later. Each flower forms into a grape but if it rains too much disease will wipe out the flowers, or the leaves, or both.
Lets say for the sake of optimism that we’ve dodged the bad stuff, got to Christmas Day when we tuck into the ham and turkey, then go for a peaceful stroll among the vines and discover powdery mildew attacking one block of vines, caterpillars attacking another, weeds overtaking another and then a savage hail storm knocks the fruit off. Turn on the tele and watch the Poms take the Ashes – can it get any worse?
Yes. January sees searing heatwaves that defoliate the vines and smoke from nearby bush fires taint the flavours of the fruit.
Rains through February rot the bloated grapes. March sees the fruit almost ready to pick but cool and cloudy days mean the fruit doesn’t ripen and hungry birds devour the valuable crop.
It is Autumn now and we have journeyed Mother Nature’s brutal crusade. The vines have dodged hot and cold, wet and dry, pestilence and tumult, so it is little wonder that Vintage time is celebrated as a joyous miracle.
On the label of a Huntington Estate wine little changes year to year, only the vintage of the wine, modestly disguising the dramatic and unique battle vignerons and vines have undertaken on behalf of the 750 mL content.
Come June and we Mudgee vignerons, eternal optimists, can’t wait to do it all again.
Owner-Chief Winemaker, Huntington Estate