VINTAGE REPORTS

THE GEELONG REGION

2020 Vintage Report

by darren burke, wine geelong viticulturalist

Moderate rainfall through early winter and spring of 2019 paired with crystal ball predictions of a hot dry summer was the perfect red herring to what would be a challenging year. Budburst appeared later than recent times with initial vine growth looking good. Less than ideal flowering conditions of reduced sunlight, cooler temperature and strong winds, combined with reduced bunch numbers on certain varieties produced a lower yielding vintage. Post fruit set saw significant fluctuation in weather with scorching days of >35 followed by autumnal 15-degree temperatures. Added to this were significant rainfall events through late January and early February that generated humid growing conditions and the threat of disease.

Harvest began later than previous years and yield was down by as much as 50%. Many growers suffered impact to quality from mildew or rot and vineyard management was tested. Fruit ripeness progressed slowly providing high natural acidity and delicate flavour profiles. Winemakers could well have been challenged in the cellar this year but we should see both quality and variability in style across all varieties.

Wines from this vintage that are looking good now should continue to flourish with time. White varieties will generally be tight and fresh, requiring some skilled handling from now until bottling. I anticipate more restrained oak work in some of the 2020 Chardonnay. For the red varieties, high malic acid levels have contributed to higher titratable acidity and lower pH. Focus will now be on the MLF to bring these parameters in line and produce balanced, softer wines.  

As we all adjust and gain perspective on where the next 12 months will take us, irrespective of grape growing and winemaking, the 2020 vintage will not be quickly forgotten. 

 

THE GEELONG REGION

2019 Vintage Report

by darren burke, wine geelong viticulturalist

Good rains in winter and spring set the scene for a strong vintage providing plenty of sub surface water reserves for the vines.

Burst occurred at a ‘normal’ time for the region with all developmental stages following suite.

A good rain event in December provided reason to maintain the optimism rolling into the Christmas period.

Alas, that was the last of the rain for the season with a miserly 20mm total for the next 4 months placing vignerons under intense pressure. 

Harvest kicked off mid to late Feb for sparkling base then continued to be fast and furious for the next 4 weeks easing up mid to late March.

Lack of available water resulted in early ripening and modest crops for some. Those with adequate water were able to nurse the vines through some intense heat late Feb, early March providing fruit with intensity and structure.

A strong vintage to be sure with some outstanding Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.

Wines in oak and tank look vibrant and structured with likely long futures compared with ethereal 2018’s now in bottle. Intriguing!!

THE GEELONG REGION

2018 Vintage Report

by darren burke, wine geelong viticulturalist

The bonus for the 2017/2018 growing season was some rains in late summer/early autumn 2017. This did cause some problems for growers with some fruit left on the vine but for the majority set up a strong growing season for 2018 harvest with plenty of sub soil moisture and full dams.

Budburst occurred slightly later than the ‘norm’ with expectation early in the season that harvest would be slightly later than 2017. As we often find the vines naturally caught up in the ensuing months with the likely harvest date pulled back to line up with 2017.

A lack of rainfall made growers heavily reliant on sub surface moisture and stored water sources in the growing season.

The highlight of the growing season was the incredibly fast flowering with bunches good size and full with most expecting above average cropping levels. This lead to some required green harvest and shoot thinning to provide balanced vines.

Harvest kicked off mid to late Feb for sparkling base then by mid-April the last of the Cabernet was picked.

Overall, I would suggest it was a strong vintage across the board, with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Shiraz looking very promising.

Wines in oak and tank look vibrant, with good acidity and freshness.

THE GEELONG REGION

2017 Vintage Report

by darren burke, wine geelong viticulturalist

Vintage for 2017 started rolling in the autumn of 2016. The earliest harvest in living memory from 2016 combined with a drier and warmer March and April resulted in early senescence for the vines.

Above average rainfall in winter and spring set the scene for a strong vintage providing plenty of sub surface water reserves for the vines.

Burst occurred at a more ‘normal’ time for the region with all developmental stages following suite.

A somewhat dry and warmer period finished the year and continued into 2017 resulting in vignerons feeling the pressure due to lack of water. Fortunately, a good rain event in the latter half of January and again in early February provided some much needed respite for the vines enabling veraison and strong ripening to occur.

Harvest kicked off mid to late Feb for sparkling base then lingered into May for some due to large rainfall events late March and early April presenting some challenges for those with fruit still on the vine. Some incidences of fruit not ripening adequately to be picked.

Overall I would suggest it was a strong vintage across the board, particularly with aromatics, Pinot Noir & Shiraz.

Wines in oak and tank look vibrant, with good acidity and freshness.

“In places with low rainfall, limited yields and tricky conditions, you’ll find passionate producers, which is another reason to go – it takes talent and tenacity to turn tough elements into wines of complexity, and Geelong has those in spades.”

– James Halliday