Can you smell that?

Wine / Wednesday, February 14th, 2024

It’s so close, I can almost smell it!

Vintage 2024 that is…

I had my first sighting of a semi-trailer laden with grape bins destined for a vineyard somewhere this morning. 

We’ve got so much to do before then, though – like bottle our 2023 Chardonnay and Fumé Blanc (but more on that next week).

In a matter of weeks I’ll be sharing with you all our plans for harvest. That seemed to have come around very quickly?!

Now let’s have a look at where things are at in the vineyard…


Vintage 2024

The earliest varieties are at E-L 36 (berries with intermediate sugar levels) whilst the latest varieties are at E-L 34, berries begin to colour and enlarge.

Remember, E-L stage 38 signifies “Berries harvest-ripe”. So, only two stages to go in some cases.

According to last week’s CropWatch report the most advanced variety was Pinot Noir at Lenswood. It was reported as being at 99% colour (as there were a small number of chicken berries which are still green). Picking was planned for Chardonnay for sparkling base and Pinot Gris for dry white THIS week at Macclesfield.

The graph below shows the final shoot length for Chardonnay at Macclesfield for this season, compared with the previous five seasons. Check out that little red line!

After a fast start due to warm weather at budburst, shoot growth slowed until early December due to cool conditions. Since that time shoot growth increased rapidly likely due to mild and moist conditions.

Growth has only slowed, and finally ceased, in the last two weeks.


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While we haven’t had a heap of hot days this season, most of them have occurred in recent weeks. Just when we don’t want them too.

The heat over the last couple of weeks has caused surface damage on exposed bunches in many vineyards across the region. 

When grapes are exposed to heat at this stage of the growing season they can develop a yellowing of exposed berries. 

This happens due to an increase in phenolic compounds (the things that contribute to the taste, colour and mouthfeel of the wine) in response to sun exposure and heat damage to berry tissue.

This picture courtesy of CropWatch (a couple of years back) shows an exposed Grűner Veltliner bunch on the left and its sheltered underside on the right.

While the development of phenolic compounds in the skin provides some protection from further sunburn, it also causes undesirable characteristics in wine.

This next picture (again, thanks to Hamilton Viticulture) shows a Pinot Gris bunch where colour development is reduced due to exposure to sun. The image on the right shows how much more colour the berries protected by that leaf have.

Those phenolic compounds cause a yellowing of berries. With time and hot weather these berries may become sunburnt as berry temperatures reach extremes. This kills all berry tissue.

These damaged berries will hopefully desiccate and drop away. Ideally, you don’t want those berries remaining on the bunches as they provide an ideal environment for the development of Botrytis. 

Canopy management aims to minimise the level of sun exposure to berries under hot conditions particularly on the exposed sides of canopies to the north on east-west rows and the west on north-south rows where late afternoon sun exposure in hot weather can cause severe damage.

Depending how bad the damage is across the vineyard growers may need to take action before harvest. They’ll either need to harvest by hand (and not pick the damaged bunches) or go through and drop the damaged bunches prior to mechanical harvesting. 

Gosh, just when you think it’s almost over there is still so much to think about!



Newly bottled, delicious, juicy, already complex, dry to the finish, seen in most of your January Packs –  a stunning, Mediterranean style wine we like to call the 

SOMERLED 2023 LDR (Light Dry Red)

You might have already thoroughly enjoyed one from your January Club Pack?

We actually held a party for this wine (oh and our local Club Members) in late Jan – we spoiled them with this special, 

and now it is our great pleasure to spoil you with it too!

$30/btl when ordered in six-packs before this Friday

$28/btl when ordered as a dozen before this Friday


(We’ll process it on the card we have for you on file – or just let us know if you have another payment preference)

Our full price on the LDR is $42, and our normal Club Price is $36 – we would characterise this deal as rather significant in its value!

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