Vineyard happenings…

Wine / Wednesday, November 8th, 2023

We’ve had a busy few days packing up all of your November Club Pack orders. Looks like many of you will be having a wonderful Somerled-filled Christmas (if it lasts that long!)!

While we’ve had our heads down doing that, it looks like things in the vineyard are really taking off. We can thank the sudden burst of beautiful weather we’ve been having this week (finally) for that.

Let’s have a look…


Most Advanced
E-L 21       30% cap off.
Chardonnay at Macclesfield.

Least Advanced
E-L 16        10 leaves separated.
Sauvignon Blanc at Lenswood and Woodside. 

The Chardonnay was just one E-L stage away from (the official definition) of “flowering” and the Sauvie isn’t too far behind (and this data is from last Friday, so the most advanced vines will be in flowering by now).


Flowering grape vines

The annual growth cycle of grapevines is the process that takes place in the vineyard each year, beginning with bud-burst in the spring and culminating with leaf fall in autumn followed by winter dormancy.

Depending on specific vineyard temperatures, 40-80 days after bud-burst the process of flowering begins with small flower clusters appearing on the shoots.

Flowering occurs when average daily temperatures stay between 15-20°C and once each shoot has reached a certain growth stage.

A few weeks after the initial clusters appear, the flowers start to grow in size with individual flowers becoming visible. It is during this stage of flowering that the pollination and fertilization of the grapevine takes place within about ten days – with the result being a grape berry. 

Most grape vines are hermaphroditic which means they have both male stamens and female ovaries and are able to self-pollinate. 


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To thin or not to thin?

Now, it would be easy to assume that this early stage of the growing season is the easy bit. You just let the vines do their thing, right? Wrong.

The more I learn about viticulture the more I understand that it’s such a delicate balancing act right throughout the season. Making the wrong decision early could have a detrimental impact on the fruit and the wine it makes.

Shoot thinning is one of those important decision points.

It might seem crazy to go and cut back a whole heap of new growth so early in the season, but that’s exactly what a lot of growers will be thinking of doing right about now. 

They’re basically going to want to make each of their vines (which will look like the photo on the left) look more like the photo on the right. Taking off all the smaller shoots leaving just a couple of the main ones does a couple of things.


It gives the vines a chance to focus all their energy on just a couple of shoots (and the berries on those shoots).

Although this means that the final yield will be less, the payoff is that the flavour in the grapes will potentially be better.

Shoot thinning also promotes a more open canopy. That means that each bunch of grapes will be exposed to more sunlight and will ripen quicker. And for somewhere like the Adelaide Hills, this is super important. Especially for mid- to late-ripening varieties. The quicker the grapes ripen, the less time they are hanging on the vines and the less chance they have of being exposed to pests and diseases later in the season.

The open canopy also lets more air in. More air means less humidity which diseases like botrytis love.

I hear some of you asking the obvious question though…

(Other than all the reasons I’ve just given you!) why on earth would a grower want to decrease his or her yield… especially if they are getting paid by the tonne?

Well, even if you decrease the number of shoots by 50% the yield will not decrease by the same amount. The vines will compensate by grower bigger berries. And if the fruit is better quality then that’s a win/win for everyone.




EXCLUSIVE to members of our Jockey Club, are hosting our annual Champagne Shopping Morning on Sunday 26th November (11am – 12.30pm)!

Glass of sparkling in hand, meander around our beautifully adorned Christmas store full of new shiny treats. 

Heather will make sure each and every one of you gets one of her famous mince pies to nibble on – delicate, delicious and made from her mother Barbara’s traditional recipe. 

Tiny Heather-made chicken sandwiches will be passed around (dare we say, also famous around these parts!) as well as fresh juicy local strawberries and marscapone. 

A wonderful chance to stock the larder for Christmas, purchase gifts for your loved ones if you feel generous, and share a special Christmas morning with us!

We have a handful of spots left. So make sure you book yours by sending me an email now!

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