Oh, how we wish… a bit of rain would be nice right about now.
But it’s fair to say that this vintage isn’t quite panning out the way we hoped it would (but then, when does it ever?!).
Since we last spoke, Vintage 2019 has thrown us yet another curveball. This time last week things were ticking along just nicely. Rob was all set to pick his first grapes of the vintage (Pinot Noir for sparkling) from Paul Henschke’s vineyard in Summertown at the end of this week. And the Sauvignon Blanc in Charlestown was still a couple of weeks away from being ready. Easy!
Pinot Noir for Sparkling
The Pinot Noir is still set to come off this week… tomorrow morning to be precise. Nice and early though. With a top of around 38 degrees predicted for Saturday, the key is to get the grapes off the vine as quickly as possible during the coolest part of the day.
However, given the high risk of chopping off a finger or two with a pair of snips if you pick in the dark, it also needs to be light enough to see what you’re doing! They won’t be able to start much earlier than 7am. But Paul had a team of 10 pickers ready to go. These guys are amazingly fast… they should definitely have them all off before it gets too hot up on the hill!
I’m hoping to get out there myself on Saturday, so I’ll get a video to show you just how fast they move!
Our Sauvignon Blanc grapes are a slightly different story. If you think back to earlier in the season, you’ll remember that Kim Anderson’s vineyard in Charleston got hit by some bad frosts. Then we had rain and some hail and a lot of wind. Not the greatest start. We’re seeing the effects of that now right through the Adelaide Hills with lower than average yields across the board.
With the vine using all of its energy to ripen those fewer number of bunches, the result is faster ripening. But I don’t think any of us were prepared for what happened next… the Baume (Bé°) shot up more than the usual “one Bé° per week”. It ended up being around two or three! Which means that the Sauvignon Blanc must come off NOW!
Although Rob prefers to hand-pick the Sauvignon Blanc, it was machine harvested at 3 am this morning. Picked and delivered to the winery before you even had a chance to read this post!
While hand-picking is his preference, in this case, machine-harvesting is a better option than picking in the heat. It was probably around 14°C when they started this morning. And it is ripening so quickly that we didn’t have the option of waiting for cooler weather to hand pick. Machine picking means that it does need to go to the winery to be pressed straight away. You may remember from this post a couple of weeks back that machines are not quite as gentle on the vines as humans. It can result in broken skins and the potential for fermentation to start (especially in this heat).
Given this is going to be a common story throughout the Hills, we are incredibly fortunate that Kim was able to arrange the harvesting so quickly. Also, the winery has the capacity to take it earlier than expected, which is great news.
*Big sigh of relief*
Why not machine harvest the Sparkling?
If picking the grapes when it’s cool is preferable, then you might be wondering why we’re not machine picking the Pinot as well.
Good question, but I have two even better answers…
- This Pinot is destined to become our 2019 super-delicate, “not at all pink” Somerled Sparkling. If any of the grapes get crushed by the machine, then there is a risk for the colour and tannin from the skins to start affecting the juice.
- The vineyard is just too steep for machines to get in!
Not as bad as it sounds!
Sure, 2019 has had its challenges. But the fruit coming out of this vintage is looking really nice so far. The good thing about the heat and lack of rain is that there has been very little disease pressure. And that is a very good thing for our grapes!
Anyway, it’s going to be a long couple of days for Rob. And we haven’t even talked about the Rose, Chardonnay, Pinot or Tempranillo!
Make sure you tune in next week for an update on all the other varieties still to come.
Attention all pickers…
So, obviously, our Sauvignon Blanc picking experience has been cancelled. We do have a few spots available to help with the hand-picking of our Pinot Noir tomorrow morning though. There is an email waiting in your inbox if you answered our expression of interest call out. let me know ASAP if you’d like to come along.
If you do miss out and would still like to learn a little bit about how our grapes are picked, here is a video chat with Rob on the topic…