Vintage 2019 has officially kicked off but the pace has been building for weeks: bottling 2017 wines, completing maintenance tasks, fruit thinning, netting vines, checking and repairing winery equipment, cleaning old barrels and receiving new ones, scouring the winery, sampling grapes to check for ripeness, stockpiling picking bins, phoning truck drivers and picking crews: “We’ll be seeing a lot of each other again soon, are you ready?”
Peter’s travel schedule just got crazier, with frequent trips to vineyards and wineries near and far, checking that everything is developing as close to plan as nature will allow. Also clocking up miles in the air and on the road is Andrew Butler, our senior viticulturist, who is based in the Yarra Valley and travels throughout the Handpicked Vineyards.
It’s been a warm, dry season in the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, but a bout of cool weather, even a little blessed rain, over the past couple of weeks has slowed ripening. This is perfect timing and will allow the fruit to slowly build complex flavours.
Late summer evening over Port Phillip: A calm, cool patch late in the season is perfect for ripening of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Netted vines at Wombat Creek Vineyard.
First pick in Yarra Valley
The first pick, as usual, was at Highbow Hill Vineyard, with harvest of P58 Chardonnay on Friday 15 February. Highbow, in Yarra Glen, on the “valley floor”, is a warmer site than Wombat Creek in the Upper Yarra Valley, so its vines tend to ripen a few weeks earlier.
The first grapes harvested are generally Chardonnay, followed closely by Pinot Noir; both are early-ripening varieties.
Watch this space, we will bring you fresh vineyard content very soon!