Vintage Report 2012

Published on October 13, 2012

near full dam
A near-full dam to start the growing season

Unexpectedly 2012 was yet another cool and wet year, the second in a row.
During winter pruning in July and August 2011 we received nearly double our usual amount of rainfall and to our satisfaction our dams nearly filled.

Spring was wet throughout with regular rainfall and cool conditions.
This caused an explosion of growth, not only of our vines but also of bird numbers, rabbits and insect pests. Our Eucalypts were severely attacked by skeletonisers, cup moths and spit fires and quite a few of the old trees were defoliated and some died.

caterpillar of cup moth
caterpillar of cup moth
caterpillar of cup moth
with its defence bristles run out

However, the vines were thriving and we had to keep mowing, trimming, thinning constantly to keep everything in shape. It was a lot of work, but we had vine and crop balance just perfect and were proud of our good-looking vineyard.

Summer was lovely and cool; the highest day temperature recorded 39°C.

preator shield bug with grape vine caterpillar
Predator shield bug has killed a wine moth caterpillar
eating vine leaves
rabbits in large numbers

The grapes looked sound, cropping levels were perfect; and colour, sugar levels and flavours developed with balance and style.
We really expected one of these perfect vintages we only get every few years.

But rain started in the third week of February and hardly stopped for three weeks. By the time we usually begin vintage we had received 224 mm, and the vineyard was very wet, with waterlogged soil and watery grapes.

Pinot noir had to be picked during a short break in the rain and at slightly lower sugar level than we were aiming for.

wet vines under wet bird net
wet vines under wet bird net
rain for three weeks
rain for three weeks just before vintage
young Croad Langshans foraging
young Croad Langshans chickens foraging
wet vine leaf
wet vine leaf
dripping shoot tip
dripping shoot tip

During April we recorded not one millimetre of rain all month.

But the damage was done. With the birdnets on and the grass now high and adding to the high humidity the grapes deteriorated very quickly. Picking was slow and tedious, and we lost a fair amount of the Shiraz and Cabernets to botrytis.

Overall the quality of the 2012 vintage was very good but the meagre yields were disappointing.

vintage team

The hard core of our vintage team: the pickers who are here when needed and keep going when the picking is difficult. (photo by Frank who is one of them).