As we enter the quieter months of January and February our winemaking team start getting ready for the year ahead, making their way to the vineyards to begin pruning the vines and bottling the delicious red and whites which are almost ready in barrels and in tank. David, our winemaker, has been looking back on 2019 and what is to come in 2020.
'2019 was always going to be measured against the incredible vintage of 2018. It was a hard act to follow! Things began well, budburst was fairly typical, but what followed was a rather cool May. Eventually things warmed up and June and July were near perfect, resulting in the vines putting on good growth and flowering just slightly later than the previous year.
The warm weather and light winds in early July were perfect for pollination and most varieties had good fruit set. The Summer weather was warm with adequate rain which continued to help the development of the grapes.'
'As Summer led into Autumn the rainfall increased further. These conditions were a challenge as they were near perfect for the development and spread of mildew and botrytis (a fungus) which we do not want. In early Autumn some varieties in our Portscatho vineyard were showing signs of Downy mildew, resulting in a slight loss in yield. It was also evident at this stage that despite the decent number of grapes per bunch, the average grape size was going to be quite small. September and October is the crucial time as it's when the quality of the crop is determined. It's when the sugars rise and acidity levels drop. The more sun and warmth, the faster and higher the sugars rise and riper the flavours in the grape gets. However in wet Autumns like this years, sugar levels struggle to rise as high or as fast as usual. We began picking our Rondo and Pinot noir précoce grapes on the 24th of September and harvest finished in the last week of October. Overall 2019 will be remembered as a more challenging year, yields and quality varied greatly from one variety to another, some faring better than others.'
'When the grapes do not reach as high levels of ripeness, the key to the winemaking is to be gentle. Gentle handling and delicate pressing. We do not want to extract too much from the skins or seeds of the grapes. For the reds we allowed a shorter time of skin contact and were very careful with how frequently we did pump overs and punch downs during the ferment. This will be evident in the finished red wines, where colour will be lighter than typical, but the wines are still balanced, soft and fruity on the palate. We have had a few ferments that are very slow, with a few barrels still fermenting in December!'
'The wines are showing great potential and there are a few that stand out. We have a very aromatic, powerful tank of Siegerrebe, which will go into our popular Trevannion blend, to be released in the Spring. Again we will also be releasing a potentially very interesting Bacchus, which we have been experimenting with fermenting in old french oak to add body and complexity.
Another wine to keep an eye out for will be our red Pinot noir 2019, partially fermented and aged in oak but it's likely this will not be ready until later next year.'
We cannot wait to share news of our releases and look forward to announcing them when they are ready.