Vineyard Harvester

Vintage Report 2020

Vintage 2020 Report

Welcome to Garbin Estate Wines official Vintage Report of 2020.
Let me first start of by saying this was not a perfect season, from the weather spikes, vintage dramas and everything in between. Still somehow we made it to the end unscathed. In this report you will hear how it started, the family’s thoughts, a few harvest stories and the expected outcome of wines of this year.

It all begins in winter at pruning season, although Perth recorded near average rainfall, our area in the Swan Valley and Swan District didn't achieve quite the same result. Peter states "There was no days in winter the ground was visibly wet". The maximums and minimums were both above average and we set a record hottest day, 28th of August reaching 30 degrees, Perth's first 30 degree winter! This mild winter and above average temperatures could be part of the reason we set a new record, earliest harvest season. The Summer of 19-20 was very warm with below average rain, no rain in summer is fine as it's not ideal for the vineyard. There was 4 days in a row early December above 40 degrees which really must have stressed the vines. Reflecting on this vintage, we decided that increasing water supply during these unprecedented periods should definitely be implemented. This stretch of extreme days may be another reason harvest was upon us so soon. Some vineyards in the Swan started harvesting fruit as early as New Years. In hindsight we could have done the same.

Garbin Wines started vintage on the 11th of January, one of the earliest vintages to date. First as always is the Chardonnay, this year the yield was lower than average across the board. I would be lying if I said this wasn't a disappointing vintage for yield across all the reds and whites in Gingin considering the work put in every year to achieve the best quality and quantity. From pruning to lifting wires, cleaning the trunks, spraying nutrients, soil management and water uptake it's a fair task, but we can only do our best and leave the rest to mother nature.

Vintage Story 1:
Day 1,  row 1 of Chardonnay , January 11. It's early morning approximately 4am and we are ready to start vintage, hopes high as we begin. Everything starts well, mechanically A1, as we come to finish the first row and turn around to begin the second, Peter notices something doesn't look/sound right inside the harvester. As he inspects the inside we call time out, a beaters broken! (Arms that shake the vine to drop the fruit, rows on each side make up the inside walls of the harvester).  Maybe this was a sign of how the season was to be? Unfortunate I say, not the end of the world. We carry spares just in case this occurs, I didn't expect this early in the season though. Parking the harvester back outside the shed we take ten minutes to unbolt the beater and then continue the harvest. That's the positives and negatives of machine versus pickers for you. The Machine's will is unbreakable the only thing that will stop it is mechanical failure. Picking by hand is the opposite, you will break mentally or give up before your scissors do.

Vintage Story 2:
This story can be traced back to 1998, when Peter Garbin put the first posts into the ground. With good intentions the vineyard posts were set and the first section of our Gingin Estate was established now named The Old Block. The company advertised anti rust for life but we are slowly learning this wasn't true and much like the poles purchased, the existence of their business seemed to fade away, no claims can be made. Nevertheless we now have been working to replace all faulty poles as seen on our social media last winter. Now half way completed with plans to finish the task this year. This is where the story kicks off..

Day 2 of harvesting and everything is looking solid, moving into routine of early morning harvesting. This time making it half way down the Verdelho row and suddenly the elevators (mechanism that carries the fruit to the tray at the top of the harvester) decide to stop completely. I stop the machine harvester and wonder what's up now?. Here goes the process of elimination. What's stopped the elevators? Deciding to drive the harvester back down to the shed, Peter noticed one of the vineyard posts had decided that it wanted to be grape fruit and take a ride on the elevators! Luckily no damage was done and after a couple of hammer taps later we were able to remove the culprit and continue with the rest of vintage, drama free.

Peter, Katrina, Joel & Adam's final thoughts:
This vintage has come very quick possibly due to the mild winter and extremes in December. The Swan Valley vineyard was near normal yielding because of an increased watering schedule. In Gingin we received approximately 50 percent less yield in most varieties. The fruit was good quality and a lot of intense flavours on certain varietals. Interesting varieties we look forward to are Sangiovese Rose, Shiraz, Shiraz sparkling base, Cabernet, Chardonnay sparkling base, Chenin Blanc and Verdelho. Positives were seen rising to the new challenges within this vintage. Experiencing floods and rainfalls to perfect vintages, now a low yielding vintage, (predominately caused by hot weather), this season gives us more insight for vintages to come. Lessons learned from the year are watering even earlier and more frequently with close attention to fertiliser.
Vintage 2020 has been another valuable stepping stone, helping us to realise good vintages in future climate change conditions.

Thank you for reading this year's vintage report. Next month we are excited to bottle the 2020 vintage, fruits of our labour. A few tirage sessions are lined up and sparkling disgorging too. Keep a look out on social media for all the future happenings inside the family business.

- The Garbin Family.

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