Vintage started on the 27th January this year, 5 days later than last year and 11 days later than the previous year. It was a particularly cooler season than what we’re used to here in the Perth. Here is the full report starting from winter 2022 to the end of vintage 2023.
Winter rainfall was nearly average for Greater Perth, with rainfall totals in the 330-400mm range to 400-500 mm in the Perth hills. Swan Valley had roughly 370mm. June had around average rainfall before a relatively dry July and wet August in the valley. I guess we didn’t take much notice of the rain this year and it looks like most of the rainfall we get now days is when it dumps down, there doesn’t seem to be as much consistent good rain.
Pruning details to be added here soon.
Spring rainfall was closer to average for Greater Perth. Rainfall was close to average in September, below average in October and near average also for November at most sites. The Swan had a mean temperature of 23.5 degrees, with the hottest day 37.9 on the 29th of November. Minimum mean temperature was 9.7 with the lowest 2.9 on 12th of October and 131.2 mm of rain in total for spring. We only saw 8 days over 30 degrees over the entire Spring.
Summer was dry and warm but not scorching. Rainfall totals were less than 5mm at most sites. It was the third-driest summer on record and the driest since summer 2009-2010 for central Perth. In the Swan the mean summer temperature was 32.7 and the highest for summer was 40.1 on the 21st of January. Can you believe it? Only 2 days above 40 for summer, incredible. Now onto vintage.
Vintage began for us in Gingin on Friday the 27th of Jan starting with Chardonnay; this was just after we lifted wires on the 23rd. Lifting of wires will change soon with the purchase this year of a vineyard hedger, we look forward to making our vineyards look nicely hedged and it also gives me a straight path to follow when driving over the top with the harvester, especially in the shiraz where vine growth is super vigorous. The weather played nice sitting at a mild 15-28 degree day, however the harvester did not. Unfortunately on the first harvest a beater broke that shakes the vines. You can do as much prep as possible but some variables you just cannot control especially when they move at roughly 460 beats per minute. After this was fixed (usually a 15-20 minute job all going well) it was back out there to finish.
Vintage started at the Swan Valley Estate the day after, Saturday 28th with the Handpicked Chenin Blanc, this took most of the day. It was a big Swan Valley day for us as after the pick Peter, Adam and I went to local football club to drop off an order then it was onto Dinner at Txoko Brewery (highly recommend the pizza) then back around to Edgecombe bros to farewell a friend Aki going back to Japan, he worked there for 17 years, that’s a long time in hospitality!
The following day we went to press the Chenin Blanc and the Press broke down. This is extremely concerning especially if you have fruit inside the press and cannot be properly compressed to extract all the juices. Luckily with the help of our mechanic and electrician Roy & Paul working together we managed to have it all back online in a relatively short timeframe, I don’t know many tradesman who are willing to answer their phone after hours but these guys are legendary and good friends, thank you both.
On the 1st of February the Verdelho in Gingin was picked and crushed. More will be done in the coming years to ensure volume of this variety goes up as it’s more prone to not ripening with early morning dew. After this the forklift broke down as the gas line broke off. Not having a forklift for a few days at the winery feels like losing power in your home, forgetting and trying to switch the lights on that’s how much we rely on it.
The next variety was the Semillon in Gingin on the 7th of Feb, this was picked and crushed the same day. We look forward to having more of this wine available after success of the 2019 vintage. This marks the end of the white grape picks for both vineyards.
The reds started in the Swan Valley with the Merlot picked on the 11th of Feb and crushed the next day. Fortunately we have a cool room to store the grapes in overnight so we don’t have to have 1 big day and can spread the work over the 2 days. On the 20th the Cabernet Sauvignon in Gingin was picked and crushed bound for Rose, 24th was the Cab Sauv in the Swan for red wine, 25th was a Swan Valley Shiraz pick and crushed the Cab Sauv in the pm. On the 26th we picked both shiraz blocks at Gingin and on the 1st of March picked the Sangiovese in Gingin and crushed the same day, this is still by far our favorite vineyard to work and harvest due to its light canopy and produces great fruit that’s considered an alternate variety in the Swan District.
In the middle of the reds I decided to add to the workload and buy a house and shift out of home, I think that took around 2 weeks even though it is 5 minutes up the road. I spent more time harvesting than packing but it definitely added to the excitement of vintage time that’s for sure.
Finally it was time for the fortified, finishing off with a Gordo Muscat pick on the 1st of April and crushed on the 3rd April.
In summary it was another successful vintage to the books some varieties doing better than others, we noted new strategies for the next season and it was one of the cooler years for vintage for some time now.
Thank you for reading, all the best - Joel