The Barossa is in the middle of another vintage. It’s a frantic time of the year – friends can’t commit to social events because they will be either harvesting, carting fruit or wine making – so we can forget seeing them all for the next month or so, after which they will emerge with a huge load lifted from their shoulders for another year – and ready to party!
I took the photo above of some of our Shiraz bunches – the grapes are looking fabulous and we just need them to hang in there for a few more weeks (pardon the pun!)
Everyone’s talking about the weather (even more than usual!) and we’re all following Weatherzone to see what we need to be planning to do in the vineyard prior to picking, especially with regard to heat events and some strategic watering so the vines can cope. The wineries are asking for grape samples as they start to make plans for harvesting at exactly the right time. They’re looking for flavours, sugar levels, (Baumé) and acidity.
Those of you who have done vineyard tours with me have heard me liken this part of the season to childbirth. We have spent the last 9 months pruning, nurturing, feeding and monitoring the vines. Now we await the day when the harvester is booked and hope the weather doesn’t deliver hail, floods or extreme heat waves before then! Once the fruit is in the winery we all relax and celebrate, but not until then….
Another tell tale sign of vintage is the increased number of grape laden trucks criss crossing the Valley to get to their winery destinations, and lights and a distant hum as the mechanical harvesters work through the night. Most grapes are harvested mechanically now for a number of reasons. Cost is one factor, it costs about three times as much to hand pick. The main factor though is that the grapes can be picked quickly and in the coolness of the night if desired – both assist with the quality of the fruit that gets to the winery.
When the grapes are picked and the wine is fermenting in the wineries, life starts to get back to normal. We give the vines a big drink of water post harvest, and over Autumn the leaves change to brilliant orange and red hues before dropping, when the vines become dormant – or go to sleep as we say!
Winter means pruning and it all starts again in Spring….and suddenly we’re a year older! Ein prosit!