The 2016/2017 season could not be more different than the previous season. It’s been incredibly wet and cool down in Tasmania, compared to the hot, dry summer we experienced the year before. This means we’ve seen LOTS of growth on the vines. Poor Tim hasn’t left his tractor seat since the start of January.
Why? In cooler spells, vines need to be “trained” so the shoots grow up and the fruit (grape bunches) are at the bottom of the shoots where they’re more exposed to sunlight and air. Once the shoots are firmly positioned with wires in an upright fashion, we trim any lateral shoots and shoot tops to form a nice, neat canopy.
Then we can then leaf pluck! This involves removing the leaves that are shading the fruit to allow even more airflow and sunlight. The sunlight allows for good tannin development in red wines and also helps reduce disease outbreaks. The airflow is essential for the grape bunches to dry out quickly after rain, preventing them from going rotten.
In the top picture you can't see any bunches because the leaves have not been removed, however in the bottom picture you can see bunches as the leaves have been removed. We only remove leaves on the Eastern side of the vine so the grape berries don't get damaged by the afternoon sun. These pictures were taken in the afternoon, so the exposed fruit are in the shade and the grapes on the sunnyside are protected from the hotter afternoon sun.
Normally we would trim and leaf pluck only once, but Tim is on his third round of trimming and second round of leaf plucking, not to mention all the slashing of the grass – it’s out of control!
Despite the difficulties with all the vigour in the vineyard, the grapes are growing well. They’re currently going through a process called verasion (green ripening) where they start to soften and the red grapes begin to colour. Due to the cool conditions, veraison is about 10 days later than “normal” (although in Tassie, there is no normal!). Last year, our first pick was on 29 February, but I suspect first pick will be later this time round… and harvest for sparkling wines will start mid to late March.
In the winery, we’re busy getting wines into bottle to make way for the new vintage. The 2016 Pinot Noir is now blended and awaiting filtration and bottling, and I will be blending up the Chardonnay in the next week or two. We are also tiraging our 2016 Sparkling. This is the process of adding sugar and yeast to our sparkling wine base and bottling it for bottle fermentation and maturation – check out the video below to watch triaging in action. Fingers crossed the yeast does its thing and we have pristine bubbly Tassie sparkling for you this time next year!
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