2021 Vintage update - by Chief Winemaker Rob Ellis
2021 is shaping up to be a great vintage!
The main contributing factors to the success or otherwise relate to quality and quantity of the grapes that we end up with when the grapes are picked. Quality and quantity are mainly determined by the weather conditions at flowering and fruit set (when the grapes are tiny and vulnerable) and the stresses on the vines during the growing season (mostly lack of water or excessive heat). The crops can also be damaged by weather events such as hail, which is a big problem very early in the season when the leaves can be shredded or later in the season when the grapes are starting to ripen.
Conversely, disease can also play a major factor if the conditions are too wet and humid. Therefore, a perfect vintage is one where we have rain (but not too much), warmth (but not too much) and wind (but not too much). So far, fingers crossed, this year seems to be doing all of that perfectly!
The Jim Jim Vineyard - The estate vineyard, at the winery
Our estate vineyard is likely to be one of the top dozen coldest vineyards in the country. We’re at 650m elevation, on a south facing slope, with a direct line to Antarctica whilst also being continental.
This means that the grapes we have here take longer than nearly everywhere else to ripen, giving them plenty of time to develop flavour. It also means that grapes from this vineyard are some of the last in the country to be picked, meaning there is plenty of time for things to go wrong. Luckily we are also on highly alluvial (free draining) soil. This means we can have large rain events and a lot of the water isn’t held in the soil, meaning we get less berry split.
This year, unlike the rest of the state, we have had just average rainfall in this area. It has also been cooler than average so far. This means, at this stage, we are expecting the fruit for our sparkling wines to be sensational and our whites and pinot noirs to be aromatic, lively and full of flavour.
There is plenty of time left for things to change as we won’t start picking here until March/ April. We will keep you updated.
Athol’s Paddock Vineyard - Heathcote
This 20 acre vineyard was established in 1997 on the Mount Camel range, about half way up the Heathcote region. Over the years it has become a dry land vineyard, meaning we are completely reliant on the water the falls from the sky for the grapes water source. The soil in this part of Heathcote is nothing short of remarkable, it is truly ancient and made of deep red clay. This means they are low on organic matter but hold water supplies very well, perfect for growing very highly concentrated, flavourful grapes!
This season has seen higher than average rainfall from winter, right through the growing season, music to the ears of these dry land farmers! Over the last few years we have changed our pruning and vineyard management techniques to better suit the very low yielding vines. This has paid off in spades, the vineyard has never looked healthier and the crop looks amazing. Recent rain has also given the vines the boost they need to carry the fruit to harvest.
The grapes are starting go through veraison now (meaning the grapes are starting to change colour and soften up), this means we will be expecting to pick those grapes at the end of February, roughly 2 weeks later than usual.
Across Victoria we are in a ‘La Nina’ year, meaning it has been cooler and wetter than usual. This means we are expecting vintage to start late. In a traditional year we would start vintage with Sauvignon Blanc from Echuca in late January. This year we are expecting that fruit in mid-February.
As a general rule this is going to mean wines from this year are going to have great flavour, wonderful vibrancy and be a little more delicate and aromatic than usual.
As vintage starts and we get some grapes in we will keep you posted so make sure you’re following us @hangingrockwinery on Instagram and Facebook.