"Summer followed on from our very late spring and I am happy to say the vines responded with a catch up, grow fast and don’t be late for harvest attitude. We are right at the point of harvest and I have snapped off a photo of our Pinot Noir vineyard with its beautifully formed bunches of tasty plump black berries. I just know that this will be an exceptional year.."
The warmer than average summer has been fantastic for our young vines that I planted this spring. The frequent rains kept them in heightened activity, consequently the amount of growth has been exceptional. The Cabernet Sauvignon that I talked about in my summer newsletter (the Reynella clone and the Haughton clone) have reached the wire in their first year of growth and will be strong enough to carry a small crop next season. I’m excited!"
"Hello from the prettiest place in Victoria, perhaps Australia. We have just witnessed the latest start to spring in the 30 years I have been growing grapes in and around Bright. My vines generally burst their buds around the 21st of September with the earliest being the 16th and the latest being the 26th. This year it was the 8th October! People were still snow skiing in October! My guess is that this lateness will follow on right through the growing season until harvest. Just when we were getting used to early vintages (harvests) and global warming, the weather gods throw in a couple of cool yorkers to confuse everybody."
"Pruning is all but finished. There is still some wrapping down of canes to do, some wires to re-tension and some posts to ram in and then we are all done for another year and the vines can start their spring growth which I find magical. What I can tell you after pruning is there will be ample Nebbiolo this year to make a good volume, enough to satisfy our Summit Cru Wine Club members plus a bit more to go through cellar door. Of course that won’t be until 2019. Good wine takes time. We will also get a decent amount of Fiano which is exciting, our first off our own vines. On a smaller scale we will get just enough to make a tiny bit of Montepulciano and Verdejo. These two new varieties in the Feathertop
portfolio hold great potential so it will be with extreme interest to see what harvest brings. Life is never dull!"
"Vintage started off a bit later than it has for the past several years but nowhere near where it was twenty years ago. Global warming has made a huge difference to harvest dates here in the cool Alpine Valleys. From starting in April in the 1990s to February 20 years on. Anyway this vintage started in March and the fruit of the early varieties was nothing short of exceptional. Then it rained! And then it rained again! That’s how it was for the remainder of the harvest. Diseases associated with the wet were not a problem in our vineyard as we had been very vigilant with our fungus preventative spray program. Eventually we got all the varieties in at close to the desired sugar levels, but I hasten to add the flavours were early and amazing. Summary – a good vintage, not exceptional. My pick for this year was the Sangiovese, the Shiraz, and the Riesling. Time will tell the true story."
"Autumn is here and the vines work hard to ripen their bunches of beautiful golden and black grapes. In fact it is more meaningful to reflect on the growing season that was. Spring and bud burst was late after a very wet winter with the rivers close to bursting their banks for weeks and weeks on end. As the vines came out of dormancy and started their growth, it was a bit scary on a few occasions as the mercury dropped below zero degrees but thankfully not low enough to cause serious damage to our vines. Flowering follows bud burst by roughly six weeks so again we noted that it was later than the last few years. The weather stayed warm to hot over summer without any extreme damaging heat waves. Rain kept falling on a regular basis and at times Evan would just get a mildew and botrytis spray on and then have to repeat it all over as it had rained yet again, and again, and again. However veraison (that’s when the grapes start to soften and colour) began on cue, six weeks after flowering and we allowed ourselves to get a little excited as harvest follows verasion by, you guessed it, six weeks."
Finally we have had some warm weather up here or down here depending on where you live in Australia. Mind you the warm days have well and truly been outnumbered by cooler/colder ones, with intermittent snow falling on Feathertop and Mount Hotham and light frosts chilling down our vines to the minus one degree on numerous occasions. Luckily they can cope with light frosts – minus two is death.
When we have had the warmer days the vines have responded with a rush of growth and the vineyard looks an absolute treat. The record rainfall experienced early in spring saw only minor flooding and again no damage was visible. In between the wet days we have been busy planting the rest of the Montepulciano, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and a new block of Cabernet Sauvignon. So now when you look out across the vineyard from the lawn at the winery you don’t see a big hole of unplanted trellising where, sadly, the last of our
25 year old Shiraz vines where pulled out because of phylloxera. There will only be two patches left to plant next year, one at either end of the steep hill. At one end I’m putting in a very old clone of Malbec that is very hard to get at; and at the other end, in front of our house, goes the fifth clone of Sangiovese. It will be an amazing accomplishment to have the replant completed. Just over fifty acres in total.
Also in this issue:
- Kel expalins his close planting strategy for our vines
- We get excited to launch our new website www.feathertopwinery.com.au !
- His middle daughter Carla gets married at Feathertop Winery
- Caroline shares her Chocoalte and Beetroot Cake recipie that featured at the recent Spring Long Lunch
- We host a Summit Cru Wine Club event for 125 people in Melbourne
"Summer to date in this beautiful valley has definitely been warm enough yet interspersed with regular and good rains. Everything is still looking green and the vines lush. We did get smacked by hail around Christmas with the vines nearest the winery copping an absolute beating by the 80-100km/h winds that were driving the hail horizontally at the vines. Thankfully it was a narrow strip that whipped down from Porepunkah then petered out not much further down the valley than our vineyard. The bottom line for us is probably as little as 15% yield was lost. "The early varieties are just beginning to colour (called verasion) which indicates that we will start harvesting in the third or last week of February. Harvest is the most exciting time of the year. This is time when the real truth is laid bare and any shortfalls and errors of judgement in the vineyard become glaringly evident." Kel Boynton Also in this issue:
- The vineyard team are preparing for harvest 2016 and Kel explains how the magic happens from picking the fruit in the vineyard to fermentation.
- Kel reviews some of our current cellar door releases including the 2008 Black, 2012 Blanc de Blanc (new!), 2014 Fruilano, 2015 Pinot Gris, 2015 Savagnin, 2012 Shiraz, 2013 Merlot and the 2014 Tempranillo.
- We announce a new dining experience available for Summit Cru members - private degustations in the Alfresco Dining Restaurant; and
- We take 5 with Robbie Clarkson our Sous Chef.