Phew!!! finally, vintage 2016 is over! It feels like it lasted forever when in reality harvest only lasted about 7 weeks. We picked the first grapes (Chardonnay for Cobbers Sparkling) at Mt Panorama Estate on 13 February and the last of our grapes were picked on 3 April (Cabernet Sauvignon) from 3 Views Vineyard.
A few of our hardy volunteer pickers, Rhonnda and Alan Pearce and their grandchildren
In many ways the 2016 vintage mirrors the 2015 vintage especially with the dry and warm finish to the vintage. The biggest difference between 2016 and 2015 vintages was the water profile going into Autumn. In 2015, we had a full water profile at the beginning of February while in 2016 we had little water in the soil at the beginning of February. 150 or so mm of rain in January helped but really only helped to keep the leaves from falling off. Amazingly, we picked the Cabernet Sauvignon from Mount Panorama Estate Vineyard on 14 March – 11 days earlier than 2015 which, to date, was the earliest picking day for these grapes. Both 2015 and 2016 will be excellent years for fuller bodied reds…judging by the 2015 reds in barrels right now, we have a lot to look forward to.
As usual, the work in the Mount Panorama Estate Vineyard performed by Ros Stitt was exemplary. Thanks to Ros and the owners (Garry and Susan Baxter) for ensuring the vineyard was kept in the best shape possible. I am also excited about the red grapes I have purchased from Don and Ruth Anderson’s 3 Views Vineyard. It is in Caloola about 25 kms south of Bathurst and, at well over 900 metres, is a very cool climate vineyard. I have a small batch of Malbec and Tempranillo to play with as well as additional Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. This allows me to have more options in blending and/or experimenting with a new wine or two while still maintaining my focus on local grapes.
There’s still lots of work to do to make sure the 2016 reds are racked and in their proper maturation vessels, the 2016 whites are fined, filtered and ready for bottling in late August and the 2015 reds are blended and fined/filtered for bottling in late August as well. But…..thank goodness the picking, crushing and pressing are finished.
A couple of other pieces of news for your information. First, in a previous blog I talked about an upcoming piece of noteworthy news to report. Well, most of you may already know this but, for those who don’t, the 2013 Bella Luna Chardonnay was chosen by NSW Government House to be included on a wine list from which select wines will be served at Vice Regal lunches and dinners over the coming year.
They placed their first case order last week. I am happy that the Governor of New South Wales (Governor The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC) is committed to showcasing New South Wales wines along with other products and we hope this exposure of our wine will help put Bathurst on the NSW wine map. Unfortunately, we have only a small amount of this wine and have been required to hold back all of our remaining stock for Government House for 2016.
Government House Reception for NSW Wine Awards Gold Medal winners
We picked the Chardonnayat Renzaglia Wines’ Bella Luna vineyard, O’Connell, yesterday. It’s predictable that as you work your way down the rows with someone opposite, you begin to chat and get to know new people.
We think these two already knew each other! Ken and Robyn Smith
This year we invited our “Club Renzo” members to join us for harvest and inevitably, they made some new acquaintances.
Alan Pearce and Robert Cameron.
Hugh Gould and Merylin Ballantine
Xiang Lay and Alan Kilgore
Rhonnda and Alan Pearce and their grandchildren
We like to think that our approach to harvesting grapes at Renzaglia Wines brings the community a little closer.
Then we all relaxed over our traditional Renzaglia Wines “pickers morning tea”.
And this is what we all felt like doing after our busy morning but some were luckier than others…..
Club Renzo: renzagliawines.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Renzo-Wine-Club.pdf
I think we just missed the major hailstorms that were around here but only just. I was watching an amazing storm come through today and one or two miscellaneous pieces of hail came plummeting to the ground, as if to remind me “it could if it wanted to”. Even though they were reasonably big, they likely did little damage.
Nevertheless, incidences like the hail and the recent fire in O’Connell remind me just how precarious the business of grape growing and wine making can be. After all, our primary industry is farming and all farmers are at the mercy of the weather to a large extent.
In truth, the weather has been kind to us in the Bathurst region so far this year. Even though rain has been quite sparse and it has been a relatively hot spring and early summer, the vines look great thanks to the fact that we had no major late spring frosts this year. It looks like the dry and hot growing season will continue as El Nino kicks into full force and I don’t think that is a bad thing for us grapegrowers. As a smart vigneron once said to me, “the best wines from cool climates are made in warm and dry vintages” and I think 2016 will be one of those warm and dry vintages.
Small berries with a high skin to pulp ratio generally means fruit with more flavour intensity and power. In seasons like this, I use my drip irrigation system to give the vines enough water to stay alive and produce fruit. So far, I have irrigated three times. Who knows what the next three of four months will bring but I am excited to find out.
When I look at all of the major things that are happening around the world including tolerance or lack of tolerance, terrorism, domestic violence, climate change just to name a few, I realise what I do is just a trivial exercise in self-indulgence and “feel good” behaviour. On the other hand, not many professions exist where a person is able to grow a product, turn it into something delicious to drink and then market and sell it on to an appreciative audience. I guess what I do definitely does not hurt anybody else and, to a certain extent, sharing a good wine with friends and family helps people to slow down and focus on some of the beauty that surrounds us
and the positives in our communities and ever changing world. So, if what I do helps people to feel good then I am doing my job.
Thanks to all of my friends, family and loyal consumers for making 2015 a fantastic year.