After months of dedication in the vineyard, vintage is here. Timing is everything. Walking the blocks of vines Tim meticulously studies each vine and carefully removes a good number of sample bunches from full rows. We stop at the semillon block. Tim is elated and explains this will be the best season we have had with our semillon. The fruit is sweet and delicious and he points out how the colour varies from golden in the less leafy bunches to limey green in the more verdant ones and how this is the perfect mix when harvesting. His face lights up when we arrive at the chardonnay block and he enthuses.... "Like all fruit it goes through colour changes and the yellowy, straw colour you see signifies it is going to be beautifully ripe."
The sample bunches are taken to the winery where the baume testing (sugar levels) happens and decisions are made. The science and the sensory experience work hand in hand. It's fascinating and rewarding.
Our number one chardonnay block is harvested early in the morning of Friday 19th February. We are fortunate to have a large group of pickers from numerous countries - Argentina, Chile, Portugal and Afghanistan. It's colourful and the atmosphere relaxed yet busy. Buckets dotted along the rows are quickly filled and then methodically and carefully poured into bins. At the winery Jono takes over. The grapes are chilled to 5 degrees Celsius in a chiller room overnight. Next morning the whole bunches are pressed into a stainless steel tank and the juice is left to settle for 24 hours. A period of wild yeast fermentation begins before the wine is ready to be stored in French oak barriques, where it matures over a period of 8 or 9 months.
The stars align and on Monday 22 February the semillon is machine harvested in the wee hours of the morning. Tim is elated with the quality and when blended with the sauvignon blanc will give us our usual and popular blend. He remarks on the lack of silver eyes in the vines this year and gives thanks for the glorious white marri blossom which has coincided perfectly with the ripening of the grapes.
On Sunday of the long weekend we unclip and lift the nets along the long sauvignon blanc rows and remove any sticks caught in the nets ready for the net machine, which has a big job to do before each block is ready to be harvested. Lifting the nets is a heavy job. On Monday morning we have Tim assisted by Roy and Tab, manoeuvring the giant net whiz behind the tractor, lifting, removing and rolling the nets into neat bundles, ready to be stored for next year. The grapes taste sweet and flavoursome. Tim confirms they are at "optimum ripeness". Another early start on Tuesday 2nd March and we have our sauvignon blanc grapes harvested and in the winery ready to be blended with the semillon.
At our new cellar door Julie is offering customers a taste of the grapes as they sip last year's vintage or an earlier vintage. They look out over our Stage 5 cabernet block from the deck of the cellar door. Why not wander down and taste those dark berries? It won't be long and our reds will be following the whites in their annual harvest ritual.