Wow, Mother Nature sure had her way with us over the 2014 growing season and harvest! First she sent wind to frustrate the vineyard and mess with our hair. The blowiest growing season in living memory resulted in many a broken new shoot or cane, and made for a difficult flowering season. Cue loss of around 15%.
Next, we suffered through some hail in December (yes- summer supposedly), just when the little grape berries were setting for the year. Laying in bed listening to the hail smash down, all I could think was – if only my super power was invoking a forceshield, instead of the power of being able to function without coffee. This resulted in around a further 15% loss, and made a bit of a mess.
Then, she sent a heatwave in February to test our mettle. With lower crops on the vines, this resulted in the grapes racing in ripeness, perhaps too fast. The sugar was ripening faster than the flavour was developing. Cue sweaty days in the vines, tasting grapes while leaving the car still running with the air-conditioner on full blast. Cue readying the harvester in a frantic pace so that we were ready to go should the decision be made to pick in the relative cool of the night. Cue two mice and and rat frying themselves and, in the process, all the electrics of our cellardoor & office air-conditioning unit. Cue one of our resident grey kangaroo’s getting a little bit upset that we wanted to pick a block of Shiraz that he and his harem had been feasting on and drinking water from the drip lines.
Finally though, Mother Nature showed that she wasn’t without mercy, and she sent a big rain event in early February. At the time, I’ll admit, we were all a bit stressed knowing that the rain was coming. What if it split the berries? What if it resulted in disease pressure? What if I had just washed my car? What if…what if…..what if. Remembering all too well that I didn’t have a forceshield envoking power, or any power whatsoever when it comes to Mother Nature, we all got out the rubber boots and waited and watched 60mm fall in 1 day. Adelaide flooded. In fact, Adelaide set heat records in January (13 days above 40deg C), and then rain records in February (wettest February day since 1969).
Thankfully, what this glorious rain event ended up doing was freshening up the ground, settling the dust, slowing up the vines that had been racing in the heat. It gave us a good two weeks of extra time ripening and flavour development on the vine, no disease pressure, no splitting and a general sigh of relief was heard emanating from the whole region.
All in all, it was a low yielding year, but one in which the vines had to work quite hard. As a result- some fabulous intensity and complexity in the 2014 wines. We have just bottled the 2014 whites and are super pumped with the results. The 2014 reds are all tucked up in barrels now, sleeping soundly. A particularly ripping year for lovers of Grenache. Watch the 14 McLaren Vale Grenache space with interest- I think they will be crackers. You heard it here first. Actually, that is a lie, we winemakers have been discussing it at the local post office for months now, so you may have heard it there.
So this year we were reminded of the our place in the universe and that we are just mere farmers completely at the mercy of the weather gods. We packed away another few nuggets of learning, and made some speccy wines that speak of our little vineyard in McLaren Vale. And with 2014 being my 20th vintage, I am more than stoked with that.