The 2014 Barossa vintage has turned out to be a test of patience. Initially, things were shaping up for the first fruit to be picked in late February – on the back of good Winter rainfall and mild Spring temperatures. However, two heat spells hurried things along and we picked a couple parcels of Shiraz in mid-February.

SWC - 22And then it rained.

The heatwave ended with a drenching. About 100mm of rain fell across a couple of days in mid-February and while people with parched gardens rejoiced, it caused a few headaches for grape growers and winemakers. Lots of rain in vineyards with almost ripe fruit can result in the fruit splitting (bursting, cracking or rupturing of the grape skin). Splitting is an issue because it affects yield and quality as well as opening up a moist surface for Botrytis fungal infection.

Thankfully we saw minimum splitting across the Schwarz family vineyards and those of the other family vineyards we source our fruit from. But bunches did fill up with water and the ripening process slowed to snail pace. Some beautiful, mild weather (daytime temperatures in mid 20s, nights in low-to-mid teens) since the rain has meant that we are still waiting to pick most of our fruit.

So here’s where we’re at:
Chenin Blanc has been tucked away on its lees, half in barrel.
The Mataro parcel of our Rosé has been picked, de-stemmed, macerated and pressed.
Our first parcel of Shiraz has already found its way to barrel.

This week will see:
Tanunda Grenache picked for the remainder of the Rosé blend.
The first selection of Nitschke Block fruit (from the road-side rows) will be picked.
And we might even see some Thiele Road fruit arrive in the winery.

Flavours and colour are good in these vineyards but we are seeing low sugar levels than we are used to. We will just have to be patient.