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Posts Tagged ‘harvesting’

At the Taylors family winery, things are ‘full steam ahead’ as far as vintage 2017 goes with things progressing steadily and without incident.  The weather for January saw reasonably mild conditions with only 7 days registering a maximum temperature greater than 35°C and temperatures well in line with long term averages for the region.  Overall for the month we received almost 52 mm of rainfall, just under half of that we received in 1 day on the 20th January!  That day the temperature was also high – around 36°C – which can be problematic as these conditions tend to promote mildew diseases but Mother Nature was on our side and the temperatures quickly plummeted overnight to 21 °C for the next day coupled with reasonable winds – helping to dry out the canopies and dissipate humidity.  In any case, our vineyard team worked diligently to keep on top of any potential outbreaks and as a consequence, we saw no evidence of any mildew issues on the estate.

HarvestingPicforMarchpost_Mar2017

The harvest commenced at our Clare Valley estate on the 1st of March as usual with a white variety; Pinot Gris.  The following day, we harvested Pinot Noir for sparkling base – which is technically a white wine too.  The winemakers were pleased to be able to use some new picking bins specifically designed to protect the juice from picking up any colour.  They have what is essentially like a sieve fitted inside the bin and any free run juice is protected from skin contact by draining through the holes in the sieve, collecting in the bottom to be syphoned off prior to being tipped into the press. These new bins will also be employed when the Pinot Noir for our Rosé wines are harvested, resulting in much better control of colour & phenolic pickup during the harvest and ultimately a more delicate wine.

Riesling was the next variety to be harvested on the 5th of March, quickly followed by Chardonnay and by the 24th of March, all of the white varieties from the estate had been harvested bar the Viognier.  We pick that at the same time as the Shiraz as the two varieties are co-fermented for our Eighty Acres wine.  Meanwhile, we commenced harvesting the first red variety from the estate, Tempranillo on the 8th of March.  Things quickly picked up from there with the team picking good quantities of both Shiraz and Merlot from the 10th of March.  The first of the Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate was only harvested yesterday on the 28th March and with the mild, sunny conditions promising a lovely long ‘hang time’ for the Cabernet Sauvignon – which bodes well for the wines we’ll produce.

At the time of writing, we’re only around 40% of what we intend to pick from the estate and as a comparison, this time last year, we were almost 85% through!

As far as the harvest from our grower partners in other regions go, Shiraz from McLaren Vale is the only one to reach 50 % completed so far.  We still have quite a bit to come in from the Adelaide Hills and also our Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra for the Jaraman range.  This is often the last fruit to come in over vintage.  With the weather holding beautifully for the foreseeable future, it’s certainly been slow and steady but you know, that’s just how we like it!

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We’ve had an interesting start to vintage 2015 with what our vineyard manager, Colin describes as an ‘upside down growing season’.  It was dry early in October, and then cool and mild in December and January with some rainfall.  The opposite is usually the case with October usually seeing the mild conditions and some rain and December and January being relatively warm and dry!  In any case, the stored water in our dams from above average June rainfall meant we were able to irrigate during the dry October months and keep the vines in optimal health.  Whilst moisture levels can be somewhat controlled, we can’t control temperature and sudden and dramatic falls in overnight temperatures usually bring the threat of frost.  As it happened, in mid-October, the Taylor family estate experienced a frost event. And whilst the extent of crop loss in the affected blocks is still to be fully assessed, overall the quality of the fruit developing for vintage 2015 looks to be great.

V15 Season Rainfall chartV15 Season Min Temp chartGrowing Season Statistics - vintage 2015

Vintage officially commenced at Taylors Wines with processing of fruit for our new sparkling wine – the Taylors Estate Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut Cuvee on January 19th.  On the 3rd of February the first of the fruit for the table wines was harvested; Semillon. Later that same week, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer were picked from blocks on the Clare Valley estate.  The first of the red table wine varieties; Tempranillo was picked on 11th February.  This is earlier than we would have expected but when they are ripe and ready, we are not going to argue!  In fact, this vintage is turning out to be a pretty ‘fast and furious’ affair, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the vintage of 2007.

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One of the great things about our cellars and winery is that they are designed with both gentle handling and capacity in mind so we can happily keep receiving those lovely ripe grapes as quickly as they want to ripen. Embracing continuous innovation is one of our core values so we always have lots of interesting R&D projects on the go.  This vintage is no exception, although one piece of new equipment seems to be causing more excitement than usual.  Our winemakers have collaborated with some forward thinking tank manufacturers to install a new small capacity fermentation vessel.  The unusual thing about this vessel is that it is shaped like an egg!  Now egg-shaped fermenters aren’t exactly new.  What’s new in this case is that it is constructed from stainless steel.  In fact, it’s the first stainless steel egg-shaped fermenter in the world!  We all agreed it looked a bit like Mork’s spaceship.  Now, of course, there have been concrete, clay and porcelain egg-shaped fermenters but the problem with these is the fact that you can keep them as clean as you would like and they are usually very small.  With stainless steel, you can completely sterilize and sanitize them; controlling the ‘zoo’ of microorganisms present in wine making is very important.  And you can make them with larger capacity.  Winemakers generally seek the egg shape fermenter as there is a convection currents created inside the vessel due to the shape during fermentation – this effectively ‘mixes’ the fermenting must without any mechanical intervention – a very gentle and efficient way of extracting all of the colour and flavour that translates into quality wine!  We’ll let you know how our egg-fermented wines turn out!

 

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Right now, the cellars are quickly filling with the gorgeous aromas of fermenting grapes – it really is an exciting time of the year.  I’ve said it before but I’ll happily repeat it – this is what I love about wine. It’s not just a beverage that you can make from a recipe anytime you like.  The grapes ripen as Mother Nature sees fit and the wines we craft from this vintage represents a snapshot in time or history even.  As these ‘fruits of our labour’ go through their various processing, fermentation and maturation stages on the way to being completed, my thoughts often wander to the future and what life will be like when we are enjoying these fine wines from vintage 2015.

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Well folks, vintage is now officially finished for 2014!  The wines we’re crafting from this year’s harvest will start to make their way into the marketplace from around July this year.  Hard to believe that the gorgeous glass of Clare Valley Riesling you might be sipping in spring this year came from grapes that were still hanging on the vine less than 6 months earlier!  Of course this is the case only with the unwooded aromatic white varieties.  The voluptuous Chardonnays and full-bodied reds you will have to wait a little longer for; we like to keep them tucked up nice and warm in our barrel hall for maturation.

Flooding on front lawn of winery – Feb 2014

This vintage was a rather drawn out affair – mainly due to the up and down weather conditions.  We started picking grapes in early February and the weather was quite warm but around Valentine’s Day it turned on us and we were drenched with rain.  Significant falls occurred from Thursday 13th February through to Saturday with flash flooding occurring through the district on Friday afternoon during the heaviest falls – not a lot of Valentine’s Day love felt for Mother Nature that day!  The weather improved after that but remained quite mild which slowed the ripening process quite significantly.  Whilst this was quite frustrating for the vineyard team, who are always keen to pick before the weather has a chance to turn again, the winemakers were happy that the grapes were allowed to develop their unique flavours at a more moderate pace.  If ripening occurs too quickly, the sugars develop ahead of the tannins and this often means that the end wines can be out of balance.

Through March we steadily continued the harvest, picking all of the white varieties on the Clare Valley estate and started to bring in the fruit from our grower partners in other regions across South Australia.  One particular week saw us process around 12% of our total intake in a matter of 7 days!   Our experienced teams who took this very intensive period in their stride, dealing with a whopping 452 tonnes of fruit received across a 30 hour period.  One of the greatest advantages our winemakers have is the ability to quickly harvest and process fruit when it is in its optimal flavour development stage – not having this capacity at the winery could adversely affect the quality of the fruit coming in and ultimately, of course, the wine.

Harvesting on Clare Valley estate

Harvesting on the Taylors Clare Valley estate

Harvest continued steadily into April with perfect, mild conditions prevailing until the third week when the weather in the Clare Valley turned decidedly cooler with the region receiving a couple of downpours.  The rain meant that harvesting was halted for a couple of days but the vineyard team were quickly back into it once it stopped.  The last fruit to came in was the Cabernet Sauvignon on the 30th April 2014.  By this time all of the white wines had completed fermentation and most of the reds were into secondary fermentation.  At this early stage, the winemakers are reporting that based on the quality of the fruit harvested, they expect the wines from 2014 to be worthy successors of the excellent 2012 and 2013 vintages – good news indeed!

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The weather conditions in the lead up to harvest have been ideal and we have all been enjoying the return to relative normalcy after what we experienced last year!  Winter rainfall has been in line with the long term averages and consequently soil moisture levels are good.  The vines are looking fantastic with healthy green canopies protecting the developing grapes.

Vintage officially commenced on the 2nd of February with the harvesting of our Gewurztraminer from the Eighty Acres block on our Clare valley estate.  The next week, we picked some Pinot Gris, closely followed by Riesling and Chardonnay.  The fruit coming in looks very good; clean and fresh with good varietal expression.  If we have anything to complain about it would be that yields are slightly down on our predictions. The other thing that’s keeping us on our toes is that everything is ripening a lot quicker than we expected.  A small block of Shiraz was harvested on the 23rd of February which is earlier than normal but the flavours were in the zone so we picked!  By the end of the month, we had harvested all the white varieties form the estate.

Throughout vintage, it’s really important for our winemakers and vineyard team to keep a watchful eye on flavour development as well as sugar ripeness.  The Baume (sugar ripeness) may be at the right level but if the flavours are not fully developed, it’s imperative for the quality of the end wine that we wait until the flavours are in the optimal zone.  The pressure can be particularly heightened when rainfall is on the horizon.  Holding your nerve can be the difference between green under ripe flavours and perfection in the wine. It’s always a tense time when you have to choose between picking the fruit too early and letting it get spoiled by excessive rainfall.  Mother Nature can either be cruel or kind in this regard.

At this early stage, we are full steam ahead and well and truly into the thick of things as far as vintage 2012 is concerned. No matter how many you do, it’s always a very exciting time.  This is what I love about wine – it’s not just a beverage that you can make from a recipe anytime you like.  It’s crafted from nature and represents a snapshot in time or history even.  I wonder what life will be like when we are enjoying the fruits of our labour from vintage 2012?

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