The solid rainfall in late Winter and early Spring gave the vines a good foundation for the dry conditions through Summer and into Autumn 2018. Seeing very little rain from January to mid-April and a couple of significant heat events during veraison in January saw a rapid increase in colour and sugar ripeness, before a generally mild February – March allowed the vines to settle down to a more normal ripening progression. Harvest for most blocks was around three weeks earlier than for 2017, which is more in line with the long term. Crop levels were generally average, and a little down on 2017.
Our first pick for the year was some Tempranillo from Willunga on 20th February, followed a week later by a few lots of Shiraz from the Seaview region, and then the start of March saw us taking in another lot of Tempranillo from McLaren Flat and some Shiraz from the eastern edge of McLaren Vale. With the winery full, we had a break from picking for a week or so, which then saw us start picking both Shiraz and Grenache from Blewitt Springs (including our own Kays Road vineyard) from mid-March, along with our Graciano. Last of all came our Mataro on April 6th. The vintage was a little more spread out than 2017, over nearly seven weeks, which made it seem a little less frantic.
Generally, our extraction rates were slightly lower, with higher skin to juice ratio, leading to brilliant colours and flavours with solid tannins. The mild ripening period allowed the fruit to retain a lot of its natural acid, with a resulting freshness and vibrancy. Early signs are promising for the 2018 wines and we have quite a bit to work with when we get to blending, with 14 different batches of Shiraz, five of Grenache (plus our fortified Grenache), a couple of Tempranillo lots and our Graciano and Mataro for the Specialis and GSM blends. We also have two new wines, a Grenache Rose and a co-fermented Shiraz/Grenache from our own vineyard destined for an early release.