Vintage is looming
The growing season is progressing a little behind when compared to most other recent years at Wangolina. We've had a lot of cooler weather this spring and consequently at Christmas time the vines were about three weeks behind where they would've been in the past four years. It’s not a bad thing it just gives me more time to plan and get organised for vintage which should start in three or so weeks going on what I saw in our vineyard today when I looked through the vines and found my first signs of ripening. We have a few bunches of Cabernet Sauvignon that are going through verasion - which is when the berries soften and turn from hard green dudes into soft red tasty dudes.
The Wirrega Vineyard where we source some fruit from is always a step ahead of us, it's warmer there (near Bordertown) and so the vines tend to do things earlier. Plus the varieties we source from Wirrega are earlier ripening varieties. I predict that we will kick off with Frontignac (the variety for our Moscato) in the third week of February, stay tuned to see if I am right!
This time of year is also about protecting what we have achieved so far. With January feeling like a much cooler month with more rainy days we haven't had to irrigate often but we have had to be vigilant to ensure we don’t get any mildews growing (BOO to mildew!).
This time of year we like to make sure that there is enough sunlight and wind moving around to keep the bunches dry so we have been out in the vineyard leaf plucking and trimming. We trim most of our vines to keep the canopy in one row from shading the bunches in the next row. Leaf plucking only occurs in our Sauvignon Blanc as it has a big canopy and lots of leaves that can shade bunches hiding in behind. By pulling these leaves off we can get more sunlight in which helps the fruit have better flavour.
On the winemaking side of things this time of year it is about putting the ducks in a row to make sure vintage is going to be as smooth and slick as possible. Currently we are doing a final racking of the 2016 reds. This is where we take the wine out of its barrel, then clean the barrel to remove any yeast sediments that stick to the oak and then put it back into barrels making sure they are full, happy and then safely tucked away until the end of crushing.
It’s also time to double check the yields in the vineyard and make sure I have enough barrels to hold next year’s red wine and getting my plan in place- it’s like writing the recipe for this year’s crushing. I make sure I have a good idea of how many tonnes we are going to crush, when we are likely to crush them and then a plan of the other winemaking type things. Like what yeast we will use, what temperatures we ferment at, what we want to do when the fermentation is finishing. It’s like setting our goals for how we want vintage to go and then kicking them. So fingers crossed for another terrific vintage at Wangolina.