Growing season has been a challenge with La Nina upon us, and while we are not facing the worst of the conditions, it is still one of the most difficult growing seasons the Australian wine industry has seen in over 20 years. Being coastal, we find that sometimes the rain events tend to skip over us somehow which is sometimes a curse but right now is a blessing. We have had much more spring rainfall than normal and the cooler conditions are slowing the growth in the vines.
Hail and wind have also had some impact, especially on our Pinot Gris and Malvasia Istriana, however, after some TLC these are bouncing back well. The biggest challenges of a damp season are the disease pressure of both of our mildewy mates, Downy and Powdery. The Wangolina vineyard is grown conventionally, however, we use a highly sustainable spray program focussing on using the right products at the right time and with the most care.
Getting our fungicides on at the correct rates at the right times and targeting only what needs to be targeted allows us to keep our vines healthy as well as manage a long-term program for resistance and minimise our tractor passes.
The vineyard at this time of year is always abuzz with activity. Extra shoots growing off of the trunks have been knocked off, catch wires for the vines to grow up, and into, have been lifted and Anne has been busy chasing snails and training our younger vines.
SPEAKING OF YOUNGER VINES
We are now the happy home to 500 Melon and 800 Aligoté baby vines. We sourced a mere 120 buds of each from a vine collection in Western Australia and shipped them over the border to Yalumba nursery where those 120buds were magically turned via a process called Mist Propagation into little itty bitty baby potted vines. We spent the few sunny days we’ve had planting them into our vineyard and we are now the first plantings of both varieties in South Australia. We are possibly the only commercial planting of Melon in Australia right now – in typical Anita fashion.
Aligoté is the secondary white grape in Burgundy it is generally high in acid and more neutral in flavour. It is generally blended into Chardonnay in Burgundy, however, there are several examples of single-varietal wine from the Aligoté Bouzeron appellation.
Melon is another variety with its ancestry in Burgundy, but its home is Muscadet Sevre et Maine (Nantes, in Loire Valley’s far west). Genetically the sibling of Aligoté and Chardonnay, it should be more than happy in its new home in Mt Benson. The familiar feel of limestone under its roots and sea fog on its leaves should not leave it feeling homesick at all.
These grapes once mature will eventually find their vinous home in our Seasons range, next to the Malvasia Istriana, Verdicchio and Garganega.