Vintage in the Time of Distancing: 2020 – Wild Fire Wines

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Vintage in the Time of Distancing: 2020

Things have changed! This is what our dining room looked like last year at our Chardonnay vintage lunch. 

Dining table at our vintage lunch last year.

Here is what it looked like this year.

Dining room table with Geoff and team this year.

It sure has been an odd season, probably the worst since 2011 for us and maybe the worst ever.

We had a cold, wet and windy October and November, which resulted in a poor fruit set and hen and chick in our Chardonnay and Shiraz, though less so in our Pinot Noir.

This was followed by the wettest January/February on record - 400 mm total for the two months, whereas in 2019 there was barely 50mm. Understandably, disease pressure was at red alert throughout the growing period, with humidity always in the eighties and in many cases in the nineties.

So, the vines fell at least three weeks behind where they would normally have been, and really never caught up. Super-cold mornings in late March pushed the vines into early senescence, so full ripeness was elusive. This is the first time in eight years that our altitude and rainfall has been a problem. Luckily, friends in Gippsland and down the valley came to our assistance with parcels of ripe fruit to blend and despite all the drama, the wines, now in barrel, are looking fragrant and fresh but with a little more acidity than we would normally have.

COVID-19 has meant that much more work has had to be done by fewer people, and the masking and distancing rules have been a challenge to comply with, but the winery has been much quieter and more purposeful! Australia and Australians have taken up this challenge in a determined and constructive way, and we now have the prospect of an earlier return to normality that we had dared to hope for only a couple of weeks ago. Let us all hope 2021 sees us and the country returned to more usual times.