A frosty winter, early spring rains and a warm summer has lead to a magical vintage at Gladstone Vineyard, with yields up, exceptional fruit quality and some stunning wines emerging in the early stages of the winemaking process.
For the first time in a number of years a frost-free spring provided the vines with a stress-free growing season, setting them up strongly for budburst and flowering. Shoot fruitfulness was excellent with fruit set consistent and compact. Early indications of a large yield enabled us to thin crops to an appropriate level in December and early January to ensure premium growing conditions.
This year we introduced our inter-vine planting programme as part of our commitment to achieving soil health and pest control in an environmentally-friendly manner. Inter-row crops of lucerne, chicory, clovers, grasses and buckwheat enrich the soil and attract 'friendly' predator insects (native wasps in particular) that destroy some 'unfriendly' insects, such as the leafroller caterpillar which causes botrytis. Monitoring of our blocks showed no evidence of leafroller, compared with neighbouring blocks affected both at flowering and harvest.
Our canopies stood up well to the hot dry weather of December and January, with February rainfall and cooler March nights slowing the ripening and allowing flavour development. The fruit came through the rains well with no botrytis or splitting.
Harvest started on the 28th of March with about 10 tonnes of Sauvignon the first to hit the winery. We had a near perfect run with yields coming in close to estimates and fruit of consistently high quality. We had a great team of extremely efficient pickers, only one day of light rain and were lucky that most of the fruit was off the vines when frosts struck in late April – the worst hitting the thermometer at -3.8 C.
In the winery, progress is well underway in finessing what we hope will be one of our best ever vintages. Our whites are showing great varietal definition and promise, with the aromatics expressing some real fruit depth and a broad flavour spectrum – from green apple/capsicum crispness to tropical richness – across our Sauvignon tanks thanks to staggered picking dates and block selection.
At this stage all reds are finished with primary fermentation and early pressing of some batches has begun. Our Pinot Noir fruit came in with the highest consistent quality we have yet seen from our own blocks and showing good ripe tannins and depth and our Merlot/Malbec tank looks a stunner with inky black colour and rich berry flavour.
Christine Kernohan, Managing Director/Chief Winemaker
Kyle Mason, Viticulturalist/Vineyard Manager
Gerhard Smith, Winemaker