The growing season is progressing very well after a cold start. Two exceptionally hot weeks in November have seen prolific shoot growth and the beginning of flowering (ten days earlier than usual). Over the past few days we have experienced nearly 100mm of rain which has provided perfect moisture levels for flowering. The forecast is for more rain over the next few days. For the first time this year we are experiencing some run off into dams. The only detractions from this timely rain are the possibility some berries will not set and the disease pressure will increase with the humidity.
We have made seven hand passes already in the vineyard. Three passes have been made to lift foliage wires to train the new growth vertically, one pass to remove water shoots/suckers and three passes have been made to remove superfluous shoots in the crown and on the spurs and canes. This then concentrates the vines’ energies on the correct shoots’ development and reduces canopy density. If the canopy is too dense light and air movement is restricted or blocked and disease pressure mounts. Further down the track fruit ripening is inconsistent as many of the bunches will be shaded. Also, a denser canopy requires more frequent, heavier spraying and perhaps use of non organic applications.
The 2008 wines are all sold out now and we are monitoring the maturation of the 2009s in barrel. The volumes in 2009 are down significantly. Soon we will begin to rack the reds off lees as the malo-lactic conversion is nearly completed and we will rack the chardonnays off lees and sulphur them up to keep them fresh after they have been building richness and texture over the winter.