Tales of Vintage
You can’t talk about the 2021 vintage season without talking about Australia’s switch in weather systems from El Niño to La Niña — that is, we have experienced a much cooler, more humid summer than the previous eight years of heatwaves and drought. Rainfall across the country has been 29 per cent above the long-term average (Ben Deacon, ABC News, 3 March 2021). Such pleasing conditions have resulted in what can only be described as “bloody fantastic” vintage yields, both in quality and quantity.
But, man, has it taken a toll on our beloved winemakers. Charlotte Hardy of Charlotte Dalton Wines (SA) says vintage has kicked her ass.
“We are discovering the limits of our winery down here by squeezing as many grapes as is actually possible,” laughs Charlotte. “It’s always only a temporary situation.
“The day always starts with no room to move for grapes in bins and the feeling that we’ll never get it all pressed. It ends when all the juice has been tucked away in barrels, tank and fermenter; winery pressure washed and clean for the next day. And when I say the day ends… sometimes that end doesn’t come until the early hours of the next morning.”
“But the adrenaline and excitement of a really beautiful vintage keep driving me to work the seemingly impossible: to fit in snuggles, cuddles and night-time stories in with the toddlers, and still somehow snag a few hours with Ben here and there. Somehow the balance is working – the shared duties of grapes and kids and housework and washing and cooking all works,” says Charlotte.
At Voyager Estate in Western Australia, the team got creative with sourcing their labour. Brand Manager, Kate Miller, says the winery has been incredibly fortunate.
“With a picker shortage in the Margaret River region, due to COVID, we decided to put the call out far and wide for grape pickers to join our 2021 vintage crew, to stay onsite with us through the vintage season,” said Kate.
“We had an amazing response from all over the country, with a group of around 25 crew making their way to the Estate. Some of the stories of their adventures to get here were quite incredible, with lockdowns impacting travel from interstate.”
“One couple from North Haven in Queensland had to travel up to Darwin through the Northern Territory, then all the way down to Adelaide in South Australia and across to Margaret River. What was planned to be a 3-4 day trip turned out to be a 3 week trip of 14,000km. Similarly, a couple from Lismore had a 7,000km trip via Uluru, then up to the Northern Territory, down to South Australia and across to Western Australia, all the way dodging the lockdown states and the continuously evolving COVID situation.”
“With the whites all picked, the team have this week started picking certified organic Shiraz and Merlot for our still wines, with Cabernet not too far away.”
While we wait for all of that sweet vintagey goodness to ferment, pour yourself a G&T. Scroll down to the bottom of this email for sin-kō-nah’s Basil Lime G+T recipe.