We are absolutely delighted with quality of the fruit we picked in 2023 and you can expect some outstanding wines to be produced.
But we weren’t always confident of this result. Thanks to La Nina, we experienced our third cool, wet year in a row. In the lead-up to budburst in the spring of 2022 it rained and rained. The ground was waterlogged and we couldn’t even get a tractor into the vineyard. Like last year, our vines were slow to wake up after their winter slumber, pushing back the growing season and ensuring that the 2023 harvest would be late. Now, a late harvest is not a problem provided the weather at the close of the season is fine and mild. Were we asking too much?
Just when we thought the season was finally getting its act together it snowed on us on 2 November, but fortunately damage to the young shoots of the vines was minimal. That was the first of many bullets we dodged during the growing season.
It poured with rain in November and December, demanding diligence in the vineyard to keep mould at bay. And then, finally, it fined up in January. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the climate outlook was for a mild, dry autumn. Time to relax?
No, in early autumn Orange was peppered with a series of storms some of which dumped hail around the district. Our nearly-ripe fruit was actually looking great but it seemed that we could lose it at any moment. Nerve-wracking stuff.
Then the miracle happened. The sun returned on 8 April and the final ripening of our grapes occurred in 20 days of mild, dry autumn weather – absolutely perfect! We took some chardonnay and pinot noir off early for sparkling wine but the main harvest started on 17 April, one of our latest ever.
In the beautiful conditions we were able to time our hand-picking with precision, capturing each variety at the ideal moment – three picks of riesling, three picks of pinot gris, and two each for gewurztraminer, chardonnay and pinot noir. At this early stage it’s hard to say which of these will stand the tallest, but all will be very good.
We finished up with a long day’s picking on 27 April, taking off the last of the riesling (Block 5) and the last of the pinot noir (Block 1), both beautifully ripe and both in great condition. Job done.
And then on 29 April it poured with rain, with 67mm falling. Whew!