The 2024 vintage: smiles all round

The 2024 vintage: smiles all round

‘As good as it gets’ was how one of the local winemakers summed up the 2024 vintage in Orange. The harvest was early; conditions were generally fine and dry as the fruit came in; ripeness was good and there was minimal disease. This is what we all dream about.

The reason for the current joy can be traced back to the warm spring experienced last year which brought on early budburst.

Budburst is the stage in the vines’ life cycle when they spring back into life after their dormant period over winter. At Colmar Estate, it usually occurs around the first week in October. But if spring is cool, budburst is delayed and the harvest will be later than usual. If spring is warm, budburst happens earlier and so does harvest.

This season the vines got off to a flying start, a real contrast to the preceding three La Nina years.

November was quite wet so there was no shortage of water to limit the vines growth. Summer was warm but not particularly hot, just the way vines like it. Our vineyard is set up so we can irrigate the vineyard if the vines start to suffer in hot conditions, but there was no need this year. Mother Nature provided well.

At Colmar Estate our harvest began with chardonnay and pinot noir on 5 March and by 18 March most of the fruit was off. Then, a patient wait for the shiraz which benefited from the fine, sunny autumn, finally being picked on 1 April.

Which varieties will excel? So hard to say at this early stage, but among the whites it may be chardonnay that shines at Colmar Estate. We made three pickings – early, middle and late – trying to capture both the citrusy notes (early pick) and white peach characters (later pick) that chardonnay has to offer. That said, our riesling picks were right on the money and we looked for and got full ripeness in both the pinot gris and gewurztraminer. Exciting prospects all round!

Pinot noir will be strong – three good picks. But you know what? We can’t wait to see how the shiraz turns out. After one year lost to smoke and three cool years, we were finally able to pick beautifully ripe shiraz from our vineyard. The style we are chasing is an elegant, fragrant syrah but let’s wait and see what magic emerges from this beautiful fruit.

So, 2024 was a very good vintage in the Orange Region and the prospect for fine wines is high.