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Ah Grasshopper – it is going to be a cool vintage

Grasshopper has been sitting on the rock long enough to feel a cool vintage coming.

The 2013 vintage is expected to cooler than normal. Following the difficult vintage just concluded in the northern hemisphere, Grasshopper feels the Rock is on track to experience one of its coolest vintages for many years.


Already some of the weather patterns are looking like previous cool years. This last winter we experienced the most extensive period of hoar frosts since the hoar frosts of winter 2006.

The 2006 hoar frosts preceded the cool 2007 vintage and the cold spring of 2006 had a major impact on flowering and fruit set that year. The outcome was a harvest of small berries, small bunches and low yields – but some beautifully intense age-worthy pinot noir.

October 2012 has been one of the coolest Octobers recorded. No major frosts have been experience but there has been a lack of consistent heat to achieve good even budburst and shoot growth. November and December are also likely to show a similar pattern of extended cool periods. Florescence development and flowering is likely to be below average.

Expect to see more small berries and more undeveloped berries than normal. Bunches will be open and small, probably no more than 90 grams average bunch weight. Bunch weights will be significantly down on the big 2012 and 2011 vintages and more like what we saw in 2007.

The biggest concern this coming vintage will be getting enough heat to ripen pinot noir in Alexandra. It will be a year when we need plenty of solar energy. We don’t expect to be reducing the crop by cutting off many green bunches as there will be low yields anyway.

2013 may produce some special character pinot noir and may be what we are looking for to make the inaugural reserve pinot noir.

Quote from Kung Fu (1972–1975)
Master Po: [after easily defeating the boy in combat] Ha, ha, never assume because a man has no eyes he cannot see. Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Young Caine: No.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?