2021 vintage, in summary, was a cool spring and January followed by a warm dry autumn which perfectly ripened a smaller than average crop. The grape volume was down by 20% as was the average bunch size. We picked a week earlier than normal due to the excellent ripening period and a smaller crop. Covid-19, and changes in the availability of skilled vineyard staff, made vineyard work more difficult.
September 2020. Temperatures dropped on the evening 27 September with a very cold southerly front brought snow to the hills and sleet showers to the vineyard. The cold stayed for three days and the three-day average temperature in the vineyard was only 4 degrees. Fortunately, buds were only starting to emerge and our frost fighting systems worked well. Apart from this extreme event, temperatures were good earlier in the month.
October 2020. October was largely uneventful with good conditions for bud growth and flower development. Temperatures were average.
November 2020. Another month of average weather conditions.
December 2020. December weather conditions were cooler than average. The weather as very mixed with some good flowering periods in mid-December but the month ended with extremes. A frost on 28 Dec followed by an extensive rain event. Rain over New Year was measured at 135 mm. About 40% of the average annual rainfall in just five days.
January 2021 opened with one of our largest rain events ever with 115 mm in the first week of January. To put this in perspective, our total rain from the start of the growing season to harvest was 233 mm. January was a challenging month with abundant soil moisture for growth but cool air temperatures. It was the was coolest January we have experienced since the very cool 2017 vintage and contributed to slow berry and bunch development and the loss of some berries. Crop assessments in late January projected a smaller than average crop would be harvested.
February and March weather was a return to more normal warm and dry weather conditions to ripen a smaller than average crop. Only 1 mm of rain was recorded for all of February and March.
With autumn approaching temperatures dipped below zero on 18 March and 3 April getting as low as -2 degrees but fortunately not enough to cause problems.
April 2021 Grapes were hand-picked from 9 to 14 April over four days. Overall, our crop was down 20% on average. Average bunch weight 87g and 16% below average.