As Christmas and New Year celebrations fade into the memory, the vines start thinking seriously about ripening their grapes.
During January the vines go through a stage called veraison. During veraison the grapes themselves start changing in colour and texture. White grapes become softer and more translucent, red grapes become dark coloured and soft as they accumulate sugar and degrade acid. Crucially, as the grapes soften and gain ripeness that become more susceptible to adverse weather, splitting with excessive rain or being ruined by mildews and fungi.
There is no denying that the 2011 vintage was a challenging one. The end of the decade long drought resulted in a cool, wet, late ripening season with patches of disease. Making good wine was possible but it was pretty hard work. Having just classified all our wines, we believe we have been successful in maintaining the Printhie standard – we will even release some reserve wines. Our motto at the start of the season, knowing it was going to be challenging was “in every dog year good wine is made and we want to be the one making good wine”. I think we have succeeded.
To be honest, the 2012 vintage is starting to look much the same as 2011. It’s been a wet, cool spring. Summer is struggling to make its presence felt, although the festive season weather has been promising. Long range weather forecasts are not endless days of summer with constant warmth and sunshine. However, we learnt a lot in 2011 about growing high quality grapes in cool, wet seasons. We are so much better set up in the vineyard to handle to seasonal conditions. There is new machinery, more hours being spent in the vineyard and changes to vine canopy management. As a result, we are confident that even if 2012 is to be the same as 2011, we will produce even better grapes and produce even better wine.
So with a couple of months to go before the harvest starts, we still have a bit of work to do but these are the challenges that mother nature brings us each and every year. Come along for the ride, it should be fun.