The first week of vintage is ending on one of those days where you need to be inside with a cold one in front of the television watching the cricket. The week started with only two thirds as much Traminer as we expected and everything else we have picked this week looks like being down against budget between half and a third. This is a result of really no rain from the end of July until now. The little bit of rain we had last weekend did the vines the world of good as it freshened them up and got them working again.
Tuesday night we picked Pinot Noir for sparkling base and we only have enough to make half our normal quantity. By tomorrow night all of the Verdelho will be finished and we are keeping a tank of John Tulloch’s separately for Fordwich; the juice has great flavour and terrific acid. By tonight, all of the Penfold Vale chardonnay will be picked. Again, it has good flavours, fair acid and will be just a touch under 12% alcohol, which is just perfect for that vineyard. By Monday morning, all of Neil Stevens’ Semillon will be picked. This is an amazing old vineyard that has been battered by hail four years in the last six, and the oldest vines still look healthy and are good size bunches. At the beginning of the week I thought we would be racing to get the fruit off before the sugars got too high. Sugars have not gone up as much as I thought this week and with the best of the grapes, the flavours are just not quite there. They all need a few more days.
Like last year, the chardonnay will all be picked before the Semillon. Tomorrow, we go to Belford to pick four to five tonnes of chardonnay and then we come back to Tyrrell’s on Monday morning to pick all the good Pinot Noir, which has got the best crop it has had in about six years and is developing really good flavours. So, Vat 6 should be pretty smart from 2013. Tuesday, I reckon, we will start picking the chardonnay around the winery. The last two days has seen all of the HVD Chardonnay hand-picked and all put through the basket press. The quality of juice that comes out of that press is just spectacular.
Extraction rates so far this week are fairly good but the overall tonnage will be down. The best thing of the first week of vintage is that I still have dry boots. This time last year, they were already soaked.
We are all happy with the quality of juice we have this first week and we will see what happens as we progress. I doubt there will be any white left to pick in two weeks, and we will probably have already started to pick some Shiraz.