Vintage Summary 2017

Growing Season & Vintage Conditions

WINTER: The rise of spring through August and September was as strong and sustained as we’ve ever experienced. Fruit trees throughout the region were in blossom from early September.

OCTOBER: Not Since 1999 had we seen a wetter October. With sap flowing through warm afternoons and soil moisture levels high, early growth was rampant.

NOVEMBER: Into November and the warm spring didn’t abate but rather plateaued. Normal spring westerly winds began to wick soil moisture but for the most part were not intense enough to interrupt the continuing growth of strong and healthy canopies.

DECEMBER: Overall, December was in no way outstanding. Heat summation for the month was more or less average. This average however, was achieved without any great peaks of temperature. Afternoon winds were concurrent with cool overnight temperatures. This combination provided challenges for the vines as they underwent flowering. A shattered and varied fruit-set would follow.

JANUARY: In stark contrast to the striking early season warmth, January was peculiarly cool. Rainfall was high offering succour to both the canopies and the understory. Soil and plant health were good even though progress in bunch development was slowing.

FEBRUARY: Veraison like flowering was steady to the point of being slow. By this time, we were able to observe evidence of uneven bunch composition with a great degree of variation in both bunch and berry size. Following the January rainfall, February was exceptionally dry, even by our standards, only 13mm for the month. As was the case for heat summation, our season’s rainfall seemed to have been provided early.

MARCH: March 3rd and 4th brought challenges in the form of near freezing temperatures for two consecutive days. Sleepless nights for the vineyard team but no damage was incurred.

What had been apprehension in the face of unsettled conditions through flowering and veraison, now turned to joy as it became apparent that although the harvest would be smaller (due to the unsettled weather during flowering), quality would be of the very highest. Nature provided us with a perfect outcome to an unusual season characterised by a fast start and slow finish. Rainfall was low and did not affect the harvest. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were harvested swiftly from the 29th of March with both varietals complete inside of one week. Riesling followed with a longer hang time allowing for excellent flavour development. Harvest concluded with Block 1 Riesling on the 20th of April. 

It’s interesting to reflect back on our earlier vintages knowing what we do now. Every year we learn and apply more. In general, we feel there is a step-up in quality and expression from 2002 onwards and another step in increased subtlety, harmony and balance from around 2010. Could it be because 2002 was when we started converting to organic and biodynamic cultivation and 2010 benefiting from vineyards under this farming regime for several years? Quite possibly, but more likely we should look to Blair’s experience with 21 Felton Road vintages now under his belt and Gareth King leading the viticulture for 18 years. This contributes to more confidence in letting the wines express themselves, being patient and continually exploring various opportunities to push for further quality, authenticity and personality. 

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