Very different to the last couple of years! 2018 and 2019 summers were dry and warm - record breaking warm. 2020 came after a very dry spring in a very dry year. Our rainfall at Saltwater River for 2019 was 469 mm, 100 mm of that falling through the spring.
cool and windy
While the Bureau officially recorded summer as warmer than average, that was mostly about the minimum temps. Apart from the odd hot day (38° on December 30), we will remember the summer as cool and, certainly for the first half, windy. The fronts kept blowing through from the west and the vineyard canopy, stunted by the cold windy spring, struggled to grow. Fruit set was at best patchy, at worst poor and we saw a lot of ‘hen and chicken’ bunches which would cause us some anxiety in March.
a late season
However, throughout the summer we were not too concerned. The dry, windy conditions ensured that mildew diseases were not a problem. We had enough water stored to see the vines through to harvest and irrigate the new block we had planted. We were, like most producers, noticing how late the season was in contrast to the previous two years when everything was early. We were more concerned with de-stocking, taking advantage of the high sheep and lamb prices to minimise our dependence on expensive supplementary feeds in the coming autumn and winter. We had conserved as much pasture as possible, not cutting any hay in light of the “dryer than normal” long term forecast. We were in our fifth consecutive “dryer than normal” year.
spared the fires
The fires which devastated the mainland states through the spring and early summer largely spared Tassie thankfully. The smoke drifting down from the mainland reminded us of the previous fire season when it was all much closer to home and we felt for all the producers who would not be able to harvest their smoke tainted fruit.
Veraison started mid-February and the last couple of weeks of the summer were spent getting nets on (is there any job less appealing in the vineyard?), mending all the new holes in them (the origin of which is a perpetual mystery) and strapping them down in anticipation of the first of the autumn gales.
We had water in our dams, small but healthy canopy and fruit set on the vines, we had fertilised and netted, what could possibly go wrong?...