Autumn 2020

“Best autumn break for 20 years” was the general consensus in much of Tasmania. The frustration of watching the summer rainstorms carefully skirt around Saltwater River and looking enviously at the green pick that subsequently appeared when we drove, well, just about anywhere it seemed, was fresh in our minds when March rolled around.

We still had plenty of water in storages to irrigate, but the fruit was looking a bit thin on the vines, confirmed when we started bunch counting.  March 2nd brought us 17 mm of rain. Four days later another 32mm in the gauge. And so it continued every week or so right through March (81 mm) and April (81.5 mm).  Our smiles turned to concern. Some of the berries started splitting. Would they dry out or would disease follow?
Disease did follow; Covid-19 made our worries over fruit seem a bit irrelevant. Lock down and business closures brought new questions. Would we be allowed to employ pickers, and would wineries be allowed to process fruit?

low yield
It all worked out in the end; the fruit quality was good although our yield was down about 50% on expectations at the beginning of the season. The poor fruit set and some splitting took its toll, but we were happy just to get it ripe and off to the winery. We heard of others that weren’t so lucky.
We finished picking the last of the Gamay on April 28th, nearly three weeks later than the previous year. It was probably a good year for low yields, with hospitality and tourism facing an uncertain future. We can only speculate how wine sales will be affected at this stage.

next season
The unseasonal weather has highlighted some potential issues that we will address. Providing some extra shelter to the exposed southern side of the vineyard has been a long-term goal. We will put some temporary measures in place for next season to mitigate cold winds that could affect fruit set.
We will ensure the vines have the trace elements they require at flowering and adjust the timing of irrigation to encourage the development of deep roots to buffer rain events late in the season. We will prune late ripening varieties earlier to encourage early development and allow more time for fruit to ripen.

Next season's going to be great!