We had a perfect kickoff with 30mm of rain on 18 September…
There’s nothing like sleeping under a tin roof to the sound of rain knowing that its going to be such a good start to the season, and over the next two weeks the vines slowly sent forth the healthy new buds that make the shoots, leaves, flowers and eventually the fruit of the next harvest.
And over the next few weeks the olives began to put out an abundance of flower buds, also pointing towards a bumper harvest. Of course we will have to be careful not to have too much fruit as we need to avoid the continuing cycle of biannual bearing – big crop one year, vegetative growth the next year. If the fruit set is as big as it looks like it will be due to the flowering, we will probably have to fruit thin – removing some of the young olives by pruning the trees during summer…
After the spring rains we had some great growth of the grasses and clovers and we did a fair bit of new fencing to allow the grazing of the new vineyards that we have set up for summer grazing (Block 4 Shiraz, behind Sam and Simone’s house).
Wooly has about 130 new ewes and crossbred lambs born on the farm last winter, and he weened the lambs into block 4 shiraz for 2 weeks.
In that time they trampled the grasses and clovers and only left behind stalky unpalatable material, and a beautiful moisture retaining, temperature reducing mulch on the surface of the soil.
Meanwhile there has been a less glossy side to the season, in particular the -2.5 degC frosts which hit the region on the 15th, 18th and 25th of October and which caused widespread damage. Here is a photo of an average part of the Rosnay cabernet vineyard, which is our lowest block and which always cops the worst late frost. In the better sections there is little damage, and in the worst there is complete shoot burn, but on average we probably lost about half the crop.
Over the next few weeks the vines will grow back and green up but the damage to the flowers has been done – where they were killed by the frost they will not grow back or, worst, they will grow back but result in unripe, green berries amongst the harvest, and so they might need to be cut out. However as theres not really much that can be done, we are looking at the bright side – the crop will be lower and it therefore could be much better quality! The vines that we have raised for summer grazing were all unaffected, and the olives and figs also seem to have got off scott free.
We’ll let you know how it all pans out in another newsletter, before vintage.