Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Vintage 2013 #V13 - UPDATE 22/1/2013

Shiraz shriveling from sun/heat damage. While this looks serious, it will fall off before harvest and doesn't unduly affect wine quality.
In McLaren Vale vines are continuing colour change progressing through verasion (EL-35) quickly during the last 7 days.  

Harvest is approaching quickly. Full veraison has been seen in Chardonnay, with Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon between 50%-90% berry colour. 

Vines in the Adelaide Hills are just beginning to soften indicating they too are in the last phase of the year.

Reports in the media are for a 'sparkling vintage' as per the ADELAIDE NOW piece -"Vintage 2013 Shaping up to be a winner"

Jacob's Creek has started harvesting chardonnay grapes from Mildura and Riverland, with the company's Rowland Flat winery in the Barossa Valley starting the crush yesterday.

Jacob's Creek chief winemaker Bernard Hickin said: "So far, everything is indicating a high-quality vintage in 2013.

"While it's early days, and the real hard work is still ahead of us, I believe we'll see some great wines from this year across a number of varietals and regions. Like many Australians, our winemakers have been paying keen attention to this summer's high temperatures."

While we also admit it is far to early to make any sort of quality assessment it is important to note that the McLaren Vale vineyards are in good condition dispute two days in January with uncommonly high temperatures. Lets hope the predictions are right.

Above - Where is the crop? Shiraz vineyard with very low crop (and probable Nitrogen deficiency). Has this vineyard been run too hard in the pursuit of wine quality?
Below - A fuller bunch in a 'C-Grade' Shiraz vineyard. The crop load is much higher in this vineyard than above. Ripening will progress very differently.

Generalising about vineyards and wine quality is a process fraught with pitfalls. Crops vary, climates vary, grape growing practices vary. Look out for updates using the tag #v13 for timely vintage information.

Post shortages - Update 22/1/2013

As some of your would be aware vineyard posts - CCA 2.4 100.125 Cambio’s (also creo treated) are in short supply.

DJ’s has forward ordered posts for this season. We would like requirements of our customers and amounts so we know if to put more orders in.

At this stage there is 8000x units of 2.4m 4-5 posts that we have pre-ordered earlier in anticipation of this shortage.

If you require posts for this winter – please order them now – or else we can discuss using replacements like OCLOC clips or steel posts form NZ tube mills.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Berry Splitting - The first stage of Botrytis ID Photos

Botrytis cinerea begins from berry damage.  Grapes are susceptible to this fungus as they ripen. Generally it causes bunch rot commonly known as botrytis rot or grey rot. It also creates conditions favorable for the growth of other spoilage organisms. Botrytis and a mix of other microorganisms including yeast, mold, and bacteria are involved in miscellaneous fruit rots.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vintage 2013 - Pre-Harvest

We are now about 45-60 days from grape harvest. It is a good time to assess how the vineyards are looking and what challenges are ahead.  Harvest in McLaren Vale is expected to begin the middle of February with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Shiraz harvest is likely in the last week of February running to the middle of the month. 

Crops are very low and this will increase the speed of ripening and bring on a rapid harvest.

Assessing vineyard ripening this week has been difficult as it has varied from site to site. Some vineyards have advanced quickly in the last week, with 30-50% Veraison (EL-35) occurring over the week, while in others the vines seem to have stayed the same. For example in Willunga some vines have not significantly coloured in the last 7 days and are only at 1-2% Veraison. 

Surviving the Heatwave 


Extremely hot conditions on Friday the 4th of January caused heat stress where high temperatures on plant surfaces ‘burn’ vine leaves and fruit. CropWatch's weather station at McLaren Vale recorded temperatures of 40.2oC, while temperatures inside the vineyard were in excess of 45oC. 

We think variation in ripening has been caused by the extreme heat. In some parts of the McLaren Vale GI fruit development has sped up in response, while  in others the vines processes have stopped and berries have not progressed into colour change.

Leaf scorching on Merlot in Whites Valley - 8/1/2013.
The good news is while hot day and night temperatures have affected the health and appearance of most of vineyards in the McLaren Vale Wine Region the damage is low. This is remarkable considering the extreme temperatures. 

EL-34 to 35 Berries softening to verasion.

Less than 5% leaf and fruit damage has been seen. Sun damaged fruit will shrivel and dry out before harvest and will not affect fruit quality.  

Where leaf burn has occurred vines still have enough functional leaf to ripen their crop. Grape quality is largely unaffected as minimal leaves have been lost the vines ability to ripen fruit is only slightly reduced. One observation is burn is worse on eastern side of the canopy and areas of low airflow.

Low disease pressure


Keeping control of powdery this season has been relatively easy due in part to a drier than average spring.

A chardonnay bunch  with some powdery mildew infection on berries - 8/1/2013. Note that hot weather in the last few weeks has not ‘killed’ this powdery.
The attached photo is of powdery mildew near CropWatch McLaren Vale's Range weather station. An infection of powdery has affected all of the ‘shot’ berries. It shows you that disease was very active 4-6 weeks ago and powdery is very good at finding a way to infect fruit. This is in an otherwise well tended and healthy VSP vineyard with an open canopy.

If you are seeing signs of disease it is an indication that your spray protection practices, especially coverage, are not up to scratch. Diseased fruit this season is a sign of poor management.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Powdery Mildew - ID Photos - EL 34 Berries Softening

Powdery mildew is ever-present in a vineyard at low, even undetectable levels. Unfortunately in some cases it flares up causes bunch infection.  If it gets out of control it is almost impossible to bring down to minimal damage levels.
A severe infection.

The attached photos of Powdery mildew are from near the Range in the McLaren Vale GI – note how it has affected all of the ‘shot’ berries in the bunch. It shows you that disease was very active 4-6  weeks ago and powdery is very good at finding a way to infect fruit. This is in an otherwise well tended and healthy VSP vineyard with an open canopy.

The worst thing you can do if mildew pressure gets high and a serious infection becomes established is to use a fungicide to try to eradicate it.  All it does is build resistance to whatever class of fungicide you are using. When you take that approach, there are spores that are resistant and they will escape, and resistance will build.

If you have these symptoms - please seek professional advice.