24/11/2020 // Nick Edwards
When it comes to harvests, one thing is for sure – no two years are ever the same! And 2020 certainly had a lot of new challenges in store for us. The gloriously sunny weather we enjoyed at the start of the first lockdown prompted a strong bud burst in late April, but unfortunately this was soon followed by some unexpectedly challenging frost conditions which impacted our yield, resulting in a bit of a mixed season overall.
As a team we learnt a lot about handling different and tough conditions, whilst also having to contend with the additional pressures the COVID-19 restrictions placed on our team. However, it is fair to say that we have emerged a stronger and more focused team and are looking forward to 2021 with renewed enthusiasm.
The perils of frost
For those of you who have been on one of our vineyard tours, you’ll be familiar with our magnificent ‘Tow and Blow’ frost fan. This huge piece of equipment plays an invaluable role during frost conditions by repelling cold air across the entire vineyard to protect the earliest bud bursts of the season.
This year it had already successfully managed four frost incidents when in May we were hit by an unexpectedly aggressive late frost, where temperatures dropped to -3°C and, frustratingly, our normally trusty Tow & Blow malfunctioned. The impact was not insignificant – with a 50% loss of the primary buds across the vineyard.
No compromise on quality
Whilst this was hugely disappointing, we were fortunate in that above average temperatures in June quickly followed, and then a slightly cooler July promoted good even flowering with a strong fruit set (where the flower forms a berry) –This is so important, especially in a challenging year to sustain high quality fruit and flavour development.
Our Chardonnay grapes however made less evident positive progress and we quickly took the decision not to pick them this year to avoid any compromise to the premium quality of our finished wines. Whilst frustrating for the team, our commitment to the quality of our precious grapes means everything , so it was a simple decision in the end.
Fortunately good yields for Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier along with our Seyval Blanc will result in the 2020 vintages providing us with some excellent wines to put down and add to our future listings.
A strong end to the season
The strong recovery over summer was driven by some excellent weather conditions with the berries enjoying a two-week hot spell in August. As ever, you never get your perfect season and we ended with a few wet weeks, delaying our harvest to late October – making 2020 our latest to date!
Overall, the standard of the 2020 fruit was very high, with our grapes remaining clean and disease-free. The Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, both of which are used in our best-selling Classic Cuvée made a strong recovery and the result was 50% of our normal crop overall.
Our Seyval crop – a white grape which ripens early and is the only grape used in our popular Seyval Blanc Reserve – was excellent as always.
One thing is for certain – we won’t be forgetting the 2020 season in a hurry! COVID-19 certainly threw in some curveballs for us all, but we are so grateful for our strong and dedicated vineyard team, who showed real resilience in the face of all these challenges.
Lastly, we couldn’t end this season without saying another big thank you to our wonderful local community and all of our customers for your ongoing support during such a challenging year.
We believe our 2020 vintage will taste all the better for this unique experience!