I have checked over the vineyard again in the last few days. Right now everything is looking optimistic for the vintage, and overall the ripening process looks almost two weeks ahead of normal for early March.
Key observation is low disease pressure and surprisingly low bird damage (they will still, after all, try and find ways into the nets however well I think I have sealed them off – and this year, thanks to the drought, I am told they are hungrier than ever). The older vines, with established roots, are maintaining good levels of healthy leaf and so the engines are in place to keep the ripening process going. Younger vines less so, with much smaller crop loads (for those I have left the grapes on).
Overall the ripening process looks uncannily even, with frost affected varieties producing small later crops that are behaving more like the late varieties. Leading the way in terms of brix levels and skin development is the merlot at just under 21 brix. The cabernets & syrah are both just coming up to 20 brix, while sangiovese is 19.5 and petit verdot 18.5. I estimate that they are putting on between 1.5 to 2 brix per week at the moment, but more important for me is to keep an eye on the pips, skins and flavours which are certainly needing more time. The question is how much time do they need and how long do we have?
Right now the weather is staying kind. The rain that was forecast for last weekend wouldn’t have been more than 5mm, and everything was dry in no time. The outlook for the next 10 days is more of the same – mostly fine, dry and sunny. Warmer this week, then low 20s next week with a big anticyclone parked in the Tasman Sea to the west of the country. Southerlies usually bring our driest conditions.
Glued to the weather sites for the foreseeable future!