After 18 vintages making wine I still get just as excited at this time of the year as I did back in Sonoma ’99 when I completed by first. (For the math’s geeks, one year I crammed in three vintages and I missed the 2013 vintage.) There is nothing quite like the first fruit arriving at the winery, tasting the grapes, chatting to the grower, guessing how much fruit they have in their bins and assessing their feelings on the year. I try to soak these moments up more than any other during vintage. The grower discussions combined with the tastes of the delicious grapes prior to sending them off to work feels like you are ever so briefly taking the pulse of this beautiful region.
My other favourite part of vintage is standing above the destemmer when the fruit is being processed. Sure we try the fruit on the vine, taste the juice from vineyard samples and make our decisions on when to pick but it all comes to the fore at this critical point for me. If your senses are not overwhelmed with beautiful aromas when the grapes are being gently parted from their bunch then you certainly won’t be when the wine finally gets to your glass!
I am pleased to report that all the time spent at the destemmer this vintage has been rewarding with some stunning aromas. The quality of the fruit is right up there. The Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro has been spectacular and very reminiscent of the 2004 and 2006 vintages which are years I absolutely love of our wines. With the final parcels of fruit coming into the winery on the weekend it is time to pack up the desteemer for another year. I look forward to being reminded of the beautiful aromas of the last few weeks when I sample the finished wine.