Growing season (Oct-Apr) data:
Growing Degree Days (heat units)
I’ve always wanted to use a Hunter Thompson quote and the 2020 vintage presented the perfect opportunity with the impact of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown and social distancing requirements presenting some unique challenges and a distinctly different and weird normal for vintage.
Turning to the season itself, the temperature records show a pretty typical year with growing degree days tracking around the average and no extended or extreme hot spells. Although there were several frosty nights they were all radiation frosts rather than the more destructive advective frosts (see 2019 vintage report) and were successfully negotiated by our frost fans with no crop damage. So, from a temperature perspective the season was ideal for ripening and quality.
The real story of the growing season is the rainfall and the extended dry period from late December until mid-March. The overall growing season rainfall total looks very typical but breaking it down shows that from late December until mid-March we had an exceptionally dry period with barely 35mm of rain over warmest 12 weeks of the season. This dry spell was challenging due to water restrictions but the silver lining was that when the rain finally arrived in the middle of harvest, with ~150mm over 3 days, the complete absence of fungal infection events over the dry spell saw the vines sail through the wet with no botrytis or berry-splitting which is extraordinary given the carnage we would normally expect from that volume of rain during harvest. A minor miracle.
The other upside of the dry, moderately warm year, is that across the board, quality is outstanding with bright, concentrated flavours in the white varieties and Rose and remarkable colour, texture and depth of flavour in the Pinot Noir. I haven’t been as excited about a vintage at this stage since the classic 2000 vintage. As always, time will tell, but we may well see some legendary Martinborough wines from the 2020 vintage. A season where the going definitely got weird but the outcome is decidedly pro.
Here are the average harvest parameters for each variety: