Growing season (Oct-Apr) data:
Growing Degree Days (heat units)
Unlike 2017, the numbers really do tell the story of the 2018 growing season and vintage. The early part of the season was unremarkable, slightly dryer than normal and next to no frost events. Flowering conditions were perfect and, in the absence of strong winds, a potentially very large crop was set. December and January were the hottest of either month in the last ten years and with average rainfall keeping the vines ticking over, excitement was mounting that an outstanding, and large, vintage was in the offing.
February remained warm but, with three times average February rainfall and high humidity, we saw some crop losses to fungal infections (botrytis). Fortunately, March reverted to normal rainfall allowing the affected berries to dessicate and drop off, leaving the clean fruit to keep ripening. Temperatures in March continued the above average trend and it was clear that harvest would be early.
We started harvesting on the 17th of March (our earliest ever start) and finished with Home Block Chardonnay on the 5th of April (when we would normally be only just getting going!). The early finish was fortuitous as the rest of April was very wet. Quality-wise, the 2018 vintage is a significant step up on 2017 with ripeness at the higher end of the range and more expressive flavours. The February rain did knock the edge off phenolic ripeness so not quite the masterpiece we were hoping for earlier in the season but a very good vintage nonetheless. I’m expecting generous-fruited, juicy wines to characterise the 2018 vintage.
Here are the average harvest parameters for each variety: