Vintage Summary 2020

Growing Season & Vintage Conditions

After a moderate winter without extremes, bud burst occurred at the normal time of early October. Temperatures remained moderate throughout the spring hovering around average to slightly below. Little did we know that this was to become the pattern for the entire growing season. Three minor frost events were recorded throughout October that were successfully fought with no damage incurred. Early vine development was steady with rainfall below average. Flowering started slightly behind schedule with cool and relatively wet conditions throughout December causing a protracted and interrupted flowering. With fruit set being affected, careful and prudent bunch counting and yield forecasts were going to be required.

The weather improved over a dry month of January with heat summations returning to average. Veraison commenced in February and was slightly later than normal with double the average February rainfall occurring. With the berry size and bunch weights being considerably smaller than average, virtually no green harvest was required. March recorded half our normal rainfall although it unusually fell over eight days. These overcast days and cool conditions prevailed throughout March resulting in it being one of the coolest we have experienced. 

Interestingly, Cornish Point (which is always slightly warmer due to its proximity to the lake) ripened considerably ahead of our other three vineyards only 6 km away. Harvest began there surprisingly early on March 20 (despite the average to slightly below average heat summation for the growing season) and was completed by March 27. The temperatures during this period were very cool stalling the final ripening at the other three sites. Calvert was picked between April 4 and 11 with Elms and MacMuir between April 7 and 20. The slow ripening required patience but gave the opportunity to judiciously choose the precise time of harvest. It was the complete opposite of what we experienced in the 2019 vintage with the very warm month of March requiring a fast harvest.

Yields in Pinot Noir were pleasingly all on target: a welcome relief after the poor flowering and greatly assisted by our higher density plantings. With the small berries, light bunch weights and cool ripening conditions; flavours were ripe and concentrated, with good vibrancy and acidity. Chardonnay yields were not so fortunate being affected by the poor flowering and sadly down around 30%. The Riesling crop was normal with a feature being shared with the Chardonnay of concentrated flavours and bright acidity. The 2020 slightly cooler than average growing season shares many similarities with our other more preferred vintages being 2019, 2017, 2015 and 2012. These cooler and edgier growing seasons all contain features, that combined with our Bannockburn sites and intensive viticultural inputs, contribute to wines with more profound character and depth. We have great expectations for the 2020 wines.