Vintage 2018 is well under way at Boat O’Craigo and its all hands on deck. This will be a very strong vintage for the Yarra Valley. There were a few nervous moments looking at the forecast where late rain threatened to throw a spanner in the works but it never came to be. A warmer summer has resulted in an earlier and accelerated veraison (where the vines put all their energy in to ripening the fruit and where the grapes colour and soften). In the lead up to vintage, we sample all the different parcels of fruit 2-3 times a week to determine the perfect time for picking when the fruit has the right balance between ripeness, flavour and acid levels.
Our magnificent Healesville vineyard is first to be picked. Gewurztraminer was first to be picked and is followed by Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. As I look over the vineyard, it is a flurry of activity with teams of hand-pickers working the rows and heads bobbing up and down. The tractors tow the picking bins up and down the rows in perfect harmony with the pickers then ferry the full bins back to the coolroom before they are loaded on to the truck and sent in to the winery. It’s like a ballet. Our Kangaroo Ground vineyard is home to our Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Viognier which are all later ripening varieties. Based on sampling, we expect that the fruit on this vineyard will be picked this week. The winery has also shifted in to top gear and operates almost 24/7 until the last fruit goes through the press. It is the busiest 4-6 weeks on the whole calendar for the winemakers and vintage staff.