Our 2020 growing season began cool and we even had hail pass through Red Hill, causing some light damage to the canes. Inclement weather continued throughout flowering, and fruit set was not as good as previous years, so it was that we started to plan for a smaller yielding vintage and made some early decisions because of this. As the 2019 calendar year ended, the emergence of state and national bushfires became a real local concern with some smoke haze settling over the Peninsula. Thankfully, our people and our vineyards were not impacted by this, however, it certainly was unsettling. December and January temperatures were right on our long term averages, yet February and March were cooler than average and leading into harvest it was evident that the season was going to start 2 to 3 weeks later than in the previous 2 or 3 years. Harvest eventually commenced on 3rd March with Pinot Noir, for our Rosé, from our warmer, down-hill, site in Tuerong.
Harvest itself served up quite a bit of variability and we made sure of several thinning passes through the vineyard to ensure that the fruit that was picked was pristine. This attention to detail continued in the winery, where our sorting table becoming a highly valued commodity with many hours spent meticulously sorting bunches. We were very pleased that the fruit that passed the quality control team was excellent. The cooler season also reflected high natural acidity in the grapes we put into our fermenters.
Space in the winery for our red ferments saw all fermenters being filled in a timely manner, before pressing and refilling. Despite the cooler season, we did see compression between our up-hill and down-hill picking windows, with the last of our, down-hill, Tuerong grapes coming in on 19th of March, followed closely by some, up-hill, Red Hill Pinot Noir on 22nd of March. Curiously, we then went back down-hill to our Merricks vineyard, which was harvested on 30th of March with our up-hill Main Ridge last into the winery a mere 2 days later on the 1st of April.
It was through this time that our office team started working from home, our dining had to close, and our Cellar Door was open for retail only as tastings were stopped due to the global pandemic.
The lighter yields from 2020 were a blessing from a winery point of view, meaning Simon and his team were able to receive the grapes into the winery without compromise.