Many people have commented on the great summer we have just had. This fact is agreed but from a Dry River vineyard perspective we have just experienced a 'normal summer'.
With respect to heat we accumulated 1095 GDD (Growing Degree Days, days where the average temperature is over 10°C - which is considered a minimum for vine growth) over the growing season (long term average of 1080-1180 GDD). What made this summer a little different was the number of fine days which corresponds to increased light intensity and therefore phenolic ripeness. We didn't have many hot days over 30°C, and when it rained, it was heavy and localised (71mm, 4th and 5th February; 97mm 18th and 19th March).
The growing season was relatively straight forward for the vineyard crew after the challenges of 2012. Canopy growth was not excessive and all vineyard operations were completed in a timely and logical fashion.
Cropping levels were also considered normal this vintage with a figure of 1.5 T/ acre averaged across all varieties and over our three vineyards. Coupled with the season this crop was appropriate and facilitated the phenolic ripeness, at low potential alcohol levels, that we seek from Dry River fruit.
Harvest commenced the week after our autumn mail-order tastings with Pinot noir, 26th March, and completed with the Syrah on the 4th of May. Unusually, the Pinot noir blocks all reached their phenolic maturity within a week of each other. Often the different Pinot noir blocks are harvested over a period closer to a month.
The bellwether varietals for vintages showing exceptional phenolic ripeness are Pinot noir and Riesling (this release).