Grape season ripe for an increased vintage

Image: Browns Family Wine Group chief winemaker Joel Tilbrook is very happy with the season so far. PHOTO: Leah Anderson-Byrne
By Leah Anderson-Byrne

Winemakers around Victoria’s wine regions are much happier with conditions for their 2021 vintage, a year on from the aftermath of the bushfires in 2020.

Brown Family Wine Group chief winemaker Joel Tilbrook said the vintage is looking “really good”.

“We were just talking about how different it is this year compared to last year when it had been extremely hot and dry with bushfires affecting the whole country,” he said.

“This year it’s green and lush; it has been a bit more of a pressured season in terms of disease pressure because of rain but that’s been something growers have been well and truly on top of.

“So far things are ripening up really gradually which is good from a winemaking point of view because it means you can consistently build nice flavours.

“We’ve got nice natural acidity retained in the wine as it’s been a bit cooler than what it has been for the last few summers too.”

Browns grow about 30 different grape varieties and have recently been focusing on prosecco, Pinot Grigio and just starting on Moscato and some sparkling wines with 3500 tonnes already processed.

“There’s been no carry over from the bushfires this year, and last year we got through better than we anticipated the season might be, so we’ll process about 17,000 tonnes on this site for vintage,” Tilbrook said.

“This time last year it was a bit of a concern for everyone but a lot of work went into mitigation strategies and we got through pretty well, but it was a smaller vintage so this year we’ll make 15-20% more wine than we did last year.

“We’ve got an opportunity to catch up and fill up the tanks again.

“It’s been a good season; plenty of rainfall and water availability for vines through the latter part of growing season.”

Tilbrook said there were a few times the team were “nervously watching the weather” but everything has come through.

“In the last week or so it has been really nice and the forecast moving forward is looking good too so it’s shaping up nicely,” he said.

“We’re starting to get some of these cool nights which are really good as it slows ripening down and enables us to pick fruit when we think it’s right at its best rather than racing around.

“You look around and see how green it is this year and something we’ve had this year is water and availability to those key resources to grow good grapes.”


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