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Vintage began in late January, which was about average although earlier than 2002. Yields decreased in the order of 20% from the average across all varieties and 30% below the record yield of 2002. One of the main reasons for the yield reduction was the poor flowering and fruitset during late spring 2002. This particular part of the season was cool and quite windy. Overall improvements in weather conditions were experienced for the rest of the season. From veraison onwards conditions were cooler than a normal summer but warm enough to produce excellent flavour in reds and whites. During vintage weather was also warm and dry which allowed for an orderly flow of fruit into the wineries. The ripening conditions were such that most of the reds were ready to pick together rather than over the normal time spread.
The only weather-related concern was after a short period of rain in February, humid conditions set in for three to four days and caused general concern for softer skinned white varieties. The majority of these blocks were near full maturity and were harvested with no noteable effects on the wine. Whites were of excellent quality; Chardonnay exhibited peach and melon characters and Viognier showed fragrant jasmine and honeysuckle characters.
Reds showed excellent varietal characteristics and flavour profiles. The colours were of a high standard, not quite matching the unprecedented 2002 levels. These wines have achieved this high level of characteristics due to a slightly cooler ripening period and lighter crop yields.
There were very few problems with fruit intake at all wineries during vintage 2003. The red varieties caused some streaming stress as they were all ready together, but they were accommodated when needed.