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2006 vintage report for Gippsland (Victoria)

Vintage in Gippsland came early this year and caught everyone by surprise. Gippslanders are not used to the kindly weather. West Gippsland wineries began up to three weeks earlier than usual with Pinot and Chardonnay coming in with moderate to good tonnage. The Pinot Noir was lighter in colour this year but with good fruit levels. Cabernet Sauvignon had smaller berries and as usual was slow to ripen. At Wild Dog Winery in Warragul the Sparkling base fruit came in by mid February with some ripe fruit among the better acid based material. Tirage bottling began in June.
East Gippsland had some hot spells and at Briagalong the fruit suffered from sunburn after two days of over 41°C. Selective picking helped maintain quality and the Sauvignon Blanc looks good. After a wet start to the season further east, the rain disappeared and none fell from Christmas to April. Sarsfield Estate reported that the weather was so hot and dry they regularly had echidnas, birds and a variety of lizards strolling into the winery on a regular basis, looking for cooling and housing-down water on the floor. They took no notice of winemaking activities or winemakers. Their Pinot had early high sugar levels but delayed tannin ripeness. The thicker-skinned Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz fared much better in the heat.
In South Gippsland vintage began two to three weeks early with Pinot beginning in mid March. Malbec came in later than usual as it was carrying a better crop. Other cropping levels were down but the quality of the reds was exceptional with deep colours and intense flavours.