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Following a trend in South Australia, several Coonawarra wineries commenced the 2015 vintage much earlier than in previous years, and in some instances, the earliest ever.
Wayne Stehbens, Katnook Estate senior winemaker, said his team started harvesting Pinot Noir in the first week of February, which was their earliest recorded start to a season ever.
Typically we harvest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for sparkling wines at lower Baumes. Historically its been late February, so to be picking in early February is extraordinarily early, Stehbens said.
Burke Reschke, Reschke Wines managing director, said although the 2015 vintage had been one of the earliest for most of the state, he was yet to harvest his Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although being a relatively mild summer (good for ripening) there was a hot period through February that really sped things up, Reschke said. That is of course unless your vines hadnt finished veraison.
Reschke said if the vines had not finished veraison, the hot weather slowed the process causing vines to ripen later than usual.
This year, for us, it meant the vines were thrown into a far different ripening climate as the hot weather had finished and we were experiencing more mild weather, at an already cooler time of the year, Reschke said.
As a result, Reschke said when many of his friends had finished secondary fermentation and were putting their feet up before pruning, he was still to harvest our Cabernet Sauvignon.
The slower the ripening the more flavours are accumulated in the berry, this is why cool climate areas, such as Coonawarra, produce big flavours so I am grateful for the timing of the hot spell, he said. With tonnes low and ripening slow and mild, it looks like a great year for quality for us.