With the years work almost behind us now, we are now in the final hours of vintage and harvesters and pickers are making the most of clear and warming weather to bring the last few kilos of grapes in. The recent few days of wet weather have been a challenge and plenty of visits to the vineyards to check on fruit condition and happy to report that we will be finished and cleaned up by the weekend in time for the Margaret River Masters surfing competition.
This is my favorite time of year out in the vineyard and the best time to visit the Margaret River Wine Region. In the winery we can already experience the sweet taste of success and promise of great wines from the 2015 vintage. The fermentations occurring within the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet Franc in our winery are filling the air with the most amazing fragrance and the winemakers have big red smiles from sampling (and spitting) the many batches and barrels. At this early stage of production we already know we are looking at another fantastic vintage for the Margaret River wine region.Vineyard managers and owners are also pleased with the quality produced this year and we are all looking forward to a well earned break before pruning commences in June. This vintage had a few challenges with birds, the netting machines and crews working to get nets on and off have done a great job. Without the nets, many vineyards would have been ruined by the ubiquitous Silvereye birds. The teams out in the vineyards are now mixing work with pleasure, with many locals and international visitors making the most of the best seasonal surf the region has on offer; a relief to the hours spent netting and harvesting. We can even see the grapevines responding favourably to the end of vintage with autumn colours observed, indicating a job well done and the signal of the start of dormancy throughout winter.
For me, I enjoy a change of jobs and the start of soil sampling rounds that take place in the vineyards and farms around here. We treat our vines to the pleasures of organic matter, mineral fertilizers and soil microbes (especially Mycorrhizal Fungi that work symbiotically within roots to help feed the vines) in the period post harvest, particularly when the rainfall allows the soils to moisten and come alive. Changing inputs such as vine nutrition, pruning, canopy management and harvesting timing can all be used to further improve the finished wines in future years. It really is a cycle of constant improvement and a great opportunity for viticulturists and winemakers to work together and share ideas.
The planning for vintage 2016 is underway and the exhilaration of knowing that Margaret River’s wine future is amazing and in good hands drives us forward with confidence!
Margaret River Discovery Tours
Sean Blocksidge is the owner operator of the Margaret River Discovery Company, an avid photographer, blogger and South West WA ambassador. In 2010 he won Western Australian Guide of the Year and his tours have been rated the #1 thing to do in Australia on the Tripadvisor website for the past two years.