The 2017 vintage has been the toughest I have seen in my career. It started with a fantastic wet winter followed by a mild spring (with less adverse weather than we have had in previous years, ie hail or heavy winds) during flowering and fruit set. This combination resulted in strong canopies and excellent fruit set with many vineyards carrying two bunches per shoot. It appeared we were heading for a solid tonnage year and good quality – a rare win for growers.
So what am I whinging about? It never warmed up, and spring and summer stayed very mild with no real heat, resulting in one of the lowest “growing degree day” years ever!
It was therefore the year to apply all resources in the vineyard. In early December we decided it was necessary to drop fruit, leaf pluck a second time, and even hand place bunches to increase air flow between the bunches!
By late January, with staff just waiting in anticipation, the winery was polished to the point I could literally eat off the floor! We then decided to educate the staff about the fruit they might one day be looking after and sent them to our best Yallingup cabernet blocks to drop anything we deemed undesirable. By this point I was going a little crazy!
Finally, the whites started and the winery crew headed back to what they do best. The whites rolled in at a frantic pace with solid tonnages looking great, but acid levels like no tomorrow, so no acid adjustments required this year.
After what felt like three days (when in actuality it was 74) we had produced record tonnages of all white varieties, while the reds started to roll in quickly behind.
It was the year of getting in early and dropping red fruit volumes – and those who did won. The northern vineyards, in particular Yallingup, in my opinion are the strongest in Margaret River and some of the Yallingup parcels are possibly the best we have seen in years.
Deep Woods has finished crushing with our highest ever crush in history and it felt like it!