Back where it all began… The 2009 vintage was a fairly dry one, with below average winter and spring rains. Come summer, mother nature worked with us, providing good summer rains, just in time for the setting of the berries, and providing great canopies to the vines. The season set us up for early harvest, proving a delicate but fruitful vintage.
The 2010 vintage was quite a challenging year. Mother nature got us excited in spring with great rains, but then dried up over the summer period. What was on our side, however, was mild temperatures through summer. It was a very dry summer, so irrigation was the key. This was a very fruit forward vintage, but retained some good acids, making for a great wine.
Being one of the wettest years in history, we saw heavy rains pre-vintage and during vintage. When to pick was difficult. Together with this, we also had humidity, the perfect recipe for disease! Rieslingfreak picked early in the season, fearing the weather ahead. Rieslings from that year show good acid and ensured a Riesling that will cellar for decades.
The 2012 vintage was one of the best vintages in South Australian history. 2012 was a textbook vintage and a winemaker’s dream. We had big rains in December, which was a great boost for the vines. Many regions had 100mm of rain, which meant most vineyards did not require irrigation throughout the growing season. This was topped up by about 30mm of rain in February. January and February were cool months, allowing for slow ripening, and harvest commenced in the Clare Valley vineyard mid-March. March continued to be cool, with ripening of the grapes slowing down, resulting in a later than normal harvest in Eden Valley. Our Eden Valley vineyard was harvested mid-April.
2013 was a challenging vintage, with moderate temperatures during the ripening period. It was a particularly dry vintage, with few rain showers in December and late January. Water was applied to the vines to maintain the vine canopy. Despite all our efforts, some Rieslings from this vintage, may not see long cellaring due to the warmer conditions.
A very warm vintage with average winter rains, then a very dry spring and summer. Irrigation was the key, as we needed to keep water up to the vines to ensure the canopy and berries were kept healthy. In late January, mother nature threw us 10 days of 40-degree celsius weather. Mid-February, we had a heavy rainstorm, providing 60mm of rain. Following the rain, we had further warm weather, giving all grape growers a challenge managing disease. Fortunately, all of our Rieslingfreak growers were on top of their spray programs, delivering healthy berries to the winery.
2015 resulted in a very dry autumn and spring. Mother nature gave us some rain late January, but other than that, we were dependent on irrigation to keep the vines hydrated and protect the grapes. The weather was vastly different to previous vintages, with both warm days and warm nights. The warm nights meant the vines were working overtime, resulting in an earlier than normal vintage. The advantage of this type of vintage was that we ended up with grapes that matured very evenly, making the harvest decisions seamless. 2013 was a challenging vintage, with moderate temperatures during the ripening period. It was a particularly dry vintage, with few rain showers in December and late January. Water was applied to the vines to maintain the vine canopy. Despite all our efforts, some Rieslings from this vintage, may not see long cellaring due to the warmer conditions.
This vintage was very dry, like the 2015 season, where we also experienced a very dry autumn and spring. Mother Nature gave us some rain late January, but other than that, we were dependent on irrigation to water the vines and protect our grapes. Vintage commenced early February, which was about 10 days earlier than what we considered to be ‘normal’. The dry conditions provided wines with concentrated flavours.
Rieslingfreak’s best vintage ever!! The 2017 vintage has to be one of the most exciting vintages I have ever seen with Riesling, and I am going as far to say it is the Riesling vintage of the Century thus far. With a long and cool spring and summer, and generous rains, the vintage was under the perfect conditions for our Riesling vineyards. Riesling is one variety that performs particularly well under cool and wet weather conditions. As a result, we had ample water to the vines creating large canopies, big bunches and big berries – the perfect recipe for great Riesling.
After the cooler 2017 vintage, the 2018 season was somewhat warmer, earlier and quite dry. Fortunately, all the vineyards we work with had adequate water reserves and avoided any potential stress issues. The conditions meant that we were able to harvest pristinely healthy fruit at lower potential alcohol than usual, with beautiful flavours and good acid retention.
Probably the warmest and driest vintage I have ever seen in the 40 years I have been involved with the industry. Mother Nature threw everything against us this year with hot winds, frost, and drought. As a result, we had exceptionally low yields. Saying that, we did the same as what we did in 2018, which was water early to build the canopies, picked early to minimise sun exposure, and crushed and drained in the winery. One thing we did differently in 2019 was use Surround’ on the vineyards. Surround acts like a sunscreen, protecting both the vine and berries. This protects the berries from the sun and maintains the integrity of both the vine and the grapes.
We all thought 2019 was the warmest and driest vintage on record, until we got to 2020! Well 2020 ended up being the driest year on record, but we were fortunate in terms of temperature. Right up until the end of December, we had high temperatures, in the 40’s – just hot and dry! Then come January, temperatures cooled down, and we hovered around the low 30’s and mid 20’s until harvest. Water on the other hand was non-existent for most of the growing season. We had not seen rain for months. Then comes the 31st of January and we had up to 62mm of rain, setting up the grapes nicely for harvest. As this was really the only worthy rain for the year, crops levels were way down. Although we had low crop levels, the cool change in weather allowed the grapes to ripen slowly, holding great natural acidity, right up to harvest.
The growing season for 2021 continued the theme of the past few years of being generally warm and dry, with the third warmest spring on record. Rainfall was slightly above average for September and October, ensuring good canopy growth, but the rains abated and were well below average in November creating perfectly mild conditions for flowering and ensuring above average crops. The warm spring gave way to a generally cool and dry summer, with the coolest average temperature since 2001-2002. This gave the vines and easy ride into vintage with low water stress and excellent fruit-set. Several discreet yet significant rain events in January and February kept canopies fresh without prolonged periods of humidity, meaning disease pressure was virtually negligible. As the grapes ripened, cool days and cold nights made for slow ripening, giving the grapes exceptional flavour development at low Baume.