Ianto Ward sums up the 2021 vintage

Winter rainfall was 19% above average (621mm vs. 522mm), and this provided good reserves for the coming season. A further 80mm fell in November 2020 which enabled strong vine growth, resulting in dense canopies. However, Chardonnay, Semillon, Merlot and Shiraz were all flowering at this time, resulting in reduced fruit set and consequent crop loss.

Disease pressure was kept in check using a tight organically approved spray program, combined with our canopy management program - specifically shoot thinning, leaf, and bunch removal. Going into summer we experienced above average temperatures, which allowed flavours and phenolics to develop early, but high humidity resulted in ideal conditions for botrytis and powdery mildew development. A further 80mm of rain fell in January followed by 40mm in February.

As the Marri blossom was late, parrots, crows and silvereyes necessitated extensive netting until after all the white varieties were picked, and the Marri (and other natives) flowered, providing a natural food source. Milder temperatures in February and March slowed ripening and allowed our picking teams to keep up, as COVID-19 restrictions meant that there were shortages of available picking crews. Office staff, friends and family were duly recruited to help get the crop in.

90mm of rain courtesy of Cyclone Seroja fell in April, but we were able to harvest the last of the crop before the cyclone made landfall. The higher than usual soil moisture content combined with slightly warmer than average temperatures has seen a successful germination of the cover crop which was seeded in the mid rows. Sheep have been introduced into the vineyards where they will stay until early June to tidy up the native weeds and provide natural fertilizer.

Vintage 2021 ran from 18th February to 8th April and was challenging: wet and presenting pressure from both birds and disease. However, the viticulture team were able to deal very effectively with each problem, through meticulous canopy management and judicious use of organically approved sprays, meaning quality remained strong and yields were only down 4% against last year's harvest.