Exploring the Beauty of Vintage

Exploring the Beauty of Vintage
 A Glimpse into This Year's Wine Harvest
As the sunny days turned into cozy autumn vibes, something enchanting happened in our vineyards. We spoke to Matthew & David - two heart and souls of Mount Avoca, who gave us a run down of this year's vintage. For them, it's all about our unique land, the grapevines, and the talented hands that care for them!

What kind of growing season have you had, and how will it affect the 2023 harvest?
"Budburst occurred right on schedule in mid-September. Winter treated us to its gentle side, offering mild temperatures and healthy rainfall. Spring, however, brought an abundance of rain, including two major flood events on the 6th and 13th of October, with over 100mm of rainfall in just 8 hours. This led to saturated grounds, paving the way for downy mildew to take hold. Unfortunately, our access to the vineyard was limited, making it challenging to apply the necessary organic fungicide protection. As a result, crop loss varied, from 10% in the Shiraz to a complete 100% in the case of the Lagrein grapes. Moving into summer, temperatures increased beyond those of the past three years as the effects of La Niña eventually subsided. Cooler autumn conditions prevailed resulting in a high-quality vintage from those varieties that survived the effects of spring floods."
What do you think will be the stand out wine for 2023?
"Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc"
How do you decide when to pick the grapes?
"When the grapes have achieved their optimum ripeness in terms of sugar accumulation and physiological maturity - in other words, when they taste their best combined with a grape chemistry that enables the wine to make itself with the least interference from humans!"
What are you looking for?
"The sugar levels aligning with the seeds and the browning of grape stalks - also known Lignification. Think of it as the grapes reaching their peak flavour while also having the right chemical composition that allows the wine to naturally evolve with minimal human intervention."
How do you time it?
"Mother nature does - we just try and understand her and get it right."
What does a typical day look like during vintage?
"Because of the numerous grape varieties planted over the last 50 years, the vintage will generally last around six weeks – usually whites first and reds last. This year, our Viognier wont be picked until mid May – over a month after everything else.  As we pick each grape variety, carefully planning and scheduling throughout the vintage season, it's a balance of harvesting, winemaking, and closely monitoring weather forecasts - like juggling flaming knives, only a bit more difficult."
How does vintage in Pyrenees compare to other wine regions in Australia in terms of climate and grape varieties?
"A combination of elevation and prevailing cool southerly air streams generates chilly nights that improve quality and flavour, while the warmer north-westerly air streams encourage full, ripe flavors without any hint of green or astringent elements. We often harvest our Sauvignon Blanc later than Marlborough in NZ has already begun, sharing surprisingly similar harvest dates with the Yarra Valley.
The Pyrenees boasts some of Australia's most fragile and abrasive soils of their kind. This enables the purest expression of flavours across numerous grape varieties from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon through to Viognier and Chardonnay as the vines work harder than most other regions. This demands extra effort from the vines, setting us apart from other regions."
How has harvest changed over the last few years/decade?
"The last three years of La Niña has produced wetter harvest conditions. Our cool climate has magnified these effects. Vintage started in mid March in the 70s, 80s and 90s, but often starts mid Feb in the 21st century thanks to global warming. 2023 was back to the good ol’ days because of the cool summer."
What’s your favourite thing about harvest?
"Starting and finishing."
What's your least favourite thing about harvest?
"The risk of hail, flood and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos."
How was this harvest different (if it was) from previous years?
"Overall warmer, drier summer conditions after one of the wettest springs on record."
What's the most unexpected thing about grape growing and/or harvest that someone outside of the industry wouldn't realise?
"There is never a bad day harvesting grapes!"
If you weren't a winemaker what would you be doing?
"Growing grapes, but then again, I do all that as well!"
Most and least favourite varietal? To produce or drink!
"My most favourite would have to be Shiraz. It's mature, responsible, and kind.
Least favourite - Tempranillo. Imagine a petulant child that’s always complaining about something or other... But like a difficult child, it is very rewarding when you can get it to behave!"