The lead up to the 2016 harvest has been quite warm, with several heat waves ensuring that the vines are well prepared for the summer heat. We have also had a very dry spring, with only one significant rainfall event early in November giving the vines a much needed drink. We continue to use moisture probes throughout the vineyard to measure soil moisture at depths of up to 1.2m below the surface. This ensures that we can utilise the small allocation of water that we have available to supplement the rainfall that we have missed out on. With help from Dad (Martin) and Uncle Chris, we have been able to maintain a healthy canopy of leaves on the vines, which will help ripen the fruit for the 2016 harvest.
One benefit of dry seasons is lower disease pressure on the vines, so I have only sprayed one organic foliar spray, using Mega-Kel-P (seaweed concentrate) to supply nutrients and protect against sun damage, organic Sulphur to prevent Powdery Mildew, and organic Copper to prevent Downy Mildew. Traditionally we would spray a second time just before Christmas, but with no rain on the horizon, I chose not to this year.
All in all, the 2016 vintage is shaping up to be a bit earlier than normal, meaning that the Riesling may be harvested in January for the first time in history! Traditionally we harvest this around the 10th of February, so we will see what happens. Shiraz and Grenache are the two hot favourites for me in 2016. Stay tuned to find out more about what happens during vintage!