It was back to nearly "normal" for the 2018 vintage, with rainfall during the growing season much below average and harvest a month earlier than 2017. With sub-soil moisture still high, from the very wet conditions of 2016 and above average Winter rainfall, good canopy growth was expected. Spring rainfall was low and warmer than average temperatures throughout the season helped speed up vine growth. Summer rainfall was much below average resulting in significantly more irrigation than usual. Temperatures were above average, with readings above 30 degrees for a period of 13 days from mid-January. These conditions combined with lower yields meant harvest began a month earlier than in 2017. Quality of fruit was excellent, with a generally good balance of flavours, sugar and acid.


McLaren Vale recorded its second wettest year on record in 2016, with rainfall not declining in intensity until early February. The cold, rainy and windy weather through Winter and Spring led to very late flowering. Fortunately, the weather conditions, during flowering, were stable and dry. Although disease pressure was elevated during these seasons, a warm and dry late Summer into Autumn led to a relatively disease-free vintage. The long and slow ripening period continued through February and March. The fruit had ideal sugar levels and the juice colour and flavour were excellent.


Winter rainfall again failed, and Summer brought below average rains. Temperatures up to December were above average and a heatwave in the middle of the month placed enormous strains on irrigation supply and infrastructure. A positive from this long dry and warm period was lower disease pressure. In February, ex tropical cyclone Stan dumped 50-60mm throughout the region.  Apart from issues with Botrytis, there were few problems. The end result was a vintage with tremendous natural acidity and moderate sugar levels in the fruit.


Early to mid-season rainfall was good but the heavens dried up, resulting in a very dry spring and summer. The warmer than average temperatures, in early Spring, caused flowering to start a week earlier than normal, leading to lesser fruit set and lower yield. After the relatively mild conditions in late Spring and early Summer rainfall of 15mm on 12 January, rather than slowing down ripening, caused the opposite. So, vintage was the earliest on record for us. The fruit showed excellent colour with good flavours and very good acid levels.


Good winter rainfall and a warm, dry and very windy spring led to leaves being stripped from vines, a reduced berry set and smaller canopies than normal. Heatwaves in mid-January and again in early to mid-February threatened to destroy any hope of a reasonable vintage. However, 35mm of rain fell on the Redwind Vineyard on 13 and 14 February having a fantastic effect on vine health, with leaves and fruit re-hydrating. Cooler temperatures allowed the vines to function normally and the fruit to develop excellent flavour and phenological ripeness.


Weather conditions leading up to the 2013 vintage were relatively benign. Winter of 2012 started with average rainfall, which diminished significantly through the remainder of the season. It remained dry through Spring with temperatures above average. Summer gave us periods of heatwave conditions reducing yields but giving a disease free vintage. Irrigations were necessary from early in the growing season to help preserve the small crop. 


The 2012 vintage in McLaren Vale was the “most grower friendly” since 2006. The favourable weather conditions helped contribute to a vintage of quality for all varieties in the district. Weather conditions led to a very early veraison and hence one of the earliest vintages recorded in McLaren Vale. Only a couple of minor heatwaves followed veraison but, with sufficient quantities of irrigation available to combat the heat, no significant damage to vine health was observed.


Most of the south eastern Australian wine growing areas were severely disrupted by a very wet growing season. We, thankfully, escaped unscathed. Early sampling of our Shiraz shows potential for tremendous qualitythe length and depth of fruit is very encouraging. Our Cabernet Sauvignon fruit is more varietal than for many years, and this character has shown through in the wine, making the quality potential exceptional.


2010 delivered the best vintage in at least twelve years. Winter rainfall in 2009 was near average for McLaren Vale and with a warmer, although drier than average early spring. Near average weather conditions through summer, set up a wonderful vintage. We harvested our Shiraz in the second week of March and our Cabernet Sauvignon in the last week. Yields were excellent, and the resulting wine quality was exceptional.


The lead up to the 2009 vintage was ‘less than ideal’the expected Winter/Spring rainfall was a whopping 130mm below average. For the second successive year, we had a heat wave in January/February. The district suffered massive losses to the Shiraz crop, but the Cabernet Sauvignon was less affected. Our vintage began and ended approximately 3 weeks early, the yields were low, but the potential wine quality is promising.


The growing season started in September 2007. Heavy rains in November and December were followed by drought conditions in January and February. Irrigation was applied in small amounts to keep the canopy healthy. On March 1, a 15-day heatwave (temperatures over 100ºF, or 37ºC) begana one in 3,000-year event. There was significant crop loss and vintage was earlier than expected, but the wine quality is very good.


The growing season leading up to the 2007 vintage was extremely dry and extremely hot! Even with frequent irrigation, canopy sizes were small, and yield estimates were showing only a few tonnes per acre. Then, more than 50mm of rain fell during a two-day period in mid-January. This led to large scale berry-splitting. Vintage at Shirvington was 3-weeks early. Despite low yields, some excellent fruit was delivered to our winemaker.  


The growing season leading up to the vintage of 2006 presented varying challenges. Above average winter and spring rainfall brought the threat of Downy Mildew. Irrigation systems were then stretched to the limit during a hot January and February. Cooler and wetter conditions followed and almost brought the sugar and flavour accumulation to a standstill. Although very challenging, good yields of excellent quality fruit promises some outstanding wines.


The 2005 vintage in McLaren Vale was far from normal. Abundant winter and spring rains led to problems controlling vine vigour. The high temperatures usually experienced during summer did not occurmany of our blocks did not require supplementary irrigation until late in the season. Vintage concluded on April 11, and the grapes showed a tremendous depth of flavours and colour.


2004 was another trying vintage. A very hot and dry November was followed by the hottest December in over 50 years. January was unusually cool, and this helped slow the berry sugar accumulation down considerably. A vicious hot spell in February with many days over 40oC was followed by two months of cooler conditions, further slowing the ripening process. 2004 vintage produced parcels of excellent fruit, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon.


Yet another difficult vintage was encountered in 2003. Following slightly below average rainfall during winter 2002, we experienced a very dry spring, compounded by a very hot and dry December. On 20 February, 20-25mm of rain caused vines to take up water far too quickly, resulting in significant berry splitting. Yields plummeted, and most crops were picked 4-5 weeks early. However, some very fine wines have come from this vintage.


The 2002 growing season was cool, overcast, and dry throughout. The low accumulation of sunlight hours resulted in a poor fruit set, with the accumulation of flavours being very slow. As such, the end of vintage did not occur until early May. However, the flavours, colours and natural acid levels achieved from the grapes were exceptional.


The 2001 growing season will go down as one of the driest and hottest on record. Very little rain (10-15mm) was recorded from October to the end of vintage in late April. As such, frequent watering was essential to ripen the grapes and to keep the vines healthy. In the end, it was a very successful season, with the various wines achieving outstanding success in Australia and overseas.