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Ban de Vendange or as we call it, the Start of Harvest

Posted : 14-Jan-2015
Category : Wine

Ban de Vendange, what a beautiful name to describe a grape harvest.

"Come, come! Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used.”  William Shakespeare.

Adina Vineyard terroir tells why our wine is "good"

The Hunter has a sub-tropical climate influenced by sea breezes. Adina Vineyard is gently sloping and south facing. The layout of the vines allows westerly breezes to travel through the vines easily.

Good sunshine is an essential part of the growing cycle. The grape bunches are protected from sunburn by the leaf canopy. However once the temperature gets over 30 degrees Celsius the vines start to shut down to protect themselves – just like we do. 

Good rains at the right time are also essential. We do have an irrigated vineyard which helps during dry periods, but nothing beats a good shower. However, as we approach the harvest period, too much rain is a problem, especially at the end of the growing season just before harvest. If this happens then the grapes can become affected by pushing against each other and splitting and developing fungal diseases – especially botrytis – which is known as black rot.  This is a real problem and in extreme cases can result in the loss of the entire crop. Fortunately this does not happen very often.

There are 3 soil types on the property but the predominant soil type is clay like most vineyards in the Hunter Valley. The other areas feature friable and sandy soils, each of which allows us to do some specialist varieties.

Are our grapes ready for harvest?

There are 2 basic characteristics that we look for when deciding to pick – sugar content and grape flavour. 

The sugar content (measured as Baumé) is important because this is converted to alcohol during the fermentation process. We have target Baumé ranges for each variety and we can measure the level accurately in the lab. Grape flavour is the fundamental detail that determines the flavour of the finished wine. The decision on when the grape is sufficiently ripe is when our winemaker, Daniel Binet, says it is.

Harvest is scheduled at Adina Vineyard starting at the end of January. We have our fingers crossed, as do all vignerons in the Hunter Valley, that the weather remains kind to us.

In times gone by we used lots of pickers, but these days we use mechanical harvesting methods. Our tractors, trailers, picking bins and delivery truck are all in good shape and ready to go in support of the contractor-harvester when it arrives.  Quite often we pick grapes in the dark when it is cool and we target to have them at the winery by 6am when they are crushed. 

Then the winemaker can start to work his magic!

"Wine enters through the mouth, Love, the eyes.
I raise the glass to my mouth, I look at you, I sigh.”
W.B. Yeats