Phillip Stivens of Heifer Station in Orange.

New South Wales

RIVERINA

Overall our 2021 vintage was of exceptional quality, in particular the reds were the stand-out. We had some wet weather conditions early to navigate our way while harvesting the whites, but our focus was on increasing quality and decreasing the overall tonnes from previous years. Our overall crush was down from last year, around 10%, which was more to do with domestic and export market conditions with China. Compared with last year, our yields were up around 10% across the board; this could well be a direct result of the copious amounts of rain we had leading into this season following a year of drought and fires in 2020. Our overall result for V21 is very pleasing and in line with our expectations, allowing us to allocate more grade 1 fruit to our growing market share for our domestic and export Riverina wine brands.

Nick Guglielmino, Mino & Co

CANBERRA DISTRICT

Vintage 2021 presented a long, cool season with plenty of well-spaced rain events. Yields were lower than expected in a non-drought year, but it was a stellar season for flavour development, acid retention, fruit purity and typicity – highlights being the whites and rosés. Normally when you make a picking decision, you have a narrow window in which to act, but in this season the window was wider. The march to ripeness was slow and steady – we could smoke a pipe while we waited. Rain in late-March came just before the shiraz was properly ripe, but holding our nerve paid dividends. The result a week to 10 days later was spectacular. The wines going into barrel looked fantastic: beautiful ripeness, red and dark fruits, subtle spice, supple but driving tannins, all balanced by a great natural acidity.

Alex McKay, Collector Wines

Victoria

YARRA VALLEY

The 2020/21 season has been a dream run; there was lots of work in the vineyard, with canopy management and controlling mildew, but it has paid huge dividends with fabulous yields of quality fruit. Good spring rain and regular falls throughout the season maintained soil moisture and – coupled with perfect weather at flowering – we had generous crops of grapes set with abundant healthy canopies. The overall mild and sunny season punctuated by rain at key times gave long sustained growing and ripening periods with vines that stayed fresh throughout. This allowed the crop to ripen fully and slowly. Healthy vines, good yields, intense flavours, excellent acids – it would be hard to think of a more ideal season in the Yarra Valley.

Tom Belford, Bobar Wines

GEELONG

The Geelong wine region experiences varied growing conditions across our three subregions, with the Bellarine Peninsula’s maritime influence noted for cooler peak temperatures and less diurnal change than the Moorabool Valley and Surf Coast. The mild spring weather of 2020 assisted with flowering, resulting in good fruit-set and crop sizes. A cooler-than-average summer with consistent rainfall created long, slow ripening conditions with low disease pressure. Sparkling base was harvested in mid-February, with white varieties harvested later that month and pinot noir in early March. Easter brought a late spell of sunshine and warmth, ripening the last of our shiraz. The mild summer conditions allowed ample time to harvest at optimal times with correct baume and great flavour.

Steven Paul, Oakdene Wines

Tasmania

NORTHERN

During spring, we had higher-than-average rainfall and temperatures. In December, rain continued with cooler conditions, and by February we wondered if we’d lost the advantage of an early season as ripening seemed to stall. Into March, things heated up and with the high soil moisture profile and fantastic canopies, the ripening process raced ahead. Solid sugar levels and perfectly ripe flavours were coupled with high natural acidity in the fruit. Some blocks flowered perfectly, others had poor fertilisation and a high proportion of hen and chicken (undersized berries with no seed). This vintage will produce excellent wines, with great balance, depth, elegance and longevity. It was a challenging growing season, but with great potential. One for the cellar.

Fran Austin, Delamere Wines

SOUTHERN

V21 was bookended by warm weather: that got things going initially and then finished off ripening beautifully. In between there was an ‘average’ summer that preserved acidity and detail in the wines with great, healthy canopies. But poor flowering conditions led to lower-than-average yields and a large amount of hen and chicken in the pinot noir. Our first pinot noir pick was on the 21st March, which was a week earlier than any previous pick. We are excited about the pinot noir this vintage, with structured and balanced wines in barrel. 2021 had unique challenges but was one that could end up being a stellar, though tiny, one in the Huon Valley.

Paul Lipscombe, Sailor Seeks Horse

South Australia

BAROSSA VALLEY

After experiencing two incredibly difficult vintages in a row, we were all hoping for a little more rain and to get back to some average cropping levels. Things started a lot like the previous two harvests – until the heavens opened up towards the end of August. It brought fantastic winter and spring rains, which set grower and winemaker up for delightful season. Soil moistures were good and vineyards were looking incredibly healthy, and we managed to dodge most of the frost in late-September. We had solid flowering conditions with fewer windy days and no punishing heat spells; in fact by December, summer had really shown its hotter side. With no disease pressure to speak of, we could quite easily pick at our leisure. At Tomfoolery it was the story of two harvests. We had picked pinot gris, riesling and cabernet franc by the middle of February and played the waiting game for the rest. Overall the harvest was an absolute stunner! Colours are fabulous and the aromatics and natural acidity make the 2021 Vintage one that will be talked about for a long time – think 2002.

Ben Chipman, Tom Foolery Wines

MCLAREN VALE

After fires and a pandemic, we were ready for some good news – and we got it. A wet winter produced lovely canopies, followed by a cool and even growing season creating optimum conditions for a grand vintage. In fact, you’d really have to try hard to muck this one up. Near perfect balance in the vineyards, with acidity and ripeness working hand in hand for whites like chenin blanc and reds like cabernet franc. We all made more wine than expected – a good omen for a great year.

Brad Hickey, Brash Higgins

Western Australia

MARGARET RIVER

What a year –one that will be remembered for its seasonal weather challenges as well as exceptional quality fruit. The early growing season held great promise, with moderate temperatures. Our Mediterranean climate really showed its grape-growing strengths this year with warm days and cool nights through to mid-March. By this stage, the majority of white varieties had been harvested, as well as some of the early reds such as pinot and syrah. Late-season rain distrupted the harvest program for some of our later Bordelais varieties, but with careful planning and trust that our rigorous vineyard spray program was satisfactory, we managed to harvest exceptional fruit with little adverse effect from the rain. All in all a challenging but rewarding year with a high standard of harvested fruit quality.

Skigh McManus & Craig Brandreth, Skigh Wines