Phillip Stivens of Heifer Station in Orange.

New South Wales

HUNTER VALLEY

It was an ideal growing season in the Hunter. The valley was a gentle green throughout the season, moving into lusher conditions with heavier rainfall in December and early January. The rainfall, coupled with cool, overcast days, helped the fruit retain good pH and acid levels as it started to ripen. While winter was warmer than average and we saw budburst a touch early, flowering and veraison timed to normal. Vintage commenced with a selection of early harvesting before a run of sustained, glorious dry and mild weather saw fruit hanging out for full flavour development. Vintage 2021 was a more gentle vintage than the past few years, with fruit coming in steadily throughout January and February, wrapping up a very rewarding season for our vineyard teams.

Liz Riley, Vitibit and Jerome Scarborough, Scarborough Wine Co

Orange

An above average rainy season delivered with snow and very cold conditions during October, had a huge effect upon the emerging buds. This – combined with poor bud fruitfulness – led to below average yields generally across the region. The continued wet and cold made for a tricky season, and ripening was gentle with vintage arriving in early March. The whites produced very high acid, and we have some of the most intense fruit flavours in years – particularly with chardonnay and pinot noir. The heavy rains in late March slowed the reds in ripening, but when this eventually took place, the acids and flavours were excellent. But the colours will be a highlight of the 2021 vintage.

Phillip Stivens, Heifer Station

Victoria

Rutherglen

2021 has been a great vintage. An ideal spring and mild summer have contributed to elegant flavour profiles, good acid retention and generally fine tannin expression. January and early February offered up a challenge in the form of several significant rain events; however, after spending extra time hand-managing our canopies, bunch zone and mid-rows, the fruit survived well. One of the benefits of a wet finishing season has been relatively mild temperatures, making working conditions really enjoyable! It would be nice to see some rain soon as ground moisture is currently very low. As the vines shut down for winter, it’s ideal to see them with available water as they build condition ahead of dormancy, in readiness for spring. Anyhow, we’re off to the coast for a holiday – will check in on the wines when back.

Rowly Milhinch, Scion Wines

Macedon Ranges

We were fortunate to get the vintage we were hoping for. It was a little cooler than most vintages and hence in some instances harvest was a tad delayed. That being said, the mini heatwave we received late in the season did wonders in helping the plants push ripeness, giving the winemakers of the Macedon Ranges some great-looking fruit to work with. The season was a little challenging from a disease-pressure perspective, but overall, the yield numbers looked healthy and in line with our forecasts. Great fruit and good numbers are all we can ask from our vineyards, so I’m looking forward to tasting some of these wines as the vineyards have provided an excellent starting point.

Oliver Rapson, Lyons Will Estate

Queensland

GRANITE BELT

Vintage ’21 kicked off with a warm winter prompting an early budburst. But when the inevitable cold snap arrived, it combined with the dry air to produce a black frost across most vineyards. October and December produced enough scattered rainfall to keep vines growing and veraison arrived with vineyards looking resplendent, albeit with yield expectations lowered by frost and drought. The dry summer meant disease pressure was low and the early ripening varieties delivered in spectacular fashion, making it a stellar year for whites, and early reds like tempranillo, pinotage and barbera. When the drought-breaking rain arrived in March, it was very welcome, but also broke hearts. February’s overcast conditions slowed ripening, so growers played a cat and mouse game to time picking.

Peter O’Reilly, Granite Belt Wine

Western Australia

SWAN VALLEY

Vintage started slightly earlier than normal, with warm weather in the early part of summer giving a flying start to the growing season. “Crop levels were on the lighter side, which gave us strong flavoured fruit and we also saw higher natural acid levels,” says our winemaker Anthony Kosovich. Chardonnay was harvested in late January and was some of the best we’ve seen. Chenin was another highlight. The last grapes off were our fortified verdelho, which were harvested mid-March almost raisin-like. They are now in oak and will age up to 20 years or longer. A fantastic vintage for us and we are looking forward to bottling some of the wine later in the year.

Ray Kosovich, John Kosovich Wines

South Australia

ADELAIDE HILLS

It has been an outstanding vintage for the Adelaide Hills. With a relatively wet spring and early growing season, conditions were excellent for fruit set and flowering across most varieties. Heading into January and February, we saw only one major rainfall event – with the growing season overall being quite dry with little disease pressure or weather pressure from mid-Autumn heatwaves. We experienced a slow and gentle ripening period, which was excellent for achieving fruit flavour and ripeness at lower baume while retaining high levels of natural acidity. We also saw higher yields across most varieties, a welcome bonus after lower-than-average yields of the past years. This vintage will no doubt be marked as one of the best.

Candice Helbig, CRFT Wines

COONAWARRA

The region’s mild summer slowed the onset of harvest. But with warm weather leading into Easter, we saw a rapid increase in sugar levels and grape maturities, so the usual harvest break between red varieties didn’t happen. Whites had little to no disease pressure leading into the harvest period, while shiraz and cabernet sauvignon were picked over a range of maturity levels with amazing colour and intense flavour profiles exhibiting structure and length. It looks to be an excellent vintage; the cool season gave the grapes extended hang time, good varietal definition and a depth of colour not seen for the past couple of vintages, plus better return per hectare for the growers. The reds, in particular cabernet sauvignon, were the standout this vintage, reminiscent of previous great vintages like 1990, 1991 and 2004.

Bruce Gregory, Majella Wines