2021 vintage has begun with great ripening conditions cool nights and beautiful warm days. Being a boutique premium producer this certainly means all hands on deck, as you can see above Paul Dixon our winemaker is out picking among a million other duties, Damon our cellar hand on the forklift, Tracey our Cellar Door manger on the tractor, Jane Thompson making some tasty treats in the kitchen and Peter Thompson checking the quality of the chardonnay.
The lead-up to the 2021 vintage has been very challenging with some unexpected high rainfalls for this time of year, 150mm falling on the Wilyabrup vineyard over February and March. This has put a lot of pressure on the vineyard with the elevated risk of disease. Thankfully, thanks to our awesome vineyard staff, Ryan Gibbs and Damon Wanless, our strict spray program has meant that we have no problems with disease and the fruit has been at the highest quality coming into winery.
Another challenge for the start of vintage was the lack of hand pickers and general labour in the area due to COVID. Although we are impressed with the gentleness and precision of the latest technology in the Selectiv harvester, we do have some super premium parcels of fruit which require hand picking for our “Specialist” range. We called in our cellar door manager, Tracey, to help drive the tractor and pick up buckets from the vineyard to ensure that the job got done as quickly as possible. Even our administrator, Mel, had tractor lessons just in case we needed that extra person to help out. There was a couple of big days of hand picking but with the team effort of the winery, vineyard and cellar door we got the job done with the fruit in optimum condition.
All the white fruit came into the winery quite rapidly as all the varieties seemed to ripen at once. All the white ferments are now sugar dry, the ferment barrels have been topped, with some already locked away until after vintage where we will assess the barrels ready for blending. We are now currently in the transition from whites to reds. The red fruit is ripening slowly, but already showing great fruit intensity and colour, and we are just waiting for ideal tannin ripeness before we harvest.
Although it has started off as a challenging vintage, this will be another high-quality year for Thompson Estate thanks to all our hard-working staff.