The washup of the 2021 vintage was fantastic quality and average yields across all varieties, a win for winemakers and growers alike. The Barossa delivered and we feel truly blessed given the challenges many other regions faced during this La Nina influenced season.
The good years are characterized by an extended vintage
One of the greatest characteristics of the Barossa is its climatic diversity which is best illustrated by our harvest dates for Shiraz in 2021. We started picking in the western Barossa Valley, Gomersal sub-region, on the 19th February and completed our final pick deep into Eden Valley on 23rd April. The 63 days from start to finish helps to explain the Barossa’s ability to produce a range of styles from dense and fleshy full-bodied Shiraz through to refined cool climate expressions.
La Nina weather pattern defined the climatic backdrop
The La Nina weather pattern drove moisture into the eastern part of Australia but was not strong enough to bring it all the way across to the Barossa. The easterly influence of La Nina appears to have also halted moisture coming from the prevailing west and heat from the north. The result was a near perfect, cool and dry ripening period.
Good Winter and Spring rainfall helped establish average crop levels and balanced vines
Rainfall following the 2020 vintage and through winter was above average with many soils filled to saturation point. April-August 2020 actual rainfall was 282mm compared with 251mm average. The only negative being the spaced-out nature of the rainfall and drier than average July meant there was little run off for the irrigation dams in Eden Valley.
However, the generous rainfall continued through September and October to set up the vineyards to thrive through the early stages of the growing season during the Spring months and into the crucial flowering period.
Mild dry summer endures through Autumn to deliver grapes with near perfect natural maturity
A dry and cool summer enabled the vines to develop berry size through a period of unhindered cell division. Mean maximum temperatures were all below average for the December-February period in addition to rainfall also being well below average.
However, a crucial rainfall event of up to 25mm at the start of veraison in early February provided enough moisture for the vines to adequately ripen their fruit through to harvest.
The manageable crop loads were slowly ripened to full maturity over the months of March and April, which were characterised by average temperatures and dry conditions.
Great synergy and balance among the ripening indices of flavour, sugar, acidity, tannin and colour was achieved which is a hallmark of a great year.
A classic ‘Indian Summer’ was the bookend to a memorable season that will live on gracefully under cork (or screwcap) for a very long time.
Notably the traditional Barossa dry grown vineyards flourished and their wines are certain to be highly rated for many years to come.
Actual and average data taken from the Bureau of Meteorology, Nuriootpa Weather Station