It seems if our planet continues on its current trajectory, yes we will have a warmer growing climate to operate in. And inevitably this will have an impact on how we grow our grapes but we are doing our best to ensure it will not impact quality by investing in our localised environmental strategies.
The evidence so far suggests we are entering a period of earlier, shorter ripening seasons with whites and reds coming into harvest at similar times. However unlike some of our industry counterparts, we won’t be looking to purchase land to grow grapes in cooler climate regions.
All we can do at this stage is draw on our vast experience in growing quality base product for our wines and learn from this to ensure we continue to produce a high quality product.
Observing recent years, from 1997 to 2016, mostly have been much warmer and drier than recent past history, so much so that the Bureau of Meteorology is calling the decade from 2000 to 2010 the Millennium Drought.
With the exception of 2002, which was relatively cool but still a terrific vintage, and 2011 when vintage was cool and wet, these growing seasons have been much warmer and with lower rainfall than is usual in modern times at Tahbilk. Drier growing seasons result in reduced disease pressure in the vineyard (from mildews and botrytis) and make it easier to biologically control vineyard pests such as light brown apple moth.
Stable and drier weather also make harvest scheduling easier (fewer rain events which delay picking) and result in the winemakers being able to bring in fruit at closer to optimum ripeness. So the drier seasons have definitely improved the consistency of our red wines without impacting on the freshness and delicacy of our white wines.
Back in the 90’s when our current winemakers joined the team the seasons didn’t allow us to ripen reds as easily and uneventfully. We have had more success in wine shows and more critical acclaim for both our reds and whites since ’97, so we prefer to allow our wines to speak for themselves – the influence of climate change seems positive to date, and we haven’t made plans to source fruit from cooler regions.
However, as grape growers and winemakers we are always intimately aware of our climate, and we will always have a deep commitment to producing word-class wines off our Estate.
We’re immersed in the seasons, and will adapt as we need to. Climate change or not and do everything we can to ensure we can create that moderate growing climate we enjoy.