Vineyard Update with Jessica McLeish

Every year, Vintage (the time when the grapes are picked) brings with it a build up of excitement, nerves and anticipation for all the producers in the region. The month of February is a busy one, for our family at McLeish Estate winery it is all hands buy cialis usa on deck with family, friends and an eager vineyard team all ready for Vintage 2013 harvest and processing of the grapes in the winery.

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This year has marked McLeish Estate’s 28th vintage and it has proven to be one of the best yielding years to date for the Hunter Valley. Throughout the month of February Buy Viagra Online. No Prescrition Needed the Hunter Valley experienced some lovely long and warm days, just perfect for the final

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ripening of the grapes before picking.

The Hunter Valley the Semillon is traditionally the first to ripen and at McLeish Estate we weren’t disappointed- it was the first picked and we were very happy with the quality, with this vintage producing undeniably outstanding quality fruit, that has delighted all the producers in the region. All the varietals grown in the Hunter Valley have been harvested with great berry colour and varietal flavour, which is very important when producing premium wines, as Robert McLeish believes that producers “cannot make premium wine without the best quality fruit”.

As vintage is the most important time of the year for Hunter Valley winemakers and grape growers alike, it was crucial that once the delicate fruit was harvested at optimal ripeness, intact and disease free, that it is delivered to the winemaker on time. Once the grapes have been picked, checked and delivered to the winemakers, the wines begin to take shape with a gentle, guiding hand of our Hunter Valley winemakers and this is when the talented winemaking team use their creativity in crafting wines that reflect the vineyard and Hunter Valley region.

While the process for creating red and white wine do vary, the process starts the same with crushing and de-stemming the grapes by gently squeezing the grape to release the juice. The excellent clean condition of the juice from this year’s vintage means that the door is open for lots of exciting winemaking experiments, including whole berry and whole bunch ferments (stalks and stems being included in a ferment where the fruit is crushed).

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Once the grapes have been crushed and fermented, our winemakers start the next process of getting the wine ready to be bottled. This includes putting such varietals of chardonnay, and most red wines, into barrels for the purpose of maturing the wine to soften tannins and add complexity. Did you know that not all wines go into barrels? Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdelho also can be bottled within a few months of picking the grapes as they don’t require being oaked in the barrels for months as they are light bodied white wines.

We can’t forget about our reds from the 2012 vinatge last year, as most wineries are working with the 2012 reds that have been maturing oak barrels for the year and are now preparing them to go into bottle. For the Hunter Valley, one of the most important red grape varietals is Shiraz. The patchwork quilt of red soil vineyards around Cessnock offer an exciting medium- bodied style with distinct rustic flavours of black pepper and savoury spices. To me, this varietal is sublime and one of the most rewarding wines to produce.

So you know about what is happening in the wineries, but back to the vineyards. The Hunter Valley is experiencing absolutely perfect mornings- clear skies, touch of chill in the air and a nice breeze. These are the first signs of Autumn, and the leaves are beginning to break down and change colour from green to yellow. Following the first frost, the leaves begin to fall as the vine starts to enter its winter dormancy period, which leads us into the next busy phase where our champion vineyard workers begin their days early to prune the vines- in anticipation for 2014 Vintage.

Even as the seasons change the Hunter Valley is still an exciting region to indulge and taste the wines we are so passionate about. I encourage all wine lovers to get excited over the 2013 Vintage wines because they are sure to impress.

Jessica McLeish,

McLeish Estate

Images supplied by McLeish Estate