We have been growing vines for nearly 20 years. 2023 was perhaps the most unusual growing season that we have ever experienced.
A very dry January and February gave way to a wet March, which experienced the least sunshine since 1909. Bud burst was a week later than average, with 80% initiation by 28th April. Thankfully, we avoided early May frosts which can cause such havoc with the ultimate fruit potential. In fact, May was very dry and quite warm with temperatures building into a very hot and sunny June. We recorded 30° Centigrade on June 10th. Fruit set came about a week earlier than usual around the end of June/first week in July. The dry warm weather gave way to an unseasonably wet July, and then a more mixed August with slightly above average temperatures.
Veraison commenced towards the end of August. The fruit load was very promising, but did not require any green harvesting. The canopy grew very well in these conditions, with the younger vines putting on very strong growth; we’d completed two trims of the older mature vines by the end of August. September was very dry and sunny, with warmer than average temperatures lasting into end month and on into early October. Nevertheless, major thunderstorms figured around mid September leading to some split berries in the pinot noir.
Harvest came on Monday Oct 9th. Sugar levels were among the highest we have ever seen, with exceptional berry fruit flavours. We harvested the best chardonnay that we have ever grown. Unseasonable warmth, which had accompanied the October 9th harvest, ebbed rapidly to deliver a very early first frost on October 16th.
Summer 2023 was the eighth warmest on record, thanks largely to a record-breaking June. Of the ten warmest summers, it was the wettest, thanks to the very wet July. Sunshine levels for the April-September growing period were above the recent average and slightly above those of 2021.