Vintage report – 2010 on the Mornington Peninsula

How is the season looking? We ask some vignerons

By Sara Schwarz
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The elegant Pennon Hill chardonnay from Montalto Vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

The elegant Pennon Hill chardonnay from Montalto Vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Pinot Gris barrel at Ocean Eight Vineyard and Winery, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Cellar door at Ocean Eight Vineyard and Winery, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Geraldine McFaul, winemaker, Willow Creek wines. Picture: Craig Moodie
Andrew Hickinbotham of Hickinbotham of Dromana, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

 

As the 2010 vintage fast approaches, wineries across Australia are emptying tanks, cleaning barrels and checking hoses. For many, this years’ climatic conditions have been excellent with moderate weather and some good winter and spring rains to boost growth. After 2009’s devastating fires and heatwave however, all vignerons are on tenterhooks and few will rest easy until the fruit has been harvested and is safely in tank and barrel.

While Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula escaped the deadly fires further north, the extreme conditions resulted in most vineyards losing anywhere between 10 to 100 percent of their crops due to heat (with temperatures over 44C), especially those in the lower lying areas.The grapes hung off the vines like sultanas.

Hickinbotham of Dromana

Hickinbotham of Dromana lost 100 per cent in that one truly awful day.  This year, at Hickinbotham and across the region, the vines have bounced back, thanks no doubt to Andrew and Terryn Hickinbotham’s years of tender care and experience. However a new challenge presents itself - in general white varietals ripen 2 to 3 weeks before the heavier reds such as cabernet, however this year at Hickinbotham they look likely to be ready all at once, making early March a truly hectic time.

While it will be 'all hands on deck' in the vineyard and winery, Hickinbotham is open daily for tastings, lunch or a coffee and each Sunday through March a great Blues, Jazz or Acoustic band is booked to play, while the Hickinbotham wines and fine Hix beers flow freely. Go and join in the fun.

Willow Creek Vineyard

Across at Willow Creek, although fixated on the weather report, winemaker Geraldine McFaul is very excited about her vineyards, thanks to some steady weather conditions and textbook canopy management by Robbie O'Leary and the vineyard team. Once again, vintage is looking to start earlier than usual and while this will keep the team busy, for visitors it can be an excellent time to book a window seat at the divine Salix Restaurant and to watch the action unfold, with a glass of Willow Creek’s Tulum wine in hand.

Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove

On top of the hill at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove, John Mitchell is very excited by the addition of Simon Black to the Montalto family as winemaker at their brand new offsite winery. A driving force behind Willow Creek, Heathcote Estate and Clyde Park and having gained experience in Europe, the new facility looks to be in very safe hands indeed. We look forward to tasting the first batch of 2010 wines in the coming months and years.

On February 14, Montalto are once again launching their very popular annual Montalto Sculpture Prize (until April 30th). The Red Hill landscape and vines, so abundant with leaf and fruit make Montalto the perfect backdrop for the sculptures, so what better time to visit. As always, the Montalto Restaurant is open daily for lunch while the popular piazza is open weekends from midday.

Ocean Eight

Just up the road, Mike Aylward at Ocean Eight has already had an excellent start to 2010. Our congratulations to Ocean Eight being named the Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide’s Best New Winery, and his pinot noir and chardonnay both being awarded 93 points.

Mike is very excited about the 2010 vintage and more awards look likely to come his way. After losing 40 per cent of his crop last February, the good rainfall experienced in spring and the moderate weather to date puts his vines in an excellent position if a heatwave does strike.

In Mike’s words, reflecting that of many vignerons, ‘I will be very relieved when our fruit is picked and processed into barrel. Fruit set looks amazing but we are not out of the woods yet. February will be the decider.

This year on the weekend of the anniversary of Black Saturday, we encourage you all to purchase and drink a bottle of wine from an affected region, whether it be Yarra Valley or Northern Victoria where the fires struck or in one of the many other regions where crops were decimated in the heat. Our winemakers thank you and look forward to sharing their 2010 vintages with you.

Regions

  • Mornington Peninsula (VIC)

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