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2021 Barossa Valley Vintage Report
Following two particularly dry seasons, many were hoping for Mother Nature to be much kinder, and mostly she was. Winter rainfall in 2020 recorded 148mm, the same as winter 2019, (22% below average). The majority of this rainfall was in the latter half of August, with the rain continuing into September and October. This was ideal timing to replenish soil profiles to field capacity moving into budburst in October. However, dry conditions ensued throughout November and into summer with the growing season rainfall from October to March measuring 129mm, 42% below average. The calendar year of 2020 recorded 455.8mm, 160mm higher than 2019.
Some frost damage occurred on 27 September, when temperatures plunged to -0.3°C. However, many varieties were only just emerging and widespread damage thankfully was avoided.
November recorded 4 days above 35°C, pushing the monthly maximum temperature to 28°C - 4°C warmer than previous years. However, conditions throughout summer were relatively mild with December recording its lowest maximum temperature since 2014, and all months recording monthly maximums below average. Cool, dewy mornings and maximum temperatures below 30°C for the majority of January provided optimal ripening conditions.
Conditions were quite favourable during flowering, allowing bunches to set and good fruit development. Veraison started in late January-early February and the cooler conditions and some rain in early February helped to plump up berries and provide some relief to soil moisture profiles. Minimum temperatures for February were 1.4°C below average and maximums were 1.2°C below average.
Whilst yield varied between vineyards, it was welcome relief to achieve close to average crops in comparison to the last two seasons.
There was much anticipation that labour resources required for hand picking would not be available this vintage due to border closures, but with the cooler weather slowing ripening, vintage was less compressed than previous years and it was much easier to source labour than first thought. Harvest continued well into April as the dry Indian summer continued to ripen the grapes.
Quality is exceptional across the varieties and styles from 2021. Reds have intense, rich and balanced flavours and colours; whites have lovely aromatics, finesse and great natural acidity.