Bunch Thinning and Veraison: a 2022 Vintage Update from Nick Brown

24 January 2022

Every year is different, and this year, we had frequent rain during Spring which was beautiful to wake the vines up. There is nothing better than the vines having wet feet when the sun comes out at the end of Winter. Many people who see the vines all the time (including my mum, Jan) are saying how happy the vines look. To quote Jan, "you can almost see the vines smiling" because they're in such a good place. 

There is lots of foliage; we think the yields will be 10% up on usual compared to the last few years where our yields have been a little bit down. 10% is excellent, and we are about to shoot thin a young block of Durif that we planted at Carters Vineyard four years ago. That block of the vineyard has grown so many bunches, reflecting it is happy, but it means we must thin those bunches out. It's a case of going along and picking all the bunches we don't need on the vine to ensure the remaining ones ripen. If we left all the bunches which were on each vine – now probably 30 or 40 bunches - the vines would struggle to divide their nutrients and goodies to all those individual bunches. Bunch thinning concentrates the effort of the vine for better wine in the end. 

We think we will start harvesting in mid-February, about a week or two later than usual, and that's because we have had a cooler Spring than expected, resulting in a delayed budburst and flowering – it's not a bad thing as it gives us more time to prepare in the winery. Also, slower ripening progression of the vine with cooler weather is beneficial for the fruit. We hope to pick Chardonnay around the 15th of February. 

Some of the blocks are in veraison, changing colour, and accumulating sugars in their fruit. Veraison is a bit of a wine-nerd term but explained simply, plants like their seeds spread, and grapes have seeds designed to be distributed by animals. So, the change in colour of the grapes signals to birds, 'please come and pick my grapes and fly away and spread my seed somewhere else!', which then increases its general population. Veraison doesn't mean the grapes are ripe to make wine; it means that the seed is ready to be spread and populated.  

We will start tasting grapes at the end of January for flavour profiles. Make sure you're following our Instagram account@allsaintswineas we'll be posting lots of updates as vintage progresses. I’ll even try to do some live broadcasting for you.