by Conrad Pohlinger, Elderton Viticulturist
Our growing season is finally cranking along with some warmer weather. It’s been a very different season so far, the weather has been cooler than average with plenty of rain. Soil moisture levels are still great so we have only had to irrigate some select blocks on rocky soil.
The vines have been ticking along slowly but now the weather has warmed up we have had some good shoot growth and are almost through flowering. This is a really important time for us. This is the point that berries are fertilized which is the main driver for how our yields will turn out. Vines are particularly susceptible at this time and generally want it to be sunny and warm with access to plenty of water. Flowering started in early November for us under less-than-ideal conditions but the last two weeks have been perfect for them and we are now almost finished so can get a reasonable idea of yields soon.
The big weather event in Barossa this year was the hail in late October. We can count ourselves lucky with the damage we got compared with some neighbours down the road: Nuriootpa was hit mildly, Greenock negligibly and Craneford not at all. The tricky thing with events like this is the knock-on effects. We continue to see damaged shoots drop off at Nuriootpa from wind or just increased shoot weight and expect this to continue. With the weather being wetter it was also a high risk for botrytis rot to enter wounds, although it looks as though this hasn’t occurred.
We also released some beneficial insects at Craneford. There are some minor insect pests out there (scale and blister mite) which don’t cause an issue in small numbers but can get out of hand and cause a lot of indirect issues. The bugs we released were Lacewings and a parasitic wasp. We will continue to release them to build up the numbers in the area to control the pests without needing to apply insecticides.
By far our most exciting news is Elderton vineyards and winery are now certified with Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. This is a voluntary program that requires us to meet best practice standards for all elements of sustainability: environmental, economic and social. It is an exciting step to take and helps support and prove we are operating as best as we can to care for the vineyards and region for future generations.