01 May 2020

Shelter from the storm

We won’t forget 2020. Three months in and its events have changed Australian lives forever, with summer bushfires barely extinguished before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Amid the panic-buying and grim predictions winemakers are working to ensure this year is remembered for more than its crises. For those who dodged flames and smoke taint due to the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island blazes, vintage 2020 is shaping up beautifully.

Picking has now finished across the South Australian vineyards that supply celebrated Barossa winery Yalumba.

Head of winemaking Louisa Rose said she and the Yalumba team shared a sense of gratitude.

“We feel really heartbroken for many of our friends and peers in some regions that have been badly affected, either directly by bushfires or by the smoke,” Rose said.

 “We have been very lucky, and we cherish that luck because we’ve been not affected by it with our own wines. We’ve had a couple of growers in the Adelaide Hills that were affected to some extent by the fires, but we’ve still managed to take their fruit and incorporate it into our wines.”

Rose said the mild February that followed searing heat through December and January had provided ideal ripening conditions.

“You couldn’t have asked for better weather. Mother Nature – on the back of a couple of dry winters – has given us fairly low yields, but what is there is fantastic,” she said.

“I can assure everybody that there is plenty of wine . . . nobody’s going to run out.”

Patience is now called for as the grapes ferment and Yalumba’s signature wines take shape.

“Viognier really enjoyed the cool nights,” Rose said.

“While viognier is naturally a much lower acidity variety than riesling, the viognier wines have also got beautifully balanced acidity. Lovely flavours, very fragrant.”

Reds are also set to impress.

“(They are) all looking absolutely beautiful,” Rose said.

“Cooler nights have given us beautiful aromatics, and the smaller crops have given us lovely complexity and concentration. The wines are beautifully varietally expressive.”

While it might be a while before you can return to Yalumba’s historic base near Angaston, its latest wines are on their way. Simple pleasures are called for as we navigate these wild times, and Rose and her team are determined to work their magic.

“The 2020 vintage is going to be beautiful when you see them; some of those wines you’ll see very soon,” Rose said.

“We hope we can welcome you here as soon as this crazy world lets it all happen.”