Temperatures in January were relatively cool compared to other years, which is great for ripening and quality, but heat waves started hammering the vineyards from 3 Feb right through till the end of the month.
Transpiration rates were higher than roots could absorb moisture from the soil and because night temperatures did not cool down sufficiently, berries started losing turgor, leaves turned yellow and dropped.
Vines were under severe stress and most subsoils were depleted. There was sunburn damage and raisins in the bunches already at an early stage.
Grapes that were harvested during this period had high ballings – more due to extreme heat conditions and concentration than natural ripening. Acids rapidly dropped as the heat continued.
In between there were thundershowers and together with warm, humid conditions, a second outbreak, although small of downy mildew occurred on young leaves. The loss of functionality on these young leaves caused some problems later towards the end of ripening.
Unevenness of berries was a major concern despite of all the effort in vineyard to manage it. It was initially caused by uneven budding due to varying temperatures before and during budding together with cold and windy flowering conditions.
On 26th Feb another 20mm of rain fell and the season suddenly changed. Nights cooled down with dew, leaving bunches wet at night and early morning. This caused a stand still in any further ripening and sugar accumulation and now small patches of rot started developing on soft berries. Acids dropped and Ph increased and some sugars fell up to 2B due to dilution and continuous rain. Once again the call when to harvest was extremely difficult.
Beginning of March it was humid and warm, frequent rain, dew and mist in the mornings, perfect weather for the development and growth of Botrytis on bunches.
Cabernets and Merlots were harvested at a lower sugar concentration than other years, yet after all the heat, skins, tannins and pips were soft and ripe with barely any green characters present.
So despite of the good winter rain and high hopes for better crops, the cold, heat, wind and rain at unusual times through the season, led to mostly lower yields than 2018 in all cultivars. – Altogether a drop of 20%