Adelaide Hills – 2008

There was a below average winter rainfall lead-up to the 2008 vintage in the Adelaide Hills. Spring was mild with rainfall periods in October, early mid-November and mid- December. Fine flowering weather at the end of November allowed for good flowering and above average yields and the vines also showed vigorous growth. A dry and hotter than average early summer followed (November 2007 was the warmest for 25 years), which encouraged good growth and some restriction on berry and bunch size followed by hot summer temperatures around New Year. From mid-January through February mild temperatures and cold nights followed which ensured excellent development of fruit colour, flavour and balance of pH and acidity. It was the coolest February since 1978. Harvest began three weeks early at the end of February with the white varieties. However, in early March South Australia suffered an unprecedented record heat wave of 15 days over 35C. The unexpected continual heat seemed never-ending and resulted in some varieties suffering leaf drop, escalating sugar levels in the fruit and some shrivel. Although the heat had a marked effect in the Adelaide Hills it was not as bad as in the other regions of South Australia. The natural advantage afforded by the Hills is the altitude (600m), which provides cooler growing conditions during summer and a greater day/night temperature differential for acid retention in the grapes and greater purity of fruit flavours. The cool change which followed brought welcome relief, however some fruit was adversely affected. Careful handpicking allowed selection of the best quality fruit producing some excellent to exceptional wines, in particular sauvignon blanc and riesling. It was an ideal season to practise organic viticulture and a season that demanded biodynamics to keep the vines healthy.