Swan Valley – Vintage Report 2024

What a vintage! We knew it was heading to be an early start and thankfully winemakers were watching closely and ready to pick, even if struggling to believe what we were seeing. It was possibly one of the hottest summers ever experienced in the valley!

October and November mean temperatures were almost 5C higher than the long term average. This meant that the vines went through flowering, fruit set and veraison very early, and this was followed by rapid ripening. Early indications were that we should expect fruit 2-3 weeks early. In fact we had fruit closer to 4-5 weeks early. Records were well and truly smashed, with some vineyards being picked a full month earlier than they ever have.

The rapid ripening was exacerbated by what we knew were low yields. Dry conditions in winter and spring (rainfall was 30% down on long term averages) meant that berry sizes were small. All that UV was ripening a much smaller fruit load then normal and this also accelerated the ripening process.

What does that mean for quality? Well this is the slightly unexpected learning given the heat waves we saw from mid January and particularly the extreme one in February. Rapid ripening meant that all of our fruit was off before these events occurred.

Sugar, flavour and tannin development occurred more quickly than acid depletion, which meant we had good flavours and acids (high acids in a warm year is not what we expect). The extremely warm spring conditions meant that the vines worked at high efficiency from the start and this might be a saving grace if these summers happen more often in the future.

Overall winemakers throughout the Swan Valley are very happy with the wines that have been made. A testament to close monitoring and working with the varieties that suit our region and climate well. Our dry grown Chenin and Grenache are right in the zone and we are hopeful that we have made some of our best wines ever.

Now for pruning season! 

Provided by the Swan Valley Winemakers Association May 2024