VINTAGE 2023 IN THE BLACKWOOD VALLEY REGION, written by Vigneron Mick Hester of Upper Blackwood Estate Vineyard.

Like all wine regions in the South West of WA, vintage 2023 was off to a slow start in the Blackwood Valley. A wet and cool spring resulted in soil temperatures slightly lower than average, so vines tend to wake up slowly in these conditions.

At the end of November harvest predictions were at least two weeks behind average picking dates.  As we moved into December and January the day time temperatures really warmed up, so too the soil. Vines love these conditions and they soon made up for lost time. By the middle of January harvest dates were tracking back on average.

The Marri or Red Gum blossom was very light this year all over the South West, including the Blackwood Valley. The blossom is a fantastic food source for birds and when it is not available, the birds (mainly parrots and silver eyes) look to vineyards for a meal. In large numbers, they can eat a lot of fruit and do a lot of damage. Some vineyards in bird-prone areas net their vines to help protect them.

Even though the Marri blossom was light, there was not a lot of bird damage reported in the Blackwood Valley. Beautiful warm days and no rain at all for the months of December, January, February and March meant there was very low disease pressure which resulted in beautiful bright, clean fruit.

Harvesting white grapes began at the end of February and harvesting reds began at the end of March. We received our first rain event on the 10th April. Most of the Blackwood Valley fruit was harvested prior to this date so the rain only interrupted the harvest of a few late reds.

Vintage 2023 in the Blackwood Valley will go down as textbook perfect. With warm days, cool nights and no rain, it resulted in beautiful ripe, clean fruit with a great balance of acid, tannins and sugars. The perfect start for perfect wine.

Mick Hester
Upper Blackwood Estate Vineyard