A record-breaking vintage in the Blackwood Valley for 2024

A record-breaking vintage in the Blackwood Valley for 2024

Last Updated: 11 Jul 2024
Caroline Taylor

The Blackwood Valley is home to more than 15 boutique vineyards growing Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz and small quantities of Viognier and Pinot Noir. The first vineyards were established in 1976, making it one of Australia’s newest wine regions, the continental climate is ideal for winemaking and the region has earned the Valley the title of the ‘South-West’s best kept wine secret’.

As with all regions in WA, this year was one of the earliest and most compacted vintages in recent times. Mick Hester, owner of Upper Blackwood Estate Wineries, discusses what a light-speed vintage means for the wines of 2024.

Vine growth stages in the Blackwood Valley, from budburst to flowering, flowering to fruit set, fruit set to veraison and veraison to harvest, were all completed in record time.

This was due to lower than average winter rains in 2023 and higher than average temperatures through spring and summer, topped off with consistent warm easterly winds in Summer. Soil temperatures at budburst were high, so vines woke up early and raced away and did not stop until harvest. As a result, most varieties were harvested four weeks earlier than average.

The consistent warm conditions put pressure on the vines and yields on average were down 30%. Vines that received water through irrigation still performed well, but yields were still down.

The Marri blossom this vintage was very heavy and put on a fantastic display of white flowers. The timing coincided perfectly with ripening grapes, so there was no bird damage at all as the birds had plenty of Marri nectar to eat.

Harvesting of white grapes started early in February and 95% of reds were harvested by the end of February. The fast and early vintage put logistical pressure on wineries and harvesting contractors trying to keep up with ripening fruit.  Red varieties were ready to harvest before whites were finished, putting even more pressure on wineries.

Nevertheless, Vintage 2024 is still a good year for grape quality, as warm days, minimal rain and lower yields has resulted in beautiful ripe, clean fruit with great concentration of flavours. Andrew Dawson, winemaker at Yeah Wines, commented on the positive impact on fruit quality: “the whites have great fruit concentrate and flavour with surprising acidity considering the conditions. The early dry season meant the reds could hang out for optimal flavour and tannin ripeness, reds across the board have great concentration and depth of flavour”.

Blackwood Valley winery guide

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