Holm Oak's 2017 vintage is vastly different to last year due to weather conditions

The harvest may have been delayed this season due to late ripening fruit, but the work of getting the grapes in has begun in earnest at Holm Oak Vineyards.

A cooler summer early on with a hotter March, meant a smaller yield for the Rowella vineyard but potentially better quality fruit, winemaker Rebecca Duffy said.

“We’re lucky that March was warm. Harvest is fairly late, but the warm weather kicked it along,” Ms Duffy said.

“We’ve picked all our pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, resiling and some chardonnay. We’ll be picking pinot noir up until Easter,” she said.

The weather is not the only reason for a lower yield, with overworked and waterlogged vines coming into play.

“Last year the yield was higher and summer was hot and dry so we think the vines were worn out,” she said.

“Some of the vines were waterlogged early on. The yield [results from] a combination of factors.”

In addition to the later ripening, the cooler weather meant vines grew more than usual and had to be “trained” to ensure the grapes were exposed to enough sunlight and had ample airflow.

“The sunlight allows for good tannin development in red wines and also helps reduce disease outbreaks. The airflow is essential for the grape bunches to dry out quickly after rain, preventing them from going rotten,” Ms Duffy said.

The hotter end to summer meant less foggy mornings and lower humidity in the Tamar Valley.

“It’s been a good year for yeast. We have less botrytis because of the warmer, drier weather,” Ms Duffy said.

“The humidity levels are low [this season] compared to normal,” she said.

Holm Oak was about halfway through picking grapes earlier this week, and expects to have most of the fruit harvested before Easter.

“Then we’ll just have merlot, cabernet and shiraz after Easter,” Ms Duffy said.

“The weather has been good so we’re not under as much pressure to get the grapes off the vines before it rains.

“It’s been a steady vintage, which is good,” she said.

As the harvest is happening outside, Ms Duffy was also working on wines for the 2016 vintage.

She has been blending, filtering and bottling pinot noir; blending the 2016 chardonnay; and tiraging Holm Oak’s sparkling wines.

Rebecca Duffy takes us through the tiraging process.

“Tiraging is the process of adding sugar and yeast to our sparkling wine base and bottling it for bottle fermentation and maturation,” she said.

Tasmania’s wine vintage usually starts around the middle of March, with ripening at its peak in early autumn before May’s frost and rains.

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