I think I can speak for the Barossa community here…..I’m really looking forward to some warmer weather! While winter in the region has its charm it will be nice to feel the suns warm rays on my face and the scented air that spring brings to the region.

We’ve had a fairly chilly winter season….only a couple of frosts where I am in the Eden Valley and very little rain to speak of. There has been no ” soaking” rains and we are currently about 70mm down on the ten year average rainfall at this time of year. The dams could certainly do with a decent downpour to top them up before we head into spring and onwards into the growing season.

Pruning across the valley is pretty much done and dusted for the year and those those hardy souls who tend the vines, no doubt fuelled by king-sized schnitzels, Coopers Pale and Vintage Port, deserve a medal in my eyes as they toil away in all weather. Pruning is one of the most important jobs in the vineyard setting up the vines of the coming season. Pruning provides a mechanism to maintain the vines trellising system, selects the fruiting wood for the year and is vital to controlling the yield and subsequently, the quality of the fruit harvested in the coming vintage.

The idea is to encourage the production of new fruiting canes at specific positions on the vine and balance is a key issue whilst pruning. By balance I’m not referring to the pruners intake of Vintage Port and their ability to do the job…….a balanced vine will have strong growth, but not too much vigor from the canes shooting from the retained buds. An overly vigorous vine is not a good thing and will require more canopy management as the growing season progresses.

I love it when spring finally comes…. during winter the earth seems to draw inwards, the air and soil seems denser, storing energy within the ground and when the season finally changes the earth seems to exhale all that pent up energy. You can feel it in the air and certainly smell it on the fragrant breeze…..it’s like the earth is breathing out and readying itself of another season and upcoming harvest. It doesn’t always happen on the official first day of spring….seasons don’t seem to take much notice of calendars….they have there own agendas and they change when they are good and ready. But when that moment comes it always brings a smile to my face when I smell that change in the air.

There is already bud movement on some of the earlier ripening varieties on the valley floor with the buds swelling up and turning wooly. A sure sign to pick up with pace with the secateurs! From this point on everything seems to speed up…. budburst, rapid shoot growth, flowering, fruit set, veraison (the point where the red grapes change colour and ripening kicks off), ripening and finally harvest.

During this time there are a multitude of tasks to be completed in the vineyard. Canopy management occurs throughout the growing season and spray regimes are carried out to protect against disease.

So next time you partake in a glass of wine from the Barossa, perhaps raise a toast to those that toil in the vineyard for their hard work throughout the year hugely influences the quality of wine we get in our glass.