VINTAGE REPORT 2016: MORNINGTON PENINSULA
For most Victorians, the past summer seemed mild and unremarkable. For the vineyards of the Mornington Peninsula, the growing period was as close to ideal as one could hope, leading to a 2016 harvest of some potentially very remarkable wines. David Lloyd, the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association president, said the harvest began seven to 10 days early across southeast Australia. Lloyd said optimum conditions across the summer had produced a good crop with potential to make exceptional wine.
Picking began as early as 11 February for some wineries, with most early ripening varieties harvested by the end of February. These include Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and the varieties used for the region’s sparkling wines were first, requiring high acidity. While many varieties were picked early, this was preceded in kind by an early bud burst, which allowed a decent ripening period for the grapes, producing a balance of sugars, acids and flavours.
Grape growers and winemakers throughout the peninsula have expressed their optimism, including veteran Kathleen Quealy, a pioneer and champion of the Mornington Peninsula wine region. Operating vineyards in Balnarring, Quealy described their growing period as one of extremes, but overall favorable. While there were highs and lows throughout the vintage and picking period, the hot weather and rains came at ideal times. Quealy echoed the sentiment among many winemakers that the vintage was producing good yields but not overly high.
While not uniform amongst their vineyards, Ashley Brewer of Tuck’s Ridge said the yields were largely exceeding estimates. In the case of their single vineyard Chardonnay, the concentration of fruit was carefully managed with judicious pruning 14 weeks prior.
With later ripening varieties and some of the cooler spots still to be picked, it is a little early to pronounce judgment on the vintage as a whole. However all indications are that most winemakers will have a good quantity of high quality fruit to work with. The 2016 wines are looking more like the excellent 2015 vintage rather than the disappointing 2014, and will likely be something extra special.
If you would like to explore region, check out our Mornington Peninsula tours page