In slightly more pleasant conditions than this time last year, the Barons of Barossa’s officially declared the 2018 vintage at today’s Declaration of Vintage ceremony in Tanunda.
Official proceedings began with the Blessing of the Grapes at Tabor Lutheran Church.
Pastor David Gogoll – described by grand master Stephen Henschke as a “reformed” winemaker – led the service, centred on tree baskets of grapes carried by Faith Lutheran College students.
The grapes were paraded down Tanunda’s main street, led by the Tanunda Town Band, and into the Keil Garden ahead of formal proceedings.
The 2018 Barons of Barossa Winemaker of the Year was presented to Richard Langford of Elderton Wines, and Vigneron of the Year to Dan Falkenberg (see more below).
Barossa Grape and Wine Association’s services to industry award was present by viticultural development officer Nicki Robins to James Rosenzweig, Nuriootpa, and former Barossa mayor Brian Hurn was honoured with a plaque on the Barons Walk of Fame.
Barons of Barossa honorary vigneron Louisa Rose delivered her much-anticipated vintage report, promising “another great Barossa and Eden Valley vintage”, before grand master Stephen Henschke officially declared vintage 2018 underway.
Baron Louisa Rose’s vintage report
This day 12 months ago we were standing here a little bit damp from the morning rain and vintage hadn’t started.
Following a wetter than average winter and spring, and below average summer temperatures, predictions were that we would start vintage in early March.
We predicted another great Barossa vintage however, and when it finally came, it was.
In fact, the 2017 Barossa vintage was another standout, with high quality wines across the board and good volumes for most.
Beginning in early March, Barossa’s 2017 harvest was three to four weeks later than it had been in recent years.
So what of 2018?
Well, perhaps we’re back to normal, whatever normal means.
In contrast to last year, it’s been dry.
Wines grew well in the mild summer and spring, developing good canopies, and they generally have set a good number of bunches.
Warm January weather kept things moving along and vintage started for some in early February, three to four weeks earlier than last year.
Whites and roses and the first reds from the early sites have already been harvested.
This past week’s milder weather accompanied by cooler nights as we move into autumn has kept ripening steady, but without perhaps the expected rush – although of course, things could speed up again.
If you are a believer that vintage timing follows Easter, then it will come as no surprise that we expect the next four weeks to be busy and, as I read in Chateau Tanunda’s vintage announcement this week, we are going to make a lot of good quality wine, quickly.
So dusting off my crystal ball, what will the 2018 vintage be like?
Well, if early indications are anything to go by, it should be another great Barossa and Eden Valley vintage.
Winemaker of the Year: Richard Langford
Richard Langford graduated from Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.
For a decade he worked his way around Australia, ending up in the Barossa.
He took the winemaking helm at Elderton in 2003, managing not only their own crush but also overseeing winemaking for a further 600 to 1000 tonnes of contract work for some of the region’s best premium labels.
Richard has worked tirelessly with the company viticulturist to ensure the highest quality fruit comes from the vineyards in the Elderton portfolio.
At vintage time, Richard is relentless, working around the clock to guarantee the best outcomes possible.
In his 14 years with the company, he has elevated Elderton Wines to a new level, winning mulitple trophies and countless sky high scores from all the luminaries of the wine world, including Halliday, Parker and Wine Spectator, while protecting the ihstory and traditions of the business which was set up in 1982.
He has been an integral part of the barossa Wine Show committee for the past three years and he has generously donated his time to be the chief steward for the past two years.
A supporter of the Riesling Spring tasting, he is involved in a number of other Barossa committees.
Richard is a devoted family man, and he is an avid hunter and fisherman with an enduring passion for wine and food.
Vigneron of the Year: Daniel Falkenberg
Dan Flakenberg is a proponent of sustainable viticulture and he has worked tirelessly to implement strategies to reinvigorate the vineyards under his care.
His land management practices include:
- the adoption of native grasses between rows to improve soil water in-flows and vineyard biodiversity
- he makes his own compost on-site, blending specifically to the soil type on the property
- a straw mulching program to conserve moisture
- uses geospatial imagery to improve irrigation strategies
- the introduction of small pockets of native vegetation to improve habitat and increase beneficial insects.
Dan has presented at many technical conferences and he has had articles on sustainable viticulture published in Grapegrower and Winemaker magazine
He is a major contributor to the Creating Resilient Landscapes project and has taken part in many Barossa Grape and Wine Association forums
He is chairperson of the Barossa Viticultural Technical Group and is involved in a variety of ongoing research and development projects with the University of Adelaide and BGWA.
BGWA Services to Industry Award: James Rosenzweig
For dedication, leadership and sustained period of service to the Barossa grape and wine industry.
Barons Walk of Fame plaque: Brian Hurn
Recognising dedication and contribution of a baron who has passed away.