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2019 at Bird in Hand

A challenging 2019 growing season started with May to September’s total rainfall being 33% below average – resulting in low subsoil moisture levels. Low lying areas were affected by several frosty mornings in late September and early October.

Generally mild spring conditions resulted in a later and longer flowering period, which was further interrupted by a severe spring storm in late November. Heavy rain, strong winds and patches of hail caused damage to shoots and bunches, resulting in poor flowering for most varieties across the region.

Cooler than average weather throughout December slowed berry development, suggesting that the 2019 vintage would be later than average.

However, a very hot and dry January and February reversed this trend, and, when combined with low crop loads, grapes transitioned quickly through veraison and began to ripen rapidly.

Careful irrigation management and harvest scheduling ensured that grapes for whites and sparkling were still harvested at the optimal time for flavour and style, with most varieties holding good natural acidity. Yields in most varieties were down, and varied considerably from vineyard to vineyard depending on how the set had been affected by the November storm at flowering. Some vineyards had yields down 30-40% in whites and Pinot, others only 10-20%. Fortunately we were able to source some new vineyards of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc and our overall production of these varieties ended pretty close to requirements.

Quality of all of our whites and our Pinot Noir Sparkling base and Rosé look excellent. The higher natural acidity of the vintage has meant all varieties show a great deal of freshness, and varietal characters are very good despite the hot January/February due to the cool spring and cool and dry autumn.

Cooler and dry conditions from mid-March into April also provided ideal conditions for ripening of red varieties, which combined with the lower crops, resulted in outstanding development of flavour, colour and tannins. Hence for the reds the result is very good quality, but unfortunately volumes are down considerably.

Overall a tricky vintage that in the end we are very pleased with in terms of quality.

Kym Milne MW, winemaker, August 2019