weekender, food-and-drink,

Whoever said, “blue and green should never be seen” has never seen Wine Country in all its stunning verdant-cerulean glory, right at the start of summer. If they had, they would know – instantly – how utterly misguided and foolish this statement is. All it takes is one glance across the lush vine rows at Lovedale – west towards Rosehill rising in the foreground, and the Brokenback lining the horizon beyond – while the brilliant blue sky shines with billowing, fluffy white and silver-lined clouds. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. Vintage 2021, coming in hot. Or, will it be cooler than usual? With the recent switch from El Nino to La Nina – a meteorological event in which strong winds blow east to west, dragging cooler water up from the depths of the ocean in central and eastern equatorial Pacific, often causing cooler and wetter conditions to form across much of Australia – the end of the localised drought is nigh. Already, above average rainfall has fallen across Hunter Valley Wine Country: 900mm to date, compared to 760mm. “After four years of drought, so far, we’ve received above average rainfall. Most vineyards are looking bright and healthy with strong canopies and good crop levels,” says winegrower Andrew Thomas of Andrew Thomas Wines. “Generally speaking, the recent rain has been glorious, providing us with some of the best soil moisture levels we’ve seen, literally in years,” says Vitibit viticultural consultant Liz Riley. “It has been amazing seeing the resilience of vines across the region, after three to four years of tough seasons, back to back.” La Nina generally points to ongoing wet and humid weather, but rain is certainly no stranger to the Hunter Valley at vintage time. Often, it’s accompanied by the odd shot of hail too – something Andrew Thomas experienced in November. “Braemore was hit by a hailstorm on the 5th of November. Luckily, it was early enough that much of the damaged fruit has dried up and dropped off. We’ll still see a reduction in the crop by about 40 to 50 per cent,” Thomas says. Machinations of Mother Nature aside, #V21 is looking good for a number of reasons, not least of all the emergence of some new alternate wine grape varietals, like pecorino, fiano and albarino (and some secret lagrein too). “The Upper Hunter is looking fabulous, especially the chardonnay, and Broke is coming along nicely, which is great to see after such a difficult vintage last season,” Riley says. “Personally, it’s been great to see a number of vineyard managers really concentrating on boosting the resilience of their vineyards, by enhancing soil biology, increasing cover cropping, and creating a habitat for beneficial bugs. It’s great to see that vision for longer term viticulture playing out across the Hunter.” Pray for benign skies from here on out.

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Whoever said, “blue and green should never be seen” has never seen Wine Country in all its stunning verdant-cerulean glory, right at the start of summer. If they had, they would know – instantly – how utterly misguided and foolish this statement is. All it takes is one glance across the lush vine rows at Lovedale – west towards Rosehill rising in the foreground, and the Brokenback lining the horizon beyond – while the brilliant blue sky shines with billowing, fluffy white and silver-lined clouds.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Vintage 2021, coming in hot. Or, will it be cooler than usual? With the recent switch from El Nino to La Nina – a meteorological event in which strong winds blow east to west, dragging cooler water up from the depths of the ocean in central and eastern equatorial Pacific, often causing cooler and wetter conditions to form across much of Australia – the end of the localised drought is nigh.

Already, above average rainfall has fallen across Hunter Valley Wine Country: 900mm to date, compared to 760mm.

“After four years of drought, so far, we’ve received above average rainfall. Most vineyards are looking bright and healthy with strong canopies and good crop levels,” says winegrower Andrew Thomas of Andrew Thomas Wines.

“Generally speaking, the recent rain has been glorious, providing us with some of the best soil moisture levels we’ve seen, literally in years,” says Vitibit viticultural consultant Liz Riley. “It has been amazing seeing the resilience of vines across the region, after three to four years of tough seasons, back to back.”

La Nina generally points to ongoing wet and humid weather, but rain is certainly no stranger to the Hunter Valley at vintage time. Often, it’s accompanied by the odd shot of hail too – something Andrew Thomas experienced in November.

“Braemore was hit by a hailstorm on the 5th of November. Luckily, it was early enough that much of the damaged fruit has dried up and dropped off. We’ll still see a reduction in the crop by about 40 to 50 per cent,” Thomas says.

Machinations of Mother Nature aside, #V21 is looking good for a number of reasons, not least of all the emergence of some new alternate wine grape varietals, like pecorino, fiano and albarino (and some secret lagrein too).

“The Upper Hunter is looking fabulous, especially the chardonnay, and Broke is coming along nicely, which is great to see after such a difficult vintage last season,” Riley says. “Personally, it’s been great to see a number of vineyard managers really concentrating on boosting the resilience of their vineyards, by enhancing soil biology, increasing cover cropping, and creating a habitat for beneficial bugs. It’s great to see that vision for longer term viticulture playing out across the Hunter.”

Pray for benign skies from here on out.