Vintage Report 2014
an idyllic season challenged by nature
2014 was nearly a perfect growing season. Warm temperatures throughout set us up for a great season… Until about 10 days prior to harvest when Churton was hit by a devastating hail storm. It was an emotional vintage.
A normal winter and warm spring led to early budburst. This was followed by a good flowering and very even fruit set across all varieties. A nice amount of rain followed in early January which ensured even berries and nicely full bunches. Veraison occurred in February approximately 10 days earlier than normal and the warm and dry weather continued.
The 15 minute hailstorm at 5:30 pm on March 4th will be forever etched on our mind. It was unusual to say the least and an extremely disappointing event when we were on the cusp of harvest. Damage to our fruit was severe. With trembling chins, we redirected our attention to our knowledge of biology and biodynamic farming and brought in extra bee hives. Over the next week the bees set to work and did a fantastic job of cleaning up all the damaged berries. They cleaned out all the sugar from the broken berries and prevented any rot or acetic character developing in the grapes.
The great news is that against all odds harvest did proceed and, with the added benefit of hand picking and hand sorting, everything arrived to the winery in good condition. The one exception was that we were unable to salvage our precious Petit Manseng which we did not even attempt to pick.
We picked fantastic Sauvignon Blanc, beginning with Blade Block on 29th March. Yield was reduced by about 30% to an average of 35hl/ ha; quality was excellent across the board with good balance of aromatics and sound acid structure. For this vintage, we chose to retain our Best End Block for the estate blend.
Our Pinot Noir did not weather the storm as well and we chose not to bottle it in the end. Though we picked fruit and made it into wine, our winemaking approach had to be altered dramatically and the resulting wine was not the desired Churton style. In extreme contrast, our Viognier was untouched by the hail storm. We harvested exemplary fruit; fully mature and displaying well balanced aromatics. Our 2014 Viognier is a hallmark vintage.