It is said “The Key to Success is Intention”.
My intention when launching Valli Vineyards back in 1998 was to share with everyone interested what I was consistently seeing in the winery: the intriguing differences in the wines from Otago’s separate subregions. As we are still here sharing that same story almost 25 years later, I think it’s safe to say we’ve successfully satisfied those intentions.
Along the way there have some unplanned consequences of this path, one of which has been the very sound commercial benefit of having grapes from different growing regions. After all, it is also said “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” If the season gives us poor quality grapes from one subregion, we still have wines from the other regions that did perform well to offer the market so are not forced to bottle something inferior for cash flow reasons. If we aren’t happy with the wine produced, we won’t bottle and sell it as Valli, rather it will be put on the bulk market and appear under someone else’s label. This ensures anything which has VALLI on the label is the best that it can be.
That is an extremely positive consequence. Now for the slightly troublesome one that has from time to time turned us into jugglers, so we don’t look like clowns. What we juggle are the sales of our four core Pinot Noirs (Gibbston, Bannockburn, Bendigo and Waitaki) so the next vintage can be simultaneously released.
I often think of Hollis more as a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat than as a juggler as we had, up until now, been successful at this. However, with 2019 yielding a very light crop in the Waitaki and the Gibbston Pinot Noir 2019 being classified as one of the world’s top 10 wines at the IWSC, those two have sold out well ahead of their stable mates, and their regular release dates.
The 2020 Gibbston and Waitaki Pinot Noirs are already delicious, wanting to show themselves off, and because we don’t like to disappoint, the only acceptable solution for us is staggered release dates. But not for those of you in our Loyalty Club - you will have immediate access to all four 2020s. After all, loyalty should work both ways.
Please excuse my next move - it is a “cut and paste” from a newsletter we sent out after the 2020 vintage but still a very timely reminder of the vintage to have in mind when you try the wines:
A look at the 2020 Growing Season and Grape Harvest
2020 will be one of those more easily remembered vintages, not just because of the nervousness surrounding Covid-19 but also because of the nervousness over summer. The growing season was cooler than average in Otago and by late March we were wondering if our fruit would ever reach desired ripeness levels before the season ended.
Then came April and May. It would be impossible to dream of a better autumn for winemaking: six weeks of warm, dry, frost-free weather. The grapes had all the time needed to fully ripen.
Our last day of harvest was May 9th. My memories of that day are of discarded jackets, sweaters, shirts, even singlets hung on posts at the end of the row by mid-day and the thermometer reading over 20 c. Oh, for harvest conditions like those again…minus the virus of course.
The cool summer, particularly at the start, had the effect all summers like that have: slower cell division giving us smaller berries. Consequently, the total yields for all of Central Otago wineries were 28% lower than the previous year, even including new vineyard plantings coming on stream. Those lower yields also helped make it easier for what we had to ripen.
Expect concentrated and age-worthy Pinot Noirs.
Cut and paste finished .
I so much want to give an update on vintage 2022 which saw the first grapes into the winery late last week, but am a little nervous in doing so, as there is still a long, long way to go. I will say though, from the way our summer has been and what the grapes on the vine are currently looking like, I can’t remember heading into a harvest with as much anticipation and excitement as this current one. If all goes well I might be calling it the vintage of a lifetime, again.
So you enjoy a first look at 2020s, I’ll disappear into Vintage 2022 and we will meet up on the other side of autumn with stories of how it all turned out.