Vintage 2021: Q & A with Chief Winemaker Neville Rowe

Thursday, 22 April 2021

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Q&A: Barossa Vintage 2021 with Chief Winemaker Neville Rowe

1) Overall how has the season gone?

What an awesome finish to the growing season we’ve had. Wonderfully mild temps in Feb, Mar and April provided the vines with some gentle conditions and welcome relief from the dry, dry, dry summer.

The vintage has been terrific, quality is through the roof, and there was more on the vines than we thought. This year we heard the infamous oxymoron that has been missing from growers mouths for a few years “ they’re weighing heavy, mate” !

2) Was the somewhat unpredictable weather a challenge at all?

Imagine if we knew exactly what the season would provide, how different life would be. Weather is always somewhat unpredictable

It’s the lack of summer rain which we’re all worried about. Most Barossans recall thunderstorms that commonly delivered an inch of rain in Jan and Feb, a drink for the parched like no irrigation could replace.

They do not seem to happen anymore.

 3) Did everything go according to your timeline?

Our time line is Mother Natures timeline, so yes, it all went according to that. Original thoughts were for an early vintage! But it turned out to be a little later than ‘average’ (whatever average is)

4)  Are you finding it easier or harder to attract seasonal workers to harvest?

Many wineries attract young, travelling foreign winemakers to make up their vintage teams. These people are very valuable as they have experience, are quick to learn and here to work hard!

Their experience and winemaking knowledge help to make sure wines are treated carefully during the hurly burly of a big vintage. With the lack of back packers in Aus, we scrambled early to fill our team and were fortunate to recruit two wonderful young Italian winemakers who have been going hard on the tools all vintage.

5) What was your best variety at harvest this year?

Quality across all varieties looks exceptional.. interestingly Cabernet Sauvignon loved the mild conditions and is showing great characters of red and blackcurrants  so typical of the variety.

But our ‘best’ harvest was that there was finally some fruit on the vines.. after a couple of pretty tough years,  growers can afford a wee smile.

 6) Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Chateau Tanunda has had a big vintage with the last of the late varieties just finishing now.. (The festival is always a bit early)

The winery team is foot sore, and bone weary after a huge effort and I must say thanks to all those who contribute to growing the crop, getting the fruit picked, delivered, crushed and fermented.

It’s a time of some anxiousness and people’s patience and understanding is called upon. It’s all worth it, the wines will be splendid! Glory to the Barossa!