In September 2021, the BOM (Bureau Of Meteorology) declared that the upcoming Summer season of 2022 would again be under the influence of a ‘La Nina’ weather pattern. This forecast ultimately meant a similar season to the 2021 Harvest and what is considered by most to be a ‘normal’ Hunter Vintage, with above average Summer rainfall. The good Spring rain, on top of a wetter 2021 Harvest, meant that at ‘budburst’ the ground water capacity was much higher than in previous drought affected years, with the early crop estimates expected to be above average, and over all grape varieties this was indeed the case.
As Summer began, the effects of ‘La Nina’ were being realised with consistently heavy downpours. The inability to gain access to the vineyards, due to the wet conditions, made it difficult for Greg Drayton and his vineyard team to prevent some grapes from being impacted, and it appeared that a difficult Hunter Harvest would again ensue for 2022.
As with the previous 2021 vintage, grapes were not being harvested until late January due to the Summer of 2022 temperatures being much lower than average (not one 40 degree day) and ripening was extremely slow. Most were hand-picked (around a fortnight later than usual) due to the cooler, wet conditions not being conducive to machine harvesting.
This became a positive outcome for grape/wine quality, as only the best bunches were selected.
It was a Vintage which again required steely nerve not to rush in and harvest some vineyard blocks early, but was also rewarding for those, who were prepared to take any windows of opportunity when they arose.
The patience of John Drayton in consultation with Greg and myself to ‘chance our hand’ and harvest each block based on access, ripeness and taste, led to what I believe was an extremely successful Hunter Vintage, surrounded by numerous challenges, such as the availability of casual labour (ie: grape pickers).
Semillon was a standout variety, as is expected with these kinds of rain affected Vintages, and its ability to continually perform in the Hunter Valley is unrivalled when compared with other regions throughout the world.
I’m sure you will see and taste the rewards in Drayton's 2022 range, with the slower ripening resulting in wines, which will ultimately have a great deal of finesse, and as a consequence will be more elegant in nature.