By Andrew Pike

Based on our records, February 4th is the earliest ever start to vintage in our 30 years in the Clare Valley…and given we are now almost finished…it will almost certainly be the earliest ever finish!

This is not in itself a problem, but the compressed nature of vintage has certainly provided some challenges coordinating the intake and the logistics of moving it through the winery before maturities and fruit condition become an issue.

However with the huge majority of Pikes fruit now in from the Clare Valley, we are able to concentrate on safely tucking away the cooler climate Adelaide Hills (Lenswood) fruit from Pike & Joyce. Again, vintage in the Adelaide Hills is very early and will be finished in record time.

Yields from both the Clare Valley and Lenswood vineyards have been on or slightly above estimate so far, which is probably a reflection on the cooler start to the growing season and the very welcome 75mm of rain we received mid-January. By contrast, the month of February was very warm (hot) and with practically no rainfall, the ripening process has accelerated rapidly across all varieties to the point where there is little varietal separation in the maturity curves.

A challenge for the vineyard and winemaking team for sure…but in our favour this year, we have seen great natural acid retention, sugar levels generally within tolerances, lovely flavours and fantastic fruit condition…so we will see some sensational 2015 wines from both the Pikes and the Pike & Joyce stables.

L- R: Vineyard hand Mark Jones picking the ‘Old Walnut Tree’ Shiraz rows; Tony Poole unloading the Pike & Joyce Pinot Noir grapes; Mandy Parish picking Shiraz grapes; The Merle Riesling grapes about to be crushed.

L- R: Lapo Bartoli from Italy pumping over some 2015 CV Shiraz; Tom Hussey, “Mr. Cricket” from the UK, just finished shovelling out open fermenter to red press; Leon Talamini (Pikes assistant winemaker) tasting 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon before pressing; Queenslander Tom Lyons (aka ‘Jellyfish Tom’), a sommelier in training, raking out a fermenter.