LIFE ON IONA

Summer 2016

I was taught that it is extremely tedious having to listen to people talk about their dogs or their children. We often refer to our wines as our children, so when Andrew asks me to write an informative newsletter about our wines I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place – listen to Andrew / Iona or risk being frowned upon by the "family". So I think I'll just stick to the usual format which is just to write whatever I want.

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Autumn 2016

I like to have lunch with my friend and old Professor from my University days twice a month. I asked him to propose a toast as we raised our glasses – “A Return to Order” was his response. Someone once told me that in order to be a Professor you have to have something to profess. As it turns out this One is still going strong. Calming and auspicious words after what has been a rather rude start to the year here at Iona.

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News Summer/Autumn 2015

A summons from the Boss (or rather from the formidable women in our office – which is much more scary) to fill you in on our past season. Having rather deftly avoided the "Spring" letter, I'm in no danger of inundating the unwitting public with Newsletters. I give you my word they will continue to be erratic and infrequent.

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Life on Iona - Autumn/Winter Edition

The onset of a cold and wet autumn marked a swift and definitive end to one of the longest seasons I can remember.  It was unusually wet with the highest Winter/Spring rainfall in nearly a decade.   This meant excellent growth but required an enormous amount of labour in the vineyard. 

Suckering had to be followed up twice to facilitate wind movement through the canopy which prevents rot.  Leaf breaking was laborious and took forever.  Exposing the bunches to sunlight is a practise long used at Iona as a means of getting rid of some of the overtly green flavours in the finished wines, especially on the Sauvignons where we prefer a floral profile rather than the caricatured New Zealand style.  This painstaking detail is deemed essential by us to ensure the quality of fruit we want to make wine from.  Topping of the vines was necessary in most of the blocks barring the Red Varietals which all seem to think they are growing in the Sahara and for whom the extra water this year was actually a boon.   This was a year where slopes with good drainage and lots of stone, showed their pedigree, and anyone who tells you they got away scot free with rot is talking rubbish.  The possibility of rot loomed like a black cloud over my head, especially as the middle of March rolled on and Iona had yet to harvest a single grape.  As it turned out if you’d survived December and early January you were home and dry.  But it still required that we harvest with some discretion in the vineyard and do some fine tuning on the sorting table.   Werner (our winemaker) had previously made his intentions clear that he wished to spend more time in the vineyards with the teams, and without his support in the vineyards this year I doubt we would have coped half as well.  At the end of season party when he thanked the teams, both farm and contract workers, he mentioned most by name which was perhaps the real give away as to how involved and how much time he really spent in the vineyards this year. The additional effort required in the vineyards this season, was however, well rewarded.  Yields were encouragingly generous – as a rule we have learnt to accept that in this cooler climate our fertility rate is not as reliable as the warmer areas – so an extra ton per hectare is always a bonus, especially when you have a healthy vine to support the extra bunches. Come harvest, fruit had hung for an average of two weeks longer than usual, guaranteeing physiological ripeness which is so imperative for balanced wines with ageing potential.