Vintage Report 2020



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Grace Vineyard Vintage Report 2020


Winemaking is a complex process involved hundreds, even thousands of decision making right from the vineyard. Once the grape cluster are off vines, the style of wine are pretty much “fixed”, there are only very limited amount of human influence in the finished wine.

To begin with, to select or not to select is always an option for winemakers, it all comes down to the designated wine style, objective of sorting and most importantly, the price point of the wine in the market. Interestingly, most of the renowned wineries in the world have difference practices & ideas about selection of grapes, either by the more traditional approach by hand select --- by cluster or berries; or by modern machinery – optical and densimetric sorting.

Some would prefer to put everything through optical sorting but some claim that optical system created too much wastage and resulting in a wine style that are “too clean”. Some even prefer whole cluster with high M.O.G (Material Other than Grapes, mainly stalks in this case) in the ferment, which claim to add complexity in the wine. In short, either selection method always come down to the designated wine style one is aiming for.

For us at Grace Vineyard, we very much prefer the selection process begin in the vineyard prior to harvest, before we decide the processing method at the cellar. Also, it is always good to have the luxury to conduct berry sorting but it is not necessary to put everything through a very detail berries selection process as we believe a small proportion of stalks in the ferment will add freshness in the finished wine.

Back to this report: 2020 is another interesting year for our vines, we have learned so much and understand more about them from this harvest.



For our vines, it was severely hit by frost in April (after the recent incident in 2006, 2011, 2013 & 2015, this was the fifth spring frost since the beginning), the nature is not forgiving after all on what we have done to her as a homo sapiens.

This affected our early ripening varieties and it was hit by frost twice this year. First on the 10th of April & then on the 20th of April where the night-time temperature dropped down to below 0 degree and with snow.

High moisture year for Chardonnay, a pre-harvest rain of 200mm, about 50% of the yearly average, poured down in early August created loads of pressure on Chardonnay. The harvest window opened for us for a few days and everything was picked on time before the next downpour.

Merlot were off vines next in mid September at very small amount. The weather pattern this year in Shanxi was not calm at all. Continuous rainy days which eventually measured with rainfall amount surpassed the year of 2007, which was the highest record before… But with improved vineyard management, the vines seemed to survive very well. Well, we did have to pick in some weaker sections which badly affected by the weather but the fruits seemed to holding up pretty well.

All credits goes to the effort of our vineyard team.

The harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon began on 21st September and stretched through until 9 October depending on the vineyard blocks. The last to come in was our all-time favorite Marselan, it did not seem to be affected much by the weather this year. Maybe it is the real deal for China Vineyard? Too early to tell, just yet.



On our own managed vineyard, the natural slope helped with frost resistant, some other portion of the lower blocks (not our vineyard) were badly affected by frost this year, some vineyard lost close to 90% of the crops.

We replanted some Pinot Noir & white varieties back in 2017 because of the suitability in the particular site with Cabernet Franc & Shiraz. Young vines tended to mature early due to shallow root system and warmer root temperature, it was the first to off vine (harvested) on 26 September.

Merlot vines were a bit vigorous with bigger berries this year. We expected the Merlot would be a bit late, at least late by 2 weeks by the look of the vigorousity of the vines. It turned out the harvest began with the weaker block from September 28, spread over until mid October.

Cabernet Sauvignon vines were in balance with good cropping level at around 400Kg per MU, it was harvested slightly earlier than the last batch of Merlot.

Cabernet Franc & Shiraz looked promising this year, after years of trials in this vineyard (since 2011) both grown into the direction that we wanted.



The yield was down a little for Shanxi due to the natural of the harvest. The wine will be slightly gentle in style, we think it may be very similar to 2009 & 2012 at the moment, where the tannin are finer, balance alcohol & savory in texture.

For Ningxia, since the vines are approaching 10 years old, the wine from the older vines shows plenty of freshness while the younger ones are yet to catch up. We think wine from both region will compensate each other nicely, especially for our cross-regional blended wines, such as Deep Blue & Tasya’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.



First and ever blending session in Hong Kong, because some of our key technical members are stationed (or being held up) in Hong Kong over this pandemic while the wines are ready to be racked out from barrel for blending. The flagships wine of 2018 were finalized & completed in July in Hong Kong, over a nice lunch of course.

The vintage 2018 was not an easy one, the sand storm incident that affected our Ningxia Vineyard was shown through in the blend. The yield were low and showed plenty of weight and punch, offering good foundation for our cross regional blended wine. The Shanxi wine are always medium in texture, yet packed with emerging aromatic freshness. The 2018 wine did shine through during this “pandemic blending session” in Hong Kong.



What did we miss in the cellar? Some colleagues stayed behind in their originate province for extended months, some spent time on quarantine & we have friends in Hubei who spent the entire months being lockdown over the most important season of the year --- CNY.

The cellar work was back to normal by May during this pandemic year, everything were in place and most of our colleagues were so eager to resume work and back to normal life cycle, and we did.

We hope everyone stay safe and stay alert, raise a glass for a brighter future.

Life’s too short to drink bad wine.



Team Grace Vineyard.

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