Vintage Report 2017
Grace Vineyard Vintage Report 2017
2017 was a year of mixed feelings for us. It was a happy year as we have celebrated our 20th anniversary, at the same time we were happy that we have “survived” another decade in the wine industry. On the contrary, 2017 was an anxious year as it was the 10th anniversary of the disaster happened in 2007. The experience was so bad that we are still haunted by it now (2007 had a very poor harvest caused by excessive rainfall as a result we could only produce a small proportion of high quality wine).
The start of the vintage 2017 was quite rocky. Several frost alert throughout the month of April and May made everyone nervous and anxious. Frost damage happens when temperature drops below 0 degree Celsuis after a green growth from the dormant bud and it can greatly damage or even wipe out the entire harvest (we faced this problem back in year 2006 & 2013, where we lost approximately 70% & 50% of the entire harvest respectively). We were lucky this year as it was just a false alarm on the frost alert.
Above average rainfall and stormy days in June (actually it was the highest that we heve ever seen over the past 7 years). This was during berries enlarging stage and we forecasted the berries could have been larger than average. This concerned us with several varieties which are naturally compacted in cluster shape, such as chardonnay & Shiraz.
Unusual hail storm damage during this time of the year too, it affected our main block of Cabernet Franc vineyard. We lost approximate 70% of the crop from this incident.
Steady warmth with occasional rains in the months of July onwards giving strong shoot growth, on the other hand slowed down the berries set & veraison process.
Again, the very dry condition in our own vineyard in Ganchengzi resulted in a fairly high sugar level and also a diseases-free vineyard.
We managed to get in touch with several growers which we have been working with since 2008 and managed to secure some good quality fruits.
We have spent months of work discovering this new region (again) with more vineyards in place. Interesting micro climate through out the region – some are abit warmer than the others while some have different soil structure and profile.
Later in the season toward harvest:
For our own vineyards, we began the grading / selection system months before harvest based on vine vigourousity and sampling (tasting the juice and berries within the vineyards) to decide the harvest sequence. Planning has always been important in winemaking and viticulturing but weather conditions (the natural) which is unplannable plays an important role.
Coming to October, Unusual rain & snow forecast in Shanxi & Ningxia forcing us to harvest a portion of the sub mature fruits as a form of insurance because our experience tell us with rains or moisture prior to harvest could cause devastating damage. We still kept a large proportion in the vineyard by hoping they would have become more mature. The later harvest fruits showing great depths, color and length in flavor proved the risk taken was worthwhile.
The Winery work have been planned and the workflow have been quite good, thanks to the well-experienced winery crew in both Ningxia & Shanxi.
Again, this year has showed good potential on our new vineyards & new varieties.
The quality of 2017 ?
We had quite small with Chardonnay harvest this year due to rains and the selection was very vigorous and generous. The resulting wine have been quite refreshing with good varietal expression.
The reds from Shanxi are generally medium in structure with decent amount of fruits weight and intensity. The Ningxia reds shows high fruits concentration with firm structure and relatively higher in alcohol compared to Shanxi.
For us in the winery, we learn from the harvest every year, and every year is a new learning year. This is what keeps our curiosity and interests in winemaking going without stopping.
Life's too short to drink bad wine! Cheers!