The 2023 Coonawarra Vintage was declared open in smashing fashion on Thursday 16th March, with a crowd of over 60 people gathering at the iconic Coonawarra Siding to herald in the new season.
The Vintage Launch Ceremony was the first of its kind for the region in many years, and saw Coonawarra and district community members, wine industry stakeholders and dignitaries come together to acknowledge and celebrate this significant time in the region.
A Welcome to Country acknowledgement was followed by the echo of bagpipes, a nod to Coonawarra’s founding father John Riddoch (a Scotsman), performed by Coonawarra Vignerons Patron Doug Balnaves.
Coonawarra Vignerons’ Executive Officer Hugh Koch lead the ceremony and emphasised the importance of Vintage, not only to the Coonawarra community but for the national economy.
“Vintage in Coonawarra is more than when a wine’s grapes are harvested. It heralds the anniversary of a new year in Coonawarra, where we reflect and say goodbye to the previous season”
“As a community it is the commencement of the economic driver that sustains our economy, creates our jobs, gives us our services, drives our visitation, and continues to put us on the map as one of the most pre-eminent wine regions of the world” Koch said.
“A new vintage also allows us to reflect on our past years, the people that have laboured and led the development of Coonawarra” added Koch.
Attendees were treated to a stomping and smashing spectacular, with political representatives and Coonawarra Vignerons Patrons joining to partake in a traditional grape stomp and bottle smash.
Taking centre stage at the launch with the support of Coonawarra Vignerons Patron Doug Bowen was (L-R) Member for MacKillop – Nick McBride, Wattle Range Council Mayor – Des Noll and Coonawarra Vignerons Patron – Wendy Hollick, who kicked off their shoes to take park in some stomping action.
Patron’s Greg Clayfield and Bruce Redman marked the occasion by smashing a bottle of Coonawarra Wine (the previous year’s vintage) to symbolise the conclusion of the 2022 season, and to christen the new vintage.
“Traditionally a wine bottle is broken over a ship’s hull before its maiden voyage and to wish it good luck for a successful journey”
“It is only appropriate that we adapt that tradition by creating one of our own, to symbolise the christening of the 2023 vintage (V23) and to wish our producers well, in that the conditions and circumstances be the very best to allow Coonawarra “smooth sailing” in harvesting and crafting the most premium wines possible” Koch said.
The ceremony provided the perfect opportunity to give an overview of the V23 with conditions resembling that of a traditional vintage, according to collective comments from viticulturists in the region.
“Across the country, wine regions are seeing a delayed start to harvesting and Coonawarra is no different. The region experienced a cooler spring, with favourable warm conditions throughout the flowering period. The heat arrived in mid-December, but mild conditions accompanied little rain in January and February, and has been followed by long cooler days in Autumn, which has been most favourable for Cabernet grapes”
“Yield is expected to be moderate but pending the next few weeks, quality for red grapes is looking to be excellent. Many are describing it as an old fashioned vintage where conditions will allow Cabernet will be picked in April” Koch said.
The Vintage Launch Ceremony was followed by a morning tea and at the Coonawarra Soldiers Memorial Hall, allowing community members to collectively raise a glass to V23 and pass on well their wishes for the season.
Emma Castine, Wattle Range councillor, congratulated the organisers on the event.
“The Coonawarra Vignerons have done a wonderful job to initiate this celebration. The morning was sensational. The misty fog, combined with the bagpipes by Doug Balnaves was just priceless! The energy and inspiration the vignerons are bringing to the region is commendable” Ms Castine remarked.
“I wish all the growers, producers and winemakers well for this season”.