Coonawarra celebrates season opening with V24 launch ceremony

The 2024 Coonawarra Vintage was declared open in smashing fashion at the iconic Coonawarra Siding on Wednesday 6th March, as the Coonawarra community gathered to herald in the new season.

L-R Jacinta Jenkins, Dan Redman, Ben Gower, Wendy Hollick & Lynn Hamerlinck

The Vintage Launch Ceremony 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 and supported by Neil McLean

Neil McLean & Doug Balnaves joined to pipe in the ceremony on the traditional Scottish bagpipes, honouring the heritage of John Riddoch

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.

On what was a glorious Autumn morning, attendees were treated to a stomping and smashing spectacular. Taking centre stage at the launch with the support of Coonawarra Vignerons Patron Wendy Hollick was Wattle Range Council CEO Ben Gower, Balnaves of Coonawarra Winemaker Jacinta Jenkins, and Belgian visitor Lynn Hamerlinck,  who kicked off their shoes to take park in a traditional grape stomp on the Coonawarra Siding Platform.

Undertaking the ‘stomping the grapes – Wattle Range Council CEO Ben Gower, Balnaves of Coonawarra Winemaker Jacinta Jenkins, and Belgian visitor Lynn Hamerlinck.

Patron’s Greg Clayfield and Doug Bowen marked the occasion by smashing a bottle of Coonawarra Wine (the previous year’s vintage) to symbolise the conclusion of the 2023 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” Koch said.

“It is only appropriate that we adapt that tradition by creating one of our own, to symbolise the christening of the 2024 vintage (V24) 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” added Koch.

The ceremony provided the perfect opportunity to give an overview of the V24 with conditions resembling that of a traditional vintage, according to collective comments from viticulturists in the region.

“Across the country, wine regions have been met with a somewhat earlier than usual vintage.

Our region experienced a cooler spring, with favourable warm conditions throughout the flowering period.”

“A humid and windy northern weather system dominated in late December and early January which provided additional work in the vineyard to combat disease outbreaks. Mild conditions accompanied little rain in mid – January and February has been punctuated with bursts of heat which has been most favourable for both white and red varieties.

Much of the region’s whites have been harvested with wineries across the region springing in to action this past fortnight to harvest Coonawarra Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and also Pinot Noir – destined for sparkling whites.

Yield is expected to be moderate but pending the next few weeks, quality for red grapes is looking to be excellent. Current conditions will allow Cabernet to be picked late March.”  Koch said.

The Vintage Launch Ceremony was followed by a ‘sparkling’  morning tea with community members raising a glass to V24 and pass on well their wishes for the season.

Mal Redman (Redman Wines), Brian Tonkin (DiGiorgio Family Wines) & Jo Brand (Brand & Sons) joined in raising a glass to the new vintage.

L-R Steven Raidis, Jacinta Jenkins, Emma Raidis & Sally McDonald

Andy Clifford, owner and caretaker of Yallum Park – John Riddoch’s original Homestead, congratulated the organisers on the event.“The Coonawarra Vignerons have done a wonderful job to initiate this celebration. The morning was sensational. The atmosphere, combined with the bagpipes was just priceless! The energy and inspiration the vignerons are bringing to the region is commendable” Mr Clifford remarked.

“I wish all the growers, producers and winemakers well for this season”.


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