by Brash Higgins
The storm clouds they gathered and as a grape grower, it was white knuckle time again for Brash Higgins Wine Co. So much of the harvest is out of the grower’s control; the weather, disease, insects and birds clearly have a mind of their own. On the heels of a healthy, dry 2010 harvest, disease pressure was the particular flavour of the vintage this time around, particularly in the form of downy mildew and then, later, botrytis (not the nice kind like in Sauternes). In some parts of South Australia, like the Riverland, Barossa, Adelaide Hills and the Vale, we’ve had a cool, and unusually wet vintage. Fortunately, our Omensetter Vineyard in McLaren Vale is a great site; the benefactor of reliable ocean breezes and a sun loving eastern sloping aspect which helps keep things dry and clean in the vineyard, whereas lower lying and inland vineyards can sometimes suffer when humidity is heavy. The Shiraz and Cabernet fruit we grow was dark and healthy this year, looking like glistening caviar in the bins, sugar levels were where they needed to be, and most importantly, they both tasted varietal and delicious. Always a great relief to see the fruit off the vines looking and tasting so good. As we assess the 2011 vintage now that it’s over, those that were on their spray programs early and had good ventilation did well. For Cabernet, it was in particular a stunning year district wide.