Ernest Hill Wines Vintage 2020 Update

Ernest Hill Wines has excelled in over 20 years of wine-making, but no one has expected the Vintage 2020 to be such a challenge. The year 2020 will never be forgotten!

The Australian bushfires dominated the season, but what made this year so unusual was that they started in October 2019, rather than later in January 2020. The Wilson family saw smoke across the Hunter region for a long time during the ripening period. The ferocity and scale of the fires were unprecedented, more dangerous, and lasting longer than the previous years. The higher level of smoke had put many vineyards in danger. However, massive praise had to go to the Australian firefighters who are often volunteers, and who did an unbelievable job to keep fires away from vineyards. Absolute legends!

The weather in October was scorching. Then, things began to heat up in December! The lack of any substantial rainfall was a bonus in terms of low disease and fungus risk, but the 40+ Celsius degree days affected both the vines and the owners. The Wilsons pumped more water on the vineyards this year than any previous year! Testing the ripeness of the grapes commenced on 6th January. Surprisingly they were ready for picking, two weeks earlier than usual!

So, harvest commenced on 7th January with Chardonnay picked for Blanc de Blancs, Semillon, Verdelho, and Gewurztraminer followed in the next three days. And that was it; all the whites picked in less than a week. Tonnages were significantly down by 15% to 60% across the varieties. The reds were lagging behind the whites: Shiraz for Cracklin Rose was picked on 31st January. Grape quality was excellent, with no disease, and we expect these wines will be up to our usual high standard. We had some tests done on the whites, and we could happily report that there were no issues with smoke taint, which was a huge relief.

No reprieve from the heat as January also turned out to be a scorcher. The lack of rain had become a problem, even though the Wilsons were watering three times a week. The red vines were starting to lose their leaves, and the grapes were showing signs of withering. THEN IT CAME THE RAINS!! 300MM OUT OF NOWHERE. Ross & Jason managed to pick a small parcel of Tempranillo just before the deluge, but alas, no other reds were picked. A very tough 2020 vintage indeed, so stock up on the 2017-2019 reds as we have none coming from 2020.

Then, on top of all the other problems, the Coronavirus comes with its own challenges!

However, we do look forward to roll out the wines the Wilsons will produce from the 2020 vintage, and we would like to wish our customers all the best, stay safe & cheerful even at times of challenge!

Photo: EHW Red Wines Listed on Wine4Two

Left to Right: 2018 The "Dam" Merlot;  2017 CEO Cabernet Sauvignon; 2017 William Henry Shiraz; 2014 CEO Shiraz; 2016 Shareholder Shiraz, 2018 "Cracklin" Rosé.


On behalf of Ernest Hill Wines