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Kim Horton
8 April 2020 | Kim Horton

Vintage Report 2020

A season like no other, 2020 will be remembered for many reasons. A season in which we have had our hottest December days ever, our warmest nights since 2012 and our driest December since 2008. In fact, the total Summer rainfall was barely 13mm. However despite these conditions being thought of as less than ideal, we could not be happier with the overall quality of the wines from the vintage, when all this occurred in tandem with the absence of our two nemeses, bushfires and birds! We did though experience a low yielding crop.

One aspect we did expect in light of the conditions, was an early harvest, kicking off in January. Chardonnay was loaded with an abundance of hen and chicken and the realisation of lower yields, meaning earlier ripening. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon soon followed and it was obvious at this point that whites were looking great. With stocks of our current Rosé running very low, the new vintage will get the fast train to bottling in May, look out for it as we think the wine is showing great aroma and texture.

With the last of the reds (Grenache) harvested on the 7th April, the quality has been pleasing with wines showing purity of fruit, bright and fresh flavours and deep, dark colours. There is a feeling amongst the team that the wines show great promise which we hope will be realised as we mature them in oak over the next 12 to 18 months.

The winemaking team are really pleased with the resultant wines, however with lots of bigger issues at play in the industry and country at the moment, we hope all of our members and partners in the retail industry stays well and safe.

Kim Horton

Time Posted: 08/04/2020 at 11:31 AM Permalink to Vintage Report 2020 Permalink
Kim Horton
21 May 2019 | Kim Horton

2019 Vintage Report

From the Winemaker...

Climatically, the season for the Geographe wine region has been cool and dry. The five months until the end of January have yielded little rain, about 70mm less than this time last year.
The cooler weather has also disrupted flowering and fruit set resulting in much smaller bunch sizes and high incidence of hen and chicken. The cooler conditions have continued into January, and January 2019 average temperature of 21.3 is two degrees Celsius lower than the 23.3 of 2016.

Up until the first week of April and Vintage 2019 was a case of so far so good however with plenty of red fruit still to be harvested and nearing towards the end of a cool season, a real assessment of vintage would unfold over the next month. The expectation for more sunshine was not realised and, whilst it was still dry, the fruit, mostly late season Cabernet Sauvignon, was left to hang and gain as much ripeness as possible before the season closed.

In recent memory, we have never had the same issues with birds as we did this year. Plenty of them! Native vegetation only crept into a late and small flowering season, certainly not the bountiful flowering we expect. Also, extremely low yields, specifically in Chardonnay and Shiraz. A product of cool flowering conditions.

The highlight was cool ripening conditions, which allowed winemakers to harvest white fruit at optimum. Aromatic, concentrated and exhibiting succulent acidities. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc the standouts.

A burst of late sunshine was just the tonic for Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lower red yields in general could well have been a blessing, allowing balanced vine loads to achieve ripeness. Later season reds lacked a little colour and intensity as the temperatures dropped and the season closed.

Senior Winemaker

Time Posted: 21/05/2019 at 5:28 PM Permalink to 2019 Vintage Report Permalink
Kim Horton
1 February 2019 | Kim Horton

From the Winemakers, vintage 2019

From the Winemakers...

Kim Horton & Dougal Herd

Another year flies by and vintage is almost upon us again with Vintage 2019 shaping to be one of the more interesting years.
Climatically, in a nutshell, the season has been cool and dry. The five months until this point at the end of January have yielded little rain, about 70mm less than this time last year.
The cooler weather has also disrupted flowering and fruit set resulting in much smaller bunch sizes and high incidence of hen and chicken. The cooler conditions have continued into January, and January 2019 average temperature of 21.3 is two degrees Celsius lower than the 23.3 of 2016.
So what does this mean? With still much of the season to unfold, anything is still possible, however we are bracing ourselves for small crops of intensely flavoured fruit, especially in whites, and keeping our fingers crossed for an Indian Summer to ensure good ripeness of flavour and tannin in the reds. It also must be noted the distinct lack of Eucalypt blossom this season will create bird pressure and fruit netting will form the basic defence against crows and silvereyes.

Time Posted: 01/02/2019 at 12:12 PM Permalink to From the Winemakers, vintage 2019 Permalink
Kim Horton
11 September 2017 | Kim Horton

Vineyard Clone Update

Making great wines means evolving, and over the last six years, Willow Bridge has undertaken some exciting new changes to the vineyard varietal mix. Much of it based on the successful introduction of Tempranillo to the property.

In 2011, Willow Bridge began a sustained program of evaluating the current clones on the estate, and where appropriate introduce the newer material available in Australia, with the outlook of making further gains in quality and complexity.

In that first season, Willow Bridge removed Cabernet Sauvignon, clone SA126, and replaced with a clone with a superior Western Australian track record. Known as the Houghton clones, Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the 1930s, a selection of 21 vines in the 1950s became monitored vines, and eventually ‘mother’ vines to the industry. Of those, twenty clone isolates were planted in Frankland River in 1973, of which a further selection was made in 2008, to isolate four WA clones, clone 5, 9, 19 and 20, with 5 and 9 considered superior for quality. Our original 1625 rootlings went to ground in late 2011.

2012, saw the planting of two Dijon clones. Clone 76 originates from Saône-et-Loire, this clone is a regular clone in terms of production as well as quality. Clone 95 originates from Côte-dOr and usually has a good level of production and excellent quality. Control of yields gives particularly high quality wines, and we harvested the first of this fruit in 2014, it now has become a regular in our G1-10 with the Mendoza or Gingin clone complementing the Burgundian clones.

In 2015, encouraged by the resulting wine from Clone 95, we extended this planting by a further two hectares.

In the same year, Willow Bridge also planted Mouvedre, Malbec and Grenache. We know that vines are only as good as the soil they are planted, thus we removed some of our prized Shiraz to ensure the deep gravel loam soils were available for our new plantings. An act bordering on crazy, however time and time again we have seen vignerons introducing new and exciting varieties but planting on poor land. Land that was unfit for planting in the first place! We want to give our vines every chance at a sustainable future.

In 2016, we furthered our program by removing some of the much maligned USA derived UC Davis Merlot clone, D3V14, and replacing it with clone 181 from Bordeaux. Merlot in Bordeaux is almost exclusively from three clones (70%), thus we are excited to see the first fruit come through the system in 2018.

Furthermore, we extended our Cabernet Sauvignon project by a further 1.32 hectares, now totalling 3.35 hectares planted to the 

Houghton clone.


Kim Horton
8 June 2017 | Kim Horton

Vintage 2017 Report

The 2017 Season....

The 2017 season broke the mould a little, a vintage so different to all those of recent years. Spring 2016 was abundant with rain, and teamed with near perfect flowering conditions, the white varieties yielded higher than average crops in 2017. Unusually however, much cooler summer conditions meant the wines maintained a pure line of acidity, giving elegant white wine styles, and a much later start date to harvest.

The cooler conditions coupled with 100mm of rain in February and March caused much anxiety as to whether the red varieties would sufficiently ripen, however a long ”Indian summer” and only 3mm of rain since has given an exciting crop of reds…..intense, powerful and succulence are synonyms used with all red varieties from the vintage, and has the traits to be one of the best. Kim Horton, Senior Winemaker


Time Posted: 08/06/2017 at 12:00 PM Permalink to Vintage 2017 Report Permalink
Kim Horton
10 January 2017 | Kim Horton

Talking Chardonnay with Kim Horton

When discussing wines, inevitably the name Chardonnay crops up, Chardonnay is back in vogue, and then almost as reliable is the chatter about evolving styles. There is a long held view that Chardonnay of the past was a style that was rich, creamy, ripe and oaky. The style had served Australia well, and still does in the US and UK markets especially. Australia’s total Chardonnay volume export is over 40 million litres, however as we know, a lot is from the inland irrigation areas of the Eastern States, and the mainstream style was easy to replicate, well liked and relatively inexpensive to make. Furthermore, the average export price per bottle of Chardonnay is the lowest of all the mainstream varieties, Sauvignon Blanc included.

Read More about our G1-10 Chardonnay

Time Posted: 10/01/2017 at 12:20 PM Permalink to Talking Chardonnay with Kim Horton Permalink