“With the recent tough conditions it’s easy to forget that our 25 years at Water Wheel have been pretty good. We've made some great wines and been rewarded some accolades at major wine shows. We could sit on the winery lawn basking in the warm autumn afternoon sun sipping Shiraz and fondly reflect on a vintage well done. Long term vineyard trials were giving us better wines, and we looked forward to new sites delivering us wines of greater breadth.
Just as things were going to plan, the climate dial appears to have been nudged closer to the "Roast" end of the scale. A drought enveloped South Eastern Australia, seemingly more acute here than anywhere. Young vines at new sites withered, mature vines gasped, and vintage was compressed into a few weeks. Worst of all the autumn sun was not so soft, the lawn died, and sipping Shiraz there became less inviting.
My grandfather said many years ago, of a drought in the 1930's, that "the sheep just got used to living on nothing, and then the buggers started dying". I've lived here all my life, and although I wasn't around then, there's no doubt that the late 2000's were the toughest farming ever.
As good things must come to an end, so must bad things. 2010 was the beginning of the end of these desperate times; farmer's faces seemed to show it was raining hope. Then in 2011, Bridgewater was flooded for the first time in 100 years; there was some good news in that by the way. The vineyards are again thriving, and I'm sure each vintage for the next five years will make a wine a little better. We'll replant the lawn next month and revel in anticipation of a quiet glass of Shiraz in the warm autumn sun next year.”
Peter Cumming Aug 2012.