Vintage news and new date! Meg Brodtmann, Helen & Joey Estate, Yarra Valley

The first female Australian-born Master of Wine, Meg Brodtmann will be joining us in The Wine Loop on the new date of Saturday 12th October - tickets at

We caught up with her to find out how this vintage had been for the Helen & Joey Estate Yarra Valley winemaker.

Q. How was Vintage 19 for the Yarra Valley? And how was it for you personally?

Vintage 2019 was a very good vintage in the Yarra Valley, particularly for full-bodied reds. We had a week of very hot temperatures just as the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were ripening which saw some compression and pressure on wineries as fruit was ripening at twice the average rate.

At Helen and Joey, we weren't under too much pressure as we were just getting the last of the Pinot and Chardonnay off as the heat arrived. After the heat, we had a week of no picking as the Cabs, Merlots and Shirazes ripened and this gave us time to focus on the Pinot ferments. Personally it was a manageable vintage.

Q. What was the biggest surprise and the biggest challenge?

The biggest surprise was the rate of ripening - usually it is about 1% potential alcohol per week but with the heat we saw this double to 2% (2 Baume). I have never seen this before in all my years of winemaking!

This also posed the biggest challenge as it was difficult to assess exactly when to pick as picking windows were very short and pickers were hard to find. We are really surprised by the quality of the early ripening varieties as we had expected them to suffer more in the heat.

Q. Any firsts emerging from the vintage 19 Helen and Joey wine line-ups?

2019 Wayward Child full-skins fermented Pinot Gris under flor.
We grew the flor yeast over vintage and got it in to a few barrels to see how it turns out. It was also the first year we did co-fermented alcoholic and malolactic fermentation on reds which has proven to be such a bonus in getting the wines finished that we will definitely do it again.

2019 will also be known as the first year we invested in growing and making an ultra-premium red - we have done many trials to see how it turns out. Watch this space!

If you'd like to join Meg for a Spring Saturday lunch in The Wine Loop, click to book here!!

Karen Foster