Vintage update 2019 from Mel Chester, Sutton Grange in the Bendigo Region

Looking forward to Sutton Grange Winery winemaker Mel Chester joining us for a leisurely Sunday lunch on the 8th September at Park Street Pasta & Wine in South Melbourne. We caught up with her to find out how vintage had been out in the Bendigo Region...

Q. How was Vintage 2019 for the region? And how was it for you personally?!

Vintage is always my favourite time of year! I get to buckle down and do the favourite part of my job and focus on making something tasty from tasty grapes. Vintage is always a busy time as grapes are perishable and are ready when they’re ready - they won’t stop ripening cos you have a family or a wedding or a weekend of Netflix and chill you need to attend!!

It’s all encompassing and only happens once a year. 2019 was especially gnarly - the spring and summer were hot and dry, leading to low crops and low dams. January was very hot - with 3 days of 45 degrees Celsius at Sutton Grange. Although due to our sustainability and minimal irrigation, our vines had a wonderful tolerance.

February was mainly mild weather, until the final week which was a stinking one! This brought vintage on hard and fast. We picked all the whites, sparkling and rosé in one week!!! Luckily the ripening slowed down for the reds to trickle in until early April. Very proud of my team for a challenging and tiring vintage - there weren’t enough hours in the day. We survived by drinking a solid amount of beers!

Q. What was the biggest surprise and the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was the madness of the first week of March! The biggest surprise was the consistency and resilience of the vineyard in a hot year - the wines are still bright, fleshy and balanced.

Q. Any firsts emerging from the vintage 2019 Sutton Grange and Fairbank wine line-ups? And any prior vintage releases to watch out for?

A big first for us was releasing our first commercial release of our 2017 Sutton Estate Aglianico. We have the first vines of Aglianico planted in Australia here on our farm, but we have been waiting for vine maturity to get one to label. We are very proud of this new release, which was just out on the 1st of August.

With just twelve seats at the table and just a few seats remaining- click here to book now!

Karen Foster