My Christmas Wishes for the 2017 Vintage

Santa Claus
(alias Father Christmas)
(alias Saint Nicholas)
C/- The North Pole

 

Dear Santa,

As you know I’m very impressed with your perspicacity. You have always known exactly how I have fared throughout the year and have based your generosity on Christmas Day on my performance, or lack thereof. You know the stuff, have I been a good boy or not? Now I have hit my senior years maybe it’s time the boot was on the other foot and you do something for me. Is that too much of an ask? I could then judge you on your performance. It’s time to come in from the cold, so to speak, Santa. So here’s your test for 2016/2017.

I’d like you to provide me with some certainty regarding the forthcoming 2017 vintage. I probably should have asked you for this around budburst in September, or even earlier, but I wasn’t thinking clearly then. You’re off the hook on this one Santa, and luck is on your side because we have had a text book winter and spring with lots of rain and cool weather, but no sign of any disease in our vines. Also, flowering has been excellent and the grapes have set and are now growing beautifully. Now we’re into summer it’s time for you to show us your stuff because this is where I need help. Some would say, this is where the rubber hits the road. However, this road is no highway so I’m asking you to make it one.

As you know, it’s the summer heat waves that can make or break a vintage. We want warm to hot days and we can handle heat up to 37.5C or 100F with very minimal negative impact providing you make that heat go away within a few days. May I suggest some North Pole weather to bring down the daytime temperature to around 28C or 80F.

We would also like some summer rain please Santa. See, I have manners and always say ‘please’ when I want something. January summer rain can really make the vintage. It gives the vines much needed moisture that can’t be replicated by drip irrigation, and it freshens up not only the canopy but the whole vine. I’d ask you to dial up around 50ml or 2 inches in the old scale during January. There is a ‘but’ to all this. Once you’ve arranged for the rain dump, it doesn’t have to be all at once, please follow it up with some strong SW winds. Not that northerly wind please, as it’s too drying. The wind will dry out the moisture lurking within the bunches and prevent an outbreak of fungal diseases like botrytis or downy mildew. Yes, I know we should spray on some serious chemicals for prevention, but we’re trying to be a little more organic than that Santa, so we’d prefer you to take control of the situation by managing the weather according to my wishes. Are you OK with that?

I’m not finished with your test yet Santa you’ve only done month one. Moving on to February, we don’t want to pick our grapes early in this month. I like a start on around the 25th of February at the earliest. If we can do that we know you’ve succeeded in managing the temperature into February and the fruit has ripened slowly. This means the grapes will be in ideal condition with tannins, acidity and ripeness all in great harmony.

Not far to go now Santa. We’ll pick our optimal grapes and start fermentation. You can relax a bit whilst we do our best work but I’d like you to keep an eye on the thermometer and manage the weather for a little longer. We still need warm days and cool night’s right through April. I’d also like you to look at the yeasts we use during fermentation and see that they remain active and viable right through the process so we don’t have any ‘stuck’ fermentations, and also, the malolactic fermentation is successful.

Once that is complete, please feel free to return to the North Pole as I reckon we can manage the rest of the process on our own. Tell the elves you should be back on the ranch around the end of April. Santa, I’m thinking this is a small indulgence to me who is someone who has given you so much loyalty over such a long period of time. You owe me!

By the way. If you can oblige me on my wishes do you mind if I change your name? I’m thinking a better name for you would be ‘GOD’!

Cheers and best wishes,

Hugh