2020 vintage report Purple Hands Wines from the Barossa

2020 vintage report Purple Hands Wines from the Barossa

2020 Vintage Report – Barossa

Growing season

The growing season rainfall was disappointing to say the least, one of the driest calendar years on record, around 50% down on average rainfall, whatever average is anymore?! We had less than 20mm through October 19 to January 2020, this was quite hard on the vines given the hot late November and December, at least disease pressure was low.

Bunch and berry size was well down due to the lack of water and this had a major effect on crop levels. On the positive side the weather from mid-January onwards was ideal and combined with welcome rain (34mm) on the 1st February provided some optimism for quality. This mild late summer early autumn did allow for nice even ripening so flavours from 2020 are not an issue.


The 2020 harvest began on the 14th February with Barossa Pinot Blanc, yes Pinot Blanc, stay tuned. The reds kicked off on the 26th February with Shiraz from the Stansborough vineyard, and the 2020 crush was completed on the 31st March. As always the Aglianico was the last off the vines and into the crusher, it just loves to hang there and wait.

Yields and Quality

Our crop levels were on average well down and the lowest we have seen for many many years. Shiraz was less than 1.5 tonne per/ha, with Aglianico and Grenache not a lot better, the Montepulciano was the yielding star at 6 tonne per/ha.

Our first crack at Pinot Blanc looks promising, hand picked and whole bunch direct to older French oak, loads of fruit and texture, the plan is to bottle late June, stay tuned.

Shiraz, what we have of it, looks pretty slick, good colour, flavour and length with plenty of life. The Planta Circa Cabernet Sauvignon, all two barrels, looks amazing. Cabernet generally does not normally excel in warm dry conditions, but these super old vines tend to cope with the dry warm condition, it did really benefit from the early February rain and the cool conditions through late January and February. The wine is sitting in barrel and has finished malo, a modest 13.5% Alcohol which is pleasing.

Grenache looks very smart, the warm dry conditions do suit this variety, even though our volumes are small we are confidant we will bottle all three of our Grenache labels, however it is early days! Nice colour, pretty fruit and depth of flavour, always a joy to make this variety.

The three Italian varietals, Montepulciano, Aglianico and NegroAmaro all performed brilliantly, a little like the Grenache these varieties tend to laugh at the hot dry conditions showing they have a very bright future in the Barossa. We did manage to co ferment the NegroAmaro and Montepulciano together in an open fermenter, the synergy this gives is brilliant, exciting for another very smart Colours Of the South Rosso in a few years.

Maybe the highlight of the year is the Montepulciano , great colour, amazing fruit aromas with ripe tannin and great length all with modest alcohol, can’t wait to see this wine develop of the next decade, just need to get it into bottle first. Aglianico is just as exciting, as the vines mature the wines just seem to be gaining more depth and complexity, just wish we had more. Looking forward to blend the Serata, after the success of the 17 & 18 vintages, the 20 vintage should be just as interesting, however volumes will be tiny, common theme with 2020.

Last but not least is Mataro, another variety that needs the warm conditions, this late ripening variety was able to achieve good flavour ripeness and shows typical earth and spice and will work so well with the Grenache and Shiraz that will find its way into the blend.

In summary, the 2020 vintage will be one to remember, no rain, very little fruit, terrible bushfires in the nearby Adelaide Hills topped off by a very nasty virus! However, we got through it and the wines are all pressed out and tucked away in barrel so we can finally sleep at night. Early days but 2020 will prove to be a particularly good year for quality not so good for volume. We will keep you posted.

Craig & Mark


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2019 Vintage Report for Purple Hands Wines

2019 Vintage Report for Purple Hands Wines

Growing Conditions

The Barossa experienced a very dry winter and spring, causing some concern amongst vignerons and winemakers alike.

Coupled with the ‘pleasure’ of a hail storm hitting some of our vineyards on 22 November 2018, and the hot dry conditions through January and February 2019 – made it another vintage of extremes!

Apart from our Montepulciano, Vintage 2019 will prove to be our lowest-yielding Barossa harvest since 2009.
The 2019 harvest started with picking our older Shiraz on the 25 February 2019 and was completed with the Aglianico on the 4 of April 2019.


Given the difficult weather conditions, we are quite excited about what we have made from the 2019 vintage. Shiraz which received the brunt of the hailstorm, combined with the warm and dry growing conditions, gave very light crops and small berries. However, this did result in good colour intensity, depth and varietal definition – promising even at this early stage.


The Ancestor Vine Cabernet has loads of depth and flavour, quite surprising given the conditions.


Grenache is very impressive. The dry warm conditions are perfect for this variety. This is a favoured variety with us here at Purple Hands and all three Grenache wines we make will shine from the 2019 vintage.

Yes, you read that right – three Grenache wines… stay tuned!

Italian Varietals

Maybe the stars of the vintage are the three Italian varietals, Montepulciano, Aglianico & Negroamaro. These varieties seem to cope with most weather conditions that Mother Nature throws at them. Their colour, depth, varietal definition and wonderful tannin has us very excited. We will definitely be botting Aglianico & Montepulciano as single vineyard varietals, but it should also be a joy blending the Serata.

The Negroamaro is also interesting, offering such distinctive flavours. It will be part of a brand new wine, so watch out for something exciting very very soon.


Mataro is another variety that loved the weather conditions. This generally late ripening variety was able to achieve very good phenolic ripeness. Something not always achieved in this variety. This in turn allowed for longer maceration on skins, as well as the addition of some whole clusters in the ferment which we have never tried this before. We have received some interesting results. Could be a chance of a single release. The last one was the fabulous 2015 vintage which was another warmer vintage.

To summarise

A tough year in terms of crop levels, but the quality is very is smart. We will update everybody later in the year and let you know how the wines from 2019 are progressing.

Mark & Craig


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