The 2020 vintage in Mudgee was possibly the most challenging in the region’s winegrowing history because of bushfires and smoke taint.
While many winemakers did not produce wine, there was one shining light, the 2020 Robert Stein White Label Riesling.
Third generation winemaker Jacob Stein said, “We wanted to test ourselves and to pursue a 2020 vintage.
“As Riesling is our flagship variety, we wanted to keep it alive, along with ensuring our small family business survived and our wonderful staff remained employed.
“It was unthinkable to go 12 months without making wine, particularly a Riesling.”
The location of the Stein vineyards was the main saviour during the horrendous summer.
“Our vineyards are located around 90km from the fires, with the smoke drifting into the valley from the South East,” Jacob said.
“We’re located further up the valley, at an elevation of around 600 metres, with the hills at our back.
“This funnelled the smoke away from the vineyard, ensuring the smoke didn’t settle over us.”
The Riesling was handpicked followed by “very conservative, pristine winemaking”.
“There was less lees work than previous vintages with the goal to make a fruit driven, fresh style,” Jacob said.
“We initially described the grapes as declassified ‘Dry Riesling’, however we are extremely happy with the wine and are more than happy to present it as a Robert Stein wine.
“The fruit was handpicked after being tested multiple times for taint.
“It was analytically tested by the AWRI as unfinished and finished wine along with being presented to a number of tasting panels. No smoke taint was evident.
“We are grateful to have been in a position to make wine from the 2020 vintage when so many of our colleagues and neighbours didn’t.
“This has allowed us to retain all of our staff who continue to inspire and support the business during the ongoing challenges.”
Robert Stein winery made a number of red and white wines from the 2020 vintage but look forward to vintage 2021, with the fruit looking exceptional in a very favourable season to date.