2019 Vintage update

We would love to hear from members in every region, send an update from your region to Chris at [email protected]

Riverina

Harvest is well underway in the Riverina after record extreme heat events throughout December and early January which caused vines to shut down and interrupted the rate of ripening. This has delayed the harvest commencement and the impact on yield is not fully known yet. After experiencing a very low rainfall year, the important aspects of a well-designed irrigation system and correct management of irrigation timing appear to have had the greatest impact on vine health and productivity.

Kristy Bartrop

Yarra Valley

After a late start to the growing season, a very warm October and December saw phenology speed through only slightly later than normal.  A drier winter gave way to a wet late spring, with twice the average rainfall received in November and December, filling bunches out and offering the hope of good yields.  Lessons learnt from the previous seasons high downy pressure saw far better disease control in the 2018 spring. Hot January conditions, strong canopies and higher yeilds have meant regular irrigation has been required despite the high rainfall at the end of the year. As the conditions have cooled since the beginning of February, grapes for sparkling wine are now in the wineries with table wine harvest about to begin.

Andy Clarke

Western Australia

At the start of the season, forecasts were showing WA like the rest of the country would be faced with above average summer temperatures and drier conditions. This thankfully did not eventuate and WA is enjoying a cool season. Spring was one of the coldest in recent times and resulted in a drawn out flowering period which may impact on yields.

The Swan Valley is enjoying one of its best quality vintages in recent memory. Most of the whites have been picked with reds beginning to be harvested in the coming weeks. Margaret River and Great Southern are yet to start harvest but quality potential is looking good. Across the regions significant bird pressure is being experienced due to little native bloom in the bordering forestry.

Rhys Thomas

Barossa

The Barossa vintage has been slow to kick off, with a few of the early white varieties being processed so far. Crops are below average this year on the back of dry winter and spring conditions and some areas that lost fruit due to frost and/or hail. The season has been challenging with dry soil conditions and hot weather resulting in small berries. However, the fruit is in sound condition as there has been no real disease pressure.

The best looking blocks in terms of canopy health and good berry size are those that had irrigation applied during winter to top soil profiles leading into budburst.

This cooler weather is fantastic for berry ripening. The small berries will mean concentrated flavours.  Barossa Shiraz is set to begin being processed at wineries in a couple of weeks, followed by Cabernet.

Brooke Howell

  Granite Belt

Reports of outstanding quality with no rain or disease pressure leading up to harvest.  Overall the 2019 vintage is around 14 days earlier than 2018. Water is the key focal point with limited supply meaning some growers have had to rationalise scheduling to maintain vine health.

Star performers include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris with Verdelho outstripping last year`s quality. Nebbiolo looks fantastic. Shiraz berries are smaller than usual and the clean dry conditions are delivering above normal quality. Still a long way to go with Cabernet and Nebbiolo, expected to be harvested in early April. Mike Hayes has given the season a score of 9.5/10 and a huge WOW FACTOR!

Mike Hayes

  Tasmania

Whilst early spring conditions were cooler than average in some areas of Tasmania, sustained above-average temperatures throughout December and January have seen the overall season move well into the “above average” category in terms of degree day accumulation.

Some of the very early sub-regions incurred inclement weather during flowering resulting some occurrence of “hen & chicken”, however fruit set was largely positive across the State.

The rainfall has generally been below average resulting in low disease pressure.

In spite of the relatively warm summer, the timing of veraison and early ripening indicates a somewhat normal harvest commencement date, with very little fruit expected to be picked in February.

Temperatures have abated considerably since the onset of veraison and hence we are hopeful of favourable ripening of what looks to be a promising crop.

Brett McClen