2019 Vintage update

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

Barossa – Updated
With Barossa’s 2019 harvest over the mid-way point, indications are wines from Barossa’s 2019 vintage will be of very high quality but limited supply.With a very dry winter and spring; frost events on 29 September and 8 November which disrupted bud burst and flowering; a hail storm hitting some vineyards on 22 November, and hot, dry conditions in January and February, 2019 will be the lowest-yielding Barossa harvest of the past decade.The lower yields will result in Barossa Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon with great colour, intense flavours and firm tannin structure. Grenache and Mataro, most yet to be picked, are shaping up to be 2019 vintage standouts.On most soil types, vineyards irrigated in winter, particularly following rainfall events have retained better soil moisture and healthier crops than those irrigated later in the season. Data from Barossa Grape & Wine Association’s “demonstration vineyards” project shows vineyards with mulch under-vine and mid-row swards are retaining cooler soil temperatures, less evaporation, more consistent ripening of fruit and higher bunch weights, compared with vines grown in bare soil.

As at 13 March, most Barossa Valley Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Eden Valley Riesling had been harvested, with Grenache, Mataro, and Eden Valley Shiraz due to be picked in the next two to three weeks.

The lack of rainfall means Barossa’s vineyards have not experienced any disease pressure this season.

Courtesy of Nicki Robins, BGWA’s viticultural development officer

Coonawarra – Updated
As per normal, vintage in Coonawarra is a couple of weeks later than many other regions in South Australia.Most vineyards are well through picking whites with some already started on early Shiraz.Maturation across red varieties, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon if progressing well  which may be a logical headache for winery scheduling.Heat waves have not been as severe in Coonawarra as elsewhere. In January we had 2 days over 38C, in Febuary 1 days over 38C and thus far in March 2 days over 38C. these weather events have been were well spread out so minimal damage has been observed from these hot days.Most growers are reporting moderate crop levels with high quality so far.

Courtesy of Chris Brodie, Wingara Wine Group

  Tasmania – Updated
At the time of writing the Tasmanian Vintage is roughly 25% complete. Things are off to a rapid and exciting start with sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir showing early flavour development along with good acid levels.Harvesting of Pinot Noir for table wine has commenced in earlier-ripening subregions, with the fruit showing strong colour and flavour concentration. The real highlight to date is the fruit purity and condition, along with consistency of ripening. There is a nice spectrum of ripeness allowing a relatively orderly harvest schedule. The lack of rainfall has resulted in very low disease pressure which is also helping in this regard.Yields to date to be have been consistently favourable, with some areas (e.g. Tamar Valley) showing above-average yields. When coupled with the very high quality seen to date, the 2019 vintage is shaping to be an outstanding one in Tasmania.Courtesy of Brett McClen, Brown Family Wine Group
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.

Courtesy of Kristy Bartrop, Casella Management

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!

Courtesy of Mike Hayes

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.

Courtesy of 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.

Courtesy of Rhys Thomas, Accolade