Heatwave helps 2017 vintage
Punters cursed the recent heatwave, but most winemakers say the extreme conditions won't affect the 2017 vintage.
Bruce Tyrrell, managing director of Tyrrell's Wines has told the Australian Financial Review he expects 2017 "to be in the top tier of vintages when drinkers look back through history and compare them with previous years."
"I think it will be in the top 20 per cent of vintages," he said. "We're pretty happy with where we are."
He says the hot weather would have no impact on Tyrell's, as it had already finished picking its white grape varieties.
However, Canberra District Wine Association's John Leyshon told The Canberra Times that too much hot weather could make grapes taste more bitter.
"The problem with the heat is that the vines just shut down anything over 27-28 degrees and the vines just stop working so you're not going to get your grapes ripening,"he said.
GrowCare plant pathologist Peter Magarey told ABC Rural the hot, dry conditions will make it easier for growers to track and manage diseases. He noted that the moist conditions had led to several outbreaks of disease across South Australia's wine regions.
"Both powdery mildew and downy mildew have been going quite well this year — I speak as a pathologist and not as a grower," Magarey said.
"We've had a number of downy mildew events in the Riverland and in other parts of Australia, [and] we've seen in the Clare Valley that there's a little bit of powdery mildew and a little bit of downy mildew … likewise in the Barossa Valley."
He added to news.com.au: “It’s the best thing we could have to help grape harvest across the state. While everyone is feeling poorly about the heat, there is a little bit of sun shining for the grape growers. They’re pleased because it will dry out the bunches that have started to rot.”
The Riverina region's Cottontails Winery owner Gerry McCormick told The Daily Advertiser powdery mildew had wiped out his Chardonnay vintage.
“It’s been a mixed season," he said. "Our Chardonnay was hit by powdery mildew – which we can’t do much about. But the Shiraz (vintage) could be the best we’ve had.”
Last week saw massive flooding in Western Australia's Swan Valley. Laura and Derek Pearse, from the Upper Reach Winery, told ABC News their vineyards have been completely flooded. As a result, the winemakers lost about half of their Shiraz crop.
Harvest yields are expect to be average or below average in most wine regions due to the cooler, wet conditions experienced early in the season.