Winemakers across the region are looking at another early harvest, with a lack of water meaning slightly lower yields, smaller fruit sizes and the hope of a good vintage of intense flavours.
While those in the south are harvesting just a little earlier, north of the divide grapes have been coming in for some time.
Sinclair of Scotsburn owner David Sinclair says his vintage is looking pretty good. His vineyard is three kilometres north of where fires raged in December, but there was no smoke taint as the wind blew in the opposite direction.
“Our harvest is looking good. There’s not too much yield; there’s a good balance between yield and flavour this year,” he says. “ There are slightly smaller crops this year; there’s a degree of sweetness in the fruit..”
David Sinclair says the harvest will only be slightly ahead of schedule at his vineyard.
“We’re late pickers because we’re a high altitude vineyard, a cool climate area.
“ We’re a little bit ahead, not too much. In the past we’ve picked at the beginning of May, late April. We’ll probably pick mid to late March.
Peter Bothe of Nintingbool Wines at Smythes Creek says that he could be picking pinot grapes for rose before the end of the week. He is also picking slightly earlier than usual, but says a lack of water has been his main concern.
“Our yield is good; a smaller berry size will mean a more intense wine. I think the problem for a lot of growers this year has been a lack of water.”
North of Ballarat, Norman Latta of Eastern Peake says the season is “unbelievably early”.
“We will be making fuller wines this year, less elegant. There will need to be acid adjustments. The quantity of fruit is alright.
“There will be wine-making skills required this year. It’s easy with less intense fruit to make good wine; not so easy with this harvest.”
Further north in the Pyrenees, Summerfield Wines owner Mark Summerfield says it’s been a challenging lead into harvest because of the dry weather.
He says the crop sizes are down for him too but the quality of the grapes should be high.
“It’s by far the earliest we have started. Prior to this, we started harvest on the 7th of March at earliest. It’ll be the 17th of February this year.
“It’s exciting but challenging.”
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