Australian vintage looks like defying bad weather to return a good harvest

Australian vintage looks like defying bad weather to return a good harvest

The early signs across Australia are good that the regions the worst affected by bad recent weather are going to be able to produce a good quality vintage after all.

Reports are coming in from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and the Barossa Valley in South Australia that the harvest is well underway and the overall quality of the fruit is good.

Bruce Tyrrell, managing director of Tyrrell’s Wines in the Hunter Valley, said the 2017 vintage is going to be comparable to recent years. “I think it will be in the top 20% of vintages,” he told Australian Financial Review. “We’re pretty happy with where we are.”

It will certainly come as a welcome boost to producers who feared they were in for another year of bad weather hitting crops and supply. The 2015 and 2016 were both troublesome with heavy, persistent rain proved particularly challenging.

Even very hot recent weather won’t be a problem for producers in  New South Wales, said  Tyrrell: “Tonnages are within a cigarette paper of budget,” he said.

John Duval, who makes wines under his own John Duval, said:  “I think things are looking fairly good,” he said. “We’ve got good canopies and the potential looks good.”

Winemakers Federation of Australia chief executive Tony Battaglene said the unusual weather conditions meant that the total yield in Australia was likely to be “average or slightly below average.”

It is too early to say where the overall vintage will be compared to 2016 and 2016. Last year the total grape crush in the country was 1.81 million tons, slightly more than 2015’s 1.67 million tons and the 1.7 million tons in 2014.

Other wine regions in Australia are generally experiencing a later than usual harvest, with grape picking between two to three weeks behind the average of the past few years. This is because of the very cold and wet weather at the tail end of 2016.

But the recent blast of warmer weather has overall been a bonus for winegrowers as it has helped dry out the vines, reducing mildew and other wet weather related problems.

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