Predictions of a Vintage Crop for Aussie Wines

Atlas Wine Group - Monday, January 09, 2012

WINEMAKERS in the Hunter Valley are cautiously optimistic about what could be one of the best vintages in years, especially for whites.

Thanks to last month's heavy rainfall, winemakers say conditions have been perfect for an outstanding vintage -- but only if it doesn't rain much before harvest.

"As it turns out we've had particularly cool ripening weather," Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association president Andrew Margan said. "It was the coldest December in Cessnock on record.

"It's very unusual but if the rest of January stays dry we will have an outstanding vintage."

Faced with a global wine glut, Hunter Valley vineyards, like most of Australia's wine growing regions, prefer quality low yields over quantity.

They are poised to produce 35,000 tonnes of grapes during harvest from the end of this month to the first week of March, up on last year.

Andrew Thomas, the Hunter's 2008 winemaker of the year, warned more rain could bring outbreaks of downy and powdery mildew.

"The good news story is the vineyard managers who have been diligent and kept up their spray programs don't have much of a problem," he said.

"If we get through this pressure period we're looking at some pretty good wines."

President of the NSW Wine Industry Association, David Lowe, said heavy rain or an autumn cold snap could ruin what was shaping as a great vintage.

Although he said there were some "concerns for reds" this year.

Source: Richard Noone The Daily Telegraph

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