Grapes retain quality despite tough season

BAROSSA Valley grapegrower Adrian Hoffman said this has been an “exceptional” year for his grapes.

Mr Hoffman, a fifth generation grapegrower and director of Dimchurch Vineyards, Eden Valley, said the ripening fruit was looking good.

“We’re looking at good volumes of fruit and above average quality,” he said.

While many growers have reported this harvest as late, Mr Hoffman said for his vineyards it was a return to a more usual time after a few years of dry springs and early finishes. With a wet, cool spring, he said disease control had been particularly important this growing season.

He estimated the bulk of the grape picking would be finished in the next two weeks, with some smaller, later varieties to finish.

Winegrape Council of SA chair Heather Webster, Langhorne Creek, said this season has been “fragmented” across the different winegrowing regions, with a trend towards a later finish.

“Last year was particularly early and this year is particularly late,” she said. “The weather has been so variable between regions and even within regions.”

Riverland Wine executive officer Chris Byrne said it had been a “long, difficult and drawn-out vintage”, with some growers expected to be “unusually” picking into May. He said the overall yield was not too bad, considering losses during the November hailstorm. 

Mr Byrne said it was hard to quantify the damage from the hail as it had affected different pockets. He estimated it could be as much as 20,000 tonnes to 30,000t, or 4 per cent to 6pc of the average harvest.

“People are still harvesting so it is guesswork,” he said.

Despite the difficulties there were positive signs.

“The lateness of the season has enhanced the fruit quality,” he said.