Grape growers and winemakers in the region will call it ‘a wrap’ in the next couple of weeks – happy with a high-quality 2018 vintage and good yields.
“Flavours and colours in reds are wonderful, and natural acids in the Eden Valley whites surprisingly high, with early standout varieties this year including Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet,” Yalumba head of winemaking Louisa Rose said.
The growing season started off well, with Winter 2017 rainfall around 10 per cent higher than average.
However, Spring rainfall was only 78 per cent of average in Barossa Valley (BV) and 98 per cent in Eden Valley (EV), and December rainfall was only 57% of average in BV (88 per cent in EV).
Drier soils, combined with warmer than average October and November days and November 1.1ºC above average in BV, meant the vine canopies grew quickly; flowering well and setting a good number of bunches.
January and February were warm and dry, with very warm temperatures in February slowing down the pace of ripening. January was slightly above average and February was about average during the day, but with significantly warmer than average night time temperatures in Barossa Valley.
With summer rainfall 50 per cent of average, growers with access to water, soil moisture monitoring, good irrigation management and healthy soils experienced less stress – and subsequently delivered sound fruit and consistent yields.
The Indian summer of March and early April has been ‘the icing on the cake’, with average temperatures, without extremes, and only 7.6mm of rain in BV.
While there is variation across Barossa, Shiraz yields, at this stage, are tracking lower than last year; generally around 10-20 per cent below the long-term average – but higher than the (very low yielding) five years prior to 2017. Cabernet Sauvignon is reported to be average to 15-20 per cent down on the long-term average.
Eden Valley Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon will continue to be harvested throughout April.