John Kalleske shares vintage prediction for 2020

Vigneron John with wife Barb Kalleske on their 'Home Block' vineyard at Nuriootpa.

Vigneron John with wife Barb Kalleske on their 'Home Block' vineyard at Nuriootpa.

John Kalleske's weather beaten hands perhaps provide the best insight to the "70-ish" vintages the Barossa grapegrower has worked.

The veteran vigneron from Nuriootpa is among a rare breed of Barossa vine custodians who have experienced it all - from floods to droughts, the 80s vine pull and plenty of industry changes in between.

Yet Mr Kalleske says throughout his time, "no two vintages have ever been the same".

With 2020 harvest knocking on his door, he predicts this year's yields to be down by about 40 per cent - a similar outcome noted in last year's Declaration of Vintage report.

However, he is optimistic quality fruit will be produced off the family vineyards at Koonunga and their 'Home Block', Research Road, which includes 100-year-old vines.

"I remember this one time we had hot, dry north winds which burnt the berries on the vines," he said.

I remember this one time we had hot, dry north winds which burnt the berries on the vines.

Vigneron John Kalleske

He also recalled his father, Albert, having to re-sow a paddock three times because heavy rains had washed the grain away.

Nowadays Mr Kalleske and wife Barb are grateful for long-range weather forecasts to go about his business.

"The Bureau (of Meteorology) has certainly helped us out, especially in the past five years, before that we didn't know what to even expect for the next five to six days," he said.

His fondest memories on the land were as a teenager and working alongside his father at their Moppa Springs mixed farm, near Greenock.

"We only got our first tractor in 1955, which was quite late for us as dad loved his horses," Mr Kalleske said.

A truck was also purchased but to the family's shock didn't see much light of day.

"Dad had pulled up on the hill to put (vine) stalks in the back and he must have forgot to put the handbrake on or put it into gear, because it took off rolling and hit a tree," he added.