Vintage 2016

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Vintage 2016

Postby n4sir » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:25 pm

Philip White's early comments on what is looking to be another early vintage:
06 January 2016
EARLY HARVEST: 2016 STARTED IN 2015 ... -2015.html

Welcome back. While you were away drinking - I trust it was good - something very interesting occurred. 2016 nearly happened in 2015.

In Australia, the 2016 vintage has come very close to starting in 2015. For some in the warmest regions, it probably did. They'll stay schtum.

While harvest has well-and-truly commenced in some parts of the irrigated Murray-Darling Basin, record vintage rains in the sub-tropical Hunter have dramatically slowed its ripening and picking. Not only does ripening reverse as the vines take a huge drink, but the vineyards with looser soils become muddy and impassable for human pickers and machines.

In the major profit-making regions of Barossa and McLaren Vale, the record-breaking pre-Christmas heatwave came close to making 2016 the earliest vintage yet. What prevented that, or has prevented it so far, was the tendency for vines to close down their metabolism in extreme heat.

Reports of the earliest veraison known in Barossa and McLaren Vale began trickling in from rattled growers in mid-December. Even in the cool Yarra Valley some Pinot vines were colouring-up at Christmas.
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Re: Vintage 2016

Postby n4sir » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:43 pm

Vintage 2016: South Australian wine grape growers gear up for harvest
ABC Rural
19 January 2016
SA Rural Reporters ... s_adelaide

South Australia's multi-million dollar wine industry is gearing up for another strong vintage, with early season grapes already trickling into the state's wineries. As the nation's largest wine producer, South Australia contributes more than half of the country's annual wine volume, a commodity worth an estimated $440 million last season.

ABC Rural takes a look at the key issues and crop predictions across four of the state's key wine growing areas.

Riverland: Mixed fortunes for bulk wine producers

Hot and dry conditions have brought on a slightly early harvest in Australia's biggest wine producing region, where crop performance has been mixed. Small volumes of grapes are already being trucked into Riverland wineries, with picking expected to ramp up later this week. The industry as a whole remains on track for an average season, but within individual vineyards, performance has largely been determined by access to water. Growers who have been in a position to irrigate through the hot weather are faring well, but those who've struggled to keep the pumps going are reporting below average yields.

Despite the challenges, excitement is building as growers and wineries gear up for their busiest time of the year. Contract harvester Tony Richards said he's expecting a condensed picking season. "Everything seems to have ripened early this year," Mr Richards said. "We like it to be ten weeks normally, to give us time to get through it without trying to kill ourselves too much. "The quickest year we've done is eight weeks, and that was really hard work, so we're just worried it might be there again."

Adelaide Hills: A beautiful crop ready to pick

The 2016 vintage is going to be fantastic. That's how president of the Adelaide Hills Wine Region and The Pawn Wine Company's Tom Keelan has summed up the season.

"This year is shaping up to be such a beautiful vintage being so dry leading into it, the ripening period has been quite nicely drawn out." He said water was a major issue for Hills growers this year, but with good management, the season is expected to pay off for many. "Having such a dry winter and spring is really coming home to roost I suppose, where the vines just don't have that sub surface moisture there," he said. "So that supplementary irrigation is becoming such a critical part of making sure these grapes get across the line in the coming few weeks.

"Blocks further north in the hills are not far from being picked. "Further south down towards Macclesfield and Kuitpo, they're probably having an average time in terms of timing, we'll probably be harvesting there in four to five weeks."

Coonawarra: Growers welcome drought-intensified flavours

In the state's south-east, drought conditions are continuing to bite throughout the Coonawarra. While the prolonged dry has caused heartache for many primary producers, its been a different story for grape growers.

Winemaker Bryan Tonkin predicted the dry weather would help produce strong and concentrated flavours in the 2016 crop. "This year's vintage will be characterised by the long, dry period up to fruit development, which has seen us develop some really small berries on the bunches," he said. "I think this will give us some quite concentrated flavours. "Chardonnay development this year will be quite intense, and that will allow us to do everything from sparkling bases through to our heavily oaked chardonnays. "Not a lot of rain allows for good fruit set, because there's no rain to interrupt with the pollination. "It also reduces the amount of disease pressure within the vineyards."

Clare Valley: On-track for an early harvest start

Winemakers in the Clare Valley have also seen their season shift forward because of hot and dry conditions across the valley. Vineyard manager with Taylors Wines in the Clare Valley, Colin Hinze, said low rainfall during winter and spring had also contributed to the grapes ripening sooner than expected. "If we start our rainfall accumulation from May, the winter and spring accumulation has been a bit low and I think that's contributing to the season being quite early," Mr Hinze said.

Access to supplementary water from the Murray River under a three year trial with SA Water has given the company a cheaper and cleaner irrigation source this year. Mr Hinze said the grapes have been through the veraison period, where the berries become softer and start to develop more sugar before producing full bodies wine grapes. Based on that growing schedule, the grapes will be ready for harvest by the end of January, uncharacteristically early for the Clare Valley.
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Re: Vintage 2016

Postby n4sir » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:35 pm
10 February 2016
By Philip White ... on-in.html

We'd had that horrid, unnatural-feeling record heatwave in December, and vignerons along the big inland rivers had commenced their vintage the year before its calendar number came up. Even famously cool places like the Yarra Valley were facing their earliest harvest yet. But suddenly it was wet and windy. In some places, depending on the style of vineyard, its ground and its husbandry, the parched vines were gulping up the rain and berries were gorging and splitting. Add the marauding moulds that humidity brings to such exposed wet sugar and few growers felt confident about 2016.

But in my neck of the woods at least, McLaren Vale, the Fleurieu and its South Mount Lofty Ranges, the thundery rains seemed always followed by solid gusty winds which dried wet canopies quickly: winds not wild enough to damage the netting, but strong enough to penetrate the leaves and bunches and make fungicides unnecessary...
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Re: Vintage 2016

Postby n4sir » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:17 pm

Barossa Valley winemakers expect top drops after dry summer
891 ABC Adelaide
Posted 22 Feb 2016, 10:10am ... er/7188680

Barossa Valley wineries and grape growers are harvesting an early vintage with high hopes of top-quality wines after a dry summer.

"This year we're well underway — the dry season that we've had really right from winter has meant the vines got away to a good start and they've been growing happily and ripening their grapes," Barossa winemaker Louisa Rose told 891 ABC Adelaide.

"It's not the earliest that we've had [but] we've got quite a good crop on the vines this year, despite the dryness."

She said winemakers were confident of excellent reds from the current harvest.

"Some of the ferments that are in the wineries already are looking fantastic," she said.

"We've got quite small berries, particularly in the red varieties, so we've got beautiful rich colours and the flavour's looking great. I think potentially it could be a great vintage."

Some chilly early mornings in the higher hills of the Barossa Ranges were ideal conditions for whites too, she explained.

"The vines love that. The white grapes they rest overnight, they retain their acidity and their fine flavours and then they ripen during the day and get a bit of sugar — it's perfect," she said.

"I certainly wouldn't discount the whites, I think they could be lovely this year."

Some Barossa vines among world's oldest

Ms Rose said a fairly dry summer would not have worried some of the oldest vines in the Barossa.

"We have the oldest shiraz and grenache and mouvedre vines in the world here," she said.

"We've never had too many diseases, or phylloxera, so the vines have been growing in some cases for 150-160 years.

"Just imagine how far their roots go in that time, so I don't think they realise it's been a dry year. Those roots are so far down they'd be tapping into the ground water."

Harvest time involves long days and little chance to rest, the Barossa winemaker said.

"In 20 years we'll be digging some of these wines out of our cellars. It's such an inspiring time. Even though everyone's tired and working long hours, everyone's excited. We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't love it," she said.

"I think you have to be passionate about it, and a bit silly, but it's certainly not a nine-to-five job."
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Re: Vintage 2016

Postby n4sir » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:18 pm

West Australian wine industry begins harvest after mixed growing season
WA Country Hour
By Bridget Fitzgerald
16 Feb 2016 ... er/7168862

Harvest for the 2016 vintage is underway in Western Australia with producers grateful for strong finish to the growing season.

Winemakers say recent hot weather across the south west of the state has been a gift, after heavy rains threatened the start to harvest.

The heavy rain that fell in mid-January had the potential to disrupt quality and could have created pest issues, just as many vineyards were about to start picking.

But a recent heatwave has helped improve vineyard conditions and has even brought on a particularly early start to harvest, according to some winemakers.

Margaret River winemaker Virginia Willcock said she began harvesting white varieties at the end of January, which according to her was a relatively early start to the season.

Ms Willcock said she started picking Chardonnay and also small quantities of Sauvignon Blanc, which was "really unusual".

"But the sugars and the pH is starting to come up," she said.

"And the flavours are fantastic, so you've just got to pick it."

According to Ms Willcock the January rainfall was not welcome, but it arrived with enough time for issues to clear up before harvest began in earnest.

"The reds were only just starting to change colour, so it was a beautiful little drink while they were undergoing an intense change," she said.

"The whites, it will probably dilute some a little bit and it did put a bit of disease pressure on.

"But the beauty was the following weather dried everything out, sun came out and disease pressure was taken off."

Ms Willcock said she expected fruit quality to result in "quite a high acid year", which would create "quite crisp wines".

But she said that was a positive outcome because crisp, acidic wines were popular.

Rain timing key in lead up to ripening

To the north of Margaret River, Boyanup producers Julie and Phil Hutton are still several weeks away from harvesting their merlot grapes.

Mr Hutton said they were lucky they had only just started the ripening period, known as veraison, when the heavy rains hit in January, as any later and the wet weather would have had a more damaging effect on the fruit.

According to him their vines have actually benefited from water that has soaked through after that rain event.

"We haven't irrigated [the vines] since and it looks like it will be a fair while before we need to again," he said.

While rainfall had the potential to affect fruit quality, given the red varieties were further away from harvest, Mr Hutton did not anticipate quality issues.

Ms Hutton said they expect to begin harvest in the first week of March, which she said was consistent with previous years.

"The longer we keep the fruit on the vines, the more chance it has for the flavours to develop," she said.

"But we don't want the sugars going through the roof, which we don't want — you've got to get that balance."
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Re: Vintage 2016

Postby n4sir » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:19 pm

Grape growers fear smoke taint damage from burning-off in Western Australia's Great Southern
WA Country Hour
By Fiona Pepper
1 March 2016 ... ff/7211336

An online burning-off register has been introduced in the Shire of Cranbrook in Western Australia's Great Southern to try and alleviate ongoing tension between local grape growers and farmers.

March 1 marked the beginning of the restricted burning period in the Cranbrook Shire and many surrounding shires.

This burning-off period coincides with grape harvest.

In the Frankland River region within the Cranbrook Shire there are many vineyards and blue gum plantation sites.

Blue gum plantation farmers in the area take advantage of the restricted burning-off period to prepare for seeding and clean up plantation sites.

Neighbouring grape growers are concerned that blue gum burning poses a serious threat to the quality of their grapes because of increased risk of damage from smoke taint.

Smoke taint has a cumulative impact caused when smoke compounds bind to grapes, giving the wine a smoky characteristic that can make the wine unsaleable.

Register of planned burns

The Cranbrook Shire has been involved in discussions between both parties, and has developed a burns register system which notifies grape growers of the location and date of planned burning off of blue gum plantation sites during the restricted burn period.

Grape growers are encouraged to contact neighbouring properties directly if they are concerned a scheduled burn poses a threat to their grapes.

Shire of Cranbrook chief executive officer Peter Northover said the register had evolved after the shire sought legal advice.

"We've got two competing interests here. We've got the grape growers who are keen to get their grapes off without being tainted, understandably," Mr Northover said.

"And we've got the farmers who are keen to turn their huge investment back into some sort of cropping that provides for a return on that investment.

"So it's very much about economics."

Smoke taint may have legal implications

Frankland River Wine Makers and Grape Growers Association president Hunter Smith said in recent years the wine industry had been subject to tighter specifications when it came to smoke taint.

He said the increased frequency of bushfires meant additional burning-off could be a serious threat to grape quality.

"A lot of people haven't been aware of the issue. Certainly March is a key period, the grapes are being harvested," Mr Smith said.

"Even though the [restricted burn] season may have effectively opened, we are asking landholders, stakeholders and tree farm companies to be as mindful as possible of the grape industry."

Mr Smith and other grape growers are adamant legal action will be taken if smoke taint is caused through neighbouring farms burning-off.

"If you do take the decision to light a fire, if the smoke does affect any grapes, then the person with that permit is very much liable," Mr Smith said.

Burning off legal with a permit, lawyer says

However, agribusiness lawyer Giovanna Tivisini said while farmers had a duty of care to neighbouring grape growers, if a burn was permitted it was a legal activity.

"To avoid any litigation, people need to sit down and communicate and work out a plan. There is always going to have to be compromise on both sides," Ms Tivisini said.

ABC Rural spoke with four blue gum plantation owners and cropping farmers operating within the Cranbrook Shire.

All parties acknowledged there were ongoing issues between farmers and grape growers in regards to burning-off in March in the Frankland area.

They all insisted that burning-off was necessary in March to prepare for seeding and clean up blue gum plantations.
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Re: Vintage 2016

Postby n4sir » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:20 pm

Hunter winemakers wrap up vintage after one of wettest summers on record
1233 ABC Newcastle
Posted 1 March 2016 at 7:20am ... s-/7209394

Hunter Valley winemakers have been battling to get the last of their grapes off the vine after a heat wave threatened to impact the quality of the fruit.

After a turbulent start to harvest with consistently wet weather, Hunter vignerons have finally wrapped up their annual pick.

There was concern heavy rain in January would wipe out much of the vintage, but a spike in temperatures in February allowed some last minute ripening of the grapes.

Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association vice president Andrew Margan said it had not been smooth sailing for all vineyards, but he was confident of a good result.

"The vineyards that were either affected by the hail or more affected by the rain, some of them failed completely," he said.

"But those vines that hung in there through that rain, the red wine in particular is outstanding."

Mr Margan said it had been a year of challenges.

"Last Thursday we got to 42 degrees Celsius and that really made things spike in terms of sugar levels so we've been pretty busy getting things off since then," he said.

"There wouldn't be too many grapes left around the valley, that's for sure."

The Hunter was hit by an east coast low in January, causing widespread floods and contributing to one of the region's wettest summers on record.

The flooding around Raymond Terrace and through the lower valley forced evacuations and cut off some communities for days.

Weatherzone meteorologist Rob Sharpe said it led to some startling rainfall figures.

"Newcastle picked up 534 millimetres compared to its average of only 278 millimetres which makes it the eighth wettest summer in over 150 years of records," he said.

"It's also likely to be about the seventh or eighth warmest summer on record for Newcastle."

But Mr Sharpe said apart from the floods earlier this year, there was not too much out of the ordinary for summer.

"If you took those figures out then it would actually be near average summer in terms of rainfall or a little bit drier than average," he said.
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