Grampians winemakers pleased with grape's quality

GRAMPIANS winemakers are pleased with the quality of grapes this year despite a challenging growing season.

Vineyards are now wrapping up this year’s harvest.

Seppelt Winery senior winemaker Adam Carnaby said the season started with a cold and windy spring.

“That provided challenging conditions for flowering and for the fruit to set,” he said.

“Some varieties copped it worse than others, with the chardonnay being more affected than the shiraz.”

Shiraz is the main variety grown in the Grampians, making up 87 per cent of the region’s crops.

Cooler start

Mr Carnaby said the cooler start to summer slowed crop growth.

“We were concerned because canopies weren’t growing as vigorously as we would have liked,” he said.

“Then we had a spurt of warmer weather, which was good, and then a heatwave in the middle of January.

“There was some stress evidence with the leaves on the bottom of shoots turning yellow and falling off but there was plenty of canopy cover to protect the grapes.”

Mr Carnaby said the season finished dry and mild.

“Things turned out pretty well for the ripening of the grapes from then on,” he said.

“The overall results were quite good and the quality of shiraz in general across the region was excellent.”

He said overall the crops were down about 20 per cent on last year.

Smoke damage

Winemakers were concerned about smoke damage from the Grampians bushfire in January.

“In the end the smoke was not a problem for us,” Mr Carnaby said.

Seppelt’s winemakers hope to finish picking this week.

“There is still a bit of cabernet to pick, but those grapes are always a later ripening variety,” Mr Carnaby said.

He said this year’s harvest was on par with the 10-year average, but the past five years had not been.

“We had flood years then droughts so the past few years have been unusual,” he said.

Norton Estate Wines owner Don Spence said the winery finished harvest about three weeks ago.

He said while the weather was not ideal, the quality of wine should be excellent.

“We lost a bit because of extreme temperatures and lack of rain,” Mr Spence said.

“Our actual yields were down about 20 per cent.

“However, we’ve been assured by our winemaker that the quality of the grapes and the wine they will turn into, is excellent.”

Mr Spence said conditions were similar to last year.

“In 2013 we were similarly down on yields, especially compared with the bumper harvest of 2012,” he said.

“But the wines from 2012 and 2013 were extremely good quality and hopefully 2014 will be the same.

“We are very happy and it shows the techniques we use still produce quality wine, without the ideal weather.”

“We are very happy and it shows the techniques we use still produce quality wine, without the ideal weather.” - Don Spence

Harvest at the Lower Norton winery started in February and finished last month.

Mr Spence said the timing was on par with other years.

“It doesn’t seem to vary that much for us because we are slightly more westerly than wineries in other parts of the Grampians,” he said.

“We seem to start mid-February and finish in March – it only ever varies a few weeks either side, which is related to the weather.”

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