Wimmera wineries hit with damaging frost

Frost damage to Grampians Estate's Great Western vineyard. Picture: GRAMPIANS ESTATE

Frost damage to Grampians Estate's Great Western vineyard. Picture: GRAMPIANS ESTATE

WIMMERA winemakers have been dealt a blow with a late spring frost severely affecting vineyards. 

Some wineries have lost 60 per cent of their grapes, with Grampians Estate and Best’s Wines losing their entire Great Western crops to frost. 

Grampians Estate owner Tom Guthrie said his winery was hit hard with the frost on November 4.

He said he had heard that most others in the region had suffered losses as well.

“We’ve got a diversified farming business, of which Grampians Estate is a part,” he said.

“We had a weather station at our vineyard at Great Western and the temperature dropped to -3.1.

“While we have fans, they were not able to do anything so all 12 acres of our vineyard at Great Western is a write-off.”

Mr Guthrie said he had a separate smaller vineyard and could import grapes but 60 per cent of his fruit was at Great Western. 

“It’s a major hit,” he said.

Best’s Wines managing director Ben Thomson said the frost meant the winery had lost most of its Great Western crop.

“It’s really disappointing – it was just a mass of cold air,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be cold but we weren’t expecting it to get down to -3.

“We were hit pretty hard.”

Mr Thomson said it would now be a waiting game to see how the crops recovered.

“The vines will come back eventually, but I doubt we will get a crop this year,” he said.

“We’ve put some fertiliser down and hopefully we’ll get some new shoot growth.

“We really don’t know what will happen, but we will now start planning for the 2019 season.”

Mr Thomson said the winery had been hit with bad frosts twice before.

“One was in 2006 on November 17 and the other was in 1982 on Guy Fawkes Night, November 5,” he said.

“It’s just nature unfortunately.”

However, Lower Norton wineries were unscathed by the frost.

Norton Estate’s Chris Spence said the winery had high elevation, meaning it rarely was frosted.

“We have the occasional winter frost, but during spring, the elevation is high enough that we don’t get it,” he said.

“Everything is looking okay out here at this stage.”

Mr Spence said unfortunately many vineyards in the region were planted in low-lying areas near water sources, meaning they were more likely to get frost.