EXTREME heat and frost damage has led to an average harvest for Wimmera grape growers.
Norton Estate Wines owner Chris Spence has finished harvest ahead of other vineyards in the region.
Mr Spence said this year's yield was the vineyard's third worst return after receiving only 60 per cent of its usual crop. He narrowed this down to frost damage and extreme heatwaves that affected the bunch size.
"Other wineries were saying harvest was going two weeks later than usual, but the extreme heat over the summer period caused our vines to ripen quicker than thought," he said.
"I would say it was one of the hottest summers for us and there was very little relief through the whole period, which pushed the vines to ripen earlier than expected.
"There were other wineries too that started in the last week of February after hitting the panic button because all their fruit started ripening too."
Despite a below average yield this season, Mr Spence was confident the wine will remain at a good standard.
"What a low yield affects is from a business point of view. All the input costs remain the same whether it is a good crop or not. Our cost to produce that tonnage is two thirds dearer."
Mr Spence has already started on preparing the vines for a better yield next season before the vines go dormant.
Barangaroo Boutique Wines owner Shelia McClure said they had not finished harvest with the cabernet sauvignon grapes still to come.
She said shiraz, vermentino and merlot vines were picked sooner than expected, but yields were down.
Mrs McClure said the grapes were affected by the frost and heat this season, but she said the vermentino vines were suited to the current weather conditions.
"We are happy we put the vermentino in because the Mediterranean vine is suiting our weather. A lot of the other white wines need cooler weather to grow in and its getting warmer and affect the flavours," she said.
"But, overall this season is down. The quality is still there, but it has been a hot summer and it was definitely a lot harder this year."
Fallen Giants general manager Rebecca Drummond said the vineyard's riesling and rosé grapes have been picked, but the shiraz and cabernet sauvignon will not be harvest for a few more weeks.
She said the harvest was in its "top spot" for flavour, but it was average in terms of yield.
"So far it has been an average harvest because we have older vines that produce consistent yields," she said.
"The quality of the grapes are excellent. The long season gives more time on the vines, which gives it more complexity. With that longer ripening time, we get that flavour development in the grape."
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