Cool climes cause delay to vintage

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
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Director Nigel Gallop samples last years vintage at Fraser Gallop Estate
Camera IconDirector Nigel Gallop samples last years vintage at Fraser Gallop Estate Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

A cooler summer, similar to 2017, has forced wineries to delay the 2019 vintage, but wine makers are bullish about the quality of this year’s grapes, with more concentrated flavours expected.

Since August, mean temperatures have been slightly cooler than the average of previous years, but because of diligent vineyard management, wineries are expected to adapt to the conditions.

Fraser Gallop Estate director Nigel Gallop said “the weather is what the weather is”.

“Due to a higher sugar content, we may get a lower alcohol percentage, but all in all, things are coming together nicely,” he said.

“The whites yield are slightly down and perhaps the grapes are maturing a little later than previous years, but we are confident that the quality will be as strong as ever.”

Margaret River Wine Association chief executive Amanda Whiteland said the 2017 cabernet sauvignon harvest did not begin until early April and this year could be similar.

“As temperatures since August have been slightly cooler than recent averages, the 2019 vintage start date is looking to be two to three weeks later than normal for most wineries in the Margaret River region,” she said. December recorded 13.7mm more rainfall than the previous year, and last month’s storms resulted in 43.3mm more rain than January, 2018.

Flametree chief wine maker Cliff Royle said vineyards in the south of the Margaret River region had been affected by storms, but not as much as in 2017.

“There was some disease around in the south due to the heavy rainfall last month, but overall we’re tracking on a very good vintage,” he said. “Reds will start to raise in the Dunsborough and Yallingup area in about four weeks.

“As long as some warmer (weather) comes, we’re in for a great year.” As the Times reported in November, 2017 resulted in some award-winning wines from the region, including the Stella Bella Suckfizzle chardonnay and Nocturne cabernet sauvignon.

“We are the envy of the industry — not many regions are able to adapt and grow quality wines as consistently as Margaret River,” Mr Royle said.

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