Wild weather and warm weather has put the 2019 wine vintage in danger

Checking the vines: Winemaker and Director of Olivers Taranga, Corinna Wright checks out some grapes in the vineyard. Photo: Olivers Taranga/Randy Larcombe
Checking the vines: Winemaker and Director of Olivers Taranga, Corinna Wright checks out some grapes in the vineyard. Photo: Olivers Taranga/Randy Larcombe

It is almost time for the 2019 vintage, one of the most intense times of the year for wine makers in McLaren Vale and wine regions around South Australia – however this year the hardest part of the vintage may be delivering both quality and quantity of wine after an abnormal weather season.

Wine from McLaren Vale is one of regions top exports but with the abnormal weather recorded over spring – drier than usual with high winds and hail, and now intense heat, there is a real chance that the industry will suffer.

Professor in Oenology at the University of Adelaide, Vladimir Jiranek said that it can be hard to generalise how vines across regions will react to the weather but high temperatures can stress the vines enormously because it makes it difficult for them to retain water.

“What will tend to happen is the ripening may well slow down for a while.

“If it happens much later in the vintage as the fruit is starting to get quite ripe you can actually have berries shrivelling and desiccation and that gives you a concentration of sugars in the grapes which you don’t necessarily want,” he said.

The McLaren Vale region is home to more than 70 wineries and according to McLaren Vale Grape Wine Tourism Association the most popular grape grown is Shiraz, making up 55% of the grapes.

Winemaker and Director of Oliver’s Taranga, Corrina Wright said this year has been interesting because they did not have a lot of rain through spring and it was relatively cool, but then several wind and hail events resulted in the vines taken a bit of damage.

These events left the vines looking like they had been through a cyclone and with the vines already damaged this would mean they would be relatively low cropping.

“Then when you get the heat waves as well with vines which have already been under stress it makes it a bit tough.

“In McLaren Vale we have access to recycled water so we’re able to make sure that we give the vines some water to get them through. 

Ms Wright added that it can be tricky to irrigate during warm weather because there are times when you would prefer not to be watering the vines in order to control your final product.

“There’s certain times you don’t want to irrigate because that can make berries too big, or you give you a too big a crop from what you wanted or quite a concentrated crop but sometimes, you just need to get them through.

Ms Wright also said that Olivers Taranga are doing fine at the moment but the vines don’t look as beautiful as they sometimes would look.

Picking of the 2019 vintage is expected to start in February/March.