As vintage 2018 wraps up around the country we thought we'd review what happened and how things are shaping up for winemaking this year.
By all accounts, growing conditions across most of the country have been favourable in terms of ripening, and disease pressure has been low. In other words, it’s been dry!
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the January to April period was the seventh-driest on record for southeastern Australia and total rainfall for Southern Australia was the third lowest on record for April with exceptionally warm weather exacerbating these effects.
The Wine Grape Council of South Australia said that the warm, dry weather had helped produce exceptional grapes with intense colours and flavours, across all regions.
Careful management has been the key for growers in all regions of SA. Frosts on the Limestone Coast in early November caused some yield losses however fortunately due to timing, fruit quality and evenness was not impacted. Low rainfall across the state has required careful attention from all growers about irrigation scheduling.
The state as a whole seems to have produced great quality grapes with limited disease and great ripening. It's definitely a year to invest in some South Australian wine.
2018 was one of the most compressed vintage on record in Tasmania. Yields were generally at or above average. Early indications are that the quality of all whites are genuinely outstanding with Riesling and Chardonnay being particular highlights.
The Hunter Valley kicked off the 2018 Vintage in Australia with picking starting in the first weeks of January, earlier than previous years. Like most regions in Australia, NSW had a dry growing period which has resulted in high-quality grapes. The stand out performers for the region are Chardonnay, Verdelho, Semillion and Shiraz.
Across all of Western Australia 2018 was an exceptional vintage. Sufficient rainfall during spring and early summer was followed by an extended period of sunny, yet seasonally cooler weather through February, March and April. As a result, optimum ripening conditions occurred in unison with very low disease pressures.
In Victoria, quality was excellent and tonnages about average. Rain in December caused some yield losses in parts of the state due to downy mildew. This raised some concerns about fungicide resistance and the need to advocate for alternative control measures. While vintage looked like being early, fruit ripening slowed towards the end with harvest extending out until mid to late April.