Big wet spoils wine

Harrisville’s Normanby Wines owner Mick Hall with some of the grapes damaged by wet weather.
Harrisville’s Normanby Wines owner Mick Hall with some of the grapes damaged by wet weather.

WINE growers in the region have copped a beating from January's rain, with Normanby Wines only salvaging seven and a half tonnes of its usual 40-tonne yield.

Neighbouring vineyard Paradine Estate has been forced to make its own wine with the tonne of cabernet sauvignon grapes it saved when last weekend's weather wiped out its entire crop.

For many local winegrowers, small harvests have meant they could not get any grapes to Stanthorpe for pressing because they did not meet the tonnage requirements.

Jenny and Michael Hall, from Normanby Wines in Harrisville, managed to pick five and a half tonnes of verdelho grapes and two tonnes of shiraz.

However, the Halls estimated they had lost crops that would have equated to 23,000 bottles of wine, due to bad weather.

"This January was the wettest month for 38 years," Mr Hall said.

"Last year we got rain in Brisbane and Ipswich but not as much here. In the one week from January 23 we had eight inches of rain.

"If the weather held up for two weeks we could have saved the lot."

This year's vintage has been a challenge for Normanby, whose worst-hit vines were the shiraz, viognier, durif, grenache and merlot varieties. Mrs Hall said her husband nurtured the grapes but the water-soaked berries developed botrytis, a grey mould, which caused them to rot.

"The winemaker came down in early January and he could not believe how good the vineyard was looking," she said.

"The grapes were not quite ripe and the rain came a week too soon.

"You've got to pick when the sugars are absolutely right.

"This year we couldn't do anything about it. The rain destroyed the lot.

"We desperately wanted the verdelho because we ran out of whites last year."

Bunjurgen Estate Vineyard owner David McMaugh said he survived the brunt of the conditions despite only picking enough shiraz and chambourcin for 600 bottles of rose.

"In a good year, we would make 7200 bottles of wine and port, but this year we only managed one tenth of our usual production," he said. "It's not going to affect me though because we had a good vintage in 2010 and 2011."

Iron Bark Ridge Vineyard also had a disastrous year, pulling in only one tonne of chardonnay and viognier after its vines were attacked by powdery mildew.

Topics:  crop ipswich rain vineyard wine

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