Vintage 2019 Forecast with Chief Winemaker Neville Rowe

Thursday, 7 February 2019

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February 2019 Vintage Forecast

The 2018/2019 growing season is one of dry and hot Australian conditions. Whilst the dry winter and warm Dec/Jan weather has been felt locally, the Barossa Valley vineyards are not seriously affected.

South East Australia experienced well below average rainfall during the winter spring period, which is our usual replenishment period. Locally, water supplies are in good condition with aquifers and rivers still holding good supplies from 2017 rain events. Coupled with modern viticulture techniques conserving moisture and innovative application of irrigation, Barossa Valley vineyards are looking surprisingly lush and canopies are holding on well.

A cool break in the weather this week leading into our first pick is a great relief and vines are progressing nicely.

 The good canopy growth, particularly in Château Tanunda vineyards has proved a real boon during two bouts of very hot weather which occurred Dec 27/28 and Jan 22-24.

These conditions were experienced across all vineyard regions. Those areas without good vine health and strong leaf canopies suffered some sun burn on developing bunches. Château Tanunda and most of the Barossa Valley were fortunate to avoid this.

Vines have set modest crops across the Barossa valley, in response to the low moisture in the early season, and whilst this may not be beneficial economically, the late season heat could have caused vines to struggle if they were carrying a big crop. It is a natural phenological response to the dry winter, so yields are expected to be lower across all varieties, approx. 20-30% lower than long term average

Chardonnay crops are looking good and harvest is imminent and flavours are looking outstanding. 

Riesling is a later ripening variety, and this current break in the weather is very beneficial. Crops are low, but we are expecting very fine quality once again.

Shiraz; The conditions will play into the hands of Shiraz somewhat, low yields will lead to good concentration and intensity, and the available water is enabling viticulturists to stress the vines only as much as we’d like. Crops are well down on quantity but this stress will develop concentrated, full flavoured wines with excellent structure. 

The same can be said for Mataro/Mourvedre and Grenache.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are still going through veraison, and if the weather stays mild, I am hopeful of making very good quality here. Yields are in line with other varieties. We have a significant amount of new plantings of Cabernet varieties bearing this year which are already showing excellent great quality and character. I look forward to getting them into the winery!

I expect we will see harvest reach full swing in the next 2-3 weeks, and Château Tanunda will be running 24/7 from the 15th Feb.

It is a great time to book a Vines and Wines Tour from the Cellar Door to discover the full circle of winemaking from vineyard to bottle, with a behind the scenes look at the winery in full action!