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Early vintage may be the norm

Climate change may be responsible for the increasingly early grape vintage in the Barossa and the Riverland.

Chief winemaker at Orlando Wines, Bernard Hickin, said vintage began at least a fortnight early than usual at Orlando’s Barossa headquarters in Rowland Flat.

“Starting vintage on 9 January was unusually early for us to be harvesting grapes,” Hickin said.

Although the Chardonnay grapes came from the Riverland, Hickin said Barossa fruit was likely to be ready for vintage about two weeks earlier than normal.

Hickin said the quality of the Riverland grapes, which will be used for Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir was ‘surprisingly good’.

Despite all the talk about drought and the lack of water Hickin said grape vines in the Riverland and in the Barossa were generally in good health as many growers had bought additional water to protect the quality of the grapes.

Hickin said early harvest was influenced by above average temperatures and in particular, warmer nights during last year’s spring and summer.

“Whether this is because of global warming or not, that’s the case.

“We’re not quite sure what the average is anymore. If global warming is a real thing based on the long-term average, then everything looks about two weeks early, and that could become the norm for the future.

Hickin said the early harvest did not appear to have altered the quality of the grapes.

Victoria George, The leader, Wednesday, 16 January 2008.



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