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Winegrowers’ vicious vintage

The wine industry is calling it the ‘vicious vintage’. South Australia’s record heat wave has thrown wine regions into chaos, with prolonged high temperatures accelerating grape ripening to a critical point and putting pressure on production facilities which are full with crushed fruit and fermenting juice.

Grapegrowers in regions where red grapes are still on the vine have estimated their volume losses are now more than 10%.

“It has been a very nasty end to vintage for South Australian growers,” Wine Grape Growers Australia chief executive Mark McKenzie said.

Regions expected to be most affected by the heat wave are Langhorne Creek, Barossa, McLaren Vale and Clare.

One Langhorne Creek grower reported his grapes were ripe this week but he could not book space in a wine processing plant for two weeks.

In the Barossa, red varieties such as Shiraz, and Cabernet had begun to shrivel in the sun as vien leaves yellowed and dropped, leaving fruit to further exposure.

Turkey Flat vigneron Peter Schultz estimated his Tanunda fruit had lost 5% volume each day in the past week.

“I haven’t seen a vintage like this and I’ve being doing this for 35 years,” Schultz said.

Tony Love The Advertiser, Saturday, 15 March, 2008

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