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Barossa 2016 vintage progress report
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In the BGWA’s previous Barossa vintage progress report on 8 January 2016, my closing comment was “a small rainfall event soon would be a very good thing”. Thirteen days later, the rains began to fall – setting the Barossa up for a perfect finish to the season.
Nicki Robins, Barossa Grape & Wine Association viticultural development officer
In early January, the growing season had been summarised as “low winter and spring rainfall, followed by a very warm and dry December which has reduced bunch weights”.
Growers able to top-up soil moisture with irrigation in winter and spring were faring well, but some were looking at tired canopies and lighter crops.
Many successfully responded to the hot, dry conditions with best-practice techniques such as increased attention to soil moisture monitoring, having mulch under-vine, and applying ‘sunscreen’ to the grapes.
Rain fell between 21 January and 3 February, recording between 40mm and 34mm at the Barossa Grape & Wine Association (BGWA) weather stations from Lyndoch to Ebenezer.
You could almost detect a combined ‘inhaling of breath’ as growers and winemakers waited and hoped for only the slightest filling of bunches and minimal splitting.
Thankfully, generally, this did occur, and temperatures have remained mild, allowing flavours to develop in optimal conditions since.
As at 11 February, picking dates are very similar to last year.
Wineries have been harvesting Barossa Valley whites, including Chardonnay and Semillon, for around two weeks. Chardonnay yields are reported to be 10–20 per cent above estimates, with fruit showing excellent quality. Semillon yield appears to be down.
Shiraz has been harvested at Gomersal, Lyndoch, Krondorf and Marananga so far, and winemakers are reporting good early flavours and very strong colour. Phenology is keeping up with increasing sugar levels, with lots of brown, crunchy seeds early.
Yields reported for Shiraz picked so far have generally been average to 10–20 per cent up on average, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot possibly down on average. No reports yet on later-ripening red varieties Grenache and Mataro.
In summary, the Barossa is headed for a high quality vintage, with a general increase in average yields for the majority of red and white varieties. This will be a welcome development for Barossa wine lovers!
View more videos from Barossa Dirt here.