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Yields are up for South Australia’s wine grape growers

South Australia’s wine grape growers will pick close to three-quarters of a million tonnes this year, as the state’s regions report that yields are up compared to the past few harvests. Tony Love reports for The Advertiser.

With the latest figures showing that SA provided about 46 per cent of the entire nation’s crush, generating $470 million in farmgate revenue, we’re set to maintain our powerhouse status in the Australian wine industry.

And the news is all good from around the state for vintage 2016, now progressing from the early harvests of white wine grapes into the state’s more famous shiraz variety and other reds soon to follow.

Yields are reportedly higher than expected after a prolonged dry season leading into harvest, with good rains in late January and early February helping both quality and quantity in most areas, according to industry experts in the regions.

The high hopes from growers and winemakers echo predictions from national authorities and independent analysts that the wine industry faces a more buoyant immediate future than in past years as the Australian dollar’s exchange rates ease and Free Trade Agreements with Asia start to encourage further export business.

Both will make it a lot easier to shift increased volumes of Australian wine especially at the higher value end of the market, according to the latest Wine Australia export report released in December.

The latest PIRSA Wine Industry Score Card also is confident of increased competitiveness.

“The industry is well positioned for growth, predominantly through capitalising on changes in the export market landscape,” the SA-based scorecard reports.

Back on the ground, grape pickers continue full pace from the engine room of the Riverland to the small mum-and-dad businesses that make a vast percentage of SA’s regional wine producers.

Several McLaren Vale growers with many vintages behind them predict the month ahead heralds a high quality 2016 vintage.

Chalk Hill Wine viticulturist Jock Harvey views the season as one of the best he’s seen.

“We sit on the cusp of the most exciting harvest in memory,” said Mr Harvey.

In the Riverland, Riverland Winegrape Growers Association’s Chris Byrne reported the region’s winemakers were very satisfied at the quality of their crops this year and that crops were slightly better than expected given the prolonged heat of summer.

French backpacker Marine Gimon, 23, is working her first vintage picking grapes in McLaren Vale.

“We pick in a lot of wineries,” she said.

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