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2010 vintage report for Murray Valley (Victoria)

Supplied by Murray Valley Winegrowers Inc.
Growing season: The first major weather event for the season occurred in the first half of November when the Murray-Darling and Swan Hill wine regions endured a week of scorching temperatures of around 40°C. The second half of the month could not have been more different, with about 80mm of rain falling from the weekend of 21-22 November to the end of the month. The rain was welcome and damage from the heat seemed to be confined mainly to vineyards that were suffering from a lack of moisture and poor canopies (it must be remembered that after several years of grape prices that fell short of costs, many growers had stinted on vineyard care, leading to decline in vine health). Water allocations on both sides of the border were an improvement on last year’s situation, with entitlements received in full by the end of the season.
Vintage: Vintage was earlier than usual, with harvesting of Chardonnay for sparkling wine starting in early January. Even at this early stage, there were indications of much lighter crops, particularly in relation to Chardonnay. Several weeks later, it was apparent that yields for white varieties generally were down. Of the reds, Cabernet Sauvignon was another variety exhibiting fewer and smaller bunches, while good-condition Shiraz was no lighter than last year and, in some cases, exceeded 2009 yields.
There were unforseen complications, the most frustrating of which was the detection of a solitary fruit fly in Mildura which led to the imposition of quarantine restrictions within a 15km radius of the location of the outbreak. This meant that no fruit could be transported from within the restricted zone to wineries outside the zone without observing strict quarantine requirements. The restricted zone was in force for the duration of harvest.
Widespread rain and mild conditions in early March resulted in delays and caused outbreaks of fungal disease. While not severe in the majority of cases, some fruit was rejected.
Yields and quality: With the Murray Valley Winegrape Crush survey report not expected until July/August, the size of the 2010 harvest is a matter of conjecture. However, Murray Valley Winegrowers (MVW) has predicted a crush of around 300,000 tonnes which, if accurate, would represent a drop of 20%. Overall, winemakers were said to be pleased with the quality of grapes. Chardonnay, in particular, attracted high praise as did Cabernet Sauvignon.

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