Clare Valley hit by devastating frost

Frost damage at a vineyard in Clare Valley. Image courtesy Kilikanoon.

Vineyards in the Clare Valley in South Australia have been devastated by frost that set in during the early morning hours of Thursday 26 October.

Frost conditions began at around midnight and continued through until around 7:30am Thursday.  Damage across the region was widespread, more due to the length of time that low temperatures prevailed than the absolute temperature.

Low lying vineyards were the worst affected, even with the moderating effect of frost fans which proved ineffectual for the most part.

The most severely hit areas were in the south of the Valley situated around Watervale, Leasingham and Auburn.

Troy Van Dulken, chief viticulturist for Clare Valley winery Kilikanoon, described it as “most likely the worst frost event” he had seen in his 18 years in the Valley.

“This has been devastating for growers with some unfortunately losing most of their crop for 2024,” Dulken explained.

While still assessing the damage, what is clear is that 25% to 30% of vineyards in the Clare Valley region will be affected, significantly reducing yields for the coming vintage.

“It doesn’t get much more difficult than a late October frost event,” said Dulken.  “There simply isn’t enough time in the growing season for the vines to push new buds and ripen fruit from secondary shoots.

“Here at Kilikanoon, it will likely reduce our tonnage by approximately 15% to 20%.  The coming weeks [are] now a waiting game on vine recovery,” he added.


Frost damage to vines in Sevenhill, Clare Valley


Photos show the damage to shoots and leaves at the crucial point of the growing season in the Sevenhill region.


Frost damage to vines in Sevenhill, Clare Valley


The Clare Valley wine region, which is two hours north of Adelaide, encompasses the districts of Sevenhill, Watervale, Auburn, Polish Hill River and Clare, and is home to over 5,000 ha of vineyards.

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