Grape hopes for King Valley vignerons

By Jeff Zeuschner

King Valley vignerons and wineries are poised to rebound strongly from last season’s bushfire ravaged vintage that exacted the worst ever commercial losses exceeding $50 million.

While the 2021 vintage is still only in its early stages, pickings in the first three weeks have growers confident that quality and quantity are there for a great result.

Wines of the King Valley president Dean Cleave-Smith said a good growing season had laid the foundations for the promising vintage.

“All the fruit is looking good and there is definitely no residue from last year’s fires,” he told the Wangaratta Chronicle.

“These are new, clean crops and the quality is great.

“All we want now is the weather to stay warm with clear blue skies for the next month or so.”

Mr Cleave-Smith said grape varieties for sparkling and white wines were the first being picked, including prosecco – the burgeoning Italian variety for which the valley is considered Australia’s top producer.

“We’ve seen continued strong plantings over recent years which will see increased production of prosecco this vintage,” he said.

“Everything is very encouraging.

“Certainly, it’s what we need after last year, which we’re all very keen to forget.

“The smoke from those major fires, at both Abbeyard Flat and Corryong, stayed around for days in the valley.

“They were the worst conditions and significantly impacted wine grape crops not just in our valley, but in many parts of the North East, causing our worst ever commercial losses.

“The retail value of vintage losses throughout the valley was well in excess of $50 million.

“Every producer was impacted…we’re family owned businesses that employ locals so the impact on the local economy was very significant.”


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