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In the Riverland vintage started mid January, which is early for the region. Yields of red varieties were generally 10-15% lower than forecast, while white varieties were generally up between 5 and 10% on pre-vintage estimates. ‘With the continual push to improve quality there has been an increase in the number of growers striving to reduce their yield,’ said Bill Moularadellis, president of the Riverland Winemakers Association. The lead up to the 2001 vintage was highlighted by a bout of very warm weather in January but ‘normal’ weather was experienced during vintage with no heavy rainfalls. Due to the good weather there were no disease problems experienced this vintage. The warm ripening period leading up to vintage resulted in acid levels lower than normal, which produced softer, early maturing wines. Bill said the red vintage was compressed with Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot all reaching maturity during March. ‘The quality from well-managed vineyards has been excellent with intense colour, flavour and aromas,’ he said. ‘Excellent examples of Shiraz and Petit Verdot in particular are setting new quality benchmarks for these varieties.’ This vintage has seen softer, early maturing white wines. The quality has been very good with Chardonnay in particular displaying rich tropical fruit flavours. Despite an overall increase in tonnage wineries coped reasonably well, although there were some minor problems with processing capacity during the height of vintage at some wineries.