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2003 vintage report for Hunter Valley (New South Wales)

The Hunter Valley vintage commenced on 16 January, which is early for the region. With the worst recorded drought since 1902, yields were destined to be lower than usual. Typically, irrigated vineyards were down by 25% with dry farmed areas down significantly more in some instances. Across the board, the Hunter was down an estimated 30 to 35%.

‘Despite the drought conditions during the growing period, flavours in most varietals are extremely good,’ said Rodney Kempe of the Hunter Valley Vineyard Association.

‘In part this was due to a well-timed 100 mm of rain in the early part of December to assist the vines during the important veraison period. The Hunter reds have a fine tannin texture and are styles which are most attractive as young wines, but have excellent potential for cellaring. The Hunter whites all show ripe-driven flavours, with balanced, crisp acidity.’

From December, with good soil moisture, the weather stayed dry and mild to produce wines of increased varietal intensity. The dry conditions made for an early vintage with most whites off by the end of January, and allowed most people to achieve optimum fruit ripeness with low disease incidence.