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The South Burnett region enjoyed its driest vintage for some many years. This has a two-fold affect, one positive in that fruit quality is enhanced and one negative in that future water resources are put under enormous pressure.
Vintage started in mid-late January with Verdelho and finished in mid March with Cabernet Sauvignon. There were some small parcels of double pruned Shiraz that was harvested in the middle of April.
With the hot and dry conditions ripening was accelerated and it was crucial for growers to have the appropriate resources to land their fruit in optimum condition at the winery. Once again Verdelho flourished in the warm Queensland climate.
Semillon also enjoyed the drier conditions and if healthy canopies were maintained throughout the season good quality fruit was achieved.
The standout for the reds has been Merlot. In all climatic conditions its performance has been consistently good. The Shiraz enjoyed the heat as well but once again it was important to maintain healthy canopies and avoid distressing the vines in the lead up to harvest.
With the region approaching its first decade as a wine producer some real consistency and invaluable knowledge is accumulating. To date Verdelho has been the standout. Other whites such as Chardonnay and Semillon can be grown well at sustainable yields.
Merlot is also producing good quality fruit year in year out. Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are also showing potential but require clever use of canopy management and water resources.
Other varieties such as Petit Verdot and Sangiovese need further evaluation but require greater patience to gauge their suitability to Queensland conditions and markets.