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2014 vintage report for Riverland (South Australia)

Despite tough weather conditions during the lead up to vintage, vines in the Riverland still beared quality fruit.
Riverland Wine executive officer Chris Byrne said if there had been an earthquake this vintage, it wouldn’t have surprised Riverland grapegrowers who battled hailstorms, bushfires, frost, disease, pests and record rains.
They overcame numerous challenges to produce what winemakers have described as an “above average quality harvest” and early signs were that some very good wines were being made.
“Growers were challenged early by a flowering and fruitset which was uneven and then frosts hit hard, particularly in the Loxton region in October,” Byrne said.
“On Friday 13 September Loxton North experienced a freak hailstorm resulting in significant losses for some.
“The challenges continued with two fruit fly outbreaks around Pyap and Loxton and fruit movements were restricted in a 15km radium zone, declared by Biosecurity SA.”
Adding to the challenging vintage, bushfires threatened vineyards at Renmark North in January but no smoke taint was detected.
Heatwaves tested the region’s irrigation systems in late January and growers reported powdery mildew was more prevalent than previous decades.
“This was topped off with record rains in February but Lady Luck turned her attention to Australia’s fruit bowl, delivering excellent drying conditions for the completion of vintage and to the chagrin of those pesky rots,” he said.
“Three years of moderate grape price improvements were spoiled with a collapse in prices offered for Chardonnay.
“Nevertheless Riverland growers prevailed and delivered around 400,000 tonnes – 25 per cent of the national crop – with not a single report of grape spillage.”
Despite what Byrne describes as a “vintage of extremely challenging conditions”, Riverland growers showed their resilience to produce the tonnages and quality to maintain their position as Australia’s winegrape “engine room”.

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