Thursday, 13 February 2020

The news is good for McLaren Vale wine producers

It has been a tough start to 2020 for several South Australian wine regions; particularly the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island, both of which were hit by bush fires.

The McLaren Vale wine region, in contrast, is heartened to share a positive outlook for the upcoming vintage.

Dry weather conditions throughout the spring and summer months of 2019 resulted in vigilant irrigation by growers, alleviating the onset of stress in most vineyards.

McLaren Vale vineyards: Serio

Melissa Brown, viticulturist and co-owner of Gemtree Wines, credits the accessibility of the region's recycled water program as a contributing factor to the good health of vineyards during an unusually hot end to the growing year.

"The season has had its ups and downs but overall we have fared well," she said. "While there were some very hot days in December and early January having access to the recycled water program eased the potential onset of stress in vineyards."

"We received over 75mm of rain in January and (early) February which has set the vines up well leading into harvest."

Steve Pannell, winemaker and owner of SC Pannell Wines, also acknowledged good water management as a safeguard through drier months.

"Below-average winter rainfall backed up by good water management and accessibility with a heap of rain in February so far has resulted in moderate crops but the fruit looks good - in fact it looks better here than in any other South Australian region," he said. 

"The interesting point is late ripening which is a real positive."

In addition to good health in the vineyards and a positive outlook, community collaboration has seen spirits buoyed with fundraising efforts to assist nearby fire-affected regions raising more than $100,000 in donations.

""It's been a devastating couple of months for our cool climate neighbours in the Adelaide Hills, friends in Kangaroo Island, and many other parts of Australia," said McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association (MVGWTA) general manager Jennifer Lynch. 

"The spirit of inter-regional collaboration and generosity has been truly heartwarming. Many of our region's producers have hosted charity events, auctions and even donated labour and equipment to assist in fire recovery efforts.

"McLaren Vale was lucky to be spared - we approach vintage 2020 with an overwhelming sense of gratitude."
Paul Carpenter, winemaker at Ryecroft and Longline Wines, highlights the "trilogy of McLaren Vale reds" as standout varieties to watch this vintage.

"Grape quality and resultant wine quality looks particularly promising in shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and grenache," he said. "Shiraz, at this early stage, looks to be the star of the vintage with moderate crops and smallish berry size heading for concentrated flavours."

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