Hopeful for a repeat season

TOO EARLY TO TELL: Fil Farina said it was still too early to predict next year’s wine vintage.

By Leon Georgiou

NEAR perfect weather conditions made Coonawarra’s 2020-21 wine harvest one of its best in a decade; with Jack Estate winemaker Conrad Slabber labelling it a “unicorn vintage”.

Mr Slabber attributed the strong vintage to perfect weather and some good luck which produced both good quality grapes and a large fruit yield.

“I’ve never seen a vintage like 2021 in the Coonawarra,” Mr Slabber said.

“Usually with big crops, there is a sacrifice in quality.

“But [in 2020-21] the quality was great as well.

“Best quality fruit, biggest crops… perfect.”

Near perfect weather conditions were not confined to the Coonawarra, Wine Australia reported a 44 per cent increase in the volume of fruit crushed within South Australia during 2021 – with the wine state accounting for around 52 per cent of all fruit crushed nationally.

Looking ahead, Elders viticulture agronomist Fil Farina said it was still too early to predict next year’s vintage – with most growers having finished pruning and there being little in the way of shoot growth.

“There’s not much to tell you to be honest, we’re just getting through the bud burst seasonal milestone at the moment,” he said.

“Vines have been dormant over the winter, but the buds begin to grow and then burst in the spring as both the air and soil temperatures increase.”

The next key stage will occur in the middle of November, when shoots will begin to flower and industry experts can begin to predict whether it will be another strong vintage.

For now, growers are hoping for a solid spring, with average rainfall and a good amount of sun.

“September has been a bit drier than what we would have liked,” Mr Farina said.

“But at this stage, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting that October and November are going to see above average rainfall.

“So, we will have to see how it plays out, but so far, it hasn’t been too bad.”