Australia: Drought notification for the 2014 harvest

Friday March 14 2014 by Vitisphere

While French winemakers have been battered by constant bad weather (and concerned about spring frost, such as that which has just destroyed buds in the Ontario wine region), it is potential drought which is worrying Californian producers and currently hitting their Australian counterparts hard when their harvest is in full swing.  The weather in Australia has been particularly hot and dry during the austral summer, after floods in 2012 and the "normal" 2013 vintage (1.83 million tons of grapes harvested and pressed in 2013). 

Although the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate is toning down its warning about "the hottest summer ever recorded", it is still declaring all of East Australia in a state of drought.  The Australian wine industry's government body (Wine of Australia) is trying to reassure the market, stating that "many regions have had a very good start to the harvest," while "the wine producers have taken proactive steps to minimize the impact of the heatwave by irrigating their vineyards and using canopy management to protect the grapes from the sun."  The impact of the drought on yields is still difficult to estimate, but the Australian Vintage company is cautious.  

In its last annual report, the producer of the McGuiguan, Miranda and Nepenthe ranges states that "the first signs point to a difficult vintage", with the "frost hitting many regions in October" and "the extreme heatwave, these two factors will have an impact on yields."

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