Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Australian harvest smaller than 2013, with quality "mixed bag"

Published:  25 March, 2014

The Australian harvest looks to be smaller than 2013, with quality a "mixed bag", say experts.

Bill Hardy, fifth generation winemaker of the Hardys family, said that quantity will be a little bit down in some areas, with Adelaide Hills looking like it's down 15-20% on last year and McLarenVale 10-15%. "The crop is a little lighter", he said.

As for quality, that's a "bit of a mixed bag", he told at ProWein in Dusseldorf earlier this week. "Most people are saying it's probably not of the quality of the 2012 and 2013 vintages, but that it's way better than 2011 - which was a very wet, difficult vintage."

He said the fruit ripeness had not been as high as usual, mostly due to the extreme heat over the summer when the vines shut down at 38 to 40C - South Australia had a record number of days over 40C. "The result for the vines meant that sugar levels are not as high this year - but some would say that's not a bad thing. It will be a big flavour vintage, more concentrated but maybe not with the finesse of the last couple of years," he added.

He said he expected the harvest to come in under last year's 1.85 million tonnes, which would go some way to tackling the country's oversupply issues . "I doubt it will bring us into complete balance," said Hardy. "We still have more stock than we need," he said, referring to the Australian wine industry as a whole.

"Prices in inland areas were quite low this year," he said, "reflecting the surplus that's still floating around. Big companies have taken stick for offering low prices this year, but we can't justify higher prices given the stock situation."

Meanwhile, Negociants managing director Simon Thorpe MW, who has just returned from two weeks travelling to vineyards across Australia, said reports varied across the huge landmass. But he agreed that overall the harvest looks to be smaller. Although, he added, "it's early days. We're happy with the quality of the fruit they've got at Oxford Landing."

The Barossa had a lot of rain, but those in the area are still relatively confident about the vintage, he said. "It's difficult to tell about the quality  - I'm not hearing about rotten grapes - but they would have to manage the intake and not ferment poorer quality fruit."

As for the Hunter Valley - which finished ahead of schedule  -  one of the growers told Thorpe it was one of the top three vintages of the last 30 years. Meanwhile Tasmania has not even begun its harvest, said Thorpe.