The past week or so has seen a tremendous amount of rain falling throughout South Eastern Australia, with some exceptional results. Of most immediate concern from the massive downpour (up to 93mm in 24 hours in parts of Victoria) is the ensuing flooding currently experienced in Northern Victoria.
Of note, hundreds of homes have been evacuated, particularly in Wangaratta, Bright and Horsham, with Shepparton also now under threat. But the rain hase affected more than just homes, judging by some of the pictures that have been coming through. One of the areas hit hard by an onslaught of water has been the King Valley in Victoria's North East, with several winemakers literally watching their vines go under water.
One such vineyard is that of Dal Zotto at Whitfield, whom apparently lost over $120,000 worth of pumping equipment in the floods. An amazing video of which is below:
Sitting quite close to the Dal Zotto vineyard is De Bortoli King Valley vineyard (source of their celebrated Sero range amongst others) which similarly went underwater this week: (All of these De Bortoli pictures were posted on twitter by Leanne De Bortoli, I hope she doesn't mind me republishing them, for they are dramatic to say the least).
|Sauvignon Blanc vines underwater|
|A sodden row|
|The aftermath = serious cleanup, fence repairs, debris removal..|
The flipside of the floods? Water. Lots of it. Lovely fresh rainwater. There are parts of Northern Victoria where dams are now full that haven't been so for a decade. In fact, farmers describe rain like this as 'money falling from the sky' as it means healthier crops, healthier (fatter) stock and ultimately healthier rural economies.
On the viticultural side, that much rain in the dormant (winter season) is almost ideal. In fact, flood irrigation - where the vineyard is deliberately flooded - is utilised regularly in South Australia's Langhorne Creek with extremely favourable results. The benefits of such large amounts of 'good' water is that it reduces soil salinity, increases moisture content down through the soil horizons, and encourages the growth of desirable winter cover crops, all of which tends to produce healthier vines, better yields and ultimately better winegrapes. The fact that all this rain is falling just before the growing season commences is also near perfect timing, almost like a gift from the gods of agriculture.
Suffice to say that once the tidy up is done (with respect to the unfortunate losses at Dal Zotto) and the vines start growing furiously in the spring sunshine, there will be some happy grape growers in Victoria (and South Australia) looking forward to another top vintage...