2015 Hunter red wine vintage on a knife edge
As suggested in this ABC article today, it’s a very tricky time in the Hunter Valley, with a serious downpour (some areas received over 100mm of rain in 3 days) threatening the 2015 red wine harvest.
While much of the Chardonnay, Verdelho and a little Sem has already hit the winery (and looking very good judging by reports. Just check out these healthy Tyrrell’s Chardonnay bunches), the important stuff – the Semillon and Shiraz – is still ripening (though Brokenwood has brought in some Shiraz already).
As Andrew Margan pointed out, this is the worst possible time for heavy rain, as grapes that are soft and ripe are particularly prone to splitting, which in turn leads to bortrytis (amongst other things) while also potentially diluting flavour (and pushing back harvest). Plus you can’t spray this close to harvest due to withholding periods, so it is very much a case of watch and wait.
Thankfully it has stopped raining and a cool breeze and sunshine greeted vignerons this morning, so all is not lost:
Further, Hunter viticulturists are particularly on the ball when it comes to coping with rain during harvests (it’s not an uncommon challenge historically) and the famous sandy soils that much of the Semillon is planted on has excellent drainage.
Still, eyes will be literally on the skies over the next week or two, and here’s hoping that this forecast for the next 3 days is accurate.