Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vintage drops on the Granite Belt

January is traditionally the time when Queensland winemakers in the Granite Belt prepare for the start vintage in the coming weeks. Fortunately while we've experienced above average rainfall, there is no flooding to Stanthorpe's vineyards.

Thankfully only minor structural damage followed recent storms. The big challenge is to avoid tractors getting bogged in the vineyards. Above ground the vine vigour has been exceptional with many growers busy 'hedging' their foliage to improve spray application and to reduce shading. Lower that usual temperatures and overcast weather has slowed the fruit ripening and harvest (vintage) is predicted to be later than normal. Like other regions in eastern Australia Downy Mildew has affected a number of vineyards and it has been difficult to maintain an appropriate spray program because of persistent rain and vineyard access.

Harvest yields will be lower that usual due to mould affected fruit, but the good news is that there will be an enough good fruit to ensure sufficient high quality Granite Belt wine will result from the 2011 vintage. Meanwhile tourists continue to find the region attractive, with record December figures for both on line accommodation bookings and sales of local merchandise at the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre.