Enjoying the spoils: vignerons express grape expectations for vintage

MANAGING METEOROLOGY: De Salis winemaker Charlie Svenson said the harsh conditions made for a beautiful 2014 pinot noir. 
Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER

MANAGING METEOROLOGY: De Salis winemaker Charlie Svenson said the harsh conditions made for a beautiful 2014 pinot noir. Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER

THE 2014 Orange wine region vintage was the best and worst vintage according to Orange winemakers. 

De Salis winemaker Charlie Svenson said his flagship pinot noir was potentially the best he had made while Hedberg Hill owner, Peter Hedberg, said the weather had played havoc with yields and he, among others, lost up to 60 per cent of the harvest.

Mr Svenson said the warm and drier than usual summer period meant his pinot noir grapes had tougher and thicker skin which made for a “fantastic” vintage. 

“It was certainly a challenging year but 2001 was a shocker and in 2010 we had hail and we lost fruit for years,” he said. 

Winemakers were caught off guard because of the drier than usual summer period and then the unusual March soaking where it rained up to 23 times during March and April. 

Mr Svenson said growers had not sprayed for the botrytis bacteria, which thrives in the wet, because it had been dry and by the time the drenching came, for many winemakers it was too late to spray. 

Mr Svenson did not suffer the same fate because his vineyard, Lofty, was of a higher elevation and was used to more rain than others, he said he was always prepared for bunch rot. 

“Those that managed their vineyards well, they were able to navigate the wetter conditions,” he said.

“The chardonnay, sparkling, pinot meunier, they will be of excellent quality.”

“The chardonnay, sparkling, pinot meunier, they will be of excellent quality"

Former Charles Sturt University lecturer in viticulture Peter Hedberg said in his 30 years in Orange he had not seen worse weather for grape growing than was experienced in February and March.

“It was very dry and then the end of February came and it just switched right over,” he said. 

“Lower down [in elevation], they were able to get some fruit in before the rains started, but higher up not so much and botrytis was difficult to keep out.”

According to a Bureau of Metrology spokesperson the average rainfall for March was 64.2 millimetres but in March in 2014, 159.6mm of rain fell over 16 days. 

It had rained only seven days in February and only five in January. 

Mr Hedberg said winemakers would be selective about the grapes they picked and the 2014 vintage would be a wonderful tasting vintage but there would not be much of it. 

Cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz grape varieties struggled but chardonnay and sauvignon blanc did well, the wine producers said. 

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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