Vineyards in the Hunter Valley are wishing the rain away as the harvest begins in earnest – a week or two earlier than normal.
Andrew Cooper of Gartelmann Wines said the extreme heat in recent times had ripened the fruit and brought the harvest forward slightly from recent years.
“Last year was not dissimilar, when the heat produced earlier harvesting than usual. Yields were down, but the concentration of fruit flavour was excellent.
“The challenge at the moment is managing the heat. If you can get the grapes picked without any damage from the extreme temperatures which have prevailed over the past few days then the quality can be extremely high.
“Some local grape growers have been spraying to protect the fruit, using a water based product which acts like a sunscreen,” he said.
The first loads of fruit were picked last weekend in the Hunter Valley. They included verdello and semillon which ripen earlier than many of the other varieties.
Summer (December to February) is harvest time in the Hunter Valley and regarded by many as the most vibrant and exciting time of year. Warm days see both grapes and guests alike cooled by intermittent thunderstorms and cool ocean breezes. Warm summer days provide a perfect backdrop for that special occasion, with amazing star filled evenings when visitors to the region enjoy the wonderful wine, food and accommodation that only the Hunter can offer.