Canberra region's 2018 wine harvest looks set to produce some top notch wines


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The Canberra Times


With the 2018 harvest in full swing, winemakers from the Canberra region believe we're in for some truly great wines thanks to warm and dry conditions, and despite a bad hail storm.

With almost all of their grapes picked off the vines, Summerhill Road Vineyard's Sarah McDougall said 2018 is looking like a great vintage for the whole region.

"It's been perfect conditions, with the right amount of sun, quite hot and then a bit of rain at the end, so perfect for us and for the district in general. Over the last seven days we've picked just over 200 tonne [of grapes] across the district and more to come," she said.

The McDougalls invited members of the public to come help with the grape picking at their Bywong vineyard, and also had plenty of help from their two children, Eloise, 3, and Ryder, 1, although their assistance does reduce the crop slightly.

"The kids love the grapes, so we usually lose a few. Because one bunch is usually a glass of wine, so when they eat one - that's a glass gone," she said.

"But every year we encourage people to come and help pick and bring their kids - sometimes we end up with more children and dogs than we do pickers. Which is great because part of farming is just getting everyone to pitch in and it just makes it more fun to realise where your wine is coming from."

Over near Lake George, Lerida Estate's Andrew McFadzean said their harvest was also going, "really, really well".

"It's been a great vintage for fruit for us and the shiraz in particular is looking really good," he said.

"Overall it's been very warm and very dry. There's no reason that with the current weather forecast, and there is a little bit of rain coming but nothing particularly scary, that the conditions shouldn't make it a truly spectacular vintage."

But it wasn't all smooth sailing, with some Murrumbateman vineyards hit by a hard and fast hail storm on January 9.

Clonakilla's head winemaker Tim Kirk said their south-west facing vines were hit the hardest, and they lost about, "10 to 20 per cent of the crop".

"The thing that kind of saved us was the timing of it cause it was just before the grapes started to soften and ripen, so they were still hard pea-like things," he said.

"When the hail hits and the skin opens you get rot. But the grapes hadn't started to ripen, they were still hard."

Clonakilla is almost at the end of their grape picking for the season, and despite the crop loss, Mr Kirk is still happy with what has come off the vines.

"The fruit is looking really good. You live and die by the weather cause we're farmers of course and we've had so much warm and dry weather. And the thing that made us a bit nervous was the 70ml of rain at the end of February, it was either going to be a blessing or a curse," he said.

"But we've got beautifully ripe fruit in excellent condition. So basically we're looking at reduced crops but excellent quality."

Kirstin Redding