Early start for 2020 vintage

By Michael Roberts | posted on July 16, 2020

WHILE this year’s wine harvest wasn’t ideal for the bookkeepers, Great Southern growers say 2020 is shaping up as a great vintage.

On the back of warm and dry conditions across WA, grape producers picked their fruit much earlier than usual.

Plantagenet Wines General Manager Tom Wisdom said harvest dates were “massively accelerated” because of above-average temperatures.

“We typically harvest in March and well into late April, but this year it started in February and finished in very early April,” he said.

With Plantagenet Wines already bottling their 2020 vintage, Mr Wisdom said it would be one of the earliest times they had got their product to market.

“Our rieslings and sauvignon blancs from 2020 are already in bottle and we are looking to get them out to the market next month which is really exciting for us,” he said.

Although wine quality is expected to be high, crop yields were down across Australia.

According to the National Vintage Report 2020 compiled by Wine Australia, production levels were at their lowest for more than a decade.

Over 1.5 million tonnes of grapes, the equivalent of over one billion litres of wine, was crushed in 2020, 12 per cent lower than 2019 values.

Denmark wine producer Paul Nelson said some of his varieties were down as much as 50 per cent on yield.

“Yields were a little down in Western Australia, but regionally we faired the best,” he said.

“The Great Southern has been fairing consistently well in the past five years compared to a number of other regions.

“We are not seeing the major stresses of climate change as other areas are, but we are certainly seeing the impacts to a smaller degree. Rainfall last year had a major impact.”

So, what does it all mean for the consumer?

As grapes ripened earlier than expected, Mr Nelson said the 2020 vintage would hold lots of upfront fruit flavours.

“It’s going to be a quality year, not a classical, but a great year,” he said.

With Western Australians forced to holiday closer to home this winter, Mr Nelson said cellar door sales had received a big boost.

“Traditionally we wouldn’t really open our cellar door through this period,” he said.

“But we have been inundated with interested drinkers and wine lovers, so it’s been a bit of a turn of events.”