Topics:  chardonnay, crop, grape harvest, harvest, moffatdale, semillon, south burnett, verdehlo, wine

Ripe for the picking

PERFECT CONDITIONS: Weather conditions in the South Burnett have been spot on for producing extremely high quality grapes.
PERFECT CONDITIONS: Weather conditions in the South Burnett have been spot on for producing extremely high quality grapes. Kate Benedict

THIS year's crop could put South Burnett wine makers on the map.

The long, hot, dry days and cool nights have been ideal for growing grapes in the lead-up to the start of the harvest next week.

And winemakers are brimming with excitement at the prospect of a bumper crop.

South Burnett Wine Industry Association president Jason Kinsella said exceptional weather conditions had led to the best crop ever seen in the area.

"This really could be the year that puts the South Burnett on the map," Mr Kinsella said.

"It's very exciting.

"For many years we have battled the weather, but for everyone else who would unfortunately love rain it has meant a fantastic season for us this year."

Mr Kinsella said South Burnett winemakers would pick about 700 tonnes this vintage.

"That will give us just over 500,000 bottles of wine," he said.

"I would say this year we will see 60% white wine and 40% red wine produced in this region."

He said weather conditions had been perfect to develop fruit quality.

"This long, hot dry summer has been perfect. It has been the best growing season we have ever had," Mr Kinsella said.

"What we have experienced this season has been the traditional South Australian summer - long hot dry days with cool nights, which is just what you want for grapes."

And as a result, South Burnett vineyards are expecting a great harvest as they kick off with the white grapes next week.

"What we are seeing is beautiful clean fruit completely free of mildews and exceptional ripe fruit characteristics," Mr Kinsella said.

"Because we have had adequate irrigation water, the crop load is very good and the quality is exceptional.

"Here at Moffatdale Ridge we will be picking Verdelho starting next Tuesday and Chardonnay and Semillon soon after.

"The fruit will all come on at the same time, so pretty much everyone will be starting next week and picking for about a month, and then the reds will be ripe and we will move on to picking the reds."



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