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Challenging year for Perricoota grape growers

Perricoota Grape Growers Association members have experienced low yields after a challenging year.

RHIANNON HORRELL April 21, 2014 3:16am

Perricoota Grape Growers Association president Richard McLean.


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District grape growers are experiencing low yields after a challenging year, with losses of up to $3 million across the region.

Perricoota Grape Growers Association president and St Anne’s Vineyard chief wine-maker Richard McLean said extreme weather — frost and heat — had taken its toll.

‘‘We were impacted heavily by frost on October 18,’’ he said.

‘‘It was an inversion frost, which means the ground temperature wasn’t the coldest part.’’

He said the coldest air was 1.5m off the ground.

Mr McLean said he remembered his farm manager calling to inform him that the leaves and vines were wilting and turning brown.

‘‘The frost took half the crop from the whole area,’’ he said.

‘‘Some growers lost 100 per cent of their grapes, some only 5 per cent.’’

Mr McLean said the same morning, some grain and canola crops were affected too.

Three heatwaves then further impacted grape growers during January.

‘‘And at 45 or 46°C, it’s the sort of heat not many plants can tolerate,’’ Mr McLean said.

He said the more advanced grapes were affected, especially whites.

‘‘The reds weren’t too damaged.

‘‘(We) lost all of the savignon blanc and only harvested chardonnay.

‘‘But the quality of the reds was really nice.’’

Mr McLean said most ripened throughout February and March.

This year’s vintage was being processed, with harvesting starting around Australia Day and finishing last week.

‘‘We’ve got it all off the vine,’’ Mr McLean said.

‘‘Some is still in the tanks fermenting.’’

He said St Anne’s made a loss of about $1.3million, while $2 to $3 million was lost across the Perricoota region.

‘‘Income will be down, but we will be making a better product,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s been a challenging year, but the results are good.

‘‘Unfortunately some growers had no crops at all, so for those guys it’s tough. But it’s mother nature.’’

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