Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Winegrowers expect excellent vintage

Heathcote Winegrowers Association president Phil Meehan anticipates a good season ahead.

ZACH HUBBER May 9, 2014 3:10am

Heathcote Winegrowers Association president Phil Meehan samples a batch at his Meehan Vineyard. Photo: ZACH HUBBER

The above average rainfall last month has provided a boost to grape vines across the region before winter.

Heathcote Winegrowers Association president Phil Meehan said he expected excellent wine varieties across the district.

‘‘The rain a few weeks ago (on April 10) did slow things down a bit, however it hasn’t had any detrimental effects that I’m aware of,’’ Mr Meehan said.

‘‘It’s a very strong vintage which has lasted the best part of three months.

‘‘I’d have to say three years ago was a shocking year because of the mildew pressures.

‘‘2012 was warm and dry and the quality was excellent.

‘‘In 2013 we had a little bit of rain and the quality was just superb.’’

Mr Meehan expected his vineyard to produce a quality similar to last year’s.

‘‘Some vineyards were affected by early frosts and several had substantial losses,’’ he said.

‘‘Speaking for myself, I was only slightly affected.’’

Meanwhile, the The Winemakers Federation of Australia has questioned the Australian National Preventative Health Agency’s suggestion to lift the wine tax.

A report the agency released on Thursday argues preferential treatment of wine, particularly at the lower-value end, is likely to be contributing to social and health harms.

While the WFA shared the community’s concern about alcohol-related harm, it claimed the agency’s report did not have clear evidence to support lifting the tax.

Federation chief executive Paul Evans said it was a simplistic response to a complex problem.

‘‘The wine industry is already doing it tough and an increase in taxation at this time is the wrong approach,’’ Mr Evans said.

‘‘The report brushes over disputed research over whether or not at-risk consumers are price sensitive and this is a significant issue because lifting the tax penalises everyone, including the majority of responsible drinkers and the local Australian wine industry winemakers and grape growers.

‘‘Just because some wine is sold at a low price doesn’t necessarily mean it is being irresponsibly consumed.’’

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