Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

‘Cracker’ year as grapes win battle with heat

Some yields might be down but the quality of their crops has pleased grape growers.

ELAINE COONEY March 27, 2014 4:05am

Whistling Eagle’s Ian Rathjen is delighted with this year’s crops.

District vineyard owners are reporting a good year for the grape harvest despite the heat wave in January.

Colbinabbin’s Whistling Eagle vineyard owner Ian Rathjen said the hot spell hit at a crucial time in the ripening process and vineyard staff responded by providing as much water as required.

He said the hot weather began at the start of the veraison process, which is when the sugar starts to develop and red grapes begin to change colour.

‘‘There was a little bit of damage but vines are tough things and battle through pretty well,’’ he said.

Lake Cooper’s manager Don Risstrom blamed the heat for a lower yield but said the quality of the grapes was excellent this year.

He said the cold snap in spring also played a part in the poor fruit setwhen the fertilised flower begins to develop into a berry.

Mr Risstrom is finished with the harvest season which took two weeks compared to the usual three.

He said the Shiraz grape was the vineyard’s best and went into A grade fruit.

Mr Rathjen could not choose which of his grapes performed best in his vineyard.

He joked that the comparison would be like choosing one child over another.

He admitted to enjoying working with the Sangiovese grape because it was the most difficult to manage and required a lot of attention.

Mr Rathjen said the grapes ripened earlier this year and said the quality was similar to last year.

‘‘2013 was a cracker of a year,’’ he said.

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