Record vintage on the way

10 Jan, 2001 03:03 PM

WA¹S wine producers are gearing up for what they hope will be an excellent harvest, with good growing conditions providing the backdrop for possibly another record harvest. The harvest starts towards the end of January in the Swan Valley, followed by the South West and Great Southern, and expectations are high of another record picking. The success of the wine grape harvest is tipped to follow that of the table grapes, which is still continuing in some areas. Agriculture WA principal horticulture research officer Tony Devitt said there were hopes of more than 40,000 tonnes being picked for the first time ever, following on from the 39,000t last year. ³We¹ve had a very mild spring and fruit set has been very good,² he said. ³Disease hasn¹t been a major issue and I¹m not aware of any major outbreaks due to dry, sunny conditions.² This is a view backed by Great Southern producers, with many looking forward to good quality pickings come harvest time in mid to late February. ³It¹s early days yet but we¹ve had a good growing season and the weather has meant there¹s been low disease pressure, which is sometimes a problem for us,² Cate Finlay of Mt Barker¹s Goundrey Wines said. ³We¹ll probably be picking earlier than normal but ultimately how good the harvest is will depend on whether the weather¹s kind to us over the next month.² In Margaret River it¹s a similar story, with the Margaret River Wine Industry Associa-tion¹s Sue Jackman describing the growing season as ³excellent². ³There¹s been a little bit of rain at the right times and the conditions have been very good for vineyards, which points to a good harvest,² she said. ³Vineyards in the area have been saying that conditions have been fabulous.² The harvest marks a frenetic time of the year for WA¹s vineyards as they bring in the grapes that will form the 2001 vintage, hopefully continuing the outstanding run of success WA wines have enjoyed in recent years. Mr Devitt said the wine industry was expanding rapidly with a number of new wineries on board. But he believes that, while the quality of the WA product was continuing to grab the world¹s attention, wineries would need to focus increasingly on how they sold their product. ³Wineries will have to be very clever as marketers and all of them will have to put a lot of resources into this side of their business if they¹re going to reap the rewards of growing outstanding grapes and making quality wines,² he said. ³The continued focus on quality will give the local industry greater flexibility to successfully compete in increasingly competitive export markets.² WA wines are enjoying a dream run with exports increasing by 50 per cent in the 12 months to June 2000 and jumping in value from $15.3 million to $22.96m, reflecting a strong demand in the eastern states for the WA product. ÿ


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