2019 a challenging vintage for KI wineries

Wine producers on Kangaroo Island have come through a couple of challenging, very dry years, but the 2019 vintage is shaping up to be a good one.

Tam Bailey at Dudley Wines said the 2019 vintage began early in very dry conditions.

"After two very testing years of below average rainfall and heaps of frosty nights, the quality of the grapes has been exceptional and we are looking forward to seeing the final product," Tam said.

"A new challenge this season has been trying to contend with, is an influx of bees at the winery trying to get sugar from every vat of freshly picked grapes.

"It seems the dry season led to very little flowering in bushland, so they headed to Porky Flat winery desperately seeking sugar!"

In the two weeks since the end of harvest, KI wine producers like all primary producers have rejoiced in very good opening season rains and the season was well and truly broken.

Also on the Dudley Peninsula, wine growers Julie and Jamie Helyar at False Cape Wines have also contended with dry conditions.

"With unseasonal dry conditions throughout last winter and spring this led to many frosts and then we had windy conditions throughout flowering so our expectations were down," Julie said.

"The very dry conditions over summer meant the fruit had no disease but also no water for watering.

"Thankfully our vines have their roots down deep into the limestone/terra rosa soil and in the end, we were very happy with the crop levels that were average to well above average in the Shiraz.

"The fruit was of outstanding quality so we are excited to taste the 2019 wine in the future."

Despite the challenging conditions, False Cape Wines was able to again produce excess fruit, with Riesling going to the Clare Valley and Shiraz and Merlot to Padthaway.

"This was a real bonus for us as most of the State was well below their crop averages due to the hot and dry conditions. Might be a positive for Kangaroo Island's cool climate vineyards into the future," she said.

Over on the main section of the Island, wine growers faced similar challenges as the Dudley Peninsula growers.

Yale Norris at The Islander Estate Vineyards said it had been a very challenging year with a dry winter leading into a dry summer resulting in dams drying out.

It was also only the second time in 19 years that the vineyard experienced a frost, resulting in further loss of fruit.

"The rain we did get came at the wrong time with wet, windy conditions leading to a very poor conditions for flowering," Yale said.

All in all, volume was down 32 per cent this harvest at the vineyard.

"After the poor flowering and the dry summer, we had fewer vines in fruit, so we ended up having just enough water for the vines that were producing," he said. "But it was the first time in our history that we ran out of water so that made it very challenging."

The good news is that fruit that was harvested while not spectacular was above average and so the vintage was looking good.

He said he was looking forward to tasting the young wines later this year, and in terms of the premiums, only time would tell.

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