FIRE DAMAGE DOWN UNDER
IT’S ONE THING to have a nice smoky aroma to your wine. It’s another to actually taste real burnt wood. Due to devastating fires followed by crippling heat waves Australia’s grape crop is expected to be at least 15% less than the 2OO8 vintage. After initial estimates put the harvest at between 1.7m and 1.8m tons – on par with the 2OO8 harvest – industry experts now believe the crop could be much smaller. Wildfire damage to Australia’s Yarra Valley region has been estimated to affect more than 15O hectares of grapevines across 29 vineyards. The affected area represented about 5% of the region’s total vineyard plantings, but further damage from smoke taint has yet to be accounted for. The Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association said the Roundstone, Yarra Yarra and Calders wineries have been destroyed. In addition, extremely hot weather before the fires, as well as poor fruit setting conditions in some areas during their spring, also means that some grape yields are up to 5O% below expectations. Reports from other regions include the Yarra Valley at 5O% less than average; Barossa Valley at 2O% to 3O% less than average; Clare at average; Coonawarra at 4O% to 5O% less than average; Mudgee at slightly below average; Hunter Valley at less than 1O% below average; Margaret River just below average and Tasmania at 2O% less than average.