A DRIER growing season with warm days and cool nights has resulted in high-quality wine grapes produced across the state.
Although yields are down on previous years, grapegrowers are optimistic about the quality of wine their grapes will produce.
Langhorne Creek grower Nicole Clark, Kimbolton Vineyards, described the 2018 vintage as “stunning”, with the cabernet sauvignon and shiraz tracking well.
“While I haven’t looked at anything in a winery, what I’m seeing in the vineyards looks exceptional,” she said.
“And the little bit of feedback I have received from winemakers is they are looking at grapes a grade or two higher than normal.”
Across much of the state, crop yields are about 10 per cent to 20pc down on previous years, but with the quality produced, growers are not too concerned.
Mrs Clark, along with her brother Bradley Case, have 57 hectares of vineyards. Their grapes are predominantly cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, but they have also introduced alternative varieties including montepulciano, malbec and fiano.
Their alternate varieties are sold to about seven different wineries, while their main grapes are used for their own Kimbolton Wines, and sold onto Treasury Wine Estates.
In 2006, they grafted 4ha of their first Montepulciano blocks, with this year marking their 10th vintage.
“We are very happy, it’s a great variety to work with, it tolerates the heat and doesn’t have any real disease pressures, as well as having a good flavour profile,” Mrs Clark said.
Having seen a large proportion of winegrapes across the state, Wine Grape Council SA business manager Lisa Bennier said consumers would be “spoilt for choice” once 2018 vintage wines hit the market.
“SA is on target to producing an exceptional vintage both in the warm and cool climate regions,” she said.
“Quality is high across the board thanks to ideal ripening conditions – warm, sunny and dry days, with cooler nights.”
She said yields would be down due to hot conditions in January and February along with frosts in part of the South East during November.
Vintage across the state
Shiraz yields are tracking lower than last year at about 10 per cent to 20pc below the long-term average, but are higher than the five very low yielding years prior to 2017.
The number of out-of-region buyers competing for Riverland grapes has increased, with mainstream and alternative varieties in demand.
There are only a few late parcels of fruit remaining on vines, with reds showing particular promise this year.
The dry season has resulted in concentrated flavour and low disease pressures, with grapes picked at optimal ripeness.
An ‘Indian summer’ has allowed for an earlier vintage, with about 50pc of the region harvested. Early winemaking comments are positive, with good colour and depth of character.
Dry conditions have resulted in excellent quality, and growers have had access to multiple water sources, including recycled water, which has allowed for timely irrigation.