Growers can't wine about crop
SOUTH Burnett wineries are looking to produce some high quality vintage this year with grapes substantially better than last year's crops.
Winemakers faced hardships last year when crops were severely diminished when floods hit south-east Queensland.
Clovely Estate winemaker Kieran Carney said his crops were reduced by three-quarters last year due to the floods, but the region is making a slow and steady recovery.
"One of the issues we faced was being cut-off from the vineyard and the winery," he said.
"At that stage, fruit was ready to pick and we could not get into the vineyard to put on the proper sprays."
Mr Carney said wet conditions are a major concern for winemakers.
"The region will always battle monsoonal conditions," he said.
"The sheer deluge of moisture fosters disease, so the quality of the grapes is lost straightaway.
"Even though it has been wet recently, some of the fruit has not affected by the rain and will produce some good quality wine."
But wet weather is not all bad news for winemakers.
South Burnett Wine Industry Association secretary Paula Greenwood said rain can be beneficial if it leaves soil moisture at optimum levels for growing grapes.
"As this point, it looks like 2013 will be a good season, so hopefully it will be going strong," Mrs Greenwood said.
SBWIA said verdelho grapes have been the standout variety in the white wines category for many years now, but winemakers across the region agree the quality of the fruit has been exceptional this year.
The Winemakers' Federation of Australia released its annual vintage report, which said the nation's vintage is expected to be 4% higher than last year.
According to the report, some of Australia's regions are still recovering from weather events - particularly on the east coast - and some grape growers may quit the wine industry before profits can return.
But Mr Carney said the South Burnett region has been sheltered from the national downturn.
"South Burnett has been protected in a way as we're heavily supported by Queensland consumers and restaurants, and tourism is another big factor," he said.
"Most wine producers develop their wines and then find a market, but in our region we're built on demand.
"So that's been one of the reasons why some Australian producers have come apart," Mr Carney said.
Mrs Greenwood said the winemakers in the South Burnett region work hard and everything is looking very positive for the future.
"The wines in our region have won many awards and the association is very strong in promoting the South Burnett as a tourist destination," she said.