There is plenty of excitement in the air as Vintage 2016 officially begins in the Hunter Valley! As ever, hopes are high that 2016 will be another great year for Hunter Valley wine.
The harvest usually lasts about six weeks beginning with white varieties including semillon and chardonnay, before ending in February with the reds.
After an extraordinary vintage in 2014, this year looks to be a little more challenging for Hunter Valley winemakers with rain delaying the final ripening of grapes. Damage from earlier hail has also caused a few problems in some vineyards, but there is still plenty of great fruit around.
Hunter winemaker Andrew Margan, speaking to ABC News on 29th December, said that recent rain has had an impact.
“We haven’t had a lot of drying weather since so there’s a lot of moisture lying about the ground and as a result the grape ripening has probably been delayed just a little bit,” he said.
“We look like starting normally rather than a week earlier like we would have if we didn’t have that rain.”
However, Hunter Valley vignerons are confident the wet weather won’t impact the quality of this year’s vintage and it was a similar story last year with wet weather disrupting the pick and leaving grapes vulnerable to disease.
At higher risk of problems are the reds, which are left to ripen on the vine longer and fermented with the skins to provide the colour and the tannin. The next few weeks will be crucial for them.