Challenging would be an understatement in describing this season!
It is still extremely dry in the south and east of Tassie, as it has been for several seasons at least now. Early spring saw prolonged strong and unusually cold winds which slowed vine development. During flowering we experienced a continuation of the cold gusty conditions, with periods of short sharp rain showers that reduced the berry set significantly – but without making a useful contribution to soil moisture! Most vines flowered “short” – that is, they flowered before they had reached their usual growth stage. I would rate the weather at flowering this year as the worst I have seen since flowering in 2013.
Consequently we are expecting the majority of varieties and blocks to crop very lightly across much of Tassie, and I suspect this will result in a much reduced Tasmanian crop. Coupled with the disastrous conditions in many mainland vineyard districts one could anticipate that the total Australian wine grape crop will be noticeably lower this season.
As the heat and dry continues, and coupled with lower crop levels, we can probably expect an early and frantic vintage – which I feel is a sign of things to come!