Demand for Australian wine in the overseas market has grown over the past 12 months, which is music to the ears of Rutherglen winemakers as they work on their 2018 vintage.
Rutherglen winemakers have been busy picking and crushing the first grapes of the year and while growers anticipate an average vintage the quality of grapes have been described as “very high”.
Rain that came during late February is not thought to have impacted on the grapes.
“The rain was not as much as we thought it was going to be and probably hasn’t caused any issues that can come with wet weather,” Rutherglen Estates Viticulturist Matthew Partridge told the Free Press.
Rutherglen Estates started picking grapes for their white varieties on February 6, which is an average start.
“We have finished the whites and we have moved on to the reds and we hope to be finished as Easter rolls around,” he said.
Rutherglen Estates Chief Winemaker Marc Scalzo explained there had been a larger demand for wine over the past 12 months.
“The perception of Australian wine is just growing around the world and people are now seeing it for what it is – a high quality product,” he said.
“Everyone feels like the industry is on the turn again and there’s been a lot of positivity around the industry in the last year and a half to two years.
“The China market has been good and China has become our number one country to taste Australian wine, above America and the UK which are both big markets.
“The extra demand is great and the supply and demand curve has come back into line, for a while there we had too much supply.”
The winery has welcomed on board a winemaker from Chablis in France and a budding winemaker from Sonoma Valley in the United States.
“It adds a lot of interest and excitement into the vintage,” Rutherglen Estates Chief Winemaker Marc Scalzo said of the international winemakers.
“They bring their ideas and it stimulates a lot of discussion.”
The winery expects to crush 1000 ton this year, which is about an average crop.
Mr Scalzo said all seasons were different and this year growers experienced a cooler and wetter spring.
“We had a heat spike in January but during February, as the flavour really develops, the weather becomes ideal, cool nights and clear, warm days that are not too hot,” he said.
“It looks like a good season at this stage and fingers crossed that it finishes this way.”
Scion Wines Winemaker and Winemakers of Rutherglen Chairman Rowly Milhinch said we had experienced a hot January but now it was perfect weather in North East Victoria for ripening and picking.
“We have good daylight temperatures and overnight lows are quite cool,” he said.
“This forecast is set to be extended over the next few weeks, which is perfect for finishing season for red wine grapes.
“A lot of Shiraz will be picked this year and Durif, which is our flagship red variety for Rutherglen and will be picked in the next two to four weeks.
“The lead up to this is perfect right now, which is good.”