QUICK DOWNTURN: Wineries on the Granite Belt have suffered devastating damage to vineyards after a black frost hit the region last weekend. Picture by Luke Marsden.
QUICK DOWNTURN: Wineries on the Granite Belt have suffered devastating damage to vineyards after a black frost hit the region last weekend. Picture by Luke Marsden.

Frost forces bleak outlook for 2020 vintages

WINEMAKERS’ hopes for a prosperous yield this year have been ruined after a spring frost damaged large portions of Granite Belt vineyards.

Temperatures across the region plummeted on Sunday morning, with Ballandean reaching -4 degrees, bringing with it a “black frost”

Ballandean Estate client relations manager Leeanne Gangemi said the frost, while not typical, was not completely unexpected and winemakers were yet to see how much damage had been caused.

“Black frost is quite different to a white frost and does a lot of damage in places you don’t expect,” Mrs Gangemi said.

“One of the vineyards is fairly severe (with frost damage) but the other farm is pretty good.

“It’s disappointing to see after all the weather catastrophes that we have suffered through.”

According to Mrs Gangemi, growers aren’t out of frost danger until the end of October.

While the extent of the damage is yet to be uncovered at Ballandean Estate, the black frost caused significant setbacks for Symphony Hill Wines.

“We lost on an estimate about 20 per cent of the shiraz and on the white varieties 60 to 70 per cent,” Symphony Hill winemaker Abraham de Klerk said.

“It’s pretty tough; the vineyard will reshoot, but I think I’ve lost the crop.”

The damage to vineyards has been counteracted by the region’s growing demand at cellar doors.

Mrs Gangemi said the winery, which was already working with lower than average crops, would begin exploring alternative ways to source grapes.

“We’ve had high turnover in the cellar door because tourism has been fantastic because people are buying win,” she said.

“But it’ll just mean a little less fruit again this year.

“We’re already looking to try and contract fruit from other growers; it’s not something we do often.

“We’ve got 100 acres of grapes so we should be able to supply our own, but the weather hasn’t been kind.”

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