Saviour of grapes could be flavour

KOOTINGAL wine producer David Nicholls, like the rest of his colleagues on the land, is looking to the heavens for help as he contemplates this year’s grape harvest.

Mr Nicholls has Warrina Wines on the Back Kootingal Rd and says the prolonged hot, dry weather has taken its toll on his vines and their valuable crop.

It’s in stark contrast to last year’s harvest when weeks of rain left the grapes battling the botrytis fungus. 

Little leaf growth in the past few months has left the grapes exposed to the relentless heat – and birds – and without decent falls in the next few weeks, he’s unsure if there’ll be much left to pick.

Mr Nicholls grows white (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon and pinot noir) and red (cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot) varieties and says the reds are faring a little better than the whites at this stage.

The vines are planted over two hectares and produced their first harvest in 1992, a good year yielding between 20,000 and 25,000 bottles.

The Nicholls know they’re not looking at anything near that this year, but if they can salvage some of the crop, there may be a silver lining of sorts.

“We could be very lucky in that the grapes we get could have an amazing flavour,” Mr Nicholls said.

“The less there are for the vines to put their effort into, the better it is for those grapes.” 

Unable to water because of problems with the property’s bore, the Nicholls are dependent on the weather and Mr Nicholls said last week another week of 35-40 degree temperatures could well seal their fate for this season.

He still maintains that optimistic outlook so many farmers have though, which helps sustain them when times are bleak. 

“It’s farming. You take the hits and next year you say it will be better, and hopefully it will be.”

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