Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Vineyard and Wine industry update

I thought it was about time I gave you all an update on the vineyard! We are currently in the last month of winter. We have had a (relatively) good winter so far. We are only approx. 15mm below our long term average rainfall for the year, and things are looking quite good. If this continues for the rest of the year it will be our first average rainfall year in about 5.

The cover crops are starting to grow more rapidly now (and so are the weeds). We are starting to think about when we should be mowing them down, as we want as much organic material as possible produced without using up all of the available soil moisture.

Pruning is beginning to wind up with only Chardonnay and Sauv. Blanc. blocks still to go. We look like getting finished in fairly good time, with the vines already starting to weep when cut (so tying rods down to wire is becoming a more urgent job to do). We have been pruning our vines fairly hard this year due to the severe surplus of wine in the Australian industry. We have pulled vines out (and left area bare), over the last few years. We are not expecting to be able sell all of the grapes we will produce in the upcoming vintage, we are going to limit our yields with heavy pruning (this should also have a positive impact on quality).

Prices we will be paid this year for our grapes will be well below our cost of production, the temptation is to produce more tonnes to offset these low prices, however this will not help the overall industry and if many growers adopt that kind of philosophy the wine industry will remain in the doldrums for a long period of time. Financial viability for grape growers in Australia is going to a major issue over the next few years. Our company requires a 30% lift in grape prices just to break even, if this does not happen in the next 2-3 years we will not be able to survive.

Ten years ago our family business supported 3 families - now it can not even support one (in that time we have expanded the area we farm and improved our mix of grape varieties). We are attempting to value add to our grapes with our label Mad Dog wines, but we have a long way to go before that will make much contribution to our financial bottom line.

Anyway enough doom and gloom, the answer is for everyone to drink up! Cheers!

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