Article by: Hari Yellina
Mohamad Muzamil and his colleagues at the Domaine A vineyard in Southern Tasmania are picking Sauvignon Blanc grapes with great care. Due to low yields across the island state, every Tasmanian grape this year is valuable. Conor van der Reest, winemaker for Domaine A and Moorilla, has inspected the group’s three vineyards in Tasmania’s north and south, and the grape counts aren’t looking good. “We’re definitely down 60% to 80%,” Mr van der Reest said, adding that “some of my other friends in the industry are claiming they’re down between 80 and 90% on various sites.”
“Tasmania is an odd place in that it has so many diverse regions. Whether it’s our West Tamar vineyard or out here in the Coal River Valley, if one area is down, it tends to be down across the state.” While official harvest data have yet to be released, everyone agrees that the growing season has been difficult. Wine Tasmania’s Paul Smart said the season has been unpredictable across the state. “Some regions of Tasmania are nearing completion, while others have yet to gather a berry,” Mr Smart said. Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on vineyards in the Huon Valley in recent years.
Grapes were rejected in 2019 due to smoke taint from bushfires, while a short but fierce hailstorm smashed across three vineyards in December last year, stripping leaves and destroying shoots. Kate Hill, a vintner in the Huon Valley, had her crops damaged. “It was extremely localised… It’s almost as if the clouds decided, “OK, we’re going for it today,” and the hail began to fall “Ms. Hill explained. It obliterated any prospect of good fruit growth and wreaked havoc on the 2022 harvest. The winemaker is now scrambling to harvest two tonnes of fruit from her vines, despite the fact that she had anticipated 16 tonnes. Dr. Island, a new contract winemaker, is suffering the effects. It established itself in Tasmania’s south before the 2021 harvest, when yields were low. “A lot of our intakes aren’t quite what we expected. Because it’s only a light year, we’re probably about 30% down “Dr. Island’s processing facility’s winemaker, Bobby Kuhne, said
“We have less work, fewer fruit coming in, and less wine leaving… It’s just going to be a few of years, I believe.” It’s also a fruit-gathering competition. “The fruit market is really competitive right now, especially with poor yields,” the young winemaker stated. However, the poor yields have an upside: grape quality is good throughout the state. Mr van der Reest explained, “We’re left with a little crop, with highly concentrated flavour.” As demand for a Tassie drop continues to rise, getting your hands on a bottle of the next vintage will be harder than ever.