Hot weather yields healthy wine harvest

GLOUCESTER’S extended period of hot dry weather has meant an early harvest for some of the region’s wine growers.

John Tugwood from Tugwood Wines has just completed his annual harvest of Chambourcin about five or six weeks earlier than usual.

“Unlike most other farmers we like the dry - as long as we have water,” Mr Tugwood said.

“Most wine growing areas don’t get any rain in summer. Dry weather means the flavours are more concentrated and fruity where as prolonged periods of wet makes the wine a bit thin.

“In 2012 it was so wet we didn’t pick.” 

Set to the backdrop of the Mograni, the small Tugwood Wines vineyard was established in 1999.

John and wife Helen quickly found that Chambourcin (red) and Chardonnay (white) grapes were best suited to the Gloucester climate and set about planting three acres of vineyard on their 250-acre property.

Chambourcin is a French-American hybrid grape variety with strong resistance to fungal disease that is grown widely in the Hunter and other warm, humid regions across the country.

Mr Tugwood said while the recent dry spell had meant an early harvest, it did not necessarily mean a bumper season.

“It hasn’t been the best season, but in saying that we will still harvest about six to seven tonnes of Chambourcin and probably another one to two tonnes of Chardonnay,” he said.

John and Helen harvested their first serious vintage in 2005. 

The couple produce about 4000 litres of wine a year at the property.

“We used to take it back to Sydney and do it in our garage,” John said.

“The reds take about 18 months to mature where as the whites are about nine to 12 months.”

During harvest the couple call on friends and neighbours to help them with the picking and the processing.

“In a good year we can have as many as 25 here picking,” John said.

“We typically start at about 6am and work through until about 10.30am. A lot of the guys that come up are involved in wine making as a hobby so it’s not too much of an impost.”

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