By Amelia Ball

While it is still too early to predict the full impacts on the 2009 vintage from the South Australian heatwaves and Victorian bushfires, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) is currently undertaking a harvest survey, with findings to be released on Feb 27.

AWBC manager of information and analysis, Lawrie Stanford, said while any losses would hurt growers and producers, it could go some way to correcting the previously anticipated oversupply.

“It might take some or all of the grapes that would have been left on the vine or dropped, which in a way is a positive for the industry on the whole,” he said.

“It’s important to understand it is early days. From experience, we know that things can change. We had a similar heatwave last year and the harvest ended up being average… Anything can happen, however you would have to believe there is downward pressure on the harvest and it’s a matter of whether that eventuates.”

Victorian Wine Industry Association (VWIA) chief executive Joanne Butterworth-Gray said their priority at this stage was a concern for the human element in the equation.

“The human resources that support our agriculturally-based industry are the most valuable and we need to ensure that there has been no loss of life as a result of the devastation wreaked by the fires,” she said.

“At times like this, communication is extremely difficult, with roads still closed and all human lives still not accounted for.”

The VWIA understands some assets have been lost, but like the AWBC, agreed the full impact will not be known for some time.

However, early observations suggest smoke did not linger, which could avoid the smoke taint that can decimate fruit, as was seen in some parts of Victoria in 2007.

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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