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Frost hits Australian winegrowers

A frost has destroyed wine grape crops at Murrumbateman in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands with some growers saying they have lost 50 to 100% of their crops, while others have said their vines remain unscathed.

Frost damaged crops in Murrumbateman (Image credit: ABC News)

The frost hit last week, across what Australia’s ABC News called “the biggest wine producing region in NSW”.

Winemaker Ken Helm of Helm Wines told Food Magazine that he has lost two vineyards to the frost, but was still confident that he could produce a reasonable crop this season.

He said: “One of the really nice things is that we’ve been contacted from wine makers around Australia and particularly in South Australia.

“I’ve had offers of fruit being shipped across to help me out if we don’t get any fruit this year, which is a very nice gesture that the wine industry pulls together in times of adversity.”

Winemaker Tim Kirk from Clonakilla vineyard told ABC News that he has lost between 60 and 70% of his fruit.

He said: “There’s no doubt that we’re feeling a little bit glum. We’ve got a whole team of staff here who are working in the vineyard through all sorts of weather conditions and to see all of that work kind of reduced to wilting, brown shoots after two hours of sub-zero temperatures, it has an impact on you, it’s quite depressing.”

Horticulturalist Peter Reynolds added: “Some of the guys are just shattered. They’ve gone through the floods 18 months ago, and last year wasn’t that good.

“Then to turn around and get smashed with the frost is just devastating for some of them.”

Kirk told ABC News about the scale and cost of the frost damage on his crops. He added: “Just on my front block, which is really one of our very very favourite blocks for Shiraz Viognier, it just produces the most amazing fruit, we’ve lost 70 per cent there. And for that block alone, you’re looking at well over a million dollars worth of Shiraz Viognier.”

After a warm September many growers in the region had experienced an early bud burst on their vines, which are now struggling as October has proved to be considerably cooler. Another mild frost is expected in the region on Friday, ABC reported.


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