GALLERY: Heatwave damages winery's sav blanc crops 

Coolangatta Estate winery may not pick a sauvignon blanc crop for the first time in 23 years after the grape variety was badly damaged in last month's heatwave.

Vigneron Greg Bishop said the recent weather extremes had not affected the Shoalhaven Coast as much as other wine regions although the record-heat day in January did take its toll on the sauvignon blanc.

"It is the one variety that did not fare so well," Mr Bishop said.

"We might not be picking that. I think it is because that variety has a thinner skin.

"This might be the first year since 1990 that we have not had a sauvignon blanc crop."

Mr Bishop said the last time the region had experienced a similarly hot day was on New Year's Day in 2006, but that weather event occurred two weeks earlier in the year and the grapes were not as ripe.

"The riper the fruit the more damage it is going to do," he said.

Cellar door manager Ben Wallis said he was amazed at how quickly they had picked the verdelho grapes early on Monday and the savagnin harvest went just as well on Tuesday.

"The verdelho actually went better than we expected so it has been a better start to the harvest than we thought," he said.

Mr Wallis said around six tonnes of verdelho was picked on Monday, making it a full harvest for that variety.

It will be more than a week before the chardonnay and semillon are ready, and the red varieties won't come off the vines until late February.

When that does happen, Mr Bishop expects to breathe a sigh of relief for another year as the 2013 vintage heads off to the winemaker at Tyrrells.

In the meantime, he hopes there won't be too many more storms.

"If we see anything coming we will move and get that semillon in," he said.

"The semillon was affected by the heat and we lost a little bit but overall I don't think the fruit has looked as good as this for a while.

"The verdelho looked really smart yesterday.

"The yield is going to be down though because that is what the drought [late last year] does.

"I think that last bit of rain helped us more than it hindered us. It brought everything on."

The 2013 harvest gets under way at Coolangatta Estate. Picture: GREG ELLIS

The 2013 harvest gets under way at Coolangatta Estate. Picture: GREG ELLIS


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