Record time for 2018 wine harvest at Coolangatta Estate

Winning wine: Greg Bishop and Ben Wallis could not be happier after good weather meant the 2018 wine harvest at Coolangatta Estate was picked in three weeks. Picture: Greg Ellis.
Winning wine: Greg Bishop and Ben Wallis could not be happier after good weather meant the 2018 wine harvest at Coolangatta Estate was picked in three weeks. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Illawarra’s most awarded wine producer is celebrating its best harvest in 20 years this week after the 2018 vintage was picked in a record three weeks.

Usually the annual grape harvest starts in late January and extends to early March but this year the 50 people employed to pick more wine winners for the Illawarra and Shoalhaven snipped the fruit off the vines in a record three weeks.

2018 Wine Harvest at Coolangatta Estate. Video: Greg Ellis.

Tonnage was also up above 50 tonnes at Coolangatte Estate near Shoalhave Heads prompting vigneron Greg Bishop to describe it as a “one in 20 year harvest”.

Bouyed by the quality as well as the quantity Mr Bishop and cellar door manager Ben Wallis said the weather in recent months played a big part in ensuring the fruit looked fantastic and disease free with higher than normal sugar levels making the whole vintage very sweet in more ways than one.

Team work: Shirley and Ian Salway worked as a team book ending each day. Shirley helped pick the grapes and Ian trucked them to Tyrrell's. Pictures: Greg Ellis.

Team work: Shirley and Ian Salway worked as a team book ending each day. Shirley helped pick the grapes and Ian trucked them to Tyrrell's. Pictures: Greg Ellis.

The 2018 vintage is the first full Riesling harvest after wine makers Tyrrell’s suggested the variety ay work well at Shoalhaven Heads.

And it was the first time Tempranillo has been harvested in three years after birds attacked the red in 2017.

I would call this a one in 20 year season. I reckon it has been spectacular. The weather has just been so kind to us. This has probably been the quickest pick in history too. We took it all off in three weeks which we have never done before.

Greg Bishop

Wine makers at Tyrrell’s in the Hunter are also impressed and predict many more awards for Coolangatta Estate from the latest harvest. Especially the Semillon variety the vineyard is famous for.

“Tyrrell’s think the Semillon is spectacular. The best in 20 years. I think the reds are going to be really special as well,” Mr Bishop said.

Mr Wallis thinks the Riesling will be really good. He can’t wait to see that in the bottle in May/June and said “the Savagnin is going to be a little bit of a surprise factor this year”.

“With today’s pick we will be at just over 50 tonnes for the year. That is getting back to the good old days of good crops and good volume. The best part of that is the quality is there as well.”

Read more: 

2016 Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival. Video: Greg Ellis.
Ben Wallis interview on In The Loop