Australia Weather News

Winemakers in Victoria have noticed a sudden surge in rosé popularity in the past three years. - ABC

Winemakers in north-east Victoria are rolling out their signature rosé for spring and summer after a successful growing season.

All Saints Estate chief winemaker and co-owner Nick Brown, of Wahgunyah, welcomed the easy growing season after difficulties in 2016.

"We had beautiful, typical Rutherglen vintage warm days, blue skies and cool nights," he said.

"The grapes gradually built up their sugar slowly and produced really nice, clean fruit.

"In 2016 all grape varieties ripened at the same time, so it was a real squeeze on infrastructure."

Frost risk in coming weeks

Despite the dream harvesting season, wine growers in the region are worried about the risk of frost over the next few weeks.

In 2014 All Saints Estate lost 70 per cent of its crop to a late frost.

Mr Brown said he was "crossing his fingers and toes" until Melbourne Cup weekend in early November, when the risk of frost is nearly gone.

"If the weather keeps doing what it's doing — occasional rains with beautiful sunny days in between — we'll be laughing," he said.

"But we never get too far ahead of ourselves because dealing with Mother Nature as we all know can throw some curveballs at us."

Cofield Wines senior winemaker Damien Cofield has been on frost watch for a few weeks.

"In this area we are concerned with October frost. The later the frost, the bigger the damage that can occur," he said.

"There has been some frost. Our bud bursts were about 10 days later than normal, which may have helped us, because last week we had -4 degrees Celsius mornings and our shoots weren't out far enough to get hit."

Pfeiffer Wines winemaker Chris Pfeiffer said the problem with frost was that it could destroy future crops.

"If you lose the buds [to frost burn] then you lose the fruitfulness in the wine," he said.

"You may go from three bunches of grapes to one bunch, having a significant impact on your yield."

Dealing with climate change

Mr Pfeiffer said that over the past 10 years winemakers had had to learn how to deal with climate change.

He said warmer days resulted in grapes maturing faster than normal, so winemakers were harvesting earlier.

"When we started at Pfeiffer's 30 years ago we never worried about looking to pick before the end of February," he said.

"Now we are picking at the beginning of February or even the end of January."

Mr Pfeiffer said climate change affecting the maturation of the grapes would be a challenge for farmers in the years ahead.

"Grapes are generally growing in a shorter growing season, so we now have different characteristics in the grapes that we are having to learn about, how best to make wine from those," he said.

Mr Cofield said climate change was a worry that was always in the back of winemakers' minds.

"Ideally, I'd ask for 12-13mm of rain every fortnight. That would be great but that never happens," he said.

Rosé popularity has grown in recent years

Winemakers in the region have noticed a sudden surge in the popularity of rosé among customers and tourists.

"Particularly in the last three years we've seen as an industry Australia-wide and almost worldwide, domestically rosé has increased in sales by about 15 per cent year-on-year, which is huge," Mr Brown said.

"For some reason it's taken Australia a long time to cotton on to the fact that in a hot, dry climate like Australia, drinking rosé is not a bad thing," Mr Cofield said.

The 2018 rosé from Cofield Wines was recently awarded a silver medal and top of its class at the Rutherglen Wine Show.

Mr Cofield said the winning vintage was a blend of sangiovese and shiraz to achieve a drier savoury finish.

"It's got a little of the strawberries and cream flavour from the shiraz and a little bit of a dry savoury finish from the sangiovese," he said.

Mr Brown said the popular dry rosé from All Saints Estate was a blend of sangiovese grapes from Myrtleford and cabernet sauvignon from All Saints.

"The wine is really crisp and lean, perfect for these spring-summer days," he said.

Pfeiffer Wines has been making rosé for more than 20 years, and creates an off-dry rosé made from five different grape varieties.

"It's generally got merlot, cabernet and shiraz. I often think it smells and tastes like watermelon. That little bit of sweetness is rather pleasant," Mr Pfeiffer said.

ABC