Grab a bottle while you can, some 2022 Tassie wines will be rare

The Sauvignon Blanc grapes picked by Mohamad Muzamil and the team at Domaine A vineyard in southern Tasmania are handled with care.

With yields falling across the island state, every Tasmanian grape in this vintage is precious.

Estate A and Moorilla winemaker Conor van der Reest has inspected the group’s three vineyards in northern and southern Tasmania and grape numbers don’t look good.

“We’re probably down 60-80% and some of my other friends in the industry are saying they’re down 80-90% at some sites,” van der Reest said.

“Tasmania is a fun place in that we have so many different regions. If one area is down it tends to be down statewide, whether it’s our West Tamar vineyard or here in the Coal River Valley.”

Winemaker Conor van der Reest says fruit yield is low in the Moorilla and Estate A vineyards.(ABC News: Luke Bowden )

Difficult growing season

Although official harvest figures are not yet known, there is consensus that the growing season has been difficult.

Paul Smart of Wine Tasmania
Paul Smart of Wine Tasmania says the growing season has been difficult.

Paul Smart, of industry body Wine Tasmania, said the season had been variable in the state.

“Parts of Tasmania are starting to finish, other parts of the state haven’t picked a berry yet,” Mr Smart said.

In the Huon Valley, Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on the vineyards in recent years.

In 2019, bushfire smoke saw the grapes tumble down and in December last year a short but vicious hailstorm ravaged three vineyards, ripping leaves and snapping shoots.

A vine in the Huon Valley partially stripped of young buds and leaves by a hailstorm
Summer hail damaged a number of vineyards in Huon Valley.(Provided: Rosemary Bennett)

Huon Valley winemaker Kate Hill saw her crops destroyed.

“It was really localized…it’s almost like the clouds were coming in and saying, ‘Okay, we’re going today’ and the hailstones came down,” Ms Hill said.

It destroyed any chance of good fruit growth and had a devastating effect on the 2022 vintage

The winemaker is now struggling to get two tons of fruit from her vines; she was expecting 16 tons.

Kate Hill, winemaker
A hailstorm in December impacted winemaker Kate Hill’s chances of a good vintage.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

A lean year

The new contract winemaker, Dr Island, is feeling the impact.

He settled in southern Tasmania before the 2021 vintage, yields were then also down.

“A lot of our intakes are not what we thought they would be. It’s only a light year away, so we’re probably down about 30%,” said Bobby Kuhne, winemaker at the Dr Island processing plant.

“We have less work, less fruit coming in, less wine coming out… it’s just going to be a thin few years, I think.”

It is also a race to obtain fruits.

“It’s quite competitive now in the fruit market, especially with low yields,” said the young winemaker.

man in hat standing in cellar
Bobby Kuhne, winemaker at Dr Island Winemaking.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

The flip side

But there is a flip side to low yields, as grape quality is high statewide.

Wine Grapes, Domaine A Vineyard
Sauvignon Blanc grapes, just picked at Domaine A Vineyard in southern Tasmania(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

“We have a small crop left, with really concentrated flavors,” van der Reest said.

As demand for a Tassie drop continues to rise, getting your hands on a bottle of the next vintage will be harder than ever.

aerial photo of the vineyard partly still under nets
Domaine A Vineyard in the Coal River Valley, where vintage is down this season(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

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