His grape escape cut short

BACK TO WORK: Damien Cofield begins his harvest two weeks earlier than usual, with quality as good as ever but season planning shifting around the early ripening and continuing trend of an early vintage. Picture: MARK JESSERDamien Cofield’s holidays have been cut short, with this year’s vintage starting earlier than ever.

Cofield Wines began picking their Chardonnay grapes on Thursday, two weeks earlier than normal.

Mr Cofield said a second year ofearly ripening pointed towards a shift away from the traditional February start to the season.

“The trend is continuing, we’ve picked three orfour days earlier than what we did last year,” he said.

“The hotter conditions seem to push ripening along, which means you have to pick earlier.

“The last two years werethe first time we’ve picked in January, and a lot of thatalso has to dowith the style of wine we’re making, both sparking-based chardonnaysand moscatoare very early pick styles of wine.

“It’s been an early start but indications are the quality is going to be very high.”

Rutherglen Estatesgeneral manger and chief winemaker Marc Scalzo said their vintage would begin on Monday, and hecouldn’t recall another year he’d started so early.

“There’s no doubt, since the time I’ve been in the industry, that the vintages are coming forward, there’s a definite trend,” he said.

“Climate change skeptics can say what they want, but there’s no doubt the warmer seasons are bringing ripening forward.

“We have to make sure that the varieties we’re choosing to plant are ones that can handle warmer temperatures.”

Mr Scalzo said the warmer temperatures also shortened the length of harvests, requiring more resources.

“Everything ripenstogether, normally our vintage spreads out over a six-week period, last year we did it in four,” he said.

“That compression of the vintage puts a lot of stain on refrigeration, where once you had 45 days to do it, you might have to do it over 30 and all of that fruit has to be chilled.”

The year 2015 was a bumper onefor Australian wine markers with exports jumping 14 per cent to $2.1 billion, the highest value since 2007.

The biggest growth was in the Chinese market, with exports growing 66 per cent and totalling$370 million.

Mr Scalzo said the demand had filtered through to the North East.

“There’s definitely a thirst for Australian wine in China, and our exports were stronger and the best we’ve done,” he said.

“The overall trend has been apush for red wine and there’s been a growing interest there about the health benefits of drinking it.

“The other popular wine is our moscato, and we believe the best moscato in all of Australia comes from Rutherglen.

“We’re really excited andwe hope that trendcontinues.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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