Orange winemakers prepare for wet growing season, with more wet weather ahead

PROMISING SEASON: President of the Orange Region Vignerons' Association Tom Ward.
PROMISING SEASON: President of the Orange Region Vignerons' Association Tom Ward.

There's an old adage in farming that it's easier to make money from mud than dust, and after battling drought in recent years, district winemakers aren't overly concerned about predictions of a wetter than average spring and summer.

"After four years of drought leading up to 2020 the rain is welcome," said Philip Shaw Wines CEO Damian Shaw.

"Do we want any more rain? No. We like a wet winter and a dry summer. A lot of rain through that growing period when you've got heat causes high humidity and you get disease pressures.

"It can be quite detrimental, but it's also manageable.

"It just takes a lot of planning and hopefully we can manage our way through it."

Local grape vines are entering budburst now - the moment they 'wake up' from their winter dormancy. They'll flower over the next month or so, continuing to grow throughout spring and summer and being harvested in March.

President of the Orange Region Vignerons' Association (ORVA) Canowindra's Tom Ward says it's 'a really good thing' to have a full soil profile at the start of October.

"After coming out of '17, '18 and '19 that were very dry years it's nice to have some moisture in the ground.

"We've just got to stay on the front foot and make sure we've got systems set up to make sure we can minimise disease," he said.

Justin Byrne of Strawhouse Wines said the recent run of wet weather had caused some concern about getting tractors on the vineyard, but the last few weeks had been 'quite good.'

Late rains resulted in a relatively low yield for growers last year, but Mr Byrne isn't too worried about the predicted wetter than average spring and summer.

"There's a fair chance of above average rainfall but it's also not excessive.

"The soil profile is really good. I don't irrigate so it's a pretty good start to the season."

Damian Shaw agrees: "Everything to date for 2022 is looking good and all on track.

"The dams are full, we've got full moisture profile.

"We are concerned about the amount of rain we've had to date and what's to come, but being a farmer you're eternally optimistic about the season ahead.

We are concerned about the amount of rain we've had

Damian Shaw

"It's looking really good and setting us up for a great 2022 harvest."

Mr Ward said a shortage of pickers remained a concern, but was confident this too could be managed with good planning.