Season's ripe for fine wine

WHILE farmers in the region have been carefully watching the weather forecasts and updating their bushfire response plans, local wine makers are now deep into a new vintage, with the hot summer shaping up to be a good year for reds.

The cloudy green fruit over at Lark Hill just outside of Bungendore is within a couple of weeks of veraison, the distinct stage in the season when fruit stops growing and starts ripening.

Winemaker Chris Carpenter said consistent warm weather during the crucial flowering stage last November has set the vineyard up with plenty of riesling and chardonnay fruit, which will be picked between mid-March for the sparkling varieties and up to mid-May for some of the rieslings. 

"The vines are carrying a slightly higher crop then we usually would for such a hot summer," Mr Carpenter said. 

"What we're really looking for now is a bit of rain and a cool change, and perhaps even thinning the amount of fruit to ease the strain on the vine and get the fruit right," he said. 

The Carpenter family also owns Dark Horse vineyard on the other side of Canberra, which focuses more on red varieties, predominantly shiraz and sangiovese. 

The vineyard grew its first vintage last year, but lost 80 per cent of the crop to a hail storm last February. 

"The big thing for us this year is that second vintage from Dark Horse," Mr Carpenter said."We've got our fingers crossed for a more normal year, and it looks like there will be a lot of fruit. That will give us enough shiraz and sangiovese to do a few of the more interesting wines with," he said. 

Mr Carpenter is also the vice president of local winemaking body the Canberra District Vignerons Association. 

He said that from talking to his colleagues in the Canberra district, it was shaping up to be a good year for local wine. 

"It's very similar across the board. There's low disease pressure, which is a result of how hot and dry it's been," he said. 

"Across the region people are looking at healthy vines and healthy crops. So it's a promising year. It will certainly be a good year for reds."

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