Video: Sun rises on vintage harvest

THINGS are looking sunny for the beginning of the region’s wine harvest, although most in the industry have learnt not to count their grapes before they’re in the press.

Anderson Winery at Rutherglen was one of the first out of the blocks yesterday morning when it began picking muscat grapes for its delicate sparkling wine.

Click play for a time-lapse video of the sun rising on harvest (iPhone app users can tap 'Video').

Winemaker Howard Anderson remains optimistic about the months of harvesting ahead despite losing 50 per cent of his durif and 30 per cent of his grape during the January heat wave.

He is just hopeful there’s no repeat of last year’s “monsoonal” rain.

“It seems like we always get floods or bushfire. The average is always perfect,” Mr Anderson noted wryly.

In the same region, Rutherglen Estates had even better fortunes.

Chief executive Phil Chamberlain said the leafy canopy on their vines protected the majority of grapes from the harsh summer sun.

Mr Chamberlain said the dry conditions had allowed them to better manage growing conditions.

“If they get too much readily available water they keep on growing flat and flabby,” he said.

Rutherglen Estates was to begin its harvest of muscat grape at midnight last night, so the grapes were still cool in the wee hours of this morning when they were brought into the shed.

Across in another Border wine region, King Valley Vignerons executive officer Dean Cleave-Smith said they were preparing for the first fruit to come off the vines in the next week or so.

He said there wasn’t any major problem with grape sunburn in the area.

“If we have dry, mild conditions to April it’s setting up to be a good season,” he said.

“But of course nature can change its mind fairly quickly.”

Closer to the mountains, the Victorian Alps Winery plans to start harvesting sauvignon blanc tomorrow.

Managing director Shayne Cunningham said it had been warm, but not hot enough to cause any dramas.

“If the weather stays as it is it will be really good for all wines, but especially for reds and chardonnay,” he said.

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