Mike Hayes and his winemaking and grapegrowing colleagues in Queensland have been to hell and back in the past couple of years.
First the drought. Then the fires. And finally, frost and floods.
But according to Mike, the President of the Queensland Wine Industry Association (QWIA) and the Queensland representative for Wine Australia’s Regional Program, the drought has finally broken in all of Queensland’s wine regions and the sector is back on its feet.
‘It was an eerie feeling to see how tough Mother Nature is; how this country can be so cruel and then suddenly wave a magic wand and grant all the wishes that we hoped for.’
Mike said while the vast majority of vines survived, most vineyards had to cut off their fruit due to water being diverted to keep the dairy cattle alive.
‘But it worked, and now we are all in great shape for the 2021 vintage.’
Mike said Queensland was also fortunate enough to be included in the Wine Australia International Wine Tourism Grant, ‘and as we are under 0.5 per cent of the national total of production, we gratefully accepted the challenge!’
Emerging Variety Wine Challenge
The International Wine Tourism Grant (part of the Austalian Government's Export and Regional Wine Support Package) helped to deliver the recent inaugural Queensland International Emerging Variety Wine Challenge, which proved to be an outstanding success. The concept is now firmly booked in as an annual event.
The Queensland Regional Program has for many years trialled and extended information about emerging varieties suited to Queensland’s viticultural conditions. The Queensland International Emerging Variety Wine Challenge provided an opportunity to further explore how the Regional Program’s activities have assisted Queensland’s wine regions, as it invited its wineries to enter wines that were then judged head-to-head against international wines where the variety originated.
‘For example, Queensland Vermentino v. Sicilian Vermentino, Queensland Tempranillo v. Spanish Tempranillo etc.’, Mike said.
Queensland won eight out of nine trophies with a Barolo the only international winner. Tony Harper, a well-respected national judge and owner of a fine wine store was the Chief Judge.
In total, 87 Queensland wines were placed against their European counterparts from 32 varieties and 27 wineries. Well-established varieties, including Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot, Shiraz, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc were ineligible for this competition.
The judging was held at Stokehouse on the banks of the Brisbane River and following the event a public tasting, master class and presentation dinner was held.
‘It was a fantastic success and we were able to stage it as part of the International Wine Tourism Grant.’
Novel variety trial
The Regional Program is continuing its local trial on varieties that can handle challenging weather patterns in a joint venture between QWIA, Wine Australia, the Queensland College of Wine Tourism, University of Southern Queensland and CSIRO. The project is evaluating new grape varieties bred by CSIRO that are resistant to powdery and downy mildew.
‘This is an excellent trial for Queensland as we are experiencing an increase in humidity and higher than normal night-time temperatures’, Mike said.
Soft pruning demonstration and field day
The Regional Program is also gearing up to host a soft pruning demonstration and field day this year to offer growers greater choices in their vineyards.
Lower alcohol wines
A Regional Program trial will harvest 4 varieties – 2 established and 2 emerging – at 12 Baumé and continue at 0.5 Baumé increments up to 14 Baumé.
‘Once wines have completed their malolactic fermentation there will be a resting period prior to bottling and finally sector and consumer scrutiny to determine whether we can harvest at a lower Baumé level without losing wine quality and integrity.’
Mike said Queensland is the land of opportunity and experimentation when it comes to wine.
‘Locals are increasingly aware of our sector and support for Queensland wines is becoming commonplace amongst the communities.’