Through mid-April, violent storms battered New South Wales; particularly around the Sydney, Central Coast and Hunter Valley regions. In the immediate aftermath of these storms, the affected regions suffered from flooding, power outages and downed communications that at the time of writing still continue in certain areas. We are relieved to report that the Hunter Valley wine country, particularly around the Pokolbin area, remained relatively unscathed through these storms.
Whilst some producers suffered from loss of topsoil and for a while lost access to their vineyards, long-term power outages were rare and damage to actual winemaking capabilities (vines, equipment, tanks barrels etc) was minimal. Here at the winery we were amongst the luckiest; great vineyard management from Keith and Harry meant that our waterways and creeks carried water straight past the vines. Although we lost communications (phone, mobile and internet) for two full days, at no point did our winery lose power.
This is all very reassuring, however pictures that many would have seen online of vineyards almost underwater, as well as vicious winds whipping through the Hunter Valley, has prompted a lot of our friends, members and the general public to ask if there have been any long-term effects on our vineyards.
The answer is that although fruit is delicate and easily damaged, the vines themselves are incredibly resilient; they shut down over winter as protection from frost, and are known to tolerate sustained heat and drought without major issues; even benefiting from it.
The rain this week has come well after the crucial vintage period when floods and heavy rain can damage fruit. The vines are currently shedding their leaves (as you can see in the top photograph) and readying themselves for the cold winter months. At the moment the vineyard is about as impervious as it gets, and the last week's weather hasn't done any damage at all. The same applies to almost every vineyard that we have spoken to across NSW from April's wild weather.
For those planning to visit our beautiful wine region this week or in the near future, rest assured. In the days since the storms have passed the area has been blessed with some beautiful sunshine, creating a picturesque green (and essentially dry) Hunter Valley. If anything, with blue skies, all roads open and all businesses open, the Hunter Valley wine region is again ripe for the picking, so to speak.