Simon Berry surveys the vines.
Simon Berry surveys the vines. Madeline Grace

How our wineries turned around a tough season

SOUTH Burnett wineries have found new and innovative ways of producing wine after less than ideal weather conditions this harvest season.

Determined not to let the unpredictable storms and intense heat ruin his winery's prospects, Simon Berry from Kingsley Grove Estate picked his grapes earlier than originally planned.

"We picked our merlot grapes Thursday night," Mr Berry said.

"The extreme weather this past week meant we had to.

"We then had problems with our picking machines.

"The buckets broke and the harvest came lighter than expected."

Mr Berry said it wasn't a big deal because unpredictable weather happens often.

He certainly did not let harsh weather conditions ruin his chances of a profitable season.

"For us, in our vineyard, it's always been a labour of love," Mr Berry said.

"It's about making the most of what you're dealt and turning things around.

"We're a little bit selfish in the wine industry because we don't want any rain in January and February.

"When you get rain you get the dilution of the grapes. All the moisture gets sucked up into the grapes which affects the sugar levels."

The grape season begins in September when the vines come back to life.

This is followed by the flowering as the fruit starts to develop.

The white grapes are picked earlier as wineries wait for the red grapes to change colour.

"There's so many different factors that make up a season," Mr Berry said.

"This season has two stories.

"The whites came off really well and the process was clean, but the storms certainly affected our reds."

Mr Berry said the shiraz flavour did not come off as well as he had hoped.

"You can tell because the stems of the grapes are still green instead of browning as they are supposed to," he said.

"Even though the sugar levels are high the green stem means the flavour is off."

He decided against Kingsley Grove's usual table shiraz wine this season and is instead working with the grapes to make a port.

"With the weather cards we've been dealt this will work better for the grapes," Mr Berry said.

Kingsley Winery uses new techniques and technology every season to better their chances of a successful harvest.

This year Mr Berry tried a new yeast range to help the wines' chances.

"Despite the weather affecting the merlot harvest we've still had three wines that are close to perfect," he said.

"I'm particularly pleased with the verdelho, the cabernet sauvignon and the rose.

"This year we've tried something new and instead of having a sweet rose we've made a drier one."