Vintage 2022 sees Margaret River region returning to form

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
South By South West winemaker Liv Maiorana and Mij Patterson.
Camera IconSouth By South West winemaker Liv Maiorana and Mij Patterson. Credit: Supplied

Vintage 2022 is shaping up to be a cracker.

A wet winter and dry months during the summer have provided the ideal growing conditions for all the Margaret River region’s varietals, with producers reporting bumper yields.

The great outcome was a welcome shot in the arm for vignerons amid workforce challenges sparked two years ago by the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, WA and Australia’s closed borders, and a ripening trade war with China playing politics with Australian reds.

The situation has forced innovative solutions amid Margaret River vineyards to meet the labour shortage and triggered an increase in machine picking.

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Margaret River Wine Association chief executive Amanda Whiteland said vintage began with “a cracking start”.

“There is lots of marri blossom, which is great for keeping the birds away from the vineyards,” she said.

“With WA’s border kept closed longer than other States, there are definitely labour shortages in the vineyards and the wineries, but the industry is resilient and finding ways to manage.”

Fraser-Gallop Estate owner Nigel Gallop said the hot conditions with little rain in recent months also kept grapes safe from disease, and bumper yields consigned memories of past vintages to the skip bin.

“It’s been quite an unusual year,” he said.

“There’s basically been no rain since November.

“The number of pickers is down slightly, but they work very, very hard and they are quite good at it.”

South By South West winemaker and former Young Gun of Wine finalist Liv Maiorana told the Times vintage 2022 was a welcomed return to “another classically-styled vintage” after the challenges of 2021.

“Although vintage 2022 got off to a slightly later start than usual, since go-time it has been a very fast and compact vintage, and one that looks like the fruit will all be in by Easter,” she said.

“For organic growers like ourselves, the dry, sunny days provided a natural barrier to disease, and the extensive marri blossom has kept the bird pressure at bay.

“Apart from the Christmas heatwave resulting in some weaker vines giving out and some bunches getting sunburnt, the challenges in the vineyard have been minimal.”

Mr Gallop said his vines were hardiest due to a lack of irrigation, meaning they adapted well to the heat.

Howard Park Wines owner Jeff Burch said the first vintage completed under new chief winemaker Nic Bowen was slightly affected by a cold snap in October, but the signature winery’s expansion to include new chardonnay plots and innovation in exports markets gave a positive feeling.

“The consensus so far is that even though yield has been lower than average, the quality of fruit we are seeing gives us great hope that this vintage will result in outstanding wines from both the Margaret River and Great Southern regions,” he said.

“From what we can tell, it’s going to be a great vintage.”

Mr Burch said a billion-dollar fallout from Chinese tariffs imposed in early 2020 created unwelcome turbulence.

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