Vintage is coming

Augusta Margaret River Times
French travellers Lea Gagne and Océane Malagoux were among the first 50 looking for vintage work on Tuesday.
Camera IconFrench travellers Lea Gagne and Océane Malagoux were among the first 50 looking for vintage work on Tuesday. Credit: Warren Hately

The region’s backpacker workers were out in force on Tuesday, with queues outside labour firm Vinepower a signal of the start of this year’s vintage. Some mid-Capes vineyards have already started to harvest, but the season kicked off in earnest this week.

Vinepower staffer Beccy Thomas said more backpackers attended Tuesday’s pre-registration day than the 50 positions on offer, but more work would be available as vintage progressed.

“We employ a lot of workers from the whole region this time of year,” she said. “We gradually take registrations each week to build up to about 200 workers.”

“Registrations are open to locals and we get many different nationalities applying.”

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Last year’s vintage was harried by pests. Vintage 2020 was shaping up to resemble that of 2016, which had very similar low rainfall and early season temperatures and heat.

Margaret River Wine Association chief executive Amanda Whiteland said the outlook for this year’s vintage was bright.

“The season is generally one to two weeks earlier than average, and two to three weeks earlier than last vintage,” she said.

“Some wineries will commence receiving fruit next week and the majority will commence in early February.

“The yields are potentially up to 10 percent below the last five-year average, but higher than the relatively low yields of last vintage,” Ms Whiteland said.

“The quality is looking very good with no disease pressure and very little bird pressure due the abundant marri blossom this year.”

Fine weather and cool nights in coming weeks forecast a good result for vintners.

“The excitement is building for what could be one of the best harvests in the region,” she said.

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