Weather woes for vineyards

IT is a watching and waiting game in the Hunter's vineyards as rain continues to play havoc with the harvest.

Most growers say they have finished their harvest of whites but Bruce Tyrrell is not one of them.

"I have about five days worth to go," Mr Tyrrell lamented earlier this week.

"This is not going to destroy the crop but what would be a worry is days of misty, humid weather with no wind."

After a hot, dry spring and early summer, Hunter vineyard soils had been thirsty and cracked.

From Pokolbin to the Upper Hunter, growers said the rains of last weekend had soaked in but ongoing falls could pose problems.

Upper Hunter grower Brett Keeping said it was a matter of keeping a careful watch on the weather. He had harvested 90 per cent of his crop - mostly white varieties - and was counting on the vineyards drying out before starting on the reds.

"The semillon is a standout. We have had a good run with our whites," Mr Keeping said.

The rain has put the reds harvest back by about two weeks, growers say.

Michael De Iuliis of De Iuliis Wines said he sprayed against fungus last week.

Growers agree this season has been kinder than last. Hot weather this year has produced what are said to be high-quality whites, harvested before the rain arrived.

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