Although global warming has not expressed itself with blistering temperatures across eastern Australia during November and December 2007 nevertheless grape growers have found their vines ripening at rapid rates. And so vintage started in January for many warm grape growing regions. Barossa Valley and Mildura chardonnay was coming off in mid and late January, McLaren Vale was taking sauvignon blanc very early, the Hunter was off in late January although rain has slowed progress. Likewise the South Burnett started early January and suffered rain interruption while some Darling Downs vineyards finished red grapes by early February.
The main climatic influence has been a series of low pressure regions (1004 to 1006 mbar) in the Coral Sea and an unusual series of disbursed upper level troughs bringing rain to north-eastern Australia during December and January. The current culprit is cyclone Gene of southern Vanuatu. There has also been a high amount of cloud cover in northern Australia although this has not retarded grape ripening, but appears to have preserved unusually high levels of acids in harvested grapes. The Coral Sea lows encouraged hot and dry winds from central Australia with the result of high 30 oC and even 40 oC days across Victoria, South Australia and spasmodically in Western Australia. At times southern ocean cold fronts have interrupted the northerly winds.
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