The saying every vintage is different is indeed correct. Regions to have wrapped up vintage by the end of February will be the Hunter Valley, the South Burnett, the Darling Downs (except for the latter two there will be summer pruned shiraz harvested next June), the Riverina and that would have to include the Murray Darling as well.

As Darry Osborne said-in his 80 years of experiences in McLaren Vale vintage has only commenced in January three times, two on the 31st, and in 2007 on the 30th. The earliest ever probably. The Hunter Valley as well as the South Burnett did start early, around the end of the first week of January. So what constitutes an early vintage-the date of the start or the date of the wrap-up. The earliest vintage in the Hunter Valley was actually 1981, not 2007, when the wrap-up was mid-February.

I think the wrap-up is highly dependent on summer rainfall during vintage. Heavy rain just draws out the process because harvesting comes to a halt for a week or so. This year in the South Burnett there was drought, and despite two rain events, on January 26 (fittingly) and February 13, vintage was barely interrupted.

By early February the Granite Belt was harvesting pinot noir and chardonnay sparkling base, and Canberra was taking sauvignon blanc. As that goes it sounds like the start of vintage in cooler areas is barrelling forward, not out of control but global warming driven.

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