Coolangatta Estate vigneron Greg Bishop was a happy man on Monday towards the end of the best harvest in three years at the Shoalhaven Heads vineyard.
Fires throughout NSW and along the South Coast all but decimated the 2020 harvest due to smoke tainting of the grapes.
And in 2019 the vineyard was targeted by a large population of bats and birds which dramatically reduced the number of grapes that could be picked.
Mr Bishop said 2018 was the last bumper harvest at Coolangatta Estate producing the largest ever quantity of grapes and arguably the best quality of fruit in the vineyard's 30 year history.
But a new record was set last week when enough grapes were harvested for the winemakers at Tyrrell's to produce 440 cases of the low alcohol sparkling style known as frizzante.
"Normally we pick enough for 250 cases of frizzante and last year we did 320," Mr Bishop said.
The last varieties picked this year are tannat and chambourcin which were double netted late last week to help protect them from the birds.
Mr Bishop said the lorikeets were particularly interested in the grapes this year and did target his prime block of semillon vines and the chambourcin.
But he said he was particularly happy with the semillon he was able to pick this year and was also able to harvest a good quantity of the red variety tempranillo which is not possible every year.
"This year is right up there," Mr Bishop said.
"Some of the earlier varieties we picked this year including the chardonnay, the verdelho and the first semillon in particular are going to make really smart wines.
"Our winemakers at Tyrrell's were very happy with the quality of the fruit particularly the first semillon grapes we picked.
"I wish we had a few more reds but generally I am pretty happy with this year's harvest."
Mr Bishop said fortunately the Shoalhaven had less rain than northern parts of the state in February and that was a good thing leading up to harvest.
He said the 2021 frizzante would be back in the cellar door in six weeks, the white wines will be bottled within six months and the reds will arrive in early 2022.
Frizzante is proving one of the most popular wines produced by Coolangatta Estate and sells out every year. Mr Bishop is hoping the record amount of red grape varieties picked for the sparkling wine helps satisfy the growing demand.
The annual harvest in the Shoalhaven Coast wine region vineyards provides jobs for dozens of local residents.
In the past grape picking in the region has attracted a number of backpackers. But the impact on international travel by COVID-19 prevented that from happening this year.
The story: Best wine harvest in three years at Coolangatta Estate first appeared in the Illawarra Mercury.
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