A young winegrower from Qualco called his Dad from the block, late last Friday afternoon and said: ‘Dad… this is the best this property has ever looked’. After a decade of harsh market conditions, the ‘one in a hundred year drought’ and remorseless cost of production increases, the future was glowing almost as green as the shiraz and chardonnay vines in the late afternoon sunshine. This young grower’s observation matched the growing optimism that’s emerged in recent months. The green shoots are real.
Just twenty four hours later, he was with a group of other young growers of the future, sitting around on eskys, sharing a few beers and coming to grips with how mother nature had thrown down another gauntlet to the inland regions that are the undercarriage Australia’s grape and wine supply.
An hour after the call to his dad, the young grower watched in awe as Mother Nature, dark and angry, came hurtling in from the Burra direction and harvested a huge portion of the 2017 crops on to the ground with a wall of high-speed jagged hailstones. Twenty minutes later, she was gone; beating a furious path of destruction from Cadell to Yamba. And it didn’t stop at the border; it ploughed on into the Sunraysia region with equal ferocity and destroyed as many crops there and on the way. She was by no means selective. She took everything… Gum trees, Mallee scrub, stone fruit, citrus, nuts and broad-acre crops. Then she was gone and it was night.
Saturday morning light revealed the carnage.
The father of several of the young blokes around the eskys has been growing grapes around Taylorville for more than 60 years. He still gets out there most days to help out. He said ‘over the years I’ve seen hailstones but never witnessed anything like this, not in 60 years’.