West Australian wine producing regions enjoy a remarkable consistency in the production of premium quality wines, as can be seen from the following vintage reports. This is due in many respects to an assured winter rainfallfor each of the eight wine regions, and a correspondingly limited pattern of summer rainfall. Modern viticultural practices are continually being refined to meet the specific conditions which West Australian vineyards endure. Added to these factors is the constant upgrading of wine making equipment and technology, to extract the very best results from the premium fruit harvested.
While some great red and white wines have been produced from past vintages, West Australia promises exciting potential to produce even greater wines, in the coming decade. We hope you will enjoy the opportunity to taste and savour some of these wines in the months and years ahead.
1991Bud burst was normal in all regions after a reasonably good winter rainfall. December was cooler than normal followed by dry weather through January and February when some severe heat occurred. All varieties ripened in ideal conditions to provide an excellent vintage, in Margaret River and the Great Southern regions.
1992After a very mild winter but with reasonably good rainfall, a normal bud burst occurred. A mild summer provided for almost perfect conditions for harvest, some rain occurred during mid harvest in early March in the Margaret River and adjacent regions.
1993Conditions up to mid September were aided by a good winter. However, cold and windy conditions including some hail caused difficulties particularly for earlier flowering varieties in coastal regions of the south. Mild, warm and dry conditions from January through to March provided a cool and dry growing season in most regions.
1994Good, above average winter rain fall provided for a good start to all regions followed by a mild summer with extended ripening particularly in the Margaret River and Great Southern regions. Fruit from these regions showed good concentration and full ripeness.
1995A mild winter, with below average rainfall in most regions was followed by a dry spring and summer. Warm to hot conditions led to an earlier then usual harvest but produced excellent wines from red varieties in the Margaret River and Great Southern regions.
1996Spring rainfall ensured a good start to the season and with sunny, warm summer weather most regions enjoyed ideal ripening conditions with a dry, warm spell through January and February aiding the development of great flavour and full ripeness.
1997Winter rains were plentiful and were followed up by ample rain in spring which ensured a vigorous start to the growing period. Margaret River was affected by strong winds during flowering particularly for Chardonnay. Humidity remained high through from mid January to the end of February necessitating a lot of work in the vineyards to allow light penetration and airflow. It was a season of challenges but eventually the vintage could be declared successful with some fine Cabernet from Margaret River and some excellent Shiraz from the Great Southern region.
1998A particularly cold and dry winter was followed by mild sunny weather during bud burst with good rains falling in November. With the emergence of drier, hot conditions in December, followed by warm sunny days but very cool nights in most southern regions, allowed for a slightly later harvest. Rain in March delayed picking which eventually delayed the harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon well into April in the Margaret River, Manjimup / Pemberton and Great Southern areas. An excellent vintage in the Swan District.
1999After good winter rains and a reasonably late spring October and November provided excellent weather with a good fruit set. Harvesting in most of the Great Southern regions including Margaret River and Manjimup / Pemberton was uneventful until the emergence in March of three consecutive depressions associated with cyclones in descending order they cleared by early April and harvest was completed successfully to provide a classic red vintage with great ripeness and softness of tannins.
2000After a strong winter rainfall, rain continued into early September with dry weather setting in November with above average temperatures in many regions which continued on through December. January was unusually wet and February continued this pattern particularly in the Margaret River region. Despite the emergence of one cyclonic depression which went inland and between Margaret River, Manjimup / Pemberton and the Great Southern region. Mild conditions followed through to the completion of harvest, although late rain affected parts of the Great Southern Region.
2001Excellent, new vine growth resulted from good winter rains followed by a dry and mild period from September through to March in the Southern regions. These ideal conditions resulted in rapid and healthy growth with full vine development completed a month early, by late November. A very good harvest in most regions.
2002Below average winter rainfall resulted in an early and somewhat uneven bud burst with early maturing white varieties most affected. The dry conditions gave way in spring to some good rainfall throughout the growing season. This created excellent ripening conditions in mild summer weather with cool nights. Yields in most regions from the Swan District, south through the Peel, Geographe and Margaret River regions were lighter than average but the resulting red wines showed excellent concentration and finesse.
2003The pattern established in the previous year with record low rainfall was repeated although to a lesser extent, with below average rains during winter. Spring saw a return to normal rainfall patterns through to November with mild days and very cool nights in most regions. February became extremely hot and cool weather returned in March and April. Variable weather created some initial problems in most regions, however red wines in most of the Swan District, Perth Hills and Margaret River show early potential of excellent quality.
2004Most regions experienced good winter rains which then turned to dry mild summer weather from November. Ripening in the Margaret River region was slower than most vintages but the resulting wines showed well defined fruit flavours in both reds and whites. Excellent intensity of flavour was particularly noticeable in red wines from the Great Southern region.
2005After a mild winter with rainfall lower than average, Spring, (Sept-Oct) was very dry in most regions. Early heat in late November, and December in the Great Southern region coincided with flowering. Harvest commenced in the Swan Valley in late January with excellent quality fruit. The impact of mild summer conditions and the absence of severe heat, allowed a smooth harvest in Geographe, Blackwood and Margaret River with excellent flavours and ripe tannins. Significantly reduced yields for white varietals was also reflected to some extent with the main red varieties, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon yielding less than the previous year, in all regions. Early indications show excellent intensity of fruit flavours for both red and white varietals.
2006Following above average rainfall in each of the nine wine regions during Spring, the entire southern area of Western Australia experienced an abnormally cool summer with lower daytime temperatures. In what can only be described as a very awkward vintage the effect of cooler temperatures in some regions impacted on Spring growth coupled with a reduced fruit set particularly for white varieties. Yields in major regions such as Margaret River and the Great Southern were also significantly reduced for premium red varieties. Where viticultural management remained very focused the resulting fruit from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz produced some promising wines with slightly lower alcohol levels but enhanced by natural acid and good flavours.
2007A season marked by mild weather conditions in spring following below normal winter rainfall. Most of the winegrowing regions recorded only half the annual average rainfall. November and December were marked by several extremely hot days with milder conditions returning in the new year, and an earlier harvest with reduced yields. White wine varieties already show good intensity of fruit and excellent quality. Red varietals appear promising with better overall quality across the main producing regions of Margaret River, Great Southern and Geographe.
2008A combination of good winter rainfall in the south-west growing regions, and below average falls in the Great Southern, resulted in an excellent back-up to the previous vintage. White styles in most regions are exciting with high varietal definition evident, particularly with Chardonnay. All red varieties again show excellent fruit intensity, with Shiraz and Pinot Noir in the Great Southern, and Cabernet Sauvignon in Margaret River.
2009Supported by good spring rainfall, all producing regions were well prepared for an outstanding vintage. Cooler and mild summer conditions provided ideal harvest weather, with lighter yields, but optimum fruit ripeness. Each of the main regions,
previewed exceptional fruit quality. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon show superb flavours and intensity from Margaret River, with Shiraz and all white varietals highlighting the Great Southern vintage results.
Vintage ratings are based on results from the 9 wine regions in West Australia.
westaustraliawine.com Weather Watch
This feature follows the West Australian weather developments each week. Learn how it impacts on the vine growth and eventual harvest results. Updated regularly with regional comments. As West Australia’s wine regions are located in the southern hemisphere the winter/summer seasons are the opposite to those of the wine growing regions of the northern hemisphere.
Winter rains commence in April/May through to August/September with Spring growth of vines commencing in August/September. Harvest in the northern most wine regions of West Australia commences at the end of January/early February and moves southward through the remainder of the regions until completion by the end of April. To follow the seasonal effects upon vine growth and production you’ll find the satellite image shows developing, and existing weather patterns, as they affect these wine regions throughout the year.
Source: JMA and NOAA GOES-9 image via Bureau of Meteorology.
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