Was 2020 better than 2019 in Barossa Valley, Australia?

Published on 10/08/2020 by Priscilla Hennekam

Another difficult year for Barossa Valley, it was not enough the suffering that was the 2019 harvest.

 Vineyards in Barossa Valley

The 2019 Harvest


I worked in the 2019 vintage and closely followed all the difficulties the producers had when facing the difficult climatic situations. In 2018 we had slightly below average temperatures which delayed budburst. Then we had frost on September 29th, warmer temperatures in October and November, a late frost on November 8th and finally a hailstorm on November 22, all of which resulted in a very low yield crop. Unfortunately 2020 was no different. This year Barossa was on average 50% below its yield potential, compared to the harvests of the last 10 years. At the winery where I work they chose not to produce rosé wine this year, because they had to decide between making rosé wine or red wine with the little they managed to harvest from the Grenache grape in the 2020 harvest.


The 2020 Harvest


2019 was a dry year for Barossa Valley, the lack of rain in winter and spring combined with a period of strong winds and very cold nights until mid-November, then high temperatures in December and January. The extreme heat with the already dry land led to devastating fires in many parts of Australia, drastically affecting the vine yields. 

“In 2019 it was the driest year on record for the Nuriootpa weather station. (Sub-region in Barossa Valley)” According to Barossa Grape & Wine Association.


But the good news is that at the end of January and February the climate provided some relief for the vineyards, with a maximum temperature of 26.5ºC and a minimum temperature of 13.4ºC combined with 21 mm of rain on the first of February, allowing the vineyards to slow the ripening of their grapes, intensifying flavours, ripening tannins and developing sugar levels at the same time. With low yields in the vines, the vines were able to concentrate more on the few bunches produced this year, producing smaller than normal fruit with exceptional quality. The varieties that stood out in 2020 were Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon.


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