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Grapes left to rot in worst vintage for many growers

Tuesday March 22, 2011 - 11:46 EDT

More heavy rain in South Australia's Barossa and Clare Valleys has prompted grape growers to describe this year's harvest as the worst rain-affected vintage ever.

Falls in recent days include 51 millimetres at Clare and 65mm at Nuriootpa.

The latest rain means some crops will be left to rot on the vine.

Veteran Barossa grape grower Leo Pech has had 61 years in the industry.

"This is the worst that I have ever experienced and when it is the worst that I have ever experienced it's the worst by a long shot," he said.

"We've had the most rain that I can ever remember - I normally spray four to five times a year and this year I have sprayed 11 times and I have still got fungus in the vines.

"It's the worst year that I have ever experienced in 61 years."

In the Clare Valley, Jim Barry Wines owner Peter Barry says the only positive is that modern spray technology can overcome disease attacks on grapes.

"For an agriculturalist you've always got to look for some light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

"We've got modern sprays and modern spray technology on our side which we really didn't have when we saw conditions like this in '74, so we've still got our fingers crossed."

Brian Smedley from the South Australian Wine Industry Association says the latest damage is yet to unfold.

"[We will] certainly be looking at those grapes quite closely in the next few days," he said.

More moderate rainfall is forecast in coming days.

- ABC

© ABC 2011

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