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Grampians wine region: What happens during “vintage”?

15 Apr. 2021

The Grampians is one of Australia’s most historical and acclaimed wine regions. Many consider the Grampians the birthplace of Australian sparkling, and wineries such as Seppelt and Best’s Great Western have operated here since the mid-1800s, making it one of our oldest wine regions.

Despite our early reputation for sparkling, the Grampians is a red wine region first and foremost, particularly famous for our elegant, spicy shiraz. Being a cooler climate wine region, it is our sunny autumn days that are the ideal period for harvesting grapes - a process known as “vintage”.

According to Wine Companion:

Vintage refers to the process of harvesting grapes from their vines once they’re perfectly ripe. Winemakers measure grape ripeness, sugar, acid, and tannin levels to determine when they are ready to be picked.

Vintage occurs each year, and in Australia it runs for about two to four months, depending on the region and grape varieties involved. In the Grampians, vintage season tends to take place in March – April.

As our winemakers wrap up their 2021 vintage season, we thought it’d be the perfect time to give you the inside information on the process.

Vintage (in more detail)

Vintage wine (in comparison to a non-vintage wine) consists of grapes that were grown and harvested in a single year. These wines communicate the intricacies of an ENTIRE growing season, which can often be different from the previous year’s wines. The winemaking process starts with the grapes on the vine, but many important steps are taken following the harvest to ensure we produce quality wines.

Tasting and testing the vines

Following the warm summer months, our winemakers visit every vineyard to sample, taste and test the fruit to determine the optimal time to start harvesting. Winemakers must consider grape ripeness, sugar, acid, and tannin levels to know when the right time is to pick.

The harvesting process

Once the winemakers are happy with the taste of the fruit, a harvester is used to collect the grapes. Some are picked by hand during the day - especially the older, more delicate vines or where the site is too steep for machinery. Once harvested, the grapes are transferred to the winery as soon as possible to best retain the freshness of the fruit. Vintage wines are unique and tricky to master, as the grapes must be harvested when they’re perfectly ripe.

With vintage complete, our winemakers then employ a range of different methods and techniques to turn the fruit into wine, eventually bottling it into the award-winning products you know and love.

Sip & savour

With cellar doors re-opened, our local wineries are welcoming you with outstretched arms. On your next visit to the Grampians book a tasting at our picturesque and historic wineries to learn about award-winning wines, winemaking processes and the region's unique history. Or visit Made the Grampians Way to purchase a range of Grampians wine online.

Looking to learn more about the Grampians wine region? Download our Grampians Wine Map to plan a future visit to the region at your own pace or take in the best of the region's food, wine and stunning natural beauty with a personalised tour through the mountains to our cellar doors with Grampians Wine Tours.

Grampians Wine Weekend

Be sure to join us on the first weekend in May to celebrate the Grampians Wine Weekend. You’ll explore award-winning wineries from the undulating hills of Buangor to Halls Gap and everywhere in between. Click here to find out more information on wine pop-ups, masterclasses, tastings and more.