HOT COMMODITY: Winemakers Jason and Susan Kinsella have enjoyed a great summer.
HOT COMMODITY: Winemakers Jason and Susan Kinsella have enjoyed a great summer. Katherine Morris

Sunburnt grapes: A winery's worst nightmare

PRODUCERS aren't the only ones in the vineyard who can get sunburnt.

In fact, sunburn on wine grapes can mean a major loss to the farming community.

Moffatdale Ridge Winery owner Jason Kinsella knows this risk and has been conscious to take extra care of his crops in the warm Summer season.

"Farmers have to be careful of their vineyards, because if it gets too hot, it could ruin all the produce," he said.

"Anything over 35°C, the photosynthesis orifice shuts down and the fruit won't ripen. This is a major cost to growers, as the fruit quality will go down. This hurts wineries because all good wine grows in the vineyard."

Charles Sturt University (CSU) is currently researching this potential cost, while looking into how harsh sunrays and high temperatures really effect wine grape produce.

CSU researcher Dr Joanna Gambetta from the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) has familiarised herself with these issues within the investigation.

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"Sunburn can affect up to 15 per cent of wine grape berries in Australia in any given season," she said.

"The browning, cracking and berry shrivelling means that yields are reduced and the fruit can be downgraded, causing significant economic losses to growers and wineries.

"On a sensitive, fully mature chardonnay grape, symptoms of sunburn can appear within five minutes once surface temperature on the berry reaches ambient temperatures."

Despite the concerns, Mr Kinsella said wineries in the South Burnett were having a fortunate summer.

"Strangely enough, wine grape sunburn is an issue that's occurring further down south, instead of here. We've had a fantastic growing season, we couldn't have had it any better," he said.

"We haven't had big heat loads that the rest of Queensland must have. I'm often sort of surprised because people say we can't have wine grapes in Queensland because it's too hot, but it's not true.

"With 27-30°C sunny days, cool nights, and a bit of clouds, it's actually the perfect ripening weather."

South Burnett

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