2018 Vintage Snapshot

New South Wales

James Halliday by James Halliday

2018 Vintage Snapshot: New South Wales

Hunter Valley

The headline came from one vigneron who said, ‘Hunter Valley vignerons are happy when it doesn’t rain, and we certainly haven’t had much in the past 10 months’. No surprise then that the flags are being run out for the 2018 shiraz; comparisons to ’14 abound. Semillon was more of a mixed bag, with dry weather and high temperatures: ’03 a similar vintage. Overall yields were down, just as quality was high.

Upper Hunter started dry and fnished dry, with no rain in between – one of the driest in living memory. Quality good. Yields not.


Orange had 33% of the long-term average rain for winter, and only 73% of the 12-month average. Irrigation was essential. Vintage followed very warm and generally stable weather right through to the end. Then – in best Australian bush folk speak – apart from a smattering of annoying hailstorms and a major bushfire, everything was fine. Yields were moderate, chardonnay the best white, shiraz, merlot and cabernet sauvignon the reds to stand up. Overall quality ‘better than ’17’.

Canberra District

To say the weather in the Canberra District was unsettled from September ’17 through to February ’18 is an understatement, with periods of drought, heavy rain, hailstorms, etc. A warm, dry March, following the last week of February, was ideal, making harvesting ever so easy. Fruit quality excellent; riesling and shiraz viognier outstanding. One region elder said, ‘We’re looking at a truly great year, the closest parallel being ’09.’


Spring in Hilltops started with very cool temperatures and, even when summer arrived, the temperature range through December, January, February, March and April ranged between low teens and maximums in the mid-20s. The growing degree days total was low for the region. Rain at the right time helped promote vine growth, but all went well, with harvest conditions ideal with minimum rain. All red varieties, including shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, have intense colour; sangiovese and nebbiolo are the standouts for the vintage.


Tumbarumba had a warm and dry growing season, which was balanced by some late summer rain to rejuvenate the vines. Moderate yields of high quality chardonnay and pinot noir are the standouts.

Southern Highlands

Alternating periods of dry weather and summer storms in the Southern Highlands resulted in low yields and a vintage that was ultimately saved by a dry, warm March. Albarino, pinot gris, pinot noir and tempranillo are the standouts.

Shoalhaven Coast

Shoalhaven Coast experienced warm and dry summer conditions to set up one of the best vintages of the last 20 years, with next to no disease pressure in a region usually challenged by humidity. Yields were moderate to high, the quality excellent across the range, with riesling, semillon, savagnin and tannat the standouts.


Riverina had a trouble-free, high quality vintage, with all fruit picked prior to the end of March, a month earlier than in ’17. Quality was equally good for white and red varieties.