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Bruce Tyrrell: Great Australian vineyards will outlast grubbing-up phase

Hunter Valley winemaker Bruce Tyrrell has spoken out about the grape oversupply crisis in Australia.

An glut of unwanted grapes from the 2009 harvest had forced many growers to sell their vineyard sites, which were bought up by mining companies.

Speaking at the Fine Wine 2010 conference in Ribera del Duero, Spain, Tyrrell told decanter.com that despite a surge in the number of vineyards being sold, he expected the best sites to survive.

‘A lot of vineyards are being demolished and the coal miners are buying them up, but no great vineyards will be lost,’ he said.

‘On the one hand we’ve got the government pushing a sustainability initiative, and on the other we’ve got vineyards being turned into mining sites.’

‘Newcastle in New South Wales is the world’s largest coal export port.’

In February, a leading academic claimed that Australia needed to reduce its vineyard area by as much as 30% if it wanted to achieve supply-demand balance.

Tyrrell, who hand picks and uses a traditional grape press for his three single vineyard whites, is keen to protect the historic sites.

‘I’m looking into making the single vineyards from the oldest blocks National Heritage sites so no one can touch them.’

Referring to the 2010 vintage in Australia – dominated by rain and cool weather, a stark contrast to the heat and fire of last year – Tyrrell was bullish.

‘We’ve had great rains this year’, he said. ‘Our place looks like the Garden of Eden – I can’t buy enough cattle to eat the grass.’

Bordeaux 2009: All the coverage

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Written by Lucy Shaw in Ribera del Duero

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