ACT News

Hail storm wreaks havoc on Lake George wineries

Wet weather and hail has hit the region's vineyards causing havoc for some wineries across the region but ideal conditions for others.

A hail storm destroyed more than one third of the crops at Lerida Estate vineyard near Lake George, and continued wet weather could ruin the rest.

Lerida Estate winery at Lake George has lost 30 per cent of it's crop in a recent hail storm.
Lerida Estate winery at Lake George has lost 30 per cent of it's crop in a recent hail storm. Photo: Join Caine

Lerida Estate owner Jim Lumbers said about two feet of hail dumped down on his prized grapes on Saturday night, causing irreversible damage.

"It's extremely unwelcome," he said.

"I reckon possibly a 30 per cent crop loss and a few shredded leaves and broken canes."

Mr Lumbers said he has inspected the damage and some areas of the vineyard looked like they were still intact.


However, exposed bunches of grapes were bruised and split, and he said these will die and fall off the vine.

"Grapes and vines are resilient things so we can only watch and wait. Maybe the berries left will grow a bit bigger, but at the moment it's not a pretty sight," Mr Lumbers said.

Mount Majura Vineyard winemaker Frank van de Loo said rainfall was higher than average but not a disaster. 

"It's not my perfect scenario but we're able to cope with it. Fortunately it's early on. Right now, the grapes are pretty much resistant. It's just a bit more moisture than we would like," Mr van de Loo said.

Canberra District Wine Industry Association president John Leyshon said inclement weather did not seem to be a wider problem for the area.

"If it was March, we would be tearing our hair out, but as long as people have kept up their spraying programs and kept the downy mildew under control, I think people will be happy [with the rain]," Mr Leyshon said.

"It's a really early season. There's been so much growth in the vineyards it is setting up for a good time."

Despite the early optimism, Mr Leyshon said there was a long way to go before harvest in March.

"It could be an early vintage, probably talking about three weeks. Whether it will be depends on how the rest of the season pans out," he said.

"The weather really killed us last year because the rain came in March.

"The grapes were ripe and plump and when you get a lot of rain they tend to split, and the rain didn't stop [last year]. We're hoping for a good 2015, it's looking good at this stage."