There maybe a busy silver lining to Australia's historic drought. Wine markers in the country's east are scrambling to irrigate vines, preparing for a smaller but sweeter vintage, as the region deals with a crippling dry patch. Wine grapes are a delicate crop, and while a dry year can reduce yield, as Reuters' Tom Westbrook reports from Sydney, it can lead to a big bump in quality and price.
>> The thirstier the plants are, the smaller the grape berries will be on the vine. And that means that there's going to be all together less fruit. But what's there will have a higher sugar concentration and a deeper, more intense flavor. And when that gets made in to wine, it can be a more full flavored tasting wine.
>> But it's not certain yet. It could all come down to conditions over the next few weeks, and whether growers can get access to enough water as spring arrives. And if they can win that battle, the predicted bump in quality could mean big bucks for Australian vintners.>> Grape prices have been fairly stable the last sort of, five to ten years.
But with the less fruit that's gonna be out there this year, it will force the wineries to pay a higher price.>> Wine makers in the Hunter Valley, one of the country's famous wine making regions, even say this year could be another great dry year vintage. But other Australian farmers won't be sharing the joy.
>> The wine sector is roughly 10% of Australia's agriculture sector. And so, even if the wine produced is good, it's unlikely to offset the negative effects of the drought on production of crops from wheat to cattle, dairy, these sort of things that make up the bulk of Australia's agriculture sector.
>> A reduced yield overall could also have an impact on profits in the wine industry itself. But for now, it's all speculation. There's still months to go until the summer grape harvest. And many in the industry say it's still too early to tell if 2018 really will be a year for collectors to remember.