A heavy fruit set initially threatened high yields, but widespread bunch thinning around veraison brought crops back to manageable levels with promising grape quality. A mild January was fantastic for optimal colour production and flavour development. However, heatwave conditions in mid February saw acidity decline at a rapid rate in conjunction with rising Baume levels. Harvest began earlier than first predicted, with some Shiraz picked in late February – the earliest for many years. Quality expectations returned after the hot spell, with a prolonged “Indian Summer” between 25°C-30°C in March and April and an absence of rain creating the perfect slow ripening conditions. Semillon was rated as some of the best ever while Shiraz showed good colour and flavour. Varieties such as Grenache, Mataro and Cabernet were also rated as excellent while Eden Valley Riesling maintained its very high standards, following superb vintages in 2002 and 2003.
In 2004 there were 11,129 hectares of vineyards in Barossa and 86,893 tonnes of wine grapes were crushed in that vintage.
The inaugural International Shiraz Alliance was held at various venues in the Barossa. The event consisted of Shiraz forums and discussions, master-class tastings, long lunches, dinners and individual cellar door activities.
The Bethany 1998 GR6 Reserve Shiraz won the Frescobaldi Trophy for the Best Vintage Red Wine at the 2004 International Wine & Spirit Competition in London and the Visyboard Trophy for the Best Shiraz at the 2004 Great Australian Wine Challenge.
Elderton received 27th place in the influential Wine Spectator Magazine’s Top 100 for their 2000 Command Shiraz. The Barossa gained a further four positions in the international tasting that featured more than 12,500 wines.
Guenter Prass AM, was awarded the Maurice O’Shea Award which recognised his efforts as one of the industry pioneers who revolutionised white winemaking in Australia.
Vigneron of the Year – Ralph Schrapel
Winemaker of the Year – Leonie Lange
SA Wine Grape Crush Survey, Vinehealth Australia and ‘Barossa Vintages: a wine history from 1842’, Peter Fuller