A large-scale, long-term irrigation experiment was established near Waikerie in the South Australian Riverland to investigate the feasibility of controlling berry size and ripening at the vineyard scale with modern irrigation systems. Irrigation treatments were devised to impose water stress, by withholding irrigation, during four periods of berry development after flowering of Vitis vinifera (variety Shiraz). Varying water deficits were achieved during each period and between the four seasons, which were climatically diverse. In one season water deficit during the period after flowering resulted in the greatest reduction in berry weight compared with that of well-watered vines, however, in another, water deficit during this period had no effect on berry weight. By comparison, berries appeared to be insensitive to water deficit during the month before harvest in all four seasons. A soil water deficit index was derived to compare the varying levels of water deficit between treatments and seasons on berry development. Deficit effects on berry development were assessed using either comparative growth rate or berry weight near harvest. Regression analysis of berry development against soil water deficit indicated that berries were most sensitive to water stress during the post flowering period.