Breidecker grapes first off the harvest blocks
Marlborough's 2014 grape harvest is under way, with a handful of wineries picking their first fruit of the season today.
Traditionally, makers of sparkling wine are first off the block, but this year Hunter's Wines is taking a small parcel of breidecker before it moves on to the fruit for its MiruMiru bubbles.
Hunter's general manager Peter MacDonald said it was odd to be starting their harvest with breidecker, which is used to make a light German-style wine and is grown only in limited amounts in the South Island.
"[Fruit for sparkling wine] is normally the first but breidecker is going to beat it this year."
The Rapaura Rd winery had its harvester on the job at 7.30am today, and planned to take all five rows of breidecker - about 4 tonnes all up.
Tomorrow they would begin harvesting pinot meunier, which is blended with chardonnay to make their sparkling wine.
Hunter's winemaker Inus van der Westhuizen said harvest had come about two weeks earlier than 2013 - last year they harvested the breidecker on March 7.
Meanwhile, Allan Scott Family Winemakers had hoped to start harvesting today - on the 25th - to celebrate their 25th vintage.
However, the harvester was unable to make it until tomorrow.
Head of viticultural team Sara Scott said it was a shame they had just missed the magic ''25''.
"We were hoping to do something a little bit different."
Tomorrow they would machine-pick one block of chardonnay, or about 35 tonnes of fruit.
She said things have changed since their first vintage in 1995. Back then they made about 2000 cases of wine. Today, they produce about 120,000.
The Marlborough Express