Vineyards ward off night chills

23:32, Oct 24 2012
A Helicopter hovers above a New Renwick Rd vineyard at Fairhall (photo 2007)

Grape growers and viticulturists had another sleepless night on Tuesday, with temperatures dipping just low enough yesterday morning to engage the wind machines.

The region's low of -1.6 degrees Celsius was recorded at Wairau Valley, followed by Waihopai on -0.4C and Upper Awatere and Ward with 0.4C.

McKean Estate Vineyards owner Royce McKean said its frost machines flicked on and off from about 2am yesterday, with temperatures "hopping around zero all night".

"It wasn't too bad, but the wind machines did their job and kept the temperatures from dropping too low. It's been pretty busy, but we haven't had a humdinger [frost] yet."

The vines appeared to have remained frost-free, although it could take a few days for damage to become evident, he said.

McKean Estate covers 225 hectares across three sites about 14 kilometres west of the Wairau Valley township. It fights the frosts with 43 wind machines spread across the properties.


Spy Valley Wines general manager Blair Gibbs said wind machines in the Waihopai Valley kicked in from the early hours yesterday, but temperatures did not drop low enough to be a concern.

Climatologist Stu Powell said the weather was looking good for the next seven to 10 days, although it was not the end of the frost season yet.

"There have been damaging frosts all the way through until November in Marlborough, although they are pretty unusual."


The Marlborough Express