Growers co-op ready to soak up extra fruit

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 11:51 19/02/2014

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One Marlborough grape grower is not dropping fruit this year as he has a contract to supply his entire sauvignon blanc crop to a wine co-operative.

Grape grower Robert Anderson said he contracts all 20 hectares of his sauvignon blanc to Marlborough Grape Producers.

Those 20 hectares would produce their contracted amount of 400 tonnes, Mr Anderson said.

"We won't be looking to drop any fruit at all . . . everything seems to be advancing pretty well. If the vines are in balance and cropping is consistent, the quality will be maintained."

The co-operative's website said they were looking to purchase at least 1500 tonnes of sauvignon blanc to meet demand for the 2014 vintage.

"Any sized parcel of grapes will be considered to make up this total," it said.

The website said the group would take an entire crop without any yield cap or restrictions.

Mr Anderson said he would not disclose the amount he was receiving per tonne.

"I can say that I'm very happy with the rate they are giving me. It's higher than a lot of major labels and producers."

He left four canes on each plant this year, compared with three last year, he said.

His lower Wither Hills vineyard had been one of the earliest to harvest each year. All his pinot gris was going to Pernod Ricard and his chardonnay was yet to be contracted.

Nautilus Estate winery manager and chief winemaker Clive Jones said they did not supply to the co-operative and neither did their contract growers.

"We don't supply grapes to them and we have an expectation they [contractors] wouldn't do it without discussing it with us."

They have asked their growers to drop fruit in order to maintain the best possible quality.

"We have asked our growers to thin their crops. We have agreed crop targets and agreed caps."

Mr Jones, who is chairman of the board of Wine Marlborough, said he was not completely aware of what was happening with the co-operative but hoped they knew of the risks of balancing quantity and quality.

No-one at Marlborough Grape Producers would comment for this story.

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- The Marlborough Express

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