Rain keeping wine industry on its toes

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 10:57 16/04/2014
Harvesting
DEREK FLYNN/Fairfax NZ

STILL WORKING: Harvesting contractors at work in Stump Creek Lane near Rapaura continue to harvest as the dark clouds linger over the region.

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Rain continues to cause stress for Marlborough's wine industry, but it's not only growers and wineries feeling the pain.

Harvester drivers, hand-pickers and truck drivers who transport the fruit were all struggling with the wet conditions.

Vintage Harvesters owner Jason Tripe said the weather was not affecting their machinery too much, but for trucks the slushy conditions were causing problems.

"The last few days have been challenging and a rush to get the last of it in. It's because of the ground conditions the vehicles are getting stuck. It is stressful and there is more pressure when the weather is like this."

They had to be careful about where they harvested and thoroughly check truck access to avoid getting stuck, Tripe said.

"We are having difficulty with the trucks rather than the harvesters and the tractors. We normally have good luck with the weather but every now and then we get a wet end harvest."

Tripe hoped they would finish harvesting this weekend because his workers were starting to feel the effects of their long shifts.

"This time of the season they are getting pretty tired. They will be pleased to get a day off and have a full night's sleep."

Grapeworx Marlborough owner Mack Pouwhare said they were still hand harvesting at a slow pace but hoped to be done by tomorrow.

"With the botrytis and slip skin it has been hard, we have been struggling to get on top of it. There is still a lot of fruit out there."

Wineries were capping their intake as normal, though some were taking an extra 5 or 10 tonne per hectare if the fruit was good, Pouwhare said.

"It's given us a bit of extra work so that's good."

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said the wine industry was no different to any other primary industry - there was always the risk of bad weather.

He said there were no relief funds available to growers who had lost crops.

"It's an agriculture risk. There are many forms of contracts between the grower and the wineries. Most have quality parameters. It depends on the contracts. With farming there is always risk. You've just got to grin and bear it."

AT A GLANCE

Hundreds of millimetres of rain has fallen in Marlborough over the past week, with more forecast for the next few days.

Since 9am last Tuesday until yesterday morning the region has been hit hard by inclement weather.

Fairhall had so far borne the brunt with a total of 75mm of rain over the past week, followed closely by Wairau Valley town with 74mm.

Rapaura had received 67mm over the past week

Upper Awatere Valley recorded 62mm

Coastal Wairau Valley 60mm

Waihopai Valley 59mm

Southern Valleys 50mm

Seddon with 42mm

Ward with 42mm

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- The Marlborough Express

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