Cheers to good crop
Harvest under way in CentralJO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN IN ALEXANDRA
An Indian summer in Central Otago bodes well for a stellar wine harvest, industry representatives say.
The New Zealand industry is anticipating a bumper crop after a warm, mostly dry late summer and autumn.
However, any over-supply problems in other parts of New Zealand do not apply in Central Otago, which is largely insulated from price fluctuations.
Central Otago Wine Association president James Dicey said there was a low level of rot and the harvest, which has started around Tarras and moves progressively towards Gibbston, looked fantastic.
Most are picking and aiming to harvest by Easter, with some a little earlier or later, depending on sub-region climate.
Harvest in Gibbston usually finishes around early May although in previous years vineyards have been picking until late May or early June.
Dicey said he was more than cautiously optimistic this year's vintage was going to be excellent.
Grapes were on the small side, which concentrates flavour because the skin-to-juice ratio is higher and smaller bunches reduces the level of rot. There was one frost in January but this year growers were spared the hassle of frost-fighting using helicopters.
"We've had an Indian summer, we've actually had a proper summer at the back of harvest. Things are looking fantastic, very very low levels of rots. Flavours are coming along and there's low sugar, which means the wines are more balanced. It's going to be pretty stellar."
Gibbston Valley viticulturist and consultant Timbo Morrison-Deaker said quality and quantity were just about right and the late autumn weather made up for a rubbish Christmas.
Most of the Bannockburn vineyards were already harvested and Bendigo and Lowburn were almost finished.
"It's looking amazing. It can be rare that the vintage can be a joyous occasion.
"We've got really good quality, probably 5 to 10 per cent on crop estimates and Mother Nature is playing the game, you couldn't ask for more."
Leaning Rock vineyard in Alexandra is one of the smallest and oldest producers in Central Otao. The 1ha vineyard run by Mark Hesson and Dhana Pillai was planted in the early 1990s
Pillai said the conditions were very good, grapes were small and acidity levels were low. Harvesting started at the weekend with pinot noir followed by the vineyard's other varietals, riesling, muscat and gewurtztraminer.
- The Southland Times