Vintage time for vintners
Picking delayed with ‘luxurious’ late autumn conditions
Central Otago is enjoying a ‘‘one-in-10-year’’ vintage, a viticulture provider says.
Harvest has started in the Cromwell basin with grapegrowers describing the vintage as having good flavour and acidity.
Owner of Viticultura Central Otago, Timbo Deaker, whose company manages 25 vineyards around the region, said they had been able to hold off picking until last week because of ‘‘luxurious’’ late autumn conditions.
‘‘Mother nature has been very benevolent – the fact we have had very good healthy canopies, no frosts forecast in the 10-day cycle – we’re not under pressure to pick so we have been able to take it nice and easy and let the sugar come up and acid come down to make sure we have an optimum flavour profile.
‘‘ It is one of those vintages – it’s slightly luxurious – we can take our time to make sure things are perfect.’’
Favourable weather conditions over summer had also helped the growing, he said.
‘‘It’s been a one-in-10-year vintage for the Waitaki. When farmers start talking about droughts, grape-growers get pretty excited and for the Waitaki this has been the case.’’
Grape-growers had also not been under pressure to pick because of disease, he said.
‘‘We are 100 per cent disease-free this year. The rest of the country is not having the same scenario . . . Central Otago has avoided that bullet.’’
Other vineyards around the country were battling a new form of powdery mildew, which at this point, had not affected Central Otago, he said.
Burn Cottage Vineyard manager Shane Livingstone said he started picking a week earlier and the season had been favourable for grape production.
‘‘It’s been quite dry and there was a very good warm spell in December . . . things are looking good. The harvest is showing plenty of promise. There is good flavour and good acidity. I’m quite happy at the moment.’’
Vinpro winemaker Pete Bartle said pinot noir started flowing in from its 16 clients 10 days ago and they had since started taking in rose, chardonnay and riesling.
‘‘We’ve been doing a little bit this week and will do a little bit next week, but the main part of harvest will start just after Easter.’’
The fruit condition looked good, he said.
‘‘We’re seeing lots of nice flavour in the white grapes quite early which is unusual and we have already picked some riesling, which we have not done that early before and there looks like there is lots of colour in the pinot noir.’’
Viticultura worker Donald Naplan harvesting Central Otago pinot noir grapes in ‘‘luxurious’’ late autumn conditions. Photo: EyetoEye