Vin­tage time for vint­ners

Pick­ing de­layed with ‘lux­u­ri­ous’ late au­tumn con­di­tions

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

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

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