‘Dif­fi­cult’ har­vest for Cen­tral Otago

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DASHA KUPRIENKO

Cen­tral Otago vine­yards were af­fected by ‘‘ag­gres­sive winds’’ and a cold sum­mer, mak­ing this year’s har­vest dif­fi­cult.

The har­vest con­cluded on Fri­day.

Cen­tral Otago’s Viti­cul­tura coowner Timbo Deaker said it also dif­fered from pre­dic­tions, as none of the re­search weather data was true.

‘‘We had a very mild win­ter and a very dif­fi­cult sum­mer, and often I’ve won­dered where those lines be­tween win­ter and sum­mer have started and stopped.

‘‘The pre­dic­tions were that this would be an in­cred­i­bly hot sum­mer and that we would have a very low rain­fall. In re­al­ity we’ve had a very, very cool sea­son. We have had an ag­gres­sive amount of wind and con­sis­tent rain­fall.’’

Less than five tonnes of grapes per hectare were col­lected from Cen­tral Otago vine­yards, over one tonne down from 2016.

The crops were good qual­ity but low in quan­tity, Deaker said.

‘‘We are go­ing to have to do some ex­plain­ing to our vine­yard own­ers about why there’s not as much crop, but luck­ily enough ev­ery­one is well aware of how poor this sum­mer has been.’’

Wine grow­ers in the area were ’’re­ally lucky’’ the grapes had good ripeness due to low crop­ping rates, Deaker said.

‘‘The smaller the fruit, the bet­ter qual­ity be­cause you’ve got all the flavours and all the aro­matic com­pounds come in the skin. More skin ra­tio, there­fore bet­ter qual­ity.’’

How­ever, the har­vest tim­ing has stayed tra­di­tional.

Cen­tral Otago Wine­grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion gen­eral man­ager Glenys Cough­lan said all Cen­tral Otago vine­yards ex­pe­ri­enced a chal­leng­ing grow­ing sea­son.

The re­gion had ’’dodged’’ the weather bombs which af­fected the rest of New Zealand in March and April.

‘‘Anec­do­tally Cen­tral Otago is look­ing at slightly lower yields than pre-har­vest ex­pec­ta­tions sug­gested, but wine­mak­ers seem to be en­thu­si­as­tic about the in­tensely flavour­some fruit and the over­all qual­ity of the vin­tage,’’ Cough­lan said.

The sta­tis­tics on har­vest are be­ing col­lected by New Zealand Wine­grow­ers, with no of­fi­cial fig­ures on ton­nage avail­able yet.

Brock Camp­bell, a Gibb­ston wine grower for 14 years, agreed weather con­di­tions made the sea­son dif­fi­cult.

‘‘Cer­tainly one of the most chal­leng­ing sea­sons in re­cent his­tory,’’ he said.

DASHA KUPRIENKO / FAIRFAX NZ

Tommy Camp­bell, 2, en­joys freshly picked grapes.

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