‘Difficult’ harvest for Central Otago
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.
Tommy Campbell, 2, enjoys freshly picked grapes.