Wine­mak­ers switch it up

Waitaki Herald - - FRONT PAGE - LEWIS TAY­LOR

A colder than ex­pected sum­mer and the late April rain caused by Cy­clone Cook re­sulted in vine­yard own­ers across the Waitaki District to switch their ap­proach this year.

Con­di­tions drove one wine­maker to guard a vine­yard for an en­tire day with a shot­gun in hand, and forced one Waitaki com­pany to ex­per­i­ment by mak­ing new kinds of wines.

Waitaki Val­ley Wine Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man An­drew Bal­lan­tyne said mul­ti­ple wine grow­ers in the Waitaki Val­ley har­vested early when they heard of the late April rains, and now have some pretty good batches fer­ment­ing in oak bar­rels.

How­ever, there was a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod of un­cer­tainty dur­ing the late April and early May har­vest pe­riod.

Bal­lan­tyne told the story of one par­tic­u­larly in­tense pe­riod of work, where 8.6 tonnes of grapes were picked by only 8 work­ers, who toiled from 7am to 7pm on May 1.

Bal­lan­tyne de­scribed the day’s work, which took place on a Grants Road prop­erty, as a ‘‘pre­emp­tive’’ strike against a sec­ond front of au­tumn rains

‘‘Any longer in the rain, and there would of been de­te­ri­o­ra­tion (of the grapes),’’ he said.

Other weather con­di­tions bought by the cy­clone meant ad­di­tional chal­lenges for Bal­lan­tyne and his team.

‘‘One of our vine­yards had gale force winds, it blew off all our nets,’’ Bal­lan­tyne said.

Dras­tic times meant dras­tic mea­sures.

‘‘I sat around with a shot­gun for a day to scare off the birds.’’

Ostler Wines man­ager Jim Jer­ram said the har­vest was dif­fi­cult, and chal­leng­ing.

‘‘We got the very tail end of Cy­clone Cook, yields are down,’’ he said.

How­ever, once the har­vest was com­pleted in early May, the wine­mak­ers at Ostler Wines did the best with what they had.

Ex­per­i­men­ta­tion was the or­der of the day, with a bunch of new wines be­ing made.

Ostler Wines ended up pro­duc­ing some new wines this year, in­clud­ing a batch of Meth­ode Cham­pagnios (Cham­pagne style wine).

Bal­lan­tyne said things weren’t go­ing badly, ev­ery­thing con­sid­ered.

‘‘Har­vest was bad, but the wine’s still good.

‘‘The proof is in the pud­ding.’’

Waitaki Val­ley Wine Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man An­drew Bal­lan­tyne guarded a vine­yard with a shot­gun in May, so birds did not eat the wine grapes.

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