[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t has been a magical summer for holidaymakers, kids and those in the wine industry, though not so much for our farmers. The country is in drought mode, but winegrowers and wine producers alike are rejoicing at what should be a spectacular vintage.
In Marlborough, much like the rest of the island, a dry, warm summer with record temperatures meant an excellent flowering period over December for our vines.
Fast-forward to the last week of March, and everything is moving at rapid pace. Spending the last couple of weeks in the vineyards of the region has seen a remarkable trajectory in physiological ripeness and flavour development across all varieties. This has been due to the breezy 27°C temperatures during the day. Much of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is coming in now, along with the early Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris.
It has been extremely difficult to predict regional harvest figures as it is so variable across the valley. However it is safe to say the crop is certainly larger than last year’s fierce low but it’s by no means enormous. In fact, now that the fruit has started to come in, it’s looking smaller than most expected. The Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay yield is looking just lower than average, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are looking slightly above average. A critical rain during sizing in January was just enough to increase bunch and berry size in some Pinot Noir and Gris. Flavours out there are looking exceptional and it seems everything has decided it wants to be picked, right at this very moment. And so the juggling act of harvest begins. Microsoft Excel goes into overdrive, email traffic mounts, and ears burn from the receiver of mobiles throughout the valley.
Today wineries district-wide are frantic as fruit pours in on a 24-hour basis from now on, typically as the New Zealand vintage has a propensity to do, Vintage 2013 will peak over Easter bringing with it the necessity for a full force over those glorious stat days. I can hear the CFOs groaning now….
By the end of next week, I’m predicting the majority of fruit will be in. With barely 2mm of rain predicted by some forecasters for Saturday night, it looks like a dream run ahead. Harvester operators will need all the Red Bull and Easter chocolate they can get their hands on to continue around the clock. Pellenc and New Holland cabins will need a good clean out to remove the sticky, sugary remains…. And then the real fun in the winery begins.