Rippon Vineyard assistant winemaker Brett Reddington takes
a sample of the winery's 2013 gamay noir vintage. Photo by
The New Zealand Winegrowers Association says winemakers
across the country are heralding the 2013 grape harvest as one
of the best, but those in the Central Otago industry remain
New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said in
a media release this week the New Zealand harvest had been
completed and high quality grapes had been picked in all
The 2013 Vintage Survey showed 345,000 tonnes of grapes were
harvested nationwide, up 28% on last year's crop and 5% on
2011. Central Otago experienced a 4% increase, from 8115
tonnes in 2012 to 8407 this season.
''An outstanding New Zealand summer provided near perfect
conditions for growing grapes across the country,'' Mr Gregan
''The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant,
fruit driven and complex expressions of our diverse
grape-growing regions; 2013 looks set to be a vintage to
Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey,
also a Bannockburn grape grower, was less effusive.
''In Central Otago, I think we are cautiously optimistic
about the quality of what we've seen,'' Mr Dicey said.
''I'm just being cautious at the moment. I don't want to get
swallowed up by my own hype.''
While the vintage was certainly looking ''very positive'',
labelling it the best ever was a ''big call'', before the
wine had a chance to age.
''We all, as winemakers, like to talk every single vintage up
like it's the best of the century.
''The greatest vintages ever in the history of grape growing
have all been done retrospectively,'' he said.
Mr Dicey believed some of the excitement over this year's
vintage stemmed from other regions such as the Hawkes
Bay-Gisborne area, where crops had escaped rain damage and
disease after previous challenging seasons.
While spring frosts last year had Central Otago winemakers
predicting yield to be down by 10% to 15%, the region had
''For us to be up 4% is a very gratifying result for the
Nick Mills, of Rippon Vineyard, agreed it was too early to
make any big claims.
''Obviously, the fruit [this harvest] was exceptional ... but
in terms of wine we don't really make too many assumptions
... there's a year and a-half in barrel and a year in bottle
before we release our wines.
''All the signs were there for a really lovely wine ... but I
can't make that call for a long ways down the track, possibly
Mr Gregan said the small 2012 grape crop left the industry
unable to meet continuing strong consumer demand in
established and new markets.
''Winemakers will welcome the more normal 2013 harvest as the
better balanced supply will facilitate renewed export growth
in the year ahead.''
Early wine shipments began last month, and were a ''sure sign
that the thirst for New Zealand wine is set to stay'', Mr
New Zealand wine is exported to more than 90 countries and
wine exports are valued at $1.2 billion per annum.
Central Otago has about 1600ha of vines, which average a
yearly yield of 8000 tonnes, equating to about 5% of New
Zealand's wine production.