Despite frosts in November, winegrowers around Otago are
looking forward to a good season but say they are not out of
the woods yet.
''We expected crops to be way, way down but it's not going to
be as bad as we thought ... because of the November frosts we
lost quite a lot of growth but the weather in December was
exemplary,'' New Zealand Winegrowers chairman Steve Green
Because of the good December weather, ''we will get plenty of
bunches'' though they may be smaller than usual, he said.
However, growers are hoping for settled and dry weather over
the next couple of months, to avoid potentially devastating
diseases such as botrytis, a kind of mould.
Yesterday, Quartz Reef wine maker Rudi Bauer was thinning his
pinot noir crop in Bendigo which he said was a strategic move
to focus the plant's growing efforts and produce the correct
quality grapes, and to help protect against disease.''
It's maybe a slightly cooler season, too, but that's another
reason you can adjust the amount on the vines ... it's a
Gibbston Valley winery Chief winemaker Chris Keys said
because of the cold start to summer growth was ''a little
behind'' at his winery and he faced less thinning than usual.
Despite crop levels being low, the quality was not
It's a nice balance. The bunches are a nice size and pretty
even in most places. The odd spot was affected by frost, but
mostly the growth and grapes had been ideal.''
We're a very very happy considering what could have been. We
could have lost 120 tonnes had we not done anything to
Peregrine Winery vineyard manager Nick Paulin said it was
thanks to frost-fighting techniques late last year that he,
too, was looking at a good season.
Rippon winemaker Nick Mills, though, said the frost had
affected his crop, but he was not yet sure of the extent.''
We got a bit of a tickle up in certain flatter, more
sheltered areas in the vineyard, so our yield will be down
for sure. But how much I'm not sure.''
A positive sign for Rippon this season was less density in
the canopy, which helped eliminate mildew and fungi.''
There's lots of air flow in there, so not a lot of stagnant
air, so that's really good, from a sanitary aspect.''
In North Otago hopes are high for an ''excellent'' but
reduced harvest, following wet spring weather.
Ostler Vineyards co-owner Jim Jerram said although the grape
harvest was not until March or April, he hoped it would yield
A wet spring and early summer has resulted in vigorous vine
growth, so viticultural crews have their hands full training
the shoots and managing the canopies.''
He said the cooler spring had resulted in a late, though
excellent, fruit set. Mr Bauer said the Central Otago wine
region had recently received a lot of international media
attention due to an international celebration of New Zealand
pinot noir, being held in Wellington from Monday to Thursday.
He said over 100 wineries from throughout the country,
including about 25 from Central Otago, would be showing off
about 300 wines at the event, Pinot Noir NZ 2013, which is
held once every three years.
Central Otago wine
• Second largest area in terms of number of wineries - just
less than Marlborough
• 1600ha of vines planted in throughout Central, producing an
average of 7000-9000 tonnes of grapes per year.
• Each tonne makes about 70 cases (12 bottles each) of
• Average price for a bottle of red is $32; white is
• About 40% of wine is exported.
• Region's specialty: Pinot noir
First of 2012 Central vintage excellent, growers
New Zealand Winegrowers chairman Steve Green said some of the
first white wines from last season were ready.
''They are excellent. Riesling, in particular, is very good.
''Last season was quite a good season. It wasn't as big as
2011. Crop levels were not as high, but the fruit quality was
Rippon winemaker Nick Mills said the year had been
He said the vineyard's barrelled 2012 wines, which were
''coming out of winter hibernation'', were looking fantastic.