Grape expectations

The 2024 harvest’s off to a grape start at Gibbston Valley Winery (GVW).

Chief winemaker Christopher Keys says they started picking at the end of last month — it’s the first time in six years they’ve made that call, and just the second time in the 18 years he’s been at GVW they’ve gone so early.

Usually, they’d start harvesting their pinot noir and sparkling grape varietals in late March or early April, but Keys says thanks to the warm season to date, "the fruit is looking good" and he has a gut feeling it’s the right time to hit go.

"You can’t put the grapes back, so you need to be sure you’re doing it at the right time, which is what creates character in the wine."

Keys says they’ve picked about a quarter of the great-looking crop so far, and the grapes are "just the right size".

The last time harvest started this early was in 2018, due to a heatwave, but it could become a more frequent occurrence.

That’s because recent climate trends indicate harvests may begin earlier each year, due to the vines growing in a cyclical manner and having to adjust to changing weather patterns, he says.