Grapes harvested under strict protocols

Grape vines being irrigated in Central Otago. PHOTO: MARK PRICE
Grape vines being irrigated in Central Otago. PHOTO: MARK PRICE
Central Otago’s grape harvest must go on — wine producers are deemed an essential service, meaning Covid-19 will not stop the 2020 vintage.

The news will be music to the ears of wine lovers everywhere. However, grape growers were reluctant to comment on the harvest yesterday and instead released a blanket statement.

In it, the Central Otago Winegrowers Association says it understands the level of responsibility that comes with being among other agricultural industries in the production of food and beverages, deemed as an essential service by the Government.

"The association and its members take this responsibility very seriously, and are in constant communication on not only what is required for compliance with all Covid-19 protocols, but what can be done over and above those.

"Sharing of best practice is consistent, with all-member conference calls, and leaders in the industry sharing, via the association, best practices on practical matters such as picking grapes."

According to the association, outdoors in vineyards is a safe environment to ensure that the 2m rule is more than enforced.

"While our industry is in a tremendously difficult position, we understand that we are not alone in that, and take our social responsibilities with respect to the broader public, and our staff, extremely seriously."

Harvest has now generally begun in Central Otago, and is expected to run for the month of April.

The board of the Central Otago Winegrowers Association represents a group of 170 grape growers across Central Otago.

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