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2013 a dream vintage so far for Bay wine industry

2013 a dream vintage so far for Bay wine industry

The superlatives are coming thick and fast as the Hawke’s Bay wine industry gets underway with the 2013 grape harvest, with many believing this could be the “vintage of the century”.

“It’s a dream vintage,” says Tony Bish, chief winemaker for Sacred Hill and chairman of Gimblett Gravels Winegrower Association. “It’s been an awesome season, one we don’t get often enough. The fruit is early, ripe and clean; everything we would want.”

For Peter Gough, senior winemaker and viticulturist with Ngatarawa the lack of stress has meant there is a buoyancy of spirit across the industry this year. “There is no disease pressure so we aren’t picking because we have to, it’s when we want, based on flavour. It’s a winemaker’s dream.”

The “stellar summer” has meant that harvest has started earlier with many whites almost all off the vines, and in some areas, reds are underway also. It is probable that the season will be compressed and over sooner than normal for most. The lack of any significant rain forecast for the next two weeks means the current confidence should remain.

“If everything lives up to expectations then we’re heading for some fantastic wines,” says Hugh Crighton, winemaker for Vidal Estate. “2013 would be a good year to cellar, if you’ve got the self-discipline!”

Most spoken to say the grapes are extremely flavoursome without being high in brix, so the resulting wine should not be high alcohol.

One area of the industry that is feeling some pressure is the harvesting contractors who, with the more compact season, are working longer hours to get the grapes off the vines. “Everything is happening at once,” says Graeme Watson of Harvest Hawke’s Bay. “The quality is fantastic so far with the grapes very clean and in good condition.”

Mr Watson says that the impact of the drought can be seen in some vineyards with defoliation in some cases “making it look like it’s the middle of winter”. Plants are under stress in those areas where irrigation is not possible due to the weather and regulations around irrigation.”

At Elephant Hill’s Te Awanga vineyards, where many of its whites are handpicked and in already, the cleanness of the fruit has meant the need to hand sort has been minimal. “We’re delighted with the quality of the fruit coming in,” says Vince Labet, marketing and sales manager. “We’re looking forward to some exceptional wines.”


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