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Promise of a ripper harvest

Joel Watson from Martinborough’s Luna Estate said he was happy with the bit of rain. PHOTO/FILE

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The weather’s been all over the place – a wet December, followed by a dry summer that was punctuated rain this weekend – but Wairarapa winemakers are looking forward to a good season as they prepare for the harvest this week.

Gladstone Vineyard’s winemaker Craig Fryett, said it had been an “early struggle” with a little bit of frost damage and early flowering but the season was looking good.

This year’s harvest would be “down a touch”, he said, particularly with some of the Pinot noir varieties, but the quality was still good.

“You get more texture and depth with our Pinot. There’s going to be a lot of concentration,” he said.

Fryett said there was good growth for next year and this year would yield a “ripper of a vintage”.

He wasn’t too worried about the weekend’s weather causing fruit damage from plants soaking up too much water.

Joel Watson from Martinborough’s Luna Estate said he was happy with the bit of rain.

“It just freshens everything up a bit,” he said.

With a wet spring and frosty nights, it had been a “challenging” growing season, but this year’s grapes looked fantastic, he said.

“What we aim to produce in Martinborough is quality. It’s an early vintage.

“[There’s] some really good flavours.”

While Pinot numbers were slightly lower than previous years, he said the harvest as a whole would be up due to the first cropping of new vines planted a few years ago.

He expected to yield about 200 tonnes starting today.

Opaki’s Loopline Vineyard owner Ian McGovern said the season looked good.

“It’s all coming on nicely,” he said.

McGovern said it had been quite a wet December but the past few weeks had brought it round.

“I think everything is pretty good now.”

He said volume might be a “little bit [down]” but was similar to last year’s harvest.

As a smaller boutique producer, he expected to harvest around 12 to 13 tonnes of grapes.

Most of the 30 or so wine producers in Wairarapa are small, family-owned and boutique vineyards with the region contributing just one per cent of the country’s total production.

The region’s most common planted varieties include Pinot noir and Sauvignon blanc, with small plantings of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Syrah.

While wine producers had been busy preparing for the harvest this week they still found time to come together to celebrate the Harvest Festival on Saturday.

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