Wow, what great a start to summer at last! And you certainly notice it more because of the apparently incessant rain and wind of winter and spring. The last few weeks have been fantastic for grape growing, with consistent warm temperatures and little rain through the flowering period, which should lead to a good fruit set. Fortunately, grape vines do not need the assistance of bees as they self-pollinate, but they are still vulnerable.
Cold and wet conditions, which reduce photosynthesis, will disrupt pollination and fruit set.
However, a reduced fruit set is not always a bad thing. Some grape varieties are prolific, and in most seasons will need a few bunches removing to give the vines the best chance of fully ripening.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has been talking up the fact that we will be experiencing a La Niña summer this year (the opposite of El Niño), which, coupled with some relatively big high pressure systems, has given us all the recent warm weather and sea temperatures. The downside of La Niña, unfortunately, is that we may be more likely to get higher than average rainfall late in summer, which could mean a tough time for local grape growers in late January and February, just before harvest. The rain is caused by north-easterly air flows. and if they latch on to an ex-tropical cyclone, then look out. Let’s cross our fingers and hope it’s a little drier than might be expected.
While we are busy in the vineyards through November and December, this time of year can also be hectic in the winery. December is a time of celebration, and wine is a great way to celebrate for many people. Restaurants and shops are stocking up for the silly season and wine is in high demand from now through to the new year. We all have our new vintage white and rosé wines in the market already, or bottled and ready to move out. Wineries that sell sparkling wine are working especially hard.
Even though we are all busy, I want to encourage everyone from the greater Mahurangi region to take a moment to think about buying locally this season. Fresh produce, artisan foods and gifts are easy to find around Matakana. But don’t forget we have a varied and unique offering of wines from the Matakana region too – all of which are perfect for celebrating with or to give as gifts. Matakana wine growers can be found at matakanawine.co.nz and Matakana wine is always available at local restaurants and liquor retailers.
On behalf the Matakana Winegrowers, I would like to raise a glass of great local wine and wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas
Richard Robson, President, Matakana Winegrowers