In my last column, I shared my grape grower weather anxiety with respect to the La Niña event that occurred over summer this year. Were my predictions right? They were, but things were not as bad as they could have been. A large dump of rain in February helped a number of growers to make a decision to pick some of their white grapes much earlier than usual. Crops were down a little, which is on par with what has happened around the rest of the country. Quality is actually quite good, considering the rain, and this is probably due to the warmer late spring and early summer months helping produce an earlier ripening date for a lot of varieties anyway.
Another rain event before Easter helped most growers to decide to pick their red grapes swiftly, too, and from those that I have talked to, they are happy with the quality. We pride ourselves on making rosé-style wines and the couple I have tried from this year look fantastic. I think we would be safe in saying that we have had another good vintage on the back of the cracker we had in 2020.
Perspective is a great thing, so here are some stats to think about with regard to crops being lower this year, particularly in Marlborough, where estimates are around 15 per cent down on last year. This equates to a reduction of 50,000 tonnes of grapes from Marlborough alone. Fifty thousand tonnes would have produced 35 million litres of wine, or 46.5 million bottles. For those of you who like to visualise, we can generally fit 12,000 bottles into a 20-foot container, so that is 3875 containers, which would be 20 per cent of the capacity of the Ever Given, the huge ship responsible for the recent Suez Canal blockage. A lot of wine, whichever way you look at it.
The end of harvest is often celebrated in different parts of the world. I made wine for four years in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, where they have held a biennial Vintage Festival since 1947. It runs for around five days and includes long lunches, dinners, wine masterclasses, a parade, markets and wine auctions, to name just a few. Such festivals are a big deal in these regions, with formal committees organising dozens of events in conjunction with the wine producers. On a much smaller scale, Matakana Estate has decided to host its own Harvest Celebration for 2021 on the Saturday of Anzac weekend, April 24. It will include a number of local wineries, food trucks and live music from 11am to 5pm. Come and join us. You can find more information on Matakana Estate’s Facebook page. Cheers!
Richard Robson, Matakana Winegrowers