Every year is unique – but this is most definitely not one we could have ever anticipated, with COVID-19 taking hold of the world and turning life as we knew it upside down. The New Zealand wine industry was granted the privileged position to continue as an essential business, with our national lock-down coinciding with the commencement of picking. We were incredibly lucky to be able to pick and produce wines from this season and I think Mother Nature showed us some kindness, by gifting us a near-perfect growing season, followed by fine weather throughout harvest.
The growing season was very dry, which meant disease pressure was low and some timely light rains kept just enough water flowing in our rivers. We had a classic Marlborough autumn with warm days and cool nights, which created this season’s Sauvignon Blanc with our signature fresh natural acidity and intense fruit flavours. We had fairly stable weather during Sauvignon Blanc flowering, with a small amount of rain affecting some of the later flowering areas, resulting in lighter crops. The weather was dry throughout Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer flowering which produced balanced vines and nice even bunches, especially in Pinot Noir.
We started harvest on the 17th of March with some young vine Pinot Gris from our recently developed Dodson block. From there we focussed on harvesting our grower blocks in the Wairau Valley and then moved into our upper Awatere vineyards. Harvest in Seaview Vineyard was carried out in late March through April. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are definitely highlights so far from the 2020 harvest. We are nearing the end of Sauvignon Blanc blending and we are really excited about how the wines are coming together. They are naturally in balance, with great intensity and varietal character. The Pinot Gris is also showing really well and has a richness and depth as a result of the warm, stable growing season.
Our 2020 Pinot Noir is tucked safely away in oak and awaiting spring to complete malolactic fermentation. It has a great colour and elegant perfume, with good natural acidity and structure. Towards the end of June we picked our late harvest Riesling. This wine was incredibly popular last year and this year is looking to be another stunner! It has just been pressed and we can’t wait to begin the ferment to see how it develops.
Harvest 2020 has been one of the most unusual and intense vintages that I have experienced, and not because of the growing season – the global pandemic really threw a curve ball to the world. I was blown away by the commitment and stamina of the team here during this unusual and challenging harvest. We were incredibly lucky to be granted permission to create wines this season, and because of this the 2020 vintage wines will carry some very unique memories.