It was a cool start to the season with occasional frosts, two brief hailstorms in October, and a higher amount of rainfall during December. We also experienced more cloud cover than normal, the severe bushfires in Australia may have contributed to this. By the end of January, we were experiencing more settled weather. Veraison was early February and our grape harvest began early March. With the added pressure of Covid-19, we were happy to have the weather on our side. It is certainly a harvest to remember and we will be rewarded with a vintage of high-quality wine.
The 2019 season at Quartz Reef started well with perfect spring conditions. Budburst arrived on September 22nd starting with our Chardonnay vines and followed by the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Unfortunately in early October we were hit hard with a severe frost. The weather warmed up and was relatively mild throughout the remaining Spring with rainfall in late November/early December providing good levels of moisture. This meant our vineyard flourished whilst we recorded the lowest water usage in a season.
We experienced an extraordinary summer resulting in the hottest growing season ever in Central Otago’s modern history. Early flowering and ripening meant our normal six months of growing was condensed into a mere five months. February rain brought relief for the vines and enabled them to achieve physiological ripeness, and warmer than normal nights lead to lower acidity. Harvest dates were brought forward to achieve perfect balance.
A has been a turbulent season with lots of wind and the temperature half a degree lower than average in December and January. Although our Central Otago summer was cooler than usual the fruit proudly ripened as normal. As one of the first in the region to begin picking, we began harvesting fruit for our bubbles in mid-March, which was followed by the picking of grapes destined for still wine; Pinot Noir fruit between the end of March and beginning of April. Last to come in was our Pinot Gris and Grϋner Veltliner which was pressed and put to bed well before ANZAC Day!
The first day of harvest here at Quartz Reef was 8th March with the sparkling base and the last pick on 15th April with the Gruner Veltliner. Our first Pinot Noir harvest was 23rd March; starting with the ferments “Maximillian I” (Rudi) and “Rogue Erratic” (Sarah), and the final Pinot pick on 4th April.