Our vineyards relished a routine start to the growing season with bud burst in late September through to early October. Our biodynamic prep 500 was also lifted and applied early October, on the descending moon to stimulate the soil vigour and enhance root growth. Spring weather was warm and dry however we did experience a higher number of overcast days. Ideal conditions to bring out the compost made in December the previous year.
With warm Spring conditions, growth was steady throughout the vineyard. Flowering was agreeably steady and occurred in two stages, initial flowering took place mid-November and led in the Quartz Reef Estate vineyard. This was interrupted by a cold spell in late November, resulting in several very anxious days with minus four-degree temperatures forecast. Thanks to the weather gods, early cloud cover saved our young leafy greens. Frost risk remained low for the remainder of the season with no damage occurring in the vineyard.
By mid-December flowering was complete and it appeared the potential crop would be stronger than the previous season. As we moved into Summer, we continued to support the vines with our biodynamic preparation 501, Quartz Silica which was applied to the canopy throughout the growing season to bring light into the vineyard and reinforce the health and vitality of our soil. As the summer equinox fell, the team also prepared our compost for the following season.
A southerly came through late December leaving a snowline down to 1500m on the Pisa Ranges, followed by almost 90mm of rainfall in early January. On the 20th of January another cold front resulted in a second dusting of snowfall on the Pisa Ranges, the lowest we have ever seen this far into the season. Warm dry weather followed right through into harvest which enabled the fruit to ripen to perfection. Nets were applied throughout the vineyard towards the end of January as veraison started.
As we geared up for harvest, we welcomed our 2021 vintage team. This year, working alongside Rudi and Tucker we have Joshua Benz from Switzerland, Benoit Jeanjean from France, Paulina Barra from Chile and Callum Johnston (a.k.a. CJ) bringing some true blue kiwiana to the team.
Harvest officially began on the 3rd of March with the picking of our Pinot Noir for sparkling. By mid-March we had picked and vinified all our fruit for the sparkling wines.
Whilst harvest brings long hours and late nights and a constant stream of freshly hand-picked fruit, the team had a short break between harvesting fruit for sparkling and still which timed in perfectly around the Autumn Equinox. This freed the team to put their biodynamic hats on to prepare and bury our 500 preparation of cow manure.
Toward the end of March our Pinot Noir grapes were in optimum condition as warm settled weather continued. We began our Pinot Noir harvest on the 24th of March, and wrapped this up by the 30th March. Our Pinot Gris was picked on 30th march and 7th April, followed by our Gruner Veltliner on the 7th April. This marked our final day of harvest and we welcomed our annual helpers - avid Gruner fan Davey (from Ortega Fish Shack) and Ollie (from Vintners) – thanks Davey and Ollie!
Overall, the team have seen through this years’ harvest in 10 weeks from pick to barrel. The optimal conditions early in the season have resulted in an above average yield and a long dry season has provided us with exceptional quality. We look forward to the beautiful results ahead.
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.