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2012 vintage

A rollercoaster season. After an outstanding flowering and fruit set in spring, nature brought us back to the reality of growing Pinot Noir this far south. By the end of February total solar energy had been average for the season but in March temperatures drop dramatically putting us on a very slow ripening path. Large tight grape bunches and heavy rainfalls in summer increased the disease risk and raised fears of a difficult harvest. Fortunately the weather changed after 12 March and there has been no rain, days have been hot and nights cool creating a perfect finish to the season and one of our best harvests ever. Picking was between 18 and 27 April.

See our blog and photos for another summary.

October bud burst was largely frost free with only four frost days compared to about seven last year. Overall October was good for early shoot and flower development

November's average temperature was one of the lowest we have recorded but this was more a result of wet weather and a lack of hot days. We did not experience really high temperatures but also there were fewer frosts and cold nights. The exceptional event was the night of 3rd November when it snowed on the hills and later on 4th it was snowing in Queenstown. Snow and cold winds continued into the evening with most vineyards experiencing freezing conditions at a time of the year when temperatures are critical for flower development. Thanks to our frost fighting sprinklers we experienced no damage. 30 November was another day of extremes with a massive 28 degree temperature change, rising from 2 degree at 6:00 am to 30 degrees by 5:00 pm.

December was an exceptionally kind month. Hot, dry and settled conditions for a near perfect fruit set. The events of November did have a negative effect on flower development however this has not been a bad thing. Bunches have fewer berries and are more open which favours healthy evenly ripened bunches.

January was a little cooler than average due to two large rainfall events and nights with temperatures dropping below 5 degrees C. Vine health is excellent and bunch thinning is complete.

December was an exceptionally kind month. Hot, dry and settled conditions for a near perfect fruit set

February was cooler and wetter than average although nothing like as cool as February 2009 and about the same as last February. We experienced some cool nights with temps down to 1 degree on 11th Feb. A few local vineyards turned on frost fighting sprinklers. Veraison (the onset of ripening) started in the second week of Feb and by end of month was near enough to complete.

March was a continuation of late February with low average temperatures and higher than average rain. This was the coldest March since our first vintage in 2006. The last rainfall was on 12th March and the grapes are still in very good condition even if slow to ripen. Sugar levels are the lowest they have ever been at stage in the season but we still have time to achieve good overall ripeness.

April was one of the best ever for developing flavours and ripeness in Pinot Noir. The weather was very stable which meant every day temperatures peaked at 20 to 25 degrees and at night dropped to 0 to 5 degrees. Massive diuranal temperature ranges day after day meant slow but steady ripening. The fruit was delivered to the winery om excellent condition and in good quantity.

May 2012