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How cool was January 2014?

We are not sure why but the weather patterns in January really did not perform as we expected. The anticylcones which usually bring warm weather either crossed NZ further north or were simply too weak to keep the cooler southerly fronts away. January 2014 was the coolest January we have ever experienced in the vineyard. The temperature data for the month looks horrible but it is not as bad as you might think. We had a tremendous start to the season in Oct, Nov and December. While January was cool it has done little more than slow things down which is not a bad thing. The biggest negative has been the regular drying winds and lack of rain. There are a few stressed vines around Central Otago although at Grasshopper Rock we have managed to kept the vines well watered. We are very pleased with the way the bunches and total crop are developing. Nets to protect the grapes from birds will go on late this week as veraison starts to take place.

Accumulated heat data does not tell the full story of the vintage. A hard frost during flower development or a cold snap or rain at flowering can have a more significant effect. A hard frost in mid October on young shoots did set back flower development in parts of the vineyard but this was balanced by perfect weather at flowering. It was a lucky roll of the dice this spring.
The chart above shows monthly Growing Degree Days (over 10 deg) and the chart below shows the accumulated total. This shows the season to January is still warmer the the cool vintages of 2007, 2010 and 2013.