The start of the 2019 vintage season will be remembered for the unusually high rainfall and the big freeze of 13 October. The average total rainfall in Alexandra for Sep to Dec is around 120 mm and this year at the vineyard, which is usually a little drier than Alexandra, we have received 232 mm. Apart from extra grass growth the rain has not been a problem. The frost on 13 October was the worst October frost in at least 15 years but did not cause widespread damage. Overall the 2019 vintage season is looking good.
September. The vines are dormant but buds start to swell before leaf emergence. September gave an indication of what may be ahead with frosts and rain. A minus 5 degree frost on 8 September was extreme but not unheard of for September. The 42 mm of rain was above average (22 mm). Mean temperatures were average.
October saw some heavy rain with 42 mm versus the average of 30 mm. A big freeze hit Central Otago on 12/13 October when cold southerly conditions persisted, and delivered the biggest October frost experienced in at least the last 15 years. Fortunately bud development was at an early stage and most vineyards had good frost protection. (See photo of sprinkler induced ice protecting our vines). A further frost required frost fighting on 31 October but was not severe. Mean temperatures were near average and shoot growth normal.
November was exceptionally wet but not cold. 96 mm of rain was well above the average November rainfall (30 mm). Grass growth was exceptional and vine shoot growth was steady and normal. Good floresence development.
December was another above average rainfall month and it means the Sep to Dec total rain is the highest we have seen in 15+ years. Apart from increased grass growth this has not been a problem. Temperatures have been average and flowering and fruit set good with plenty of good quality grape bunches developing. Flowering was in full action around 13 December. (See picture).