Another excellent vintage
2019 vintage season was overall a warm year but started with hard frosts in September and October and ended with hard frosts in early April.
The 13 October frost during budburst was particularly hard but the vines were well protected from damage by our sprinkler frost fighting system.
Flowering and fruit set was very good although Spring was wetter than average.
March surprised by being warmer than February and bringing the start of harvest forward by about ten days to 5 April.
Harvest 2019 was punctuated by three hard frosts but the grapes suffered no significant damage. The last of the 2019 grapes were picked on Friday 12 April. Fruit was in excellent condition despite concerns the autumn frosts may catch us out this year. Volume was slightly above average. We expect the 2019 grapes will make excellent wine.
September gave an indication of what may be ahead with frosts and rain. A -5 degrees frost on 8 September, prior to budburst, was extreme but not unheard of for September. The 42 mm of rain was above average (22 mm).
October saw some heavy rain with 42 mm versus the average of 30 mm. A big freeze hit Central Otago on 12/13 October. Cold southerly conditions persisted and delivered the coldest October frost experienced in at least the last 15 years. Fortunately bud development was at an early stage and we 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.
November was exceptionally wet but not cold. 96 mm of rain was well above the average November rainfall (30 mm). Under vine grass growth was exceptional and vine shoot growth was strong. Good flower development.
December was another above average rainfall month and brought the four month total rainfall up to the highest we have seen in 15+ years. Flowering was around 13 December. Flowering and fruit set was good. (See picture).
January was typically warm and clear. Sea temperatures in the Tasman increased to around 2 degrees above normal leading to a warmer than normal January with a run of days over 30 degrees.
February was significantly cooler than January and on two mornings (7th and 25th) temperatures dropped to zero. Grapes were still changing colour in late February.
March was warmer than February which is not normal. The extra heat in March was helpful to speed up the ripening process. By the end of March, we had moved harvest date expectations forward by ten days.
April is our normal harvest month and we expect the occasional frost but 2019 delivered early and hard frosts. The start of harvest 2019 was punctuated by three frosts in a row. A southerly front came through on the night of 4 April leaving snow on the hills. Saturday 6 April was a hard frost from 3 AM with temperatures dropping to -3 to -4 degrees and damaging leaves across most of the vineyard. The following night temperatures were below zero by 10 PM and dropping. We decided to use our sprinklers for frost fighting over the next 8 hours and forego picking on Sunday. A third frost hit on Monday morning which we fought over part of the vineyard only to allow picking to continue. By Friday morning we had all the grapes picked in good condition and safely in the winery.