2022 was the most enjoyable harvest for many years with no weather pressure and perfectly clean and ripe pinot noir grapes. Everyone is excited about the 2022 vintage.
The vintage was slightly warmer than average. 972 growing degree days versus our average of 942. However, as always what really matters is what happens month by month at critical times.
During flowering in December, the weather was cloudier and wetter than normal which caused temperatures to drop and there was less flower germination. The poorer fruit set meant less berries per bunch and more open bunches when it came to ripening which was a good thing. Average bunch weights were marginally lower than average, and the total harvest was down 5-10% on average. March and April were outstanding months of perfect weather for ripening and picking pinot noir grapes and I don’t recall such a perfect last 30+ days to harvest.
September 2021. Two hard frosts on 15 and 18 September of -5 deg C were sufficiently ahead of budburst to avoid the need to turn on the frost fighting sprinklers.
October and November 2021 were slightly warmer than average. The vines looked well set up for an above average flowering in December. Budburst on the earlier hill blocks was around 5 October.
December 2021 didn’t turn out as hoped. Above normal sea temperatures and westerly weather generated cloudy days and rain right at the critical flowering time. The result was a reduced number of flowers successfully germinated. Fortunately, the vineyard layout means not all vines are flowering at the same time and while our worst affected blocks were down 20%, other blocks yielded above average crops.
January 2022 was warm and dry and brought the potential harvest date forward. We were anticipating one of our earlier harvests in the first week of April.
February 2022. On 2-4 February we received 60 mm of rain. This was just as berry growth starts to increase following a plateau phase in the berry growth cycle. This rain and some later in the month contributed to berry growth and final bunch weights exceeding our early estimates. This unexpected increase in total crop was typical across Central Otago in 2022.
March 2022 was a pinot noir growers delight. Fine, hot days, cool nights, big diurnal temperate shifts and no rain. Perfect conditions for maximising flavours and complexity in the thin-skinned pinot noir grape. (See temperature chart below).
April 2022 The weather continued fine and rain free through until harvest. Three frosts barely dipped below zero. Grapes were hand-picked from 5 to 11 April over four days. Average bunch weight was 100g which is marginally below average but berry size was above average.
In summary, 2022 was one of our most enjoyable vintages in many years. Harvesting good clean grapes with a good crew and no weather pressure is always a pleasure. We are very excited about the 2022 vintage.
The chart below is the 30 days leading up to the start of harvest. We love to see day after day of large diurnal temperature swings between hot days and cool nights. The blue lines mark 25 degree C and 5 degree C. There is about 20 days out of 30 with 20 degree diurnal temperature change. Ideal for maximising flavour and aroma development in pinot noir
Flowering 15 December 2021.
One of many cloudy damp days in December 2021.
26 January 2022 when we completed our pre-veraison crop assessment.
11 April 2022. Last day of harvest. Nice open bunches allow even ripening.
Last grapes picked for 2022 on 11 April.
Early morning fog on a frosty morning. Grasshopper Rock is centre left just under the fog. Alexandra CBD in foreground.