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First grape pick heralds ‘outstanding’ vintage

The first grapes have started to come out of the region's vineyards and wine industry experts say if weather conditions stay the way they have been the vintage will be one of Gisborne's best ever.

Villa Maria started the harvest on Monday with the pick of some pinot noir grapes in a vineyard near Waipaoa Bridge.

“The vintage is looking to be outstanding at this stage,” said the company's Gisborne viticulturist Tony Green.

“The weather has just been so kind to us this year. The sunshine hours are well up there, higher than average, and the grapes need plenty of sun to ripen properly.

“Also, without significant rain there has been no disease pressure at all,” Mr Green said.

”If things stay the way they are weather-wise, we are headed for one of the best vintages the district has seen.”

Villa Maria will process about 1500 tonnes of grapes this season from Gisborne.

“Some of that will be processed into wine here by GisVin and the rest is taken as whole grapes to our winery at Hastings.”

Indevin started picking its grapes today.

“We've started with chardonnay from blocks in the Makauri area,” said winery manager Leon Duckworth.

“The crop looks fantastic. It looks really good and long may the good weather last.

“Weather-wise we can see nothing on the radar that causes us concern,” Mr Duckworth said.

Indevin chief winemaker Aurelien Mansuy said the district had had a summer every grape grower had enjoyed.

“The grapes are ripening perfectly so far with the warm weather.

“The crop has good accumulation of sugars and in terms of yields, that's also been promising.”

The season will produce a range of classic Gisborne chardonnays.

“The wine produced should be pretty close to the quality produced last year, which was exceptional.

“We hope to be able to continue to make our harvesting decisions, as the vintage progresses, around the quality of the grapes rather than around what the weather is going to do.”

The grape harvest should be mainly completed by early April.

FIRST GRAPES: The grape harvest has started and thanks to the warm and hot dry weather the vintage looks set to be one of the best ever in Tairawhiti. These pinot noir grapes were harvested yesterday on the Fletcher property near the Waipaoa River bridge. Pictures by Paul Rickard
ONE OF THE BEST: Pinot noir grapes, destined for a low alcohol rose by Villa Maria, cascade into a truck after being harvested from the Fletcher vineyard.