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First pick destined for lighter style

The 2021 grape vintage gets under way today with the first of what's set to be another very good vintage with the right amounts of moisture and heat providing good growing conditions.

Harvesting will continue through into late April and early May for some late red varieties, with March the busiest month.

“The vintage has been running about 10 days ahead of normal this year due to the lovely ripening weather we've been having,” said Gisborne Winegrowers chairman and GisVin winemaker Mark Thompson.

“The crop maturity has slowed this week due to the cooler southerly flow we've been getting.

“But that's helped to concentrate the grape flavour, and retain acidity in our wines, which is good.”

Mr Thompson said GisVin was still doing fruit sampling at the moment, so it was difficult to say for sure exactly when their harvest would start.

“At this stage it's probably looking like the third week of this month.

“The lead-up to the start of the season has been manic.

“Demand for Gisborne sauvignon blanc is unprecedented,” Mr Thompson said.

“We're madly filling orders to meet the demands of our customers, which augurs very well for the success of this season.”

GisVin will handle around 4000 tonnes of grapes this season.

Villa Maria Gisborne viticulturist Tony Green said the season to date had been ideal.

“Nothing is ever perfect but it's pretty close to it.

“The grape crop looks above average in terms of weight but a couple of our larger growers were hit by spring frosts, which has resulted in lower tonnage for us this year.

“It's a bit early to say what the quality is like, but at this stage the crops looks very good.”

Mr Green said Villa Maria started their harvest this morning, with the first of their pinot noir crop.

“That's 14 days earlier than last year due to the good growing conditions.”

The grapes will be used to produce the company's lower alcohol rose wine.

Mr Green expects their season to run until the last week in March.

“We will take a thousand tonnes of grapes from Gisborne vineyards this season.”

Indevin's Gisborne production winemaker Aurelien Mansuy said their early blocks of Chardonnay were starting to develop great flavours with a crisp acidity perfect for their sparkling base wine.

“Another stunning harvest is just round the corner with the majority of the season tracking ahead of last year, which was also considered early.

“The fruit looks great. The vines are in balance and all the hard work by the staff and growers has paid off,” Mr Mansuy said.

“It has been a challenging season, especially over the Xmas period for disease pressure.

“Yields are good and we are looking forward to starting harvest later next week for the sparkling base wines.”

VINTAGE UNDER WAY: The 2021 grape harvest started this morning with the first pick of pinot noir grapes for Villa Maria (pictured). The signs are for another very good vintage for wine from this district, with winemakers pointing to great flavours, crisp acidity and good yields. Pictures by Paul Rickard