A few cool nights in early spring had us concerned about potential frost damage but none eventuated
and a settled period during flowering resulted in a solid crop being set. Rains in November & December
kept the soil moisture levels up and while January and February were warm and dry, we had sufficient
water to get through the season. We began harvest on the 20th of February – still relatively early compared
to the long-term average. The 1st week in March was busy with handpicking sparkling grapes
and some young new clone Pinot Gris, then we paused for a few days before starting to pick Pinot Noir.
Chardonnay from our Renwick vineyard all came in in a rush between 18 & 20th March then it was back
to Pinot Noir for a solid week to wrap up that variety.
By this stage, the threat of disruption from Covid-19 was very real and on 26th March the country went
into level 4 lockdown. This meant an end to hand-picking for us but by then we have finished all the
critical blocks so we could take a conservative position and stop hand picking. We had started picking
Sauvignon at night so we split onto our ‘bubble’ teams and pushed on through – thankful that we
were considered an essential business and able to continue with the harvest. The 2020 harvest will
be remembered as ‘unusual’ given the measures and practices which had to instigate to ensure we all
remained safe from the virus. Throughout the harvest, the one thing that always remained on our side
was the weather. Perfect ripening conditions with an early arrival of the autumn weather pattern of
cool nights and warm, but not hot, days meant for nice slow flavour development. The fruit condition
was pristine and some of the best we have seen. It didn’t really matter if you picked today or tomorrow.
In fact, if the pubs had been open, we would probably have gone to the pub ‘today’ & picked ‘tomorrow’.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option as the pubs were closed so we kept on picking, thankful
that we had another vineyard picked & safely in the winery. We finished picking on the 4th of April with
a huge sense of relief. We know we have captured a great range of flavours and aromas again this year
and we look forward to blending as we have plenty of options.
Vintage 2020 will be remembered for ‘social distancing’, ‘alcohol spray’ and ‘staying in your bubble’. But
ultimately, I am sure the wines we made will prevail and we will be able to look back and celebrate a
unique and very successful vintage.