2017 wine vintage stumbles at the end

Great growing conditions followed by challenging weather.

Great growing conditions followed by challenging weather.

File picture

THE 2017 grape growing season in Gisborne was one of the best experienced, with a challenging harvest at the end.

Millton Winery wine maker James Millton said budburst started the season on September 13 in fantastic spring weather.

Flowering, as always, was around November 25.

“Conditions were warm and dry. This is what we wish for — dry, warm windy conditions to blow the flower caps off and for fertilisation to occur without interruption.”

The Mendoza chardonnay selection was a good indicator of the flowering process, he said.

“Shot berries showing a poor set and full bunches showing good fertilisation indicated this season.”

Mr Millton said the remainder of the growing season was amazing.

“I have only ever seen such conditions in 1983, 1989 and 1998, so we were eager to lead this to the maximum again.”

By harvest time, the weather changed throughout the country to northerlies bringing intermittent rain, cloud and humidity.

Easier planning

Mr Millton said it was completely unexpected, but modern monitoring and forecasting equipment allowed more ease in planning.

During the harvest, cloudy conditions meant a struggle to get optimal ripeness and there were a number of late varieties.

“This meant a very selective pick, which delivered significantly lower yields while still maintaining great flavours and balance.”

Picking parameters were shortened. At Milltons, harvest by hand started on March 10.

Near the end of harvest, two cyclones and the tail of a third hit the country, but this district did not get the brunt of it.

“Having free draining soil is another blessing here,” he said.

Cloudy days meant the vines shut down and didn’t give higher sugar levels.

“This was a blessing really as there is a recent consumer appreciation of natural lower levels of alcohol.”

Most 2017 Millton wines have been between 12.5 percent and 13 percent alcohol.

“What is exciting is that phenological ripeness was achieved, giving wines great flavour and balance. The summer heat did build the ripeness of the seed tannins, which remain sweet.”

Early season pinot noirs were looking “delicious, poised and fragrant” and the chenin blanc was looking good, but yields were down by 34 percent.

THE 2017 grape growing season in Gisborne was one of the best experienced, with a challenging harvest at the end.

Millton Winery wine maker James Millton said budburst started the season on September 13 in fantastic spring weather.

Flowering, as always, was around November 25.

“Conditions were warm and dry. This is what we wish for — dry, warm windy conditions to blow the flower caps off and for fertilisation to occur without interruption.”

The Mendoza chardonnay selection was a good indicator of the flowering process, he said.

“Shot berries showing a poor set and full bunches showing good fertilisation indicated this season.”

Mr Millton said the remainder of the growing season was amazing.

“I have only ever seen such conditions in 1983, 1989 and 1998, so we were eager to lead this to the maximum again.”

By harvest time, the weather changed throughout the country to northerlies bringing intermittent rain, cloud and humidity.

Easier planning

Mr Millton said it was completely unexpected, but modern monitoring and forecasting equipment allowed more ease in planning.

During the harvest, cloudy conditions meant a struggle to get optimal ripeness and there were a number of late varieties.

“This meant a very selective pick, which delivered significantly lower yields while still maintaining great flavours and balance.”

Picking parameters were shortened. At Milltons, harvest by hand started on March 10.

Near the end of harvest, two cyclones and the tail of a third hit the country, but this district did not get the brunt of it.

“Having free draining soil is another blessing here,” he said.

Cloudy days meant the vines shut down and didn’t give higher sugar levels.

“This was a blessing really as there is a recent consumer appreciation of natural lower levels of alcohol.”

Most 2017 Millton wines have been between 12.5 percent and 13 percent alcohol.

“What is exciting is that phenological ripeness was achieved, giving wines great flavour and balance. The summer heat did build the ripeness of the seed tannins, which remain sweet.”

Early season pinot noirs were looking “delicious, poised and fragrant” and the chenin blanc was looking good, but yields were down by 34 percent.

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