Grape harvest survives rain

2017 vintage withstands wet weather and good things promised for the bottle.

2017 vintage withstands wet weather and good things promised for the bottle.

HARVEST IN TIME: The quality of the Gisborne grape harvest has been maintained, thanks to around-the-clock work by growers, contractors and the wineries in the past week. Potential disaster after six days of rain has been avoided. Crops were picked a little earlier than planned. Picture by Liam Clayton

GRAPE growers have had their worries the past week but by and large the vintage has come through the wet weather in good shape and grape quality has been maintained, said Gisborne Winegrowers spokesman Doug Bell.

Contractors have worked round the clock since early last week to harvest as much of the white grape crop as possible.

“The past six days have not been easy for growers. Watching the rain fall on grapes that were nearly ready for harvest is hard psychologically but I believe growers and the vintage have come through it as well as could be expected.”

Mr Bell said while many blocks were picked a little earlier than was ideal the quality has been maintained.

“But it has required a huge amount of extra work. Crops have to be cleaned to remove any diseased fruit before the harvesters go in.

“Wet weather causes the grape skins to break down and they have to be picked quickly. We have not been able to wait for perfect ripeness,” he said.

The harvest focus has been on the chardonnay and sauvignon blanc varieties.

“There is some very good sauvignon blanc crop out there this season and we feel both varieties have been harvested in time.

“The season has been compromised to a degree by the rain in the past week but it is certainly not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination. The grapes have been picked and picked clean.

“But because the harvest has required a lot more resources by growers and the wineries, the costs will be greater and from that point of view grower returns will be down.”

Mr Bell said every season was different and this happened to be a wet one.

“But despite the rain we believe the wines produced will still be great.”

The acceleration in the harvest in the past week has progressed the season to somewhere between a third and half-way through.

“There are still several weeks to go. Hopefully we do not get any further periods of rain like we have had in the past week.”

The MetService long range forecast indicates showers or rain on three of the next nine days, with cloudy periods and/or sun on the other six.

GRAPE growers have had their worries the past week but by and large the vintage has come through the wet weather in good shape and grape quality has been maintained, said Gisborne Winegrowers spokesman Doug Bell.

Contractors have worked round the clock since early last week to harvest as much of the white grape crop as possible.

“The past six days have not been easy for growers. Watching the rain fall on grapes that were nearly ready for harvest is hard psychologically but I believe growers and the vintage have come through it as well as could be expected.”

Mr Bell said while many blocks were picked a little earlier than was ideal the quality has been maintained.

“But it has required a huge amount of extra work. Crops have to be cleaned to remove any diseased fruit before the harvesters go in.

“Wet weather causes the grape skins to break down and they have to be picked quickly. We have not been able to wait for perfect ripeness,” he said.

The harvest focus has been on the chardonnay and sauvignon blanc varieties.

“There is some very good sauvignon blanc crop out there this season and we feel both varieties have been harvested in time.

“The season has been compromised to a degree by the rain in the past week but it is certainly not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination. The grapes have been picked and picked clean.

“But because the harvest has required a lot more resources by growers and the wineries, the costs will be greater and from that point of view grower returns will be down.”

Mr Bell said every season was different and this happened to be a wet one.

“But despite the rain we believe the wines produced will still be great.”

The acceleration in the harvest in the past week has progressed the season to somewhere between a third and half-way through.

“There are still several weeks to go. Hopefully we do not get any further periods of rain like we have had in the past week.”

The MetService long range forecast indicates showers or rain on three of the next nine days, with cloudy periods and/or sun on the other six.

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