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Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Thursday, March 4, 2010


Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers in-house vintage survey tells us the 2010 vintage is later than usual by about two weeks and expected to begin mid to late March but this won’t affect the high standard of quality the Hawke’s Bay industry strives for. Wineries and grape growers responded to the survey commenting on the above average rainfall for January and cool Spring period slowing the start of the traditional growing season. Most indicated they were expecting the same size or slightly reduced crop as the 2009 vintage although a few were looking at a larger yield.

Tony Bish of Sacred Hill says “Looking good so far, nice warm average temps and ripening progressing well. Forecast is for a dry March so optimistic we will have a great vintage.” Rod McDonald, Winemaker and Chairman of Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers agrees, “We had a great start to the season with a warm flowering and fruit set. The last couple of weeks have been more like the Summer and Autumn we rely on to ripen fruit for high quality wine production. With the cooler summer we've had, we will typically see wines of deeper colour and great aromatics due to the higher natural acids in the grapes. These characteristics are a couple of the hallmarks of great wine from HB. With late season heat and dry weather, this could be another exciting vintage for Hawke’s Bay."

Varieties expected to stand out for 2010 are those Hawke’s Bay is most well known for – Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and other Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc). All the varieties look very good at this stage with minimal disease present in the vines from the wet weather. Most indicated they were expecting the same size or slightly reduced crop as the 2009 vintage although a few were looking at a larger yield. Most surveyed did not have new varieties coming into production this vintage but those that did cited Semillon, Pinot Gris, Tempranillo, Sauvignon Blanc, Arneis and Sauvignon Gris showing yet again the diversity and strength of the region for wine growing.

Given recent press reports on surplus grape requirements, particularly for Sauvignon Blanc, the majority of Hawke’s Bay’s wineries and growers responding were not leaving any grapes on the vine. Some are affected with small surpluses of red wine and Sauvignon Blanc under these challenging industry conditions but for most, this vintage is not expected to differ from 2009 as a result of surplus requirements. Thirty-two per cent of wineries surveyed indicated they would still be buying Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris fruit for 2010.

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