November rain, March gain
Rain back in November 2020 is paying huge dividends in our Hawke’s Bay vineyards nearly four months later.
It was that rain that gave the vines the boost they needed to develop exceptionally full, high leaf canopies. Even after leaves were trimmed and cut to allow air and sun on the low-hanging fruit, there were heaps of leaves to capture the sun’s energy and drive the development of the grapes.
“It gave us a massive engine, the vineyard was purring like a V8 out there,” says viticulturist Tony Smith.
That meant an early start to harvest on 28 February, with Chardonnay for our Irongate wines being hand-picked ten days earlier than most years.
“Harvest has been getting earlier in recent years. We had an inkling at budburst that we might be ahead of schedule, and again at flowering. In recent weeks, we’ve seen great sugar accumulation in the grapes, and excellent flavour profiles.”
If all goes well, the Hawke’s Bay harvest might wrap up well before the end of March.
And the benefits of that November rain don’t end with this vintage. The canopies are still strong, which means that the leaves are still building carbohydrates and storing it in the trunk and roots.
“When winter comes, our vines won’t be going to sleep on an empty stomach,” says Tony. “That should set us up really well for vintage 2022.”