Spring 2012 challenged the vineyard team with short nights, frequent alarms and close calls all with respect to frost. Fortunately no damage was sustained in contrast to other ‘frost years’ when quantity has been severely impacted.
Flowering progressed without undue drama largely as a result of fewer southerly weather patterns which are considered normal for Martinborough over this critical period. Fruit set is on par with 2011, if not a little below. Pinot noir and Syrah have needed a fine tuning fruit thin prior to the nets being applied. Whites look balanced going into the harvest period, Viognier being the only exception, compared to last year’s generosity – 2013 will be in very short supply.
The vines began the year with high health (carbohydrate levels) after the previous two years of abundant rainfall, warm temperatures (2011) and low crops (2012). This buffer has carried the vines through the season. Well timed and localised rain events have topped up soil moisture when it was needed (70mm in early February). An absence of wind has ensured vine canopies have been able to grow strongly yet are not unduly vigorous, for this time of year, which bodes well for phenolic maturity in the fruit. Sunlight hours and growing degree days are most likely to finish the season at long-term average levels.
We have continued to refine our farming approach which has traditionally been tailored around harvesting fruit at optimal phenolic maturity. Our cultural management is well established but continuing work is being undertaken towards achieving a sustainable macro/micro fauna balance in the vineyard. Rob and his team have made pleasing advances in the past year, refinements that will be sure to shine through in the subsequent wines.