Spring 1998

A cool to average spring was followed by the El Nino-dominated weather pattern. Persistent high winds did not abate till late February, and these, combined with high temperatures and extraordinarily dry conditions from November right through to harvest, meant most of our vines, which are unirrigated, struggled to ripen their fruit. The rising temperatures through November/December ensured a good flowering and fruit set, but by harvest it was clear that the berries would be about half their normal size. Our potentially abundant season had been limited to yet another low production year, with most varieties producing 2 T/acre or less and even lower potential juice yields because of the small berry sizes.

Ripening periods throughout Martinborough varied widely, with the same varieties being picked up to a month apart in different vineyards. Major factors in these variations appear to have been irrigation and the effectiveness of shelter. The different ripening periods, picking times, berry sizes and juice yields will add variety to the styles of wine emerging from Martinborough in a year the text books tell us should be capable of producing very fine wines.