Our challenges as a winegrower are largely related to the vineyards interaction with the seasonal weather patterns, mainly precipitation. However, the demands during the 2015 growing season were of a very different nature: wind and drought. For many seasoned sheep farmers and some winegrowers in the Martinborough region this is nothing new, although for many of us the timing of these provided us with a new dimension to our usual paradigm.
The high winds on the eve of flowering (December) resulted in a halt of vine growth so dramatic that recovery lasted until the New Year and fruit set was greatly affected. Since rainfall over the summer months was at a minimum, our unirrigated vines had to work very hard to stay fresh. With a strong and warm Nor’wester at the start of February, the vines went into temporary hibernation once more. Not only were bunch and berry numbers small, berry size was reduced too. Surprisingly with this warm weather, veraison occurred on-time and in a timely matter.
The response and resilience of our vineyard was remarkable. With the vines in this hibernation state, we observed a phenomenal acid retention and a beautiful slow ripening of both flavours and phenolic compounds. Though yields were down and the weather was warm, fear of an early harvest was unfounded, harvest commenced on par with the long term average. Moreover, we have seen a beautiful refinement and youth in our red wines, where purity and elegance are hallmarks for the white varieties.