With picking nearly complete, Hawke’s Bay grape growers and wine makers are optimistic that this will be another good year, following exemplary vintages in 2013 and 2014. Hawke’s Bay is the first region to forecast the quality of this year’s vintage following harvest.
“Most would be considering this to be a very good, solid vintage,” Michael Henley, Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association (HBWG) and CEO of Trinity Hill Wines, says.
“There are few regions that are able to claim three great vintages in a row. We have had really good fruit and yields are down. Generally when yields are down, quality is better.”
The long, dry summer, coupled with little frost, resulted in excellent growing conditions in Hawke’s Bay, Xan Harding, the Deputy Chair of the HBWG Association and owner of Black Bridge Estate, says.
Some growers feared Cyclone Pam in March would impact the quality of the grapes but only the tail end reached the area and it was more like “a little drink for the vines”, says Harding. However, it was the rain events in early April that caused some of the 266 vineyards to harvest earlier than anticipated.
“More than 85 per cent of the grapes are in now. Overall we are confident of a good vintage, and Merlot and Chardonnay are likely to be stand outs,” veteran grower, Harding, says.
It is anticipated the harvest will echo last year. In 2014 two thirds of the 44,500 tonnes picked were made into white wine and one third was red wine, with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah making up almost half of the vintage.
It will be late June, Henley predicts, before the Association will know exactly how many tonnes of grapes were harvested and the wine makers will be able to validate their optimism.
Wine connoisseurs can learn more about the vintage first-hand from the winemakers who are showcasing their ranges at Hot Red Hawke’s Bay wine expo in Auckland and Wellington in June.
For the first time Hot Red Hawke’s Bay’s 12-year history there will also be an exclusive Wine Master Class with four of the region’s most-respected wine experts – Hugh Crichton from Vidal Estate, Tony Bish from Sacred Hill, Tim Turvey from Clearview Estate Winery and John Hancock from Trinity Hill. For more information on Hot Red Hawke’s Bay and the Wine Master Class go to eventfinder.co.nz