"Near-perfect" growing conditions produce third "outstanding" vintage, Hawke's Bay Winegrowers say
Hawke's Bay's total average yields may be slightly down as harvest comes to a close, but regardless, viticulturists and winemakers alike are reporting a high-quality vintage following "near-perfect growing conditions".
Hawke's Bay Winegrowers, the official regional wine industry organisation representing all wineries and growers, says the balance of the season was warm and dry but with a cool snap during November, it has meant that berries have been smaller and bunches looser leading to "excellent quality".
Chardonnay specialist Tony Bish added that “not an excessively hot summer has led to intense flavours and excellent sugar/acid balance".
Once vintage came around, which was another early one in Hawke’s Bay, the weather remained settled and dry allowing winemakers and viticulturist to make planned picking decisions and bring in pristine fruit to the expectant wineries.
Clearview Estate's Chief Winemaker Matt Kirby says 2021 wines bode well for those enthusiasts that like to cellar wines as they are showing "amazing texture and concentration with balance from the natural acidities".
"It is a pretty amazing run with 3 and arguably 4 fantastic but different vintages."
The other potential challenge for winegrowers this season was a shortage of labour as New Zealand’s borders remain closed, a source of seasonal labour boost for most regions.
However, this did not impact the Hawke’s Bay wine industry as much as initially feared due to the good run of weather allowing for planned picking, and the wider Hawke’s Bay community stepping in to help.
There were ‘pick parties’, community charity drives, retiree picking crews, not to mention neighbours, family and local wine lovers who all played valuable roles in bringing in this year’s grapes.
Te Mata Estate has a long-standing relationship with local retirees in order to hand-pick their grapes.
"We love working with our loyal local pickers who are part of the Te Mata family, not only do they help us bring in our best fruit, it is always with enlightening conversation and cheer.” Lorraine Leheny of Bilancia said.
“We harvested our own vineyard utilising an amazing group of family and friends who heeded to call the secateurs and came in over five various picking days, including Easter weekend. Extremely thankful to the whole, varied team.”
Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Chair Sally Duncan said: “Hawke’s Bay is a fantastic part of New Zealand, and seeing how our community has come together makes me even prouder to be part of this special wine region".
“Hawke’s Bay cements its reputation as one of the world’s great wine regions, with an ability to consistently produce premium wines with great cellaring potential.”