Vintage year amid virus turmoil

The Nelson Mail 1 April 2020, by Neil Hodgson

Daniel Schwarzenbach, winemaker at Blackenbrook Vineyard, Nelson, New ZealandI was recently reminded of an old Chinese saying 'may you live in interesting times'.  One thing I am very confident won't change  is the quality of the 2020 wine grape harvest. It's shaping up to be one of the very best in many years.  

While I haven't been able to visit a few wineries and taste the fresh grape juice as the fruit is pressed, winemakers I trust implicitly are delighted with the quality of the fruit they have been harvesting, and yes, they are able to harvest during the lockdown because when grapes are ripe they need to be picked.  [...]   

Valley Neale from Brightwater Vineyards told me they hand-harvested their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay without any contract labour, just her and her husband Gary, their son, viticulturist and winemaker so "we had a few very long, hard days but the effort was worth it because the fruit was in beautiful condition and we know we this will make some great wines this year."

Todd Stevens, Winemaker at Neudorf Vineyards, Nelson, New ZealandVintage at Neudorf wound up on Monday and Rosie Finn told me "This vintage is notable for the fantastic commitment of the crew. Everyone has been reliable, consistent and kept their (and our) spirits up. Todd, our winemaker and Stef, our viticulturalist have been incredible leaders in such difficult times. Fruit wise, 2020 looks great, we've been blessed with the weather right through summer and early autumn."  

One winery facing some significant logistical issues is Seifried Estate, they have a number of vineyards and are the region's largest wine producer so managing not just the harvesting but also the processing has been a real challenge but, once again, the fruit they have harvested promises to deliver some outstanding wines this year.  [...]
At Blackenbrook Vineyard Daniel Schwarzenbach is one very happy man. "We harvested the last of our fruit at 2pm on the day before lockdown so we were able to keep our workers onsite until we finished.

Thomas Schwarzenbach at Blackenbrook Vineyard, Nelson, New ZealandWe don't have a cellar hand this year but our 16-year-old son, Thomas, has stepped up to fill the role beautifully.  "He has worked around the vineyard and winery almost his whole life so he knows how everything works and what needs to be done, he even worked with me in the winery until 2am a couple of days and was up again at 7am and straight back in to it. We have had some huge days. 

"The quality of the fruit we have harvested is right up with the very best we have ever had, we got everything picked before the rain started so the benefits of the long, hot summer show in the pristine fruit. It was so clean, without any rot or other disease pressure, we could just pick it and process it, it made for easy and fast work for our pickers.

"We are just really happy with how vintage has gone and with the fruit we have, the biggest challenge for the whole industry is going to be selling the beautiful wines we are making this year."

Like every business local wineries will need your help to survive and thrive into the future so if you need to top up your wine stocks over the next few weeks think about having it delivered to your door by a local winery that employs local people. Just go to their websites and choose your favourite drop, most wineries have free delivery options too.
To find a list of local wineries go to Wine Nelson  [...]

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