Hard work for a great return

Hard work for a great return

Left Conatiner

Hawkes Bay

Black Barn

Black Barn cellar door and kitchen crew getting in on the foot stomping (Pigeage) of our whole cluster Syrah Viognier parcel

2016 Vintage would have to be one of our most compressed harvests. With ideal conditions for this growing season we are seeing expressive fruit at lower brix levels, with the added bonus of low acids. Hand picking has gone well, albeit very busy over the last ten days.

Our 2016 Black Barn Rose is well on its way with ferment complete and about to start the blending.

The warm conditions also have led to good colour and tannin in the reds. In particular, the Syrah harvest and quality is looking outstanding.

- Dave McKee




Winemaker Carol Bunn (left) with Ash from Salute (right) and the 2016 Pinot Noir fresh from tank

An exciting new era for Urlar with the appointment of Carol Bunn as our new winemaker. So far the Pinot Noir is coming in beautifully with great flavours in the juice and nice sugar levels. The Sauvignon Blanc still has high acid but we are looking at picking this in the next few days. At this stage the vintage is going well and we look forward to releasing the 2016 wines when they are ready.

- Angus Thomson



Dry River

Winemaker Wilco Lam protecting grapes in the press with inert gas

Vintage 2016 is looking very promising! Thanks to the good growing conditions in Spring and early Summer we are seeing good yields, especially after the 2015 Vintage. I think we will see more depth, structure and aromatics compared to last year. This is because the ripening season was calm, dry and warm providing the grapes with good skin thickness and nutrients which will assist with phenolic density and fruit plushness. Mid harvest rain has not affected us yet, on the contrary, it has helped freshening up the vines and giving opportunity to “hang” some of the aromatic white wines a bit more. The outlook is good and wines are behaving orderly in the winery, so we are very pleased so far.

- Wilco Lam



Palliser Estate

Palliser Vintage Crew

Vintage 2016 to date has been described by Allan Johnson, Chief Winemaker at Palliser Estate as “excellent” and Allan should know as this is his 26th vintage at Palliser. Fruit set was good with resulting yields around average for Martinborough. The ripening conditions have been ideal with warm, sunny and dry conditions throughout the Summer and early Autumn. The resulting fruit quality is very high with a nice balance between sugars and acidity. The Pinot Noir skins appear thicker than normal indicating we will achieve lovely tannin and structure from these wines. With only a week of picking left and conditions expected to remain settled, 2016 is shaping up to be indeed an excellent one.

- Pip Goodwin




Viticulturalist Ben Cowley, son Oliver Cowley and vineyard dog Sammy pick up bins of handpicked Pinot Noir grapes

2016 – a vintage to reward experience and faith. Yesterday (14th April), Luc and I sat down over a cold beer and we talked through what has been an interesting vintage. The main take home message we felt, was that what we were tasting in the vineyard did not line up to our normal analysis, particularly Brix levels. Fruit this year was definitely physiologically ripe at lower sugar levels, and you needed to trust what you tasted and not the “numbers” game. A difficult leap of faith on four hours sleep night after night! But the reward has been in the tank and in the barrel – ripe concentrated fruit and fresh acidity which is holding the wines together in what has been a particularly warm year.

- Ben Cowley




Fromm Vintage Crew

Up to January 2016 this was the driest growing season recorded in 80 years and the region was expecting an early start to vintage. After some rain in January, timings were virtually returned to being in line with previous years. We began picking on March 12th with the first Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir fruit.

It does need to be said that the crops are potentially very high in the region and, even with serious fruit thinning, most in Marlborough will harvest well above average crop levels. Bunch weights, on average, seem well over 50% on previous years, which could well be one of the reasons the potentially early vintage fell back to normality. Positively, the continued and lingering sunshine we have been experiencing of late has allowed these larger bunches to fully ripen physiologically, and the larger crop levels have enabled us (and other quality producers) to be very selective in the vineyards – picking the best and leaving the rest.

We have had two days of threatening rain, but on both these occasions we were already right up to date with regard to the varieties we could pick. In other words, with a handful of late nights we ensured we weren’t caught out by these rains and the majority of our fruit was already safely indoors. We now only have our Syrah, Malbec & Late Harvest Gewürztraminer yet to pick. They are, as we speak, basking in the Indian summer sunshine that we have been gifted, so importantly this is allowing us to pick totally on our own terms.

- Adam Balasoglou




Harvesting Sauvignon Blanc in McLean Vineyard, Omaka Valley

Extremely low rainfall during the early summer put pressure on water supplies, but rainfall in January broke the drought and the vines flourished as temperatures climbed above average in the New Year. Considerable thinning was carried out to ensure optimum ripeness and concentration.

Harvest started in mid-March with Pinot Noir achieving perfect ripeness at slightly lower sugars than previous years. In late March, northerly airstreams brought a couple of dumps of rain which put pressure on the harvest and led to remedial canopy and crop management being needed in some vineyards.

As April progressed Marlborough’s classic Indian summer made a welcome appearance allowing all vineyards to achieve full ripeness and the last Sauvignon Blanc block was hand-picked on April 18 under sunny skies.

- Kevin Judd




Rob and Winemaker Claire Allan with the last harvest of Sauvignon Blanc as the sun rises

Huia has had a wonderful harvest with some excellent flavours across all varieties. Flavour ripeness has occurred at lower sugar levels and we've picked to maximise flavours and maintain fresh acidity after the warm summer.

A very experienced vintage team has meant that it has gone as smooth as silk – although everyone’s ready for a bit of sleep! It’s been a big harvest and the winery is absolutely full – just a couple of tonnes of Riesling to go and they may have to be squeezed into the bath!

- Mike Allan



Nautilus Estate

Nautilus Vintage Crew hand sorting grapes

We started the 2016 harvest on the 29th February with some Pinot Noir for sparkling and chipped away at the sparkling grapes for the next 2 weeks. A warmer than normal March meant flavours advanced early and across the varietals and we have picked at around 1 Brix lower than ‘normal’ which is no bad thing. We have some stunning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay this year and Pinot Gris also looks particularly strong.

The all-important Sauvignon Blanc crop was picked over a reasonably compressed 17-day period, and as the ferments kick in, we are seeing a good range of aromas & flavours with plenty of interesting blending options. We have continued our trials using some non-traditional wine yeast this year that allow us to ferment at warmer temperatures to add texture and palate weight to the wines. We have even got a small parcel of Sauvignon Blanc fermenting on skins in our Pinot cellar – exciting stuff. The winery is full and we have a tired but satisfied vintage crew who have done an excellent job and responded well when the pressure came on.

- Clive Jones



Saint Clair Family Estate

Saint Clair Harvest Crew

Some good rains in January and February resulted in healthy vibrant canopies. This was followed by a very warm autumn which ripened the fruit earlier than average. Harvest commenced mid-March.

Yields across varietals have been variable with some Marlborough sub-regions being effected by cooler temperatures at flowering during later December.

The Sauvignon Blanc has come from good, strong canopies with balanced crops that have had adequate water. The grapes are looking clean and displaying great concentration of flavours.

Solid Marlborough weather has given us Pinot Noir bunches containing nice small berries, hence good skin to juice ratio and great colour and flavour for the wine.

The harvest is expected to be able to supply Marlborough’s 10% per annum growing export requirement.

- Julie Ibbotson



Mt Beautiful

Mt Beautiful

So far, fruit is fantastic – great quality and good volumes. We’re ahead of schedule, about 60% complete as of today. All the Pinot Noir is in and looking great, currently handpicking the chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Weather has been holding nicely, cool mornings followed by a warming afternoon with no rain. We should be finishing sometime next week. 2016 will be our largest vintage to date and the first entirely completed in our brand new winery. The smells are incredible! The first ferments are finishing up and all going well.

- Robert Watkins


Waipara Valley

Waipara Springs

32 Year Old Mendoza Clone Chardonnay

Coming into what has been deemed a near perfect growing season, the team at Waipara Springs are very excited about our 2016 Vintage wine and releasing to market.

Dry, hot climatic conditions combined with good rain fall in January, have resulted in exceptional quality fruit. General consensus in the Waipara Valley is the 2016 Vintage and yield is the best the region has experienced for over 10 years and in what is expected to produce top quality award winning wines. A very positive and excited energy by those in the industry and region.

- Katie Morgan


Waipara Valley


2016 vintage sees Joiy drawing on fruit from both Waipara and Clare Valley. A stand out vintage for Clare Valley in 2016, with a warmer than average December followed by normal temperatures and drier January. The cool start to February and introduction of some much needed rain set up for the perfect harvest. Waipara too is looking promising. The 2016 vintage will be a great contribution to the JOIY NV blend. Building on successful vintages for this variety, Joiy will be the first Australasian NV sparkling wine. The blend will be around 60% New Zealand and 40% Australian fruit, with the best regions of both Australia and NZ combining to showcase the ultimate expression from the New World. With such stunning fruit produced, Joiy is well poised to continue as the leading lifestyle wine with a modern spin on Prosecco.


Central Otago

Misha’s Vineyard

Proprietor Andy Wilkinson picking Sauvignon Blanc

Despite a dry and warm season in Central Otago, harvest occurred at a similar time to usual – reflecting the heavier crop with bunch weights generally above average. However, this year we found that some of the usual measures of ripeness were quite different: we had lower Brix (sugar) levels which is positive in terms of not getting excessive alcohols; acid levels were lower which particularly reflects the extra heat from the season; and our malic acid levels were some of the lowest we'd ever seen. Even with low acid levels, we also had low pH levels in the fruit which helped maintain the fruit condition as we waited for flavour and tannin ripeness before picking. We believe we’ll see very good open and fruit-expressive wines across the board this vintage.

- Olly Masters


Central Otago


The first Gewurztraminer of the year, picked from within Tinker’s Field

Harvest is now underway at Rippon with fruit beginning to come in thick and fast after a stop-start couple of weeks. Glowing Gewurztraminer, perfectly ripe Pinot Noir and glorious Gamay have come in so far, with the first young vine Riesling press on and flowing as I type. After a couple of small years, it is wonderful to see the winery filling up so quickly and with such clean and healthy fruit, a credit to the endless summer we've had here and the fantastic team we have had tending to the vines over the year. Gushing? Well, yes but it's one of those years...

- Nick Mills


Central Otago

Two Paddocks

Red Bank Farm at Clyde – picking finished there on Tuesday 12th April

We're about half way through vintage and at this point very excited about quality – great colour, flavour concentration, balanced acids, albeit we're slightly down on yield due to a very windy Spring, which reduced shoot numbers. It's still warm and sunny and thankfully no harsh frosts to date but the canopies are starting to shut down.

The crew have picked nearly all the Alexandra fruit (The Last Chance) and all The Red Bank Farm. Today the picking crew are at The Fusilier in Bannockburn and will finish there tomorrow. Interestingly we will be able to keep the crew going and pick The First Paddock in Gibbston immediately after Bannockburn. That's rare as often there is a 7-10-day wait/lag period for Gibbston to ripen – this reflects the favourable and consistent ripening conditions we've had this summer across the three sub-regions that Sam has vineyards – Gibbston, Bannockburn and Alexandra. 

In the winery, most ferments are only just starting to ferment after a long 7-10-day cold soak – except for the trial "No Add" pinot ferment that has started fermenting already. Watch this space for a winemaker's report on how this trial wine, (no sulphur and minimal intervention (non)practices taken to the extreme) evolves.

- Jacqui Murphy