Marlborough shines the brightest

At this time of year, work in the cellar and winemakers office is all about blending, fining, filtering, bottling, stabilising the white wines, and racking some of the Pinot Noir.

At New Zealand Wineries we've been churning through the filtering with the addition of a third cross flow, like winemaking poetry in motion....

And it was a bit of a novelty to see a job on the task board at the morning meeting recently for a drain and press of some Pinot Noir; nothing like a bit of extended time on skins!

Every year, at around this time, those involved in cellar life have to convince some that yes, we certainly do still have work to do, despite harvest being well finished and the cold and dreary winter upon us.

We would all agree it’s one of the busiest times of year for sure. The thousands of litres of wine dotted throughout the winery are at all differing stages of production; some is close to bottling stage, some has another few months of being tweaked or tucked away in barrel or tank before reaching its final stages.

Aside from this, the topic that seems to be on everyone’s lips right now, one that we can all agree on, is that winter 2015 has been a hardy one, with record winter chill temperatures all over the country.

On the good news front, if it acts as any consolation, Blenheim has recorded the highest sunshine hours for the year so far through until the end of July, well ahead of our rivals over the hill in Nelson.

Now, that’s something to celebrate!

A big thanks to our hardworking industry friends at the Marlborough Research Centre for putting together the weather statistics, a topic all kiwis love to talk about.

So far this year Blenheim has recorded 1554.6 hour of sunshine; 15.7 hours behind us was Whakatane, 90.6 hours behind us was Nelson, and 98.3 hours behind us was Tekapo.

On the downside, the first seven months of 2015 have recorded the driest start to the year since 2003.

In a nutshell, here’s a few more weather facts for Marlborough's winter and the year thus far:

July 2015 was very sunny, slightly cooler than average, with just over half the normal rainfall.

The total rainfall of 35.2mm was significantly higher than July 2014 which saw just 9.9mm which was the lowest July total on record, and slightly ahead of the July 2013 total of 34.8mm.

Total rainfall for January to July 2015 of 251.2 mm was 67% of the long-term average of 376.2 mm.

So far this year, in fact since July 2014, only June has recorded above average rainfall.

The mean temperature of 7.5°C was just 0.4°C below the long-term average temperature for the past 29 years, and on par with July 2014. July 2013 saw a balmy mean of 10.8°C.

Frosts…. Here’s what we all want to know about, and forget about too.. please help our toes and fingers!!

July 2015 recorded 19 ground frosts and 11 air frosts, while July 2014 recorded 17 ground frosts and 10 air frosts, and July 2013 recorded 18 ground frosts and 6 air frosts.

Ten consecutive ground frosts were recorded from 5th to 14th July and a further seven consecutive ground frosts from 17th to 24th July. I think we all remember those ones..

The coldest ground frost was -5.3°C on 21 July, and the coldest air frost was -2.8°C on 11 July.

At least we all know that a good solid frost means the yellow thing in the sky will boast its presence that day.

Blenheim saw 199.1 hours sunshine for July, which was 125% of the long term average for July of 159 hours. This is third highest July sunshine total on record for Blenheim, for the 86 years 1930-2015.

Total sunshine hours for Blenheim for January to July 2015 are 1554.6, which is 113 percent of the long-term average total of 1373.5 hours. 

So, there we have it, it's been a dry sunny year so far, with lots of frosts just like last year.

As for life at NZW, it will game plan as usual whatever the weather, with bottling getting steadier to meet demands for wine being shipped across the oceans and all over New Zealand.

No doubt grape growers will be keeping their fingers crossed for a good dose of rain come Spring, eventuating in lovely plump berries to come our way a few months down the track. 

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