It all was looking rather scary….. As the harvest of 2016 began , so did the promise of a good dose of rain.
While the majority of the nation kicked back at the end of March for a swell Easter weekend of some comforting rain, hot cross buns and plenty of chocolate, those in the wine industry in Marlborough were on the edge of their seats, frown lines deepening and hours of sleep depleting.
It would have been a cruel twist to a dreamy summer of berry ripening if Mother Nature delivered what she potentially promised; a solid fat dose of rain for the beginning of April, just as the first of the grapes were ready to be pulled from the grips of the vines and rolled into the numerous wineries around the region.
One winemaker described it as a potential scene from MASH 4077, and that’s not fun in anyone’s books.
Yes it was true that more than a drop or two did fall from the sky in the early stages of harvest, and as the breaks in the bad weather came in, so did the fruit.
Then, after three or four days of drizzle, cloud and rain, the sky then cleared! Constant vineyard monitoring took place, with the restlessness of the thought of further damp conditions still at the forefront of consciousness.
But as the days slipped by, the fruit came in, and so did the warmer dry temperatures.
The autumnal April turned out to be one heck of a cracker, and one would not be mistaken for hearing a giant sigh and heave of relief amongst the growers and winemakers.
It soon became evident the fruit could be left to hang on the vines for quite a while longer, in fact for as long as the growers and winemakers liked!
The grapes trotted into New Zealand Wineries this year, as opposed to a gallop like other years.
Walking around the winery during harvest, the presses whirred, the tanks were racked, the RDV sucked the last of the goodness from the lees, wine and juice was transferred between quarters and tank farms through fixed lines and hoses that snaked the ground, and the red fermenters were plunged and pumped over at a rate of knots.
Bins of hand-picked bunches lined the winery, while trucks came in all hours of the day and night to dump loads into the giant hoppers.
The melting pot of cellar hands at New Zealand Wineries linked to form a robust chain, each section of the winemaking journey honoured.
There was a satisfied exchange of nods and smiles as the last of the fruit rolled in just before ANZAC Day this year.
The clean sweet delicious bundles of goodness which the harvest of 2016 which will be remembered for, the one where Mother Nature came close to showing her most savage hand, but at the last minute decided to opt for the kind road.Thanks Mother Nature, let’s all raise our glasses to a job well done.