The emergence of growing pains in the Marlborough region.

Every wine region in the world has its own set of seasonal risks, more often than not the primary risk associated with cool climate viticulture are frosts occurring both at spring and in the latter weeks of harvest. Both of these time lines can have a devastating effect on the season’s crop.

Recent nursery surveys within the Marlborough region are suggesting between 40 to 60 KT of fruit coming on line over the next 3 to 4 years. The majority of this has been planted in the upper Wairau district heading westerly of Marlborough central.

The significance of this planting is most recognisable in the surface soil which progressively becomes more and more concentrated with river stones allowing greater water drainage away from each vine. The 2019 season has added an additional challenge to this emerging subregion with circa 21 days without rainfall during peak season which has created significant water stress on recently planted vineyards, in particular if a dedicated dam has not formed part of the development.

One of the main reasons Marlborough sauvignon blanc has been such a commercial success is its ability to be cropped at a high level whilst still producing intensely flavoured wines. In a year with limited water this feature becomes it worst enemy as the irrigation required to fully ripen such a crop load is no longer available and invariably becomes another significant seasonal risk that the grower needs to consider.

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