Tuesday, 10 April 2018 12:54

Seasons are a-changing — Editorial

Written by  Tessa Nicholson
Tessa Nicholson. Tessa Nicholson.

The 2017/18 season is drawing to a close, with the final plots of grapes ripening up and ready to head to the winery for fermentation. For most, this summer will be one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

Record temperatures, record rainfall (in some areas) three cyclonic events, and crops that defied initial predictions, in Marlborough at least, of being below the long-term average. While no one is ever happy to say too much about a vintage until all the fruit is in the tanks, we offer a preview of how summer treated the vines in Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago. (See page 14.)

Words such as bizarre, unique, strange and crazy have all been mentioned by winemakers and growers. And one admitted he was “looking to forward to looking at this harvest in the rear vision mirror.”

But there are a lot of positives as well, with fruit flavours shining through at lower brix and lower acids being experienced in a number of regions due to a succession of warm night temperatures.

Many of this year’s Sauvignon Blancs will be under the spotlight in 10 months time, as the New Zealand Winegrowers major event of next year kicks off. Sauvignon 2019 will take place in Marlborough over three days at the end of January. Hundreds of delegates are expected to descend on the home of Sauvignon in New Zealand, along with more than 70 wineries and a full list of guest speakers. Following on from the highly successful inaugural International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration back in 2016, the second event is aiming to hit even more consumers, especially via digital and social media. In an effort to ensure New Zealand Winegrowers and wineries throughout the country maximise these two forms of marketing in the best way possible, New Zealand Winegrower’s marketing team are working on tools and playbooks that will be made available later this year. Chris Yorke, Global Marketing Director says the tests they have undertaken have been fascinating, and is excited about the potential for the industry once the material is made available.

This issue we also begin a new series on dealing with powdery mildew. It seems this insidious disease is determined to be the bane of grower’s lives. Affecting fruit and leaves, it has been difficult for some to get on top of. In our on-going series we take a closer look at what you should be doing in the vineyard at each step throughout the season, beginning this issue with what needs to be undertaken post-harvest and during pruning. The tips come out of a research programme funded by New Zealand Winegrowers, and offer up practical solutions along with case studies that could help you prepare for the next season.

Talking of research, the New Zealand Winegrower’s Research Centre to be based in Blenheim, has its first contract. Development Manager Tracy Benge explains where they are at in the development of this one-of-a-kind centre, and her hopes for its future.

Tracy is also the focus on our first feature in a series entitled Women In Wine. With regional committees established in each of our regions, this initiative is well on its way to playing a major role in the future on New Zealand’s wine industry.

So lots of reading ahead. Enjoy, as the season changes from summer to autumn, and we finalise vintage 2018. 

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