Drought is affecting most parts of New Zealand, but the dry and warm weather conditions across the country mean that wine producers are billing it as the best vintage for a century.
The owner of Villa Maria, Sir George Fistonich, told New Zealand’s 3news: “It definitely is the best vintage [in a decade] right across the board. In some ways, because we have had so many new plantings of vineyards and been a lot more selective with site, it probably is the best vintage we can look forward to for the last 100 years.”
The wine industry’s marketing body, New Zealand Winegrowers, is similarly hopeful.
"We understand the pain the current drought is causing in the pastoral sector, but the warm dry summer of 2013 has been absolutely perfect for growing and ripening grapes," said chief executive officer Philip Gregan. "As we move into autumn, still with warm days and now slightly cooler nights prevailing, the prospect is for an outstanding vintage in all our grape-growing regions."
The 2013 grape harvest is well underway and is likely to continue into early May for the later-ripening varieties and in the cooler regions.
“If we get a lot of rainfall in three or four weeks the later varieties like cab sauv can get affected, so we really need another month of really good hot weather,” said Fistonich.
While there have been media reports of a bumper crop causing another glut, Fistonich rejected these claims.
“This year the vintage is well down just through climatic conditions,” he said. “But funnily enough, because the weather has been so good in the last three months that will determine the 2014 vintage, because we have very ripe wood. It’s a bit technical, but we know we are going to have a big vintage in 2014.”
Jim Delegat, owner of Delegats, which produces the wine brand Oyster Bay, declared it a “fantastic growing season,” that could be “the best harvest in about a decade.”