It's all a matter of timing

The pruning of the Hawke's Bay vines which are producing what is described as an exceptional 2013 wine vintage is about halfway completed.

"We were under way at the start of June," says Mission Estate Winery winemaker Paul Mooney.

It will take about three months for contractors and casual pruners to get the vines into shape for the spring.

"Timing is everything," says Mooney. "We have to get it all done before the sap starts rising.

"The ground will start to warm with the approach of spring."

Earlier ripening vines of varieties such as chardonnay and pinot gris get the snip first to ensure that all will be ready for the September bud burst.

Those varieties generally emerge two to three weeks before sauvignon blanc.

There is a slight time difference in the annual pruning because of a variation in ground conditions.

Although vines on the Greenmeadows blocks at the Mission started dropping their leaves at the end of May, the vines on the drier Gimblett Gravels "ran out of steam" earlier.

Mooney says the exceptional climate conditions which are responsible for this year's vintage had no bearing on this year's pruning schedule.

"It's pretty well running to where it's at most years."

Contractors have joined fulltime and casual staff at the Mission, with the casuals doubling up as the winery is now bottling the 2013.

"We are well under way with that now."

But the first bottles from the 2013 vintage had already been produced.

"We did the rose back in April."

There is plenty of anticipation within the industry about just what will be rolled out from what one winemaker reckons was a vintage close to being a "once in a lifetime" one.

And, as Mooney says, there won't be too long to wait.

"The 2013 sauvignon blanc will probably be out in early August."

Further north, a late finish to the grape harvest has caused a late start to pruning in the Gisborne area. Grapegrowers there say, however, that the fine weather up until this week, and the availability of skilled pruners, means the work is expected to be completed on time.

- Hamilton News

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