Winemakers basking in summer sun

By Hannah Norton

While farmers might be appealing to the heavens to open up and relieve the drought, Northland winemakers are more than happy with the sunshine.

"As much as it is bad for farmers, and I sympathise with them - it's great for us," said Mario Vuletich, owner of Longview Estate winery in Otaika.

While the hot weather has produced smaller fruit "it's more concentrated - making for a delightful wine", he said.

"Also, none of the fruit has split because there's been no rain," he said.

"All the factors have aligned to enjoy wine-making. It hasn't been a struggle to get things right.

"It's a bit of a dream for any winemaker."

Having said that not all winemakers could benefit from such a dry summer, he said.

"Our vines are old - with roots deep in the ground, so they can survive the dry season. If we had a vineyard of young vines it'd be a different story."

Last year the Longview Estate had a few frosts which resulted in a 38 per cent reduction in crop size.

"But you take the good with the bad - the quality is going to be there.

"This is my fourth driest vintage in 40 years of wine-making, which is marvellous," he said.

He cultivates seven varieties of grapes, with some ripening in February, some in March and some in April.

The White Diamond grapes have very recently been harvested, but because of the good weather Mr Vuletich is leaving the reds on the vines for a bit longer.

Monty Knight, the general manager of Okahu Estate near Ahipara, said the vineyard hadn't had any significant rain since Christmas Day.

He believes it to be drier than the 2010 drought.

"And 2010 was a spectacular vintage," he said, pointing out that there was some rain in the January of the drought, reducing the stress on crops. "We've picked some fruit already and it's exceptionally good," he said.


- Northern Advocate

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