AN EXCEPTIONAL vintage is in the wind for Wairarapa winemakers, says Palliser Estate Wines chief executive Pip Goodwin.
Ms Goodwin said a crew of 20 fruit-pickers had started harvesting at the award-winning boutique Martinborough vineyard and during the coming fortnight were expected to bring in 450 tonnes of grapes that will become chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot noir.
Much of the wine will be exported, she said, including to the UK, US, Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, Holland and South Korea.
Ms Goodwin said the crop this year was set to be "a nice average yield, which is great".
"We've had a beautiful summer and even though we're farmers, we like it dry at this time of year and it's ideal ripening conditions right now," she said. "We want the rain to stay away and the breeze we have blowing that's helping to dry out the canopy. If that could last a couple of more weeks, there'll be some very classy wines coming out of our region."
A half dozen people including three Kiwis, a German winemaker, a trainee Turkish winemaker and an Italian viticulturist were working together in the Palliser Estate winery.
The weather had been kind throughout the summer, Ms Goodwin said, and the early autumn had been favourable so far.
"It's still warm and Martinborough's known for that and that's why it's such a great region for producing quality fruit ... This heat is nice, the sunlight is nice and no rain. Fantastic.
"We've had a warm summer and while you don't want it too hot, also we get relatively cool nights to lock in the acidity and you want that balance.
"Our winemakers are very happy but we'll all be happier when we've got it all in the winery."