The dry weather is helping Gisborne's grape growers, who are praising the high quality of this year's harvest.

Gisborne winemaker James Milton says it is a vintage "beyond my wildest dreams".

The harvest is nearly at the halfway point and Gisborne winegrowers' president Doug Bell says the conditions have allowed growers and wineries to hold the crop on the vines longer.

"It means we can achieve maximum flavour and maturity.


"The dry conditions are a plus when it comes to the grape quality. It's helping the grapes ripen fully."

Holding the grapes on the vine longer does mean they tend to dehydrate a little, but that intensifies the flavours.

"You lose a little bit of grape weight, but it's the flavours that will make the vintage."

As far as tonnage goes, the crop is on a par with estimates. Some varieties are a little up, some a little down, he says.

Winemakers have all the options open to them this year, he says.

"Some years the weather dictates harvesting but not this year."

No variety has been compromised by the weather, he says.

"The quality is fantastic. It's a beautiful season for winegrowers and I have not seen a season like it in 30 years as a grower. There is not the anxiety at harvest time this year. Everyone is a lot more relaxed about it. This will be a vintage to watch. It's very exciting."

At the same time he adds, "We are sympathetic to pastoral farmers and other croppers who are suffering from the dry conditions."

Indevin chief winemaker Steve Voysey says it is the best season he has experienced in nearly 30 years in the industry.

"I'm tasting flavours that are the best I've ever tasted.

"The fruit is also in absolutely perfect balance. Normally in a hot season you would lose your acid content in the grapes, but this year they are spot on.

"It's one of those years that winemakers don't have to do anything," Mr Voysey says.

Vinoptima Estate manager Tom Recter believes this season is definitely as good, if not better than 2004. "That was regarded as our best vintage."