The winery hit hardest by the flood that inundated the Eskdale Valley 12 days ago was yesterday still playing the waiting game over the future of some of its grapes nearing the peak of the harvesting season.

But Linden Estate hopes the harvest would still take place without loss. The major issues are when to harvest and how.

Winemaker and viticulturist Trevor Shepherd said rain has fallen on several days since the March 7-8 deluge, which brought up to 329mm in 24 hours and caused one of the Esk River's worst floods, so there had been little chance for the ground to dry, increasing the risk of fruit burst.

Flooding was concentrated in the Esk Valley on March 8. Photo / Tim Whittaker
Flooding was concentrated in the Esk Valley on March 8. Photo / Tim Whittaker

The decision to pick at least two blocks could be made at any time, and 30-40 people could suddenly be needed for the work, he said.


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However, the flood ripped through fences and gates but caused little direct damage to the crop, although much of the area was under water.

A day later two blocks of vineyard were still under water, and the worry was that grapes could burst from absorbing the excessive moisture in the ground.

Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Association deputy chairman Xan Harding said although there was wet weather elsewhere, including localised hail, the storm had been concentrated mainly in the Esk Valley.

For many harvesting had been brought forward 10-14 days, wind had dried the plains, fruit was ripe and the industry was confident about the season.

"Everyone's getting on with the business," he said. "It is looking real good."