An early pick has resulted in an early bottling of one of the most sought-after rose wines produced in Hawke's Bay - or anywhere for that matter.

Since it was first produced a quarter of a century ago Clearview Estate's Black Reef Blush had built up a loyal following and in recent years the demand for the winery's first-off-the-block variety had become so great it tended to sell out before the next vintage got released.

And that was despite volumes continually being increased to satisfy demand.

"We've got wholesalers, restaurants and consumers chomping at the bit for deliveries and as the hot summer allowed us to pick earlier we are bottling a couple of weeks earlier," winemaker Matt Kirby said.


"So there'll be some pleased people next week," he said last Friday as the 2017 Black Reef Blush began emerging from the bottling line at Wineworks in Hastings.

The timeframe between picking the grapes and producing the blush rose was about eight to 10 weeks and the results had left the winemaking crew feeling pretty much in the pink.

"We are very happy with it - we are getting the consistency from year to year and this [the 2017] is very similar to last year and the year before," Mr Kirby said.

While the late rains had created challenges with some later varieties, the earlier pick whites and rose wines had fared well.

"While it is no secret that this vintage had its challenges weather-wise there are still some fine wines to come from it and the Clearview rose is just one," estate co-founder and original winemaker Tim Turvey said.

"The three of us in the winemaking team were blending and tasting it earlier this week and the flavours are as consistently good as ever.

"The distinctive pink is as pretty as ever and the fruit concentration is excellent - we're really excited about the flavours."

Mr Kirby said the only real challenge was trying to make a 12-month supply of the Blush.
He said there had been a significant increase in production but the sales annually outstripped that.

The winery had increased plantings of the unique French-American 'chambourcin' grape hybrid in its main Te Awanga vineyard and the latest vintage merlot grapes, also sourced from within the Te Awanga district, had been incorporated to meet the winemaking requirements.

Meanwhile the 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected - according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9 per cent on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. "Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead."

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. "Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed."

In terms of vintage quality Mr Gregan said wineries were confident the vintage would deliver the fruit flavours that New Zealand wine was renowned for.

New Zealand wine is exported to more than 90 countries and wine exports are currently valued at $1.65 billion per annum. Wine is New Zealand's fifth biggest export good.