Hawkshead Vintage Report – 2016

We are celebrating; and delighted to report that the 2016 vintage year was one the best we have ever experienced in Gibbston; valley of the vines in Central Otago. That is good news as we celebrate our 10th vintage. Spring arrived with the usual frosts but they were not severe and did not damage precious tender buds so we were off to an excellent start. The next critical period was flowering and fruit set which for us occurs over the Christmas/New Year period. We had constant good weather during this period and there were no serve weather events to affect the fruit set. The mercury hit 33 deg on Dec 27th.

This year the gods smiled and we avoided the equinoxial westerlies that so often batter the vines and can affect flowering and fruit-set. Unfortunately these strong winds blew in the Cromwell area this year and had quite an effect on crops in the Cromwell basin.

For once we had no summer frost. You may think it impossible in this alpine environment, but we recorded no frosts in December, January, and February. We don’t ever get them in February, but often do December and sometimes even in January. This year we recorded our best growing degree days ever.

To grow good fruit we also need moisture and although we have irrigation, natural rainfall seemed to arrive just when things were getting excessively dry, which was very welcome.

For once the elements were working with us and not against us, and with careful vine management of leaf-plucking and monitoring for disease, the crop ripened evenly, and with good weather we were not pressed for time over harvest. In fact we could even hang the grapes out a little longer to accumulate flavours. So with mild autumn weather we were able to complete harvest at the same time of year as usual but with a heavier crop in excellent condition.

 

Denis Marshall – Vigneron