2017 was looking really good. An unstettled spring followed by what looked like a late summer. Weather improved into January with temperatures, sunshine and humidity all appropriate for a good harvest. Then from March 8 to March 12 we received over 300mm of rain. If that wasn't enough two ex tropical cyclones followed in late march and early April. The total rainfall for the harvest period was over 600mm - about 6 months worth. Needless to say our fruit was ruined and we won't be producing any reds this year.
Harvest dates: Rosé 23/3/2017 (20.4 Brix)
2016 can be summed up with the word unsettled. Expectations were high in spring when the long term forecast El Nino conditions, normally a recipe for a long dry summer. Summer was warm and humid with continual powdery mildew pressure. The rain just keep coming in short bursts all the way through to harvest. Not a year we’d like to repeat. Flavours were ok with no lack of ripeness. The sugars were a little low on the back of somewhat dilute grapes.
Harvest dates: Rosé 23/3/2016 (19.5 Brix) Merlot 6/4/2016 (21.5 Brix) Cabernet Franc 6/4/2016 (22.5 Brix) Petit Verdot 9/4/2016 (22.4 Brix)
For the first time I'm going to rate the year based on the variety. The usual windy and cold spring stretched longer than normal into November. Despite the unsettled weather fruit set was nigh on perfect. Lovely December and January but we had the nagging feeling summer was a couple of weeks early. The dry conditions slowed the vines down and the grapes became unusually small - about little finger diameter instead of middle finger diameter. The more westerly facing grapes lagged the others which is a first for us. Less sun in the afternoons? March was changeable, but not with any serious volume of rain and the beginning of April turned cold. The Merlot ripened perfectly, the small grapes giving outstanding concentration. The Cab Franc looked pretty good to. The Petit Verdot struggled to reach the concentration we would have liked before the fruit started to deteriorate. Rose harvest 19/3/2015 at 22.8 Brix
Red Harvests: Merlot 26/3/2014 (24.0 Brix) Cab Franc 28/3/2014 (24.2 Brix) and 3/4/2015 (24.6 Brix) PV 3/4/2014 (22.0 Brix)
2014 was a another fantastic vintage. Spring was normal, a bit rainy, a bit windy and temperatures up and down. Fruit set was massive with us dropping up to 50% on the merlot in places. After christmas a dry but somewhat cool summer ensued with south westerlies predominating. Virtually no days over 25C. Showery days threatened from the beginning of April. On Waiheke these turned to nothing until late April. Our first Rose harvest was done on the 13/3/2014 at 22.5 Brix Another strong year for Merlot and Cab Franc with the fruit coming in between 24 and 25 brix, PV at 23.5 in perfect condition and lovely flavours. Strangely all in one go. The Cabernet Franc was not quite up to the standard of 2013, so the vintage rates overall to an 8.
Harvest dates: Merlot 28/3/2014, Cabernet Franc 29/3/2014, Petit Verdot 29/3/2014
2013 was a once in a lifetime vintage. Spring was realtively windy so fruit set was down in some vineyards. Not on Woodside Hill though as there is reasonable shelter for westerlies. After christmas an endless summer ensued all the way into May. The downside of this vintage was a drought virtually all over the country including Waiheke. The water trucks in continual operation. Being so dry does start to stress the vines so in a year like 2013 it is important to keep yields in check. The vines shut down early so anyone with too much fruit may have suffered a stop in ripening despite the relentless sun. For us a perfect year with the fruit coming in between 24 and 25 brix, in perfect condition and awesome flavours.
Harvest dates: Merlot 25/3/2013, Cabernet Franc 6/4/2013, Petit Verdot 6/4/2013
The year that summer came early. The weather before December 2011 was fantastic but didn't bode well from our point of view - we didn't think it could last and quite rightly the weather turned cold and rainy from December. By the end of January the fruit was weeks behind and we were seriously considering leaving the nets off and giving the whole season a miss. Miraculously the long range forcast turned in February and the rain stayed away for another three months even if it was cool. We got there in the end. Amazingly the Merlot (22.5 Brix) ripened after the Cabernet Franc (25 Brix) but before the Petit Verdot (23.8 Brix)
Harvest dates: Merlot 24/4/2012, Cabernet Franc 21/4/2012, Petit Verdot 29/4/2012
The 2010/2011 season was progressing nicely until two massive rain events 14 days apart in late January. The rainfall for the month exceeded the long-term average by over 400 percent! It was just early enough not to cause the grapes to split and rot but the soaking the ground got carried moisture through to harvest causing botrytis in the flatter areas of the vineyard. The ruthless culling of fruit got us through at a significantly reduced yield. The heat was enough to rippen the fruit fully even if the sugars were low. Merlot(21.5 Brix), Cabernet Franc (22.7) and Petit Verdot (23.2)
Harvest dates: Merlot 2/4/2011, Cabernet Franc 10/4/2011, Petit Verdot 14/4/2011
The best season in living memory (until 2013 of course). Our vines were still relatively young in 2010, carrying light crops and ripened to perfection. Years like 2010 make life as a winegrower easy. Our Petit verdot had been planted a few years earlier and was yet to bear a crop. Merlot 23.2 Brix, Cabernet Franc 23.2 Brix.
Harvest dates: Merlot 27/3/2010, Cabernet Franc 27/3/2010