Vintage 2014 was one of the warmest of the last decade. We saw above average temperatures throughout spring, with September, October and November all well above the long-term averages for the region.
The season started promisingly, with no significant frost damage, despite a few sleepless nights when the temperature dropped. The high spring temperatures along with average rainfall meant excellent budburst and strong early shoot growth across all our varieties. The growing season tracked two weeks ahead of normal and was very condensed. The vineyard crew worked at a frantic pace to keep up with vine growth and phonological development across the eight varieties in the seven vineyards we manage.
Flowering was also condensed across all varieties, with the typically much later Sauvignon Blanc vines flowering not long after the early Pinot Noir. Good conditions during flowering lead to large bunches and potentially higher yields. We carried out a lot of shoot and fruit thinning early to achieve a balanced fruit to shoot ratio and to allow the remaining fruit to reach full ripeness.
The remainder of the season continued to track two weeks early setting us up for another strong vintage. A warm March with low rainfall resulted in rapid ripening across all varieties.
The first fruit was picked on 21 March, the earliest start date ever. Apart from some young vines Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, the first half of harvest was devoted entirely to Pinot Noir, with the second half focused on white varieties. We picked the bulk of the fruit in three weeks-normally our harvest takes up to six weeks.
On 6 April it started raining and rained for 13 days straight with 180mm of rain falling. We were fortunate we had the majority of our fruit safely in the winery, but the vineyard crew had a few days of wet work to get the last of the fruit off.
The Home and Carters blocks have had their first season under full organic management. The blocks are certified organic with BioGro NZ and are currently in the transition period to full organic status. As the blocks were already managed using a lot of organic principles the transition is easy and the vines have handled it very well.
The 2014 Pinots are showing great potential. The warm season resulted in good fruit weight and ripe tannins, and given our earlier-than-normal picking dates we were able to capture bright acidity which will lend elegant longevity to the wines. The 2014 whites are showing strong varietal character this year, with zesty, citrus-based Sauvignon Blanc and weighty Pinot Gris showing pear and quince. From a quality perspective, it's looking like 2014 will be another over-delivering vintage…
Christine Kernohan, Managing Director/Chief Winemaker
Kyle Mason, Viticulturalist
Alexis Moore, Winemaker