As chilly autumn mornings arrive, winegrowers in Central Otago have begun harvesting the first grapes of the 2017 vintage.
Work at the Quartz Reef vineyard began on Tuesday and owner Rudi Bauer believes his vineyard is one of the first in the region to begin harvesting its pinot noir this year.
He said the unique micro-climate of the area below Bendigo Station allowed the fruit to mature earlier than elsewhere in Central Otago.
The first day of harvesting was always a little bit stressful but it was a very exciting time of the year for winemakers, Mr Bauer said.
He said the previous year’s work in preparing the soil and pruning culminated during harvesting.
“All the work you did throughout the year, you see your results in the fruit.”
He said it was this work winemakers did in their vineyards and an overarching devotion to quality that had gained Central Otago its reputation around the world as an excellent winegrowing area.
Mr Bauer said the quality of Central Otago’s pinot noir could not be simply put down to the favourable climate but the progressive and open winegrowing community.
The grapes being picked this week will go into sparkling wine and harvesting will go on for the next few days.
Picking of grapes destined for still wine will begin in about 10 days’ time.
Mr Bauer said the cooler, windier summer resulted in lower yields but a higher quality grape in this year’s pinot noir vintage.
The timeframe for harvesting had not been affected by the weather this summer, he said.