The Wairarapa grape harvest in New Zealand outstripped last year’s vintage by 111 percent, despite a drought.
According to the Marlborough Express, a total of 4,100 tons of fruit was picked, compared with just 1,950 tons in 2007.
Nationally, 285,000 tons of grapes were harvested this season, with the Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay regions the only ones showing a decline in tonnage.
Wines From Martinborough Chairwoman Janine Tulloch said the warm summer and dry autumn had produced such good growth that winemakers picked earlier than normal. The predicted bumper crops were echoed throughout the region, which left wine producers in Carterton and Masterton scrambling to collect the ripe pickings.
The warm weather from November and early December, during flowering, and the hot and dry summer meant most wineries were close to capacity and needed to clear the vines while strong conditions remained, she said.
Dry River chief winemaker Neil McCallum said rainfall at just the right time had restored the moisture in the soil to normal levels.
“Everybody finally had reason to start smiling around here,” he said. The good crops come after three difficult years for the Wairarapa wine industry.
Last season, some vineyards lost 90 percent of their crop after three heavy frosts in November 2006 and a hailstorm, which knocked out 25 percent of the region’s grape production.