Grape vines are decidious; losing their leaves in autumn and remaining dormant until Spring arrives. Then magic happens and the new cycle begins where all roads lead to harvest. As the weather warms up and we start to bring out the summer wardrobe of jandals and shorts; green shoots start to appear on the vines - we call this bud burst. The vines continue to produce new leaves and shoots, then eventually flowers and grapes. Harvest usually starts around March in Marlborough.
Follow our team as we traverse Harvest 2017 in New Zealand.
"Done, dusted and off duck shooting ..."
Well, as far as the fruit picking goes it’s a wrap… still plenty to go on the winemaking front for Vintage 17.
The last of the Mud House fruit was pressed off this morning; hand-picked Pinot Gris from our 360 Vineyard at the Delta above The Woolshed Vineyard. The hand pickers were at it soon after first light, and what a magnificent Marlborough autumn morning it was.
Mud House Winemaker Cleighten Cornelius said the Pinot Gris has been thoroughly enjoying the recent abundant sunshine and warm settled weather.
“There were fantastic ripe flavours of nougat, red apple and spice,” he said.
Although it’s not nearly time for Cleighten to put his feet up, he says it’s a greatly satisfying moment to see the last grapes roll in. “Harvest is always a high energy and dynamic time of year, which has to be mirrored by the people involved. There are many facets to vintage and all the team performed very well,” he said.
The Chardonnay from Hungry Hill was harvested last weekend, and the last of the Sauvignon Blanc was picked just south of the Awatere Valley near Ward on Wednesday. It was a delight to see clean green bunches hanging from very healthy vines.
Woolshed Vineyard Manager Nev Gane has arduously soldiered on through harvest, and he credits his team greatly for all their hard work this season. “It’s good to have such a great bunch of guys returning year after year. And now that we’re done and dusted, I’m going duck shooting!” he grinned.
Down at Bendigo all the Pinot Noir is safely indoors and fermenting, brooding classic Central Otago characteristics of plum and spice. Claim 431 Vineyard Manager Tom Bullen, just like his Marlborough counterpart Nev, was very satisfied and humbled to see the last of the fruit picked. This week has been busy for Tom and the crew at Claim 431, but everything ran without a hitch thanks to the ‘A’ team. They are looking forward to some downtime before the winter vineyard tasks begin.
“It’s been another great Central Otago harvest tucked away ready to be groomed by the winemaking team. It has been a challenging cool and windy growing season but the autumn has been sensational, with warm and still sunny days most the way though,” said Tom.
He added that the classic Central Otago conditions, paired with the great Southern spirit, always sets them up for a fine vintage.
Many thanks from the entire team at Mud House for following this Harvest of 2017 through with us, and keep your eyes peeled for a full harvest debrief very soon.
From vine to wine ...
...We’re well over half way through Vintage 2017 as we add this latest journal entry.
Needless to say, it’s all go!
There are still a few grapes hanging on the vines, while at the other end of the spectrum, grapes which were harvested early have now turned into wine. Yay!!
Some of the Sauvignon Blanc from our Woolshed vineyard has finished the fermentation process, and been ‘racked off its lees,’ (the wine has been taken off the solid matter it sits on).
Mud House Winemaker Cleighten Cornelius said this is the time in harvest when characteristics can really be seen.
“Now that some of the wines are settling and becoming clear, they are now revealing themselves. They all have unique protagonist characters like citrus and mineral, with lovely background flavour,” he said.
The Central Otago Pinot Noir is just finishing its ‘cold soak’ and is ready for ferment to kick off. In other words, things will soon start bubbling as the yeast becomes active.
“The fruit is great and just beginning to ferment. Early signs point towards wines that have pure fruit expression; they will be fresh,” said Cleighten.
More Pinot Noir hand-picking took place this week down in Bendigo at our Claim 431 Vineyard. One week on from the last handpick, Vineyard Manager Tom Bullen said the fruit hanging on the vines was full of flavour and reaped full benefit from another week in the sun.
“The hand-picked fruit had vibrant healthy skins with a beautiful deep blue colour backed up with very precise bright and balanced flavours. The harvest crew are having a ball this year, a lot of picking and laughing happening under the beautiful Central Otago Sun,” said Tom.
This week we are harvesting Sauvignon Blanc from the Awatere Valley, an iconic growing area of Marlborough where ripening traditionally happens a little later compared to other sub regions.
Woolshed Vineyard Manager Nev Gane, who also oversees harvesting across the region, said the fruit in the Awatere is looking outstanding.
“Sampling a few berries while picking out here, I thought to myself ‘flavours are good!’ The weather is looking settled for the next week and with warm days and cool nights should make great harvesting conditions,” said Nev.
There’s just a week or so of harvesting to go for Mud House, and the weather is looking great. Happy days.
Since our last post, the grapes have continued making their way into the winery, while some are still hanging on the vines ripening up. In a nutshell, we’re in full swing for V17.
The viticulture and winemaking teams alike are grafting day and night getting the job done. Like any vintage, weather plays a huge part. In true Mud House style, whether the weather is smiling upon us, or throwing the odd curve ball, spirits remain high and hard work never falters.
The Woolshed Sauvignon Blanc is happily fermenting away, with enticing flavours of grapefruit and blackcurrant leaf. 'Great flavours are happening earlier than usual so we are set up nicely for aromatic well balanced wines with elegance and finesse,' said Mud House Winemaker Cleighten Cornelius.
The first lot of Pinot Noir from Claim 431 vineyard at Bendigo has been harvested; currently in the very early stage of fermentation called ‘cold soak’ where the grape juice is given time to derive flavours and colours from the grape skins, before things are warmed up and the real ferment action starts. The colour is looking fantastic, accompanied with classic Central Otago flavours of cherry and plum. “The colours and quality of the fruit look aweome, I’m thrilled with the efforts of the team down here at Bendigo,” said Claim 431 Vineyard Manager Tom Bullen.
As the grapes continue to be harvested, we’re all enjoying seeing the flavours and colours develop. With his loyal labrador Oi close at his side, Woolshed Vineyard Manager Nev Gane is keeping a close eye on his ripening Sauvignon Blanc grapes. “If what we have already picked is anything to go by, things are looking good,” he said, adding that treats like sausage roll deliveries are great perks to these long and busy days.
An exciting time of year here at Mud House - for sure.
Harvest is here! A quick look at things around the block…
- Up in Marlborough, our Woolshed Sauvignon Blanc was harvested amongst a brilliant weekend of late summer sunshine.
- Down in Central Otago at our Claim 431 vineyard, Vineyard Manager Tom Bullen said the Pinot Noir is still on track with great ripening and flavour development. There has been the occasional very cold night down there (check out the grapes in the photo below looking pretty chilly at 1deg C!); but the classic Central Otago warm days means things are sweetening up. Hence, to keep the birds out, the nets are now on. The crew is waiting patiently for nature to take its course, and can’t wait to start picking soon!
- In Waipara the Pinot Gris boasted lots of concentration and spicy notes when it came off the vine at The Deans last Friday. Vineyard manager Jean-Luc Dufour said there’s great spirit amongst the crew, who are working hard and even letting out a song or two.
- Vineyard manager Nev Gane wanted to thank the harvest crew for working around the clock, to bring in the fruit that was looking and tasting great.
- In the winery, Mud House winemaker Cleighten Cornelius said the Sauvignon Blanc, which is still in its early juice stage, is looking great with early flavour profiles of herbaceous gooseberry.
That’s a wrap for now, keep tuned in for more updates soon.
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