Wednesday, 13 December 2023 15:25

Haere Ra 2023: North Canterbury, Waipara

Written by  Staff Reporters
Matt Barbour Matt Barbour

Matt Barbour of Barbour Vineyards is Chair of the North Canterbury Winegrowers Association.

The Good

Spring temperatures were slightly below average, resulting in a slower start to the season. However, conditions improved in December and January, leading to excellent flowering and overall fruit set. The presence of an El Niño pattern resulted in a high rainfall in February, but growers had learnt their lesson from the previous season and kept their spray windows tight to allow the fruit to mature and be harvested at optimal ripeness. The 2023 vintage wines are showing a bold and lively character, with some aromatic and rosé wines already bottled, while Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are still aging in barrels. The North Canterbury region experienced a 13% increase in production this vintage. We eagerly await the outcome of this season, whatever it may bring.

The Bad

We have seen two of the pioneers of our region pass away suddenly. Jill Chapman and Kym Rayner were not only beloved members of our community, but true pioneers, whose impact will be felt for years to come. The sudden loss of these two remarkable people has left a void in our hearts and in our community. It is times like these that remind us of the strength and bond within our community, and the way it has rallied together is a testament to their impact. We have witnessed an outpouring of support and love for their families, with many stepping up to help in any way possible.

& The Awesome

Phenomenal Growth. Our vineyard expansion in the 2023 season has exceeded our expectations, with a significant increase in plantings. This, combined with our previous and anticipated future plantings, is a testament to the flourishing wine industry in our region. North Canterbury is gaining recognition as a premier wine-growing region, and we are proud to showcase our exceptional wines. Despite inclement weather at The North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival, it was heartwarming to see the unwavering support of attendees, who braved the elements to make the most of the festivities. Tickets are now available for the 2024 event. Be a part of this year's extraordinary festival and experience the best of Waipara's wine and food culture.

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North Canterbury required vineyard vigilance this season, with 245mm of rain over the three months to 18 April, compared to the long-term average of 143.7mm, according to VineFacts.

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In North Canterbury, Greystone Viticulturist Mike Saunders is very happy about harvest prospects, with Pinot Noir his pick for the season, due to good flavour development at lower brix.

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A dry lead up to spring slowed early canopy growth in North Canterbury vineyards, while cool and wet weather impacted flowering, says Greystone Viticulturist Mike Saunders, who is “cautiously optimistic” in the lead up to vintage.

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