Friday, 09 June 2023 15:25

Vintage 2023: Auckland & Waiheke

Written by  Sophie Preece
Tantalus Winemaker Alex Perez. Photo Credit: Richard Briner. Tantalus Winemaker Alex Perez. Photo Credit: Richard Briner.

The hard work paid off in vintage 2023, says Tony Soljan from Soljans Estate Winery in West Auckland.

"In the end the wines have turned out very good and we're pleased with it." Like much of the North Island, Auckland growers suffered relentless rain during the growing season, including the blow of Cyclone Gabrielle in February. "You have to be far more onto it and far more focussed on it to make sure you get the product out correctly in the end," Tony says. He predicts Chardonnay from the Kumeu area will be one of the better wines from the season.

At Tantalus Estate on Waiheke Island, Winemaker Alex Perez and Viticulturist Chris Ward took a "hands-on approach of careful preparedness" throughout the year. A wetland at the heart of the 8-hectare vineyard helped with drainage over the wet season, says Alex. "Then we regularly attended to micro-tweaks. Canopies were green thinned, kept upright and our overall aim was to keep fruit weight in balance with canopy, and the ever-changing conditions." When it came to harvest, they were very selective with fruit, which the winery ferments in small batches. "Because of the high degree of management in the vineyards, we are very pleased with the quality of the fruit this year," Alex adds, relishing the excitement of a challenging vintage. "It motivates me to be more creative and innovative in the lab and the resultant winemaking." In the wake of harvest, Tantalus hosted a Bragato Research Institute Winemakers' Workshop, which was a highlight "because we are always keeping our minds open to international research and collaboration".

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