Saturday, 10 June 2023 16:25

Vintage 2023: Vintage road trip

Written by  Sophie Preece

Richard Brimer's annual vintage road trip faced many of the same hurdles as wine companies this harvest, including ongoing rain and not-going ferries.

But the detoured photographic journey, while missing the action in Central Otago, captures some magical and memorable moments of vintage 2023, as seen throughout this vintage review

Richard picked up an electric Volvo (C40 Recharge) in Napier on the same day Cyclone Gabrielle hit Hawke's Bay, "and within 24 hours we lost power and comms, so had no way of charging the car", he says. "After a week I realised my trip was going to be interrupted, as most Hawke's Bay wineries were affected not only physically but emotionally, with family and friends losing property or businesses." The Volvo found a new use when Richard volunteered to deliver meals for Craggy Range, where staff were rustling up endless loads of food for helpers in the worst hit areas. He also spent the week after the cyclone capturing startling images of flood damages for the Red Cross (see April/May 2023 Winegrower Magazine).

When Hawke's Bay Chardonnay harvest began, so did Richard's annual vintage record. He then set off for Martinborough, hitting a welcome spell of good weather before returning to the Bay and flying to Christchurch to pick up another Volvo. "The ferry dramas were a problem and I couldn't cope being stuck in the south," he reports. From there he charged up to North Canterbury and Marlborough "to cover some of their great vintage, with the best weather and some amazing fruit".

Back in the North Island, Richard shot Waiheke Island's Tantalus Estate, before the tail end of the Hawke's Bay vintage. Ferry issues took Central Otago off the itinerary this year, but he's already putting the gears in motion for Road Trip 2024.

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Billions in booming exports

A burgeoning appetite for Sauvignon Blanc in the United States is helping drive New Zealand wine sales, with exports hitting $2.4 billion in the year to May.

Vintage 2023: North Canterbury

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.

Vintage 2023: Central Otago

Central Otago is likely to be the only wine region in New Zealand regretting the end of La Niña’s three-year reign, says consultant viticulturist Timbo Morrison-Deaker.

Vintage 2023: Nelson

"We're very happy," says Neudorf Winemaker Todd Stevens, reporting clean fruit and "solid" volumes for vintage 2023, with flowering in their Moutere Hills vineyards better than summer estimates.

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