Moon day 1

30th March

Nigel's Harvest Blog 

25th March 2020

Welcome to the  first week of the strangest harvest we have ever done, (in these extra-ordinary times I daren’t say the strangest we will ever do). 

I came off the plane from Europe 12 days ago; itself an extraordinary experience of masks, gloves, sanitising and distance keeping. I’m just completing my 2 weeks self-isolation at home, but that is academic because I move from self isolation to lockdown, which is essentially the same thing. 

New Zealand has taken a leaf from the likes of Hong Kong and Singapore who have demonstrated that act hard, early and you can actually get on top of this thing. It may well work: we’ll know in about 3 weeks time, so we all have fingers crossed. 

Our team anticipated the changing needs very well and long before we were given government instructions, we were thoroughly vetting all pickers and creating as safe a group as possible. We also designed a separation scheme to keep the winemaking team apart from administration and vineyard, as the winemakers HAVE to be kept functional, and for a few weeks longer than the picking team. 

Then early this week, just after we started the harvest at Cornish Point, it became clear that regulations might cause vintage to be closed down and the harvest left to rot. We all waited with bated breath for the news finally to come through that the government saw the importance and genuine need for winemaking to be declared an essential industry; (the wine may not be essential as a beverage, but without its revenue there is nothing to fund all the grapegrowing and winemaking teams for the next year and that is an awful lot of people in NZ). 

So, a visit by Blair to Jorg, who distills our brandy, to get a supply of the full strength alcohol, to make antiviral dispensers for everybody. I was also very kindly given a supply of pure ethanol from our local gin distillery, so we are well set up to kill stuff. Now we have to bring the fruit in and make it.

It will be very strange to have a vintage without picker's lunches and all the celebration of bringing the fruit in. I delivered a Fallow deer to the winery yesterday for the winemaking team, (I have to currently go in and out to the freezer when nobody else is around!). 

The weather is unusually cold, snow on the tops, frost threatening at night and days way too cool for proper ripening. So it will be strung out and we really need a bit of warmth to got things through.

The early fruit from Cornish Point is looking sound, but a long way to go before this is done.

Wish us luck… and may you all be safe… Kia Kaha.


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