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2021 Vintage Report: great things come in small packages

Growing season (Oct-Apr) data:

Rainfall (mm)

Season 20-21 19-20 18-19 17-18 16-17 15-16 14-15 13-14 12-13 11-12 10-11
October 15 84 61 44 42 26 35 105 69 110 40
November 102 43 94 7 118 21 55 67 33 87 29
December 61 104 86 25 44 31 29 36 82 113 25
January 15 8 6 49 52 70 3 48 43 76 76
February 26 23 32 143 53 17 36 23 69 36 11
March 42 148 28 63 62 19 41 71 95 111 85
April 51 97 98 139 48 84 172 35 70 103
Totals 312 415 404 429 510 232 283 522 426 603 369

 Growing Degree Days (heat units)

Season 20-21 19-20 18-19 17-18 16-17 15-16 14-15 13-14 12-13 11-12 10-11
October 121 80 93 104 93 85 75 100 75 85 63
November 130 200 144 154 146 118 117 152 88 120 166
December 192 210 233 255 186 187 190 225 232 189 268
January 248 233 305 337 215 264 255 191 230 210 262
February 200 269 223 259 211 299 187 204 186 165 254
March 178 170 229 217 181 221 199 145 175 140 180
April 106 98 86 101 100 106 125 123 119 79 67
Totals 1175 1260 1313 1427 1132 1280 1148 1140 1105 988 1259

The title of this vintage report will alert you to the main story of vintage 2021 – there wasn’t much of it! Thanks (if that’s the right word) to cool, damp weather over the key weeks of flowering, yields ultimately ended up down 50% overall compared to an average yielding year.

Ironically, conditions over the second half of the growing season were near to perfect and we certainly could have ripened a much more substantial crop (deep sigh). Small crops generally ripen earlier and the recent trend for earlier harvests was reinforced with our earliest ever start and finish dates. To put that in context, over our first 20 vintages not one harvest would have started by the date we finished picking this year! The small crop was the key factor in the early start and finish but it’s also time to recognize that climate change is shifting our seasons as we are now on average starting picking two weeks earlier than even 10 years ago.

Now the more cheerful news – the benign ripening conditions delivered fantastic fruit into the winery and it might not be too much of an exaggeration to say that the quality may be inversely proportional to the yield. Over the years we have had several great “pair” vintages: 2000 and 2001; 2005 and 2006; 2009 and 2010; 2013 and 2014. My feeling is that 2020 and 2021 will be remembered as another great “pair”. So, not much of it, but 2021 will offer much to look forward to on the quality front.

Here are the average harvest parameters for each variety:

Variety Brix pH Acidity (g/l)
Chardonnay 23 3.3 7.5
Pinot Noir 24.5 3.5 7.5
Sauvignon Blanc 22 3.2 8

Roger Parkinson

June 2021

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Nga Waka, 41 New York Street West, Martinborough
PO Box 128, Kitchener Street, Martinborough

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