Vintage Summary 2016
Growing Season & Vintage Conditions
WINTER: Unusually high rainfall and persistant frost events placed soil moisture levels very high. Cherry-plum tree at Elms vineyard blossoming from 1st September.
OCTOBER: El Nino! And windy. Westerlies bought early warmth which worked in unison with high soil-moisture to push early bud-burst and vibrant growth.
NOVEMBER: The rapidly rising temperatures plateaued through November, placing the total heat accumulation in keeping with long term averages. Winds were far from average however, blowing with persistence and strength, wicking moisture from the soils and de-vigourating exposed young shoots. Some close-calls for the frost monitors, but no sub-zero temperatures were recorded.
DECEMBER: On reflection, December’s total heat summation could give the impression of an average month. However, this would deny the extreme diurnal temperature swings the likes of which we’re not accustomed to seeing so early in the season. Afternoon highs in the low thirties were balanced by single-figure overnight temperatures.
JANUARY: The pattern of impressive diurnal swings and strong westerlies continued, with particularly cool night-time and early morning temperatures at the start of the month. Temperatures surfed freezing point on the 4th of January, although damage was avoided. A 30°C diurnal swing was recorded on the 11th.
FEBRUARY: February proved, unusually, to be substantially warmer than January. Overnight temperatures averaged 12°C. Pleasant conditions for outdoor dining and also for advancing ripeness. Scattered rain events provided welcome relief in a season where dry conditions (even by Central Otago standards) combined with wind to increase evapotranspiration. Veraison was early with a rapid onset but prolonged completion. Impressive early development with notably dense skins and strong flavours found in the Pinot Noir towards the end of the month.
MARCH: Pleasant evening temperatures were now more scattered. Afternoon temperatures no longer exceeded 30°C. Near freezing temperatures on the mornings of 12th, and 17th March were thankfully not cold enough to cause any leaf damage. This continuation of high diurnal variations, something Central Otago is accustomed to at this end of the growing season, offered the opportunity to retain some balancing tension and finesse after the welcome but unusual warmth of the earlier months. Chardonnay picking began on March 22nd with the first Pinot only one day later. Harvest concluded with the last pick of Riesling on April 18th.