2022 Season Summary
High vineyard moisture levels from record rainfall in July and August, as well as a relatively warm start to September, allowed the growing season to get underway with plenty of energy for most varieties. This coincided with September recording eight ground frosts – nearly double the usual number. The third week in September saw temperatures plummet, keeping most of our Waihopai Valley based Sauvignon Blanc dormant for a few more weeks, neatly avoiding the worst of the frost risk.
From here the growing season settled into a fairly typical La Nina pattern. Frost risk abated early in October to be replaced by warm temperatures coupled with humid northerly airflows. Very warm night time temperatures produced an upward spike in the Growing Degree Day data (a relative measure of accumulated warmth within a growing season) which when combined with warming sea temperatures caused many to predict we were in warm season with untimely heavy dumps of rain.
A warm, dry November meant early season varieties flowered rapidly with little interruption whilst cooler sites and later season varietals were slightly troubled by a cool, wet start to December. Inflorescence counts indicated the potential for bountiful crops particularly in Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc; a desired forecast after the lighter 2020 and 2021 vintages.
December, grew increasingly hotter and was followed by a warm, dry January with particularly high sunshine hours. Together these conditions ensured an abundance of fruit.
February was a relatively cool month, with low sunshine hours and the second highest February rainfall in 90+ years. Despite heavy rainfall, good vineyard practices and a slight improvement in the sunshine hours through the tail end of February meant any instances of botrytis quickly dried up leaving the vast majority of the fruit clean and ripe.
Due to early season disease pressure as well as staffing pressures from the coronavirus, 24 hour harvesting began at the very first opportunity. Whilst sugars were lower than usual and acids rather zippy, the positive fruit flavour indicated a decent level of physiological ripeness. Non-stop harvesting continued from the 5th March until the 14th April with the last Pinot Noir from the elevated, southern most sites on Leefield Station, rolling in just before Easter.
As for the wines of 2022, Sauvignon Blanc is an exciting pick to be the star. The expanded harvest window created a massive canvas of flavour and structural diversity that when carefully assembled will produce wines full of bright, complex flavour on signature, racy acid frames. From our most significant varietal to our newest and smallest (in tonnage terms) varietal - the smoky of the season could be our Syrah from the Leefield Station vineyard. Hand harvested from young vines growing on a low, stony terrace above the Waihopai River; even in one of the most trying of growing seasons 2022 has yielded clean, flavour packed fruit at ripeness levels that would be the envy of most warmer climes.