Vintage 2017 - by Hamish Kempthorne, Head Winemaker of Waimea Estates
To say that the Nelson grape harvest of 2017 threw out some challenges would be an understatement. However, despite the at times wicked hand of Mother Nature the wines now safely fermenting in tank and barrel are full of promise with some exciting wines to look forward to as an expression of the Nelson wine-growing region for another year.
It was a harvest of strong nerve and patience in 2017 for both growers and winemakers alike, due to a longer than average flowering period and a mild summer with an uncharacteristically high number of cloudy days throughout January and February. The harvest kicked off for most growers between 10 and 15 days behind the long term average. Growers with modest, quality focused, lower cropping levels and attentive canopy management were rewarded for their extra efforts earlier in the year with cleaner fruit and varietally expressive juices. Then from mid harvest onwards the region experienced a repetitive series of fairly vigorous storm systems bringing considerable rain to the region, as it did in other viticultural regions around New Zealand, with growers and winemakers toiling over whether to leave fruit hanging in anticipation of physiological ripeness and concentration, or get it safely off the vine earlier?
As some ferments draw to a close in the winery they are revealing refined and powerful wines with vibrant acidity and moderate alcohols.
I think overall Nelson’s 2017 vintage will bring more positivity reflecting on what we now have in tank and barrel than what we faced walking the rows during harvest. The outlook for the coming wines is most definitely positive, with the glass still half full....although 203mm of rain falling during harvest would suggest the glass is just a little more than half full for Vintage 2017!