Matakana vintage – 2020
Drought conditions that have devastated farms in much of the country have proved a major boon for Matakana vineyards.
Matakana Winegrowers president Hegman Foster says 2020 is shaping up to be a great year for local wines and will perhaps rival the excellent 2010 vintage, produced in a similarly dry year.
“The dry conditions, the extended sunshine hours and the heat, all these things help,” he says.
“I think the reds will probably be where this is noticed most – things like syrah and some of the Italian red varietals.”
Get ready to for the reds
Mr Foster, who owns Omaha Bay Vineyard, says 18 months to two years from now the reds will start appearing on the market and have the potential to improve even further by aging in the bottle, depending on the variety and how they have been made.
“People should get hold of them and take the advice written on the bottle or from the winemaker on the ageing potential,” he says.
The whites and rosés to follow
The first Matakana white wines and rosés will start appearing around Christmas, although chardonnays will be a little later, as they need to sit in barrels longer.
Mr Foster says that none of the vineyards in Matakana are irrigated, which has served them well during the long, dry spell. It means vines tend to be deep rooted where moisture takes a long time to dry out.
Irrigated vines tend to have shallower roots and the irrigation struggles to compensate for the drier soil. “If you are looking at sustainable farming, you probably don’t want to be irrigating. You are not doing what the land is designed to do,” Mr Foster says.
Early grapes in 2020
The favourable weather for grapes has meant they have ripened quicker and vineyards have had to scramble to start the grape harvest at the beginning of this month, about two weeks earlier than usual.
Matakana Estate head winemaker Richard Robson says it was essential to get the grapes off early before their sugar content got too high.
The higher the sugar content, the higher the alcoholic content of the wine. If the alcoholic content is too high, it overpowers all the fruit flavours.
Despite the rush, the early harvest is seen as yet another advantage.
Monarch Estate owner Rachael Coates says harvesting before the rain starts avoids the disease that often accompanies rain. It also gives limited opportunity for birds to peck at the fruit.
“We are flat out in the middle of our harvest at the moment. I think it is going to be a brilliant year for wine,” she says.
Matakana Wines 2020 – what can we expect?
Mr Robson says the overall quality of the wine produced in Matakana is likely to be good, but remains more circumspect about whether 2020 will turn out to be a great year.
“It’s hard to pick a variety that is going to be great until you have actually made it,” he says.
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