As New Zealand climbs down lockdown levels, it’s a great time to reflect on what has been an unusual harvest. I use the word ‘unusual’ because, although Covid-19 has thrown a few serious challenges our way, the harvest itself has given us universally exceptional grapes, one of the best seasons in terms of fruit quality since we planted our first vines in 1999. 

The key to it, of course, is that the Central Otago weather gods smiled on us. After a warm but mixed summer that seemed to deliver rain when we needed it, autumn was more stable and allowed us to pick each block when it was ready rather than when we were forced to. As a result, the fruit on the vine was spectacular and in terms of the farming, grape-growing side of winemaking, we couldn’t ask for much more.

Considering the isolation factor of Level 4 lockdown, I’ve been pretty happy to chat to the smartphone about the harvest and, now that we’re all done and the wine is heading to barrel, it’s a great time to share the video diary of the Prophet’s Rock 2020 vintage.

Part 1
7/4/20 – The Challenge

We’re in the middle of vintage and have started picking.Although there are challenges, we also consider ourselves very lucky.

Part 2
10/4/20 – Serious Lockdown Measures

High up on the Prophet’s Rock Home Vineyard in the Bendigo subregion of Central Otago, I’m overlooking a small block of Clone 777 Pinot Noir. This block is responsible for the Cuvée Aux Antipodes Pinot Noir which is the collaboration I have with François Millet, winemaker from Chambolle-Musigny.

Part 3
13/4/20 – The Cold Snap 

Picked François’s Pinot Noir just before a dramatic weather change…

Part 4
14/4/20 – Don’t Cross The Line

Here we’re plunging the floating cap of Pinot Noir skins back into the fermenting wine. It’s important not to extract too much and take the wine away from being an expression of the land. 

Part 5
14/4/20 – Winter Rolling In 

No chilling, no sulphur, just put the fruit in a tank and it’s a balmy 8 degrees.

Part 6
16/4/20 – One More Day of Sunshine Required 

We’ve had a couple of snowy days and now we just need one more day of sunshine for the Home Vineyard. Picking Rocky Point today amongst the stunning colours of autumn. 

Part 7
17/4/20 – Home Vineyard Picking Day 

Home Vineyard ready to go!

Part 8
19/4/20 – More Snow But… 

First Pinot Noir into barrel. Good news.

Part 9
22/4/20 – Riesling Good to go:

Schist rock, steep slope, picking tomorrow.

Part 10
25/4/20 – Home Stretch

We’re picking the highest block of the Home Vineyard (400m), Abel Clone Pinot Noir. Then calling it a wrap for picking.

Part 11
26/4/20 – Last Day of Harvest

Usually all picked at the end of autumn and that’s certainly what it feels like.

Luckily it’s a short-haul to the winery…