Climate Change and Gabrielle!!!!!
I started writing this after the cyclone but stopped as I was spiraling down, now I am ready to finish it.
Vintage 2023 has been and continues to be the hardest year in my growing grapes career. 31 years in the industry and this is all a FIRST for me.
More than double our annual rainfall so far and it’s only the 1st week of March, I never thought soils with gravel series can make mud, but I was wrong.
Relationships that we have grown over the vintages are now what holds us all together with the goal of picking the very best we can for our clients. Nerves are high with anxiety over the forecast continuing. Le Nino is forecast for next year is a crazy reassuring thing, droughts over floods any day for us in viticulture.
Gabrielle! I want to say Kokako has been lucky compared to the devastation you may have seen on the news in Esk Valley, there are scenes like that also in Hastings, anywhere near a river and let’s face it there are plenty of rivers in our region.
Some numbers, of our 100 hectares, 30.6 hectares went 2m or more underwater, 6.5 hectares are flat on the ground, and of that, 6.5 around 2.8 hectares will not be, cannot be recovered.
17 hectares went unharvested.
The numbers help me because it feels so much worse than that, the hard work done, all gone. The hopes for certain areas with certain clones are gone. 13 kilometers of bird net gone! The task of repair seems huge, where do you start? Wires, vines, posts, nets, and irrigation all in one giant tangle.
I like many Kiwi men identify by what I do, and when the “do “ bit is under threat dark clouds can close in, I admit this period has been the hardest I have had, I have struggled to see the positive in anything. Covid rolled into climate change, rolled into a natural disaster, no break, no let up. We didn’t work from home, we didn’t shut down we just kept going, so understandably the tanks are empty.
But! There must be a ‘BUT’ things are improving. Mud is still a daily grind in places but blocks are getting pruned, once devastated blocks resembling vineyards again. Amazing fencers, contractors, staff, and friends have us looking toward the 2024 vintage.
This once beautiful chardonnay block took a big hit, days and days of hand labour and this clone 15 and Mendoza chardonnay will crop again in 2024! Never did I think it was possible.
The sense of community is back in RD9 I feel, everyone came together to share generators, hot camp showers, and meals. The roads and bridges are still in bad shape but the people using them can see a way forward now, still lots to do and clean-up seems endless at times. Weather forecasts continue to be a source of PTSD, with red and orange alerts raising blood pressure on what seems a weekly regularity.
We have a path, we have focus on what we can do, and we will be excited to see vines push in spring and start with a clean slate on a new vintage with Great wines to be made.
Life on the left bank continues.