April 2, 2020|In News, Brandon's Corner

2020 Harvest Report: New Zealand

Red wine grapes being picked

Speaking with various winemakers and vineyard owners, 2020 looks to be a vintage never to be forgotten given the global pandemic on our hands, but the potential quality of the wines is outstanding. By and large, this year’s growing season has been exceptional for most wine regions in NZ. One exception is Central Otago, where, until the last fortnight, has experienced their coldest growing season on record. There are concerns some fruit may not ripen in time before the leaves begin to fall off the vines. The last two weeks have settled in well for Otago, though, and it’s too early to get a read on the wines yet. My hunch would be that this cool, long, growing season could present a challenge that many of the talented winemakers of the region are up for and are accustomed to from time spent making great Pinot Noir in cooler regions across the globe.

On my last visit to the Hawke’s Bay towards the latter half of March, winemakers were taking a well-deserved break following a Chardonnay pick that began as early as the end of February and carried into most of March across various vineyard blocks, with Chardonnay fruit of fantastic quality. So while the Chardonnays are fermenting, many of the red varieties will be picked in April, a vintage of two halves in the Bay.


I had a quick word with some of the winemakers with Dhall & Nash – Takaki Okada from Folium Vineyard in Marlborough, who was thankful to even be allowed to be harvesting his fruit. He was picking his first parcel of Sauvignon Blanc this year.

“The 2020 vintage is one which we won’t forget for a long time, but at the same time want to forget if it is possible.”
– Takaki Okada, Folium Vineyards, Marlborough


Takahiro Koyama from Mountford Estate in Waipara is so happy with the wines thus far that he has guaranteed this vintage will be outstanding. It hasn’t been without its challenges though, as due to the current Covid-19 lock-down, their grape pickers were not available and it was all hands on deck to harvest the last 20% of their fruit, all by hand.

“Despite this being a really tough time for everybody in the world, the quality of the 2020 vintage wine will be superb. I can guarantee this.”
– Takahiro Koyama, Mountford Estate, Waipara


Dennis Marshall of Hawkshead Wines in Central Otago is feeling confident his bunches will ripen from the superb weather of late, especially so as the vines age, they appear not to be so susceptible to climate variations.

“We are looking forward to another vintage season!”
– Denis Marshall, Hawkshead Wines, Central Otago


– Brandon