NZ: Harvest on-track for record grape crop

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In a mid-vintage update, New Zealand Winegrowers has reiterated its pre-vintage announcement that the wine industry is on track for a record grape crop in 2002.

Speaking on progress to date, Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers said: "The vintage has now been underway for over a month. During March, the weather has been generally favourable in many areas, with warm temperatures and lower than average rainfall. This has provided good conditions for ripening and development of flavour and colour.

"Reports so far confirm our pre-vintage view that the harvest will be a record, with yields generally above average for crops harvested to date. Provided this trend continues we still expect a crop in the order of 120,000 tonnes of grapes, about 70% larger than last year," Gregan added.

Harvesting has now commenced in all areas but is most progressed in northern regions such as Auckland and Gisborne. Harvesting of the important chardonnay crops in Gisborne and Hawkes Bay is well advanced, while the Sauvignon Blanc vintage in Marlborough is beginning. In terms of red grapes, picking of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is just commencing in Auckland and Hawkes Bay, while Pinot Noir is being harvested in a number of regions.

But Gregan stressed the importance of the weather over the next month for the final outcome of the vintage. "The majority of the grapes are still to be harvested in most regions. At this stage the fruit appears to be in good condition, but a continuation of warm dry days, and cool nights will greatly assist the final vintage outcome in terms of both quality and quantity," he said.

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