Stellar vintage predicted for Hawke’s Bay winegrowers

Published: Tue 15 Mar 2016 03:12 PM
Stellar vintage predicted for Hawke’s Bay winegrowers
All signs are pointing towards 2016 being another stellar year for Hawke’s Bay winemakers.
Paul Ham, Managing Director of Alpha Domus Winery, says the 2016 vintage is shaping up to be one of the best yet.
As one of the first wineries in Hawke’s Bay to harvest their early Chardonnay grapes, Alpha Domus is in a unique position to assess the coming vintage. “We’re really excited about the remainder of the harvest,” says Mr Ham. “It’s been a superb season and the grapes are looking outstanding on the vine.”
Hawke’s Bay has enjoyed three consecutive years of remarkable vintages, with many growers quietly confident that 2016 could eclipse previous years.
As Chairman of the Bridge Pa Triangle Winegrowers Association and a member of the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Board, Mr Ham is excited about the impact this could have on the region’s reputation in the marketplace.
“This could be ground-breaking for Hawke’s Bay’” says Mr Ham. “We’ve had a run of exceptional vintages which creates serious momentum for the Hawke’s Bay wine industry. If we have another killer vintage, this will help build our position as one of the great wine regions of the world.”
Alpha Domus Winemaker, Barry Riwai, credits the near-perfect growing conditions with producing exceptionally healthy vines. Wet and cool conditions in early summer allowed the vines to grow without getting stressed, while soaring temperatures and minimal rainfall in January and February advanced the ripening of the fruit.
“It was essentially a season of two halves,” says Mr Riwai. “It was like changing jerseys at half time.”
Quality, not quantity is the key driver for this boutique, family-run winery. An aggressive thinning programme was carried out in February to help concentrate the flavour and colour of the fruit. “It can be hard to drop such a large amount of valuable fruit onto the ground, but it’s an investment in the quality of the fruit,” says Mr Ham, “which is ultimately an investment in the quality of the wine.”
Mr Riwai agrees. “Good wine comes from good fruit,” he says. He believes having control over the entire wine production process gives boutique operators an advantage. “As a single estate producer, all our grapes come from one place. With such good fruit, you don’t have to do much in the winery.”
Situated west of Hastings, Alpha Domus is part of the celebrated ‘Bridge Pa Triangle’, a sub-region renowned for producing exceptional wines. With a unique terroir perfectly suited for wine growing and a concentration of high-quality, single vineyard wineries, the Bridge Pa Triangle is fast becoming a “rising star” in the world of wine, says Mr Ham.
While neither Mr Ham nor Mr Riwai want to “count their chickens,” both have high expectations for the 2016 vintage.
“If all goes according to plan,” says Mr Ham, “this vintage could really set Hawke’s Bay wines apart on the world stage.”

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