Winemakers across New Zealand see best harvest in decades

This year's harvest looked a little different for winegrowers with Covid-19 restrictions, but despite this, it was a great season.

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But while they’re making plenty of product, many of their restaurants are battling the Covid-19 storm. Source: 1 NEWS

Particularly in regions like Waipara, in North Canterbury.

Winegrowers in the region are calling it an epic vintage, with most varieties up to an exceptional standard.

“You could see this fruit coming in, nice and clean and beautiful bunches and we were like, well this is good! Amongst all this other stuff going on in the world," says Black Estate’s Penelope Naish.

The North Canterbury wine region has been plagued with storms, frosts and earthquakes in the past few years, but this year, amongst a global pandemic, conditions were so good some in the region are calling it the "holy grail" of vintages.

Kiwi winegrowers say it's been one of the best vintages they've seen in decades, more than 400,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested across the country.

NZ wine says while Covid-19 restrictions did impact how the harvest was run, it won’t affect the quality of our Kiwi wine.

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But not everything is so fruity.

Although wineries are making plenty of product, many of their restaurants are battling the Covid-19 storm.

It’s already claimed some of New Zealand’s top winery restaurants, including Elephant Hill in Hawke’s Bay, and Pegasus Bay in Waipara.

"Unfortunately a lot of our cliental were international guests so we were forced to make the very tough decision to close our restaurant because we just did not see that those customers were going to be coming anytime soon," says Paul Donaldson of Pegasus Bay.

But Pegasus Bay hopes to have its restaurant space open for events and pop ups as soon as July.

Its neighbour Black Estate is running at limited capacity in the restaurant due to social distancing, so it’s converted its outside area into a pinot and pie cart.

“The pie thing just came out of my head one day but I underestimated how popular pies are for New Zealanders!” says Black Estate’s Pen Naish.

The bumper vintage is now in production, some expect it to be on shelves as early as next month.

A sweet result, to an otherwise sour time.