Expectations high for Hawke's Bay wine after hot and dry season

Dry conditions in Hawke's Bay have brought heartache to farmers, but winemakers in the region reckon it's going to lead to a bumper vintage.

Growers say the hot and dry summer produced pristine-condition fruit all the way from the inland alluvial plains to the coast.

"An extraordinary dry growing season produced an early vintage of ripe, clean fruit across all varieties," says Kate Radburnd, owner of Radburnd Cellars.

"It was a delight to manage harvest decisions which were based purely on merit, with very little weather or disease pressure."

The promising 2020 vintage follows last year's summer, which many viticulturists in the region said at the time could be the "best ever".

Julian Grounds, chief winemaker at Craggy Range Vineyards, said the odds of having two such seasons so close together was almost unheard of.

"In your winemaking lifetime, the law of averages very rarely gives you two iconic vintages back to back," he said.

Nick Buck, chief executive of Te Mata estate, said the wine was  "something to look forward to during these tougher times".

Despite the high-quality wine produced this season, experts have warned prices for New Zealand wine may soften on the international market later this year.

COVID-19 lockdowns around the world have led to a massive decrease in the hospitality trade, while a looming global recession is expected to lead to less demand for premium Kiwi wines.