Winegrowers say 2020 vintage best in decades after low rainfall

Winegrowers are describing this year's vintage as the best in decades, after months of low rainfall and perfect growing conditions.

But in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the industry needed a little help from the Government to turn grapes into wine.

Beyond the vineyards in Hawke's Bay, the surrounding hills and flats are barren and dry. But that's a sign of perfect conditions for winegrowers.

"'20 has been without question the best vintage we've had in, as I say, 40, 60 years," Te Mata Estate CEO Nick Buck says.

That's because the region is entering its seventh month of below-normal rainfall.

Coupled with warm dry days and cool nights, the grapes have been ripe for the picking.

"We know parts of the country have been in drought and the pastoral farmers don't like that but for us in the wine industry those sorts of conditions are absolutely tailor-made for producing great wine," says NZ Wine CEO Philip Gregan.

Some of that wine has already been bottled up ready for the shelves. But for fine wines like its Coleraine that's barrelled up in Te Mata's cellar to age.

It's not bad in Marlborough either - where warm and dry conditions have helped Dog Point vineyard.

Though it's had to adapt under COVID lockdown, its workers continue as an essential service.

"They all stayed on the winery in our accommodation we have here on-site so they were away from their families for the duration of level 4," says Dog Point general manager Matt Sutherland.

"We have one grape harvest season which is what our entire year is based on and it happened to fall right when lockdown was going on," Te Mata Estate CEO Nick Buck says.

Now wine lovers around the world will be able to enjoy the fruits of their lockdown labour.