8 Apr 2016

Land of the Grapes

From Country Life, 9:30 pm on 8 April 2016

The grape vintage is in full swing in North Canterbury’s Waipara Valley.

Tonnes of grapes are being harvested and de-stemmed by seasonal workers in preparation for the winemaking process. Nik Mavromatis, sales and marketing director at Muddy Water in Omihi says “There’s no sleep until the end of vintage… for about six weeks it’s mental!’

Inside the Muddy Water winery, dozens of two metre high fermenting vats are full to the brim with grapes in the first stage of the wine making process, while next door the last of the 2015 vintage is being bottled and boxed.

Neighbouring vineyards also use Muddy Water’s facilities to process grapes and make their wines. Tongue in Groove winemaker Lynnette Hudson is there every day during vintage. Her main focus is on Pinot Noir and Riesling but she also makes Chardonnay and Orange wine at the winery.

“Today I’m pumping over Pinot, plunging while it’s fermenting, topping barrels, keeping on top of all our other wines, tasting and making sure everything’s looking good" she says.  

Despite some showers this week, Botrytis bunch rot has had little impact on fruit health at Muddy Water, a certified organic vineyard with 20-year-old vines.

“To minimise the impact of Botrytis, every fourth row has been planted with Buckwheat and Phacelia that have flowers that help bring a little parasitic wasp, which destroys caterpillars and the caterpillars are one of the vectors for transmitting the virus” Nik Mavromatis says.

The vintage at Muddy Water is yielding about four tonnes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes a hectare. Riesling and Pinotage varieties are also grown on their fertile limestone-washed soils with a total wine output expected to be about 4500 cases.