14 Mar 2014

Winemakers scramble to get grapes in

11:13 am on 14 March 2014

It's all hands on deck on Hawke's Bay vineyards as orchardists scramble to get grapes off the vines before Cyclone Lusi arrives.

Vidal Estate chief winemaker Hugh Crichton says they've been scrambling to get their chardonnay variety grapes off the vines before Saturday.

Chardonnay grapes on vine.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

With the grapes being close to maturity, their skins are thin and can be easily broken - making them highly vulnerable to diseases like botrytis.

Mr Crichton says he's glad they have had plenty of warning from the weather forecasters and have been able to get fruit in all this week.

He says nothing is certain with cyclones because they can quickly change path, but staff at Vidal are assuming they will get some fairly heavy rainfall and are not taking any risks.

Mr Crichton says the chardonnay grapes were in the zone taste-wise and the hurried harvest shouldn't interfere with what he expects will be a stellar 2014 vintage.

And he's hoping red wine variety grapes that aren't ready to be picked yet will be able to ride out Cyclone Lusi.