There are no two vintages the same and 2022 was no exception.
Following a very light vintage 2021, Marlborough wineries were looking forward to filling their tanks, and bottling their new vintage wines as soon as possible. The 2022 vintage filled the tanks but there were a few hurdles and challenges along the way.
The shortage of staff was (and still is) a real issue. Border closures (due to covid) and visa constraints meant that the usual addition of overseas staff was impossible. Fortunately, due to Saint Clair’s reputation, harvest intern positions were filled by a keen and enthusiastic team. The challenge this year was many of the team had little (or no) previous vintage experience. To overcome this Saint Clair started the teams comprehensive training early, in small groups. This paid dividends and the busy vintage flowed smoothly.
Covid has not been easy for New Zealand (again) this vintage, with the virus affecting large numbers of our local Marlborough wine community, just prior to the first fruit being picked. Government rules and regulations along with the desire and need to keep our staff and our community safe, meant our harvest team were working under unique and stringent conditions. Mask wearing, social distancing and Covid testing, quickly became the ‘norm’. This was not easy and at times frustrating, however due to the commitment and tenacity of the team, Saint Clair managed to avoid the virus. Staff stayed well, the grapes were harvested, and the wines were made
Marlborough’s climate is unique and it is one of the most important factors in creating the worlds’ best Sauvignon Blanc. A typical very warm October, November and December allowed for a good solid fruit set, however Mother Nature put a spin on things, when she provided a very wet and cold February (which is unusual). This put grape growers and wine makers ‘on edge’ as ongoing rain created a disease risk which was a real potential threat to the success of harvest.
A very dry period from 20th February until the 20th March was exactly what was required. Outstanding Autumn conditions with warm days and cool nights, enabled the grapes to ripen to the desired levels ensuring good clean fruit arrived at the winery.
The first grapes were hand-picked on the 2nd March from the Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen site, for the highly regarded Dawn Méthode Traditionnelle. This was two weeks later than the first pick in 2021 (which was an early harvest).
By mid-March harvest was fully underway with the fruit arriving in a steady stream at the winery. The Saint Clair world class winery is set up with a ‘wide mouth,’ which enables the grape transport trucks uninterrupted access to the winery, with no waiting at the receival bins. This ensures minimal skin contact and the retention of the fruit flavours.
One of Saint Clair’s winemaking strengths is the timing of harvesting for each vineyard is made by very experienced senior winemakers, based on grape flavour, with brix (sugar) levels used only as a guide. The harvest progressed nicely whilst the weather stayed fine, and the fruit was able to reach desired physiological ripeness.
Harvest was complete on the 8th April.
Saint Clair is excited to see some fantastic wines come from the 2022 vintage and with strong market demand look forward to sharing their quality product globally.