The Marlborough grape harvest typically takes place from late February to early April, depending on the weather and ripening conditions. The quality and yield of the vintage is dictated to a large extent by the weather prior and throughout vintage.
A relatively warm 2022 spring, early summer led to a good flowering for most varieties, especially for Sauvignon Blanc. Summer was wetter than normal with higher rainfall which threatened the quality. Fortunately, the rain ceased a month prior to vintage and Marlborough’s normal dry and windy weather returned to create clean fruit, free of disease and of exceptional quality.
The grape harvest is a crucial time of the year for Saint Clair winemakers as the quality of the grapes will determine the quality of the wine. During harvest winemakers were in the vineyards tasting the berries, planning and selecting the very best time for picking once the fruit reached full and perfect physiological ripening. Marlborough’s unique climate and soil conditions, combined with the expertise of Saint Clair winemakers, contribute to Saint Clair’s reputation for producing world class wines.
Saint Clair Family Estate saw its first fruit come into the winery on 22 February. This was Pinot Noir fruit from the Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen block, hand harvested and destined to form part of the base for the Saint Clair Dawn Méthode Traditionnelle.
Next early pick was for lower alcohol wine and included varieties, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.
Once the larger Sauvignon Blanc intake commenced, the winery was in full operation 24 hours a day with most of the fruit being received by the 10th of April. The final pick is some Riesling that will become a late harvest/botrytis wine.
2023 yields will be below the previous vintage, but close to average, which is essential to enable Saint Clair to supply its 70 world markets and a growing demand.
Fortunately, the 2023 vintage has seen an easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions which certainly has assisted Saint Clair with obtaining a good cellar team consisting of many experienced ‘returnees’. This was a huge relief as previous years have been challenging to obtain enough experienced staff.
We are celebrating the end of another successful harvest –with a Saint Clair wine or two.