Silver lining to 2020... more top Chardonnay on the way

The picture in this blog shows the Dog Point Vineyards harvest team for 2020 hand picking grapes into small bins, then loading them onto tractors. 

Difficult year's silver lining for wine lovers 

Some say it's a year to remember, others say it's one to forget but 2020 is likely to go in the history books as one of the best vintages on record in Marlborough, says one of the region's first people ever to plant grapes in the region's modern wine history.

Ivan Sutherland, founder and co-owner of Dog Point Vineyards, says workers adopted new work protocols for vintage 2020 and were still able to hand harvest all of the grapes from Dog Point Vineyards' extensive land holdings, all of which are certified organic. Hand harvesting is key to quality for Sutherland and co-owner James Healy. 

"All grapes were hand picked using a team of RSE workers from the Pacific islands. Physical distancing became integral to all operations, as did cleaning of equipment and vehicles once per day, with only one person allowed per vehicle. Hygiene practices with frequent hand and equipment sanitising became integral to everyday health and safety," says Sutherland, who adds all grapes are now safely in the winery going through fermentation in barrel and stainless steel tanks.

“The sun continued to shine, despite the unusual circumstances and for overall fruit quality, this is one of the best vintages I have experienced."

The harvesting of grapes for vintage 2020 at Dog Point Vineyards began on 10 March at DP Vineyard’s west ridge with Pinot Noir, continuing under full lockdown at Alert level 4 for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and more Pinot Noir.

The government considered primary production as an essential service, which allowed wineries the length and breadth of New Zealand to continue with harvest 2020. Many, such as Dog Point, reduced their workforce to a skeleton team who were isolated on the property: eating, sleeping, and picking on the vineyard.

The industry's governing body is the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Buy the latest (and we think greatest) 2017 Dog Point Chardonnay here.