The turn of the seasons brings harvest time traditions to life
Nelson – Tasman wine growers have recently completed their annual harvest, a tradition that first took root in the region in the early 1840s, following the arrival of settlers from Europe to Upper Moutere and Ranzau.
By 1870, grapes were being grown and wine made commercially in Nelson and in Motupipi, Golden Bay. In 1872 Government Viticulturist Romeo Bragato reported that Nelson was “admirably suited to cultivation of vines and fruit trees” and he “has no hesitation in advising the residents to plant vines on a large scale.”
Those early growers were attracted to our region’s soils and climate. Since those first grape varietals were planted in the hot dry Tasman hills and stony Waimea Plains, they have been at the heart of Nelson Tasman’s premium wines.
Our pioneering growers and winemakers established the modern wine industry here in the 1970s– with iconic names such as Seifried and Neudorf still going from strength to strength and new generations of these world-class vineyard dynasties making their own mark today.
Hermann and Agnes Seifried planted their first vines – 14 varieties on 2ha of land in the Moutere Valley – in 1973. Their first harvest in 1976 launched a tradition still going strong over 50 years later.
Tim and Judy Finn planted the first vines at Neudorf in 1978, had their first vintage in 1981 and so began their own tradition of growing, harvesting and bottling that makes the vineyard-year go round.
There followed a first flush of growth with enterprising viticulturalists planting vines at Ruby Bay, Ranzau, Brightwater and Redwood Valley. As they spread out across the Waimea Plains in the 1990s, a wine region was born.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have been favourite varietals from the start, and as this year’s harvest rolls over again, the wines we are renowned for start their journey into delicious vintages to enjoy at restaurant tables or the kitchen bench – a journey made under the watchful eye of our masterful winemakers.
Today, Nelson Tasman’s high sunshine hours and its diverse soils in the hills, plains and on the coast, are coupled with hand-picked varietals of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Aromatics and an impressive mix of emerging varieties. Together they make memorable vintages with a true regional flavour which our wine makers strive to capture in liquid form.
This year’s grape-picking – from age-old hand harvesting techniques to the most advanced technologies – marks the start of the process to turn this year’s bounty into the taste of Nelson Tasman. The alchemy of viticulture, fermentation and oenology will yet again fill the bottles at our boutique wineries – and make their way to you when the time is just right.
We can’t wait to see what this season has in store for the wine lovers amongst us – and the world over!
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