Harvest 2020 the silver lining in lockdown

Wine is a primary production and an essential service so vintage 2020 went ahead

Pictured above: Chardonnay grapes from Dog Point Vineyards, 100% organically certified

The owner of New Zealand’s largest area of organically certified vineyards says the 2020 harvest is one of the best quality he has seen since he first planted grapes in Marlborough in 1979. Dog Point Vineyards co-owner and founder Ivan Sutherland says vintage 2020 began on 10 March at DP Vineyard’s west ridge with Pinot Noir, continuing under full lockdown at Alert level 4 with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and more Pinot Noir. All grapes are now in the winery in tanks and barrels going through fermentation.

“The government considered primary production as an essential service, so we were in a very privileged position to continue with harvest 2020. We reduced our workforce down to a skeleton team of staff members who have been isolated on the property: eating, sleeping, and picking on the vineyard.”

Above: Winemaker Murray Cook with Dog Point Vineyards grapes, 2020

Workers adopted new work protocols for vintage 2020 but were able to hand harvest all Dog Point Vineyards grapes, which is part of the winery’s usual philosophy for retaining high quality fruit. 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.

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

“Our Governing body Ministry of Primary Industries reviewed our procedures and commended us on our systems and the way our team was operating under Alert Level 4.”

Above: vintage team member Kathy Sowman.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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