Saint Clair welcomed vintage 2021 earlier than usual. The first pick taking place on the 17th February with Pinot Noir from the Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen site, handpicked for the highly regarded Dawn Méthode Marlborough. This was 10 days earlier than the first pick in 2020.
By the start of March harvest was fully underway with the fruit arriving fast at the winery. The large healthy vine canopy and lower yields per vine, meant that the vine energy was leading to a fast ripening.
One of Saint Clair’s winemaking strengths is that 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 decision to harvest earlier than normal, meant the fruit retained good acidity and flavour with the perfect sugar ripeness.
The start of March produced typical Marlborough weather of warm days and cool nights, perfect ripening and harvesting conditions. A large stretch of classic stunning Marlborough sunshine, with virtually no rain, hence no disease pressure, ensured the perfect fruit was harvested in a timely manner as the berries reached their full physiological ripeness.
Closure of New Zealand’s borders added extra pressure to staff resources for vintage, however Saint Clair were proactive in their approach to employ vintage staff. This, combined with a solid company reputation, ensured the winery was well staffed within the cellar for harvest.
There are no two vintages the same and this year the difference was the lower yield. Springtime flowering conditions were not favourable with cooler weather than usual and this led to a large reduction in yield. Some late spring frosts occurred which effected small pockets of vineyards across the Marlborough valley and also contributed to the lower yielding 2021 vintage. The result has been smaller everything across all varietals. Smaller bunch weights, smaller berries and lower numbers of berries. However, whilst the quantity is down the quality is excellent across the whole range.
Harvest was complete on the 14th April.
Saint Clair is most excited to see some fantastic wines come from the 2021 vintage and with strong market demand with key export markets look forward to sharing their quality product globally.