Challenges are nothing new to us – we’re always contending with the weather, and that can be a fickle beast! When Covid struck, it was as much of a shock to us as to anyone, but we recognised it as a challenge and rose to meet it head-on.
Apart from being affected in the same way as everyone else – lock-downs, social distancing, dealing with issues such as personal stress and commercial supply chain constraints – we have seen two rather unique effects on our industry.
One is that the seasonal flow of winemakers between the northern and southern hemisphere has stopped. It is tradition in the wine industry that our younger winemakers, especially, head north in our winter to work a vintage in Europe or North America, and for theirs to come down to us when we harvest. That enables winemakers to work through two vintages per year. This not only doubles their experience, but also leads to a healthy interchange of ideas.
We’re quite used to having French, Chinese, Italian, Argentinian, German, South African, Chilean, American, Canadian, Czech, Hungarian, Danish, and English wine enthusiasts working in Marlborough every vintage. This year, we haven’t been able to recruit abroad, but we do have a fair few other nationalities who are stuck in the country because of Covid. And, of course, and our veteran German winemaker, Jens Merkle!
The other effect of Covid is that the impact on the hospitality industry means that there is less demand for wine made specifically to be enjoyed on-premise. So, this vintage we’ll be making less of our wine aimed at restaurants. The good news is that we now have more grapes we can use to make the kind of wines you enjoy at home!