No roadworks to accompany Marlborough’s harvest this year

Each year, a huge volume of grapes is moved through the region during the harvest.

BRYA INGRAM/STUFF/Marlborough Express

Each year, a huge volume of grapes is moved through the region during the harvest.

No, Marlborough Roads will not be able to tell you when harvest will start this year.

What was once a joke in Marlborough is no longer the case as roadworks will not disrupt the 2022 vintage.

Wine Marlborough director Marcus Pickens said roadworks during the busiest time for the wine industry had long been a problem in the area.

To circumvent the added stress, Pickens entered into the discussion with Marlborough Roads last year.

READ MORE:
* Winegrowers frustrated with government Covid update as harvest looms
* 2021 vintage: Marlborough down 21%, smallest harvest in six years
* Harvest a stop-and-go deal as roadworks add stress to vintners’ plates

“After the last vintage we took the time to meet and work out our plan, and they took that into account, knock on wood, everything is going according to plan, but I am very impressed.

“Sometimes that’s all it takes: a little encouragement to see outside the picture.

“When you live in a city of this size, you should be able to come together and solve these problems quite easily.

“It’s good to be heard, and hopefully we have a good role model for the years to come.”

Wine Marlborough director Marcus Pickens said challenges such as road works during harvest should be easily resolved in a town the size of Blenheim.

Scott Hammond / Stuff

Wine Marlborough director Marcus Pickens said challenges such as road works during harvest should be easily resolved in a town the size of Blenheim.

Marlborough’s resealing program typically begins in late October and ends March 31.

Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin said his planning was improving from the past.

“We have prioritized vintage traffic, so we are still in the process of resealing, but we have completed all the main routes to wineries.

“There will still be resealing work in the district until the end of March, but much of it will be in urban areas around the city and on some quiet roads,” Murrin said.

As the next resealing season is currently scheduled, Murrin said they will continue to ensure that road works are completed around the wineries before the vintage.

A QR code has been developed to help the wine industry, showing a map with all roadworks sites across the district.

As the first grapes have been harvested, the wine industry is hoping for a bigger vintage than last year to meet steady international demand.

The 2021 harvest was down 19% from the previous year, leaving wineries with low inventory levels.

The Marlborough wine vintage is down 21%, the smallest harvest since 2015.

New Zealand Winegrowers managing director Philip Gregan said this has forced wineries to cut stocks to maintain their place in the market over the past 12 months.

“New Zealand wine sales for 2021 were 324 million liters which means they were 48 million liters more than what was actually produced in the 2021 vintage.

“Many New Zealand wineries have faced tough decisions about who they can supply in their key markets, and the continued rise in international demand has put a strain on already depleted stocks.

“For some wineries, there just isn’t enough wine for everyone,” Gregan said.

New Zealand wine exports for 2021 were $1.95 billion, down just 3% from 2020, despite production falling 19% from the 2021 harvest.

Scott Hammond / Stuff

New Zealand wine exports for 2021 were $1.95 billion, down just 3% from 2020, despite production falling 19% from the 2021 harvest.

Rising production costs and the continued effects of Covid-19 on the border, markets and supply chains have continued to impact the industry.

“The introduction of Omicron to the New Zealand community at the dawn of the 2022 vintage is a very serious concern for producers and wineries, as this is our busiest time of year, and we are already facing severe labor shortages in some areas,” Gregan mentioned.

“The unavailability of skilled workers due to New Zealand’s ongoing border closures no doubt means this vintage will be more difficult to manage than normal.”

Gregan said the industry’s top priority is keeping people safe during this uncertain time.

“We look forward to another harvest of excellent quality, and we believe that an optimistic approach and mutual support will see us through this,” he said.

New Zealand wine exports for 2021 were $1.95 billion, down just 3% from 2020, despite the 19% drop in production from the 2021 harvest.

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