The 2020 harvest began on the 10th March starting with Pinot Noir from Dog Point Vineyard’s west ridge. Little did we know that in two weeks’ time we would be in a situation which we never thought possible. Like many other countries around the world, New Zealand went into full lockdown under Alert level 4 on the 25th of March to help the fight against COVID-19.
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.
Vintage is normally a pressured time but working under Level-4 added new pressures and meant we had to adapt with new day to day working protocols. There was initial concern that we may not be able to hand pick as we typically do, but we managed to hand pick all our fruit using a dedicated team of RSE workers from the Pacific islands. Physical distancing became an integral part of all operations. Cleaning of equipment and vehicles was required once per day, with only one person allowed per vehicle. Good hygiene practices with frequent hand and equipment sanitising being integral to everyday health and safety. 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.
After three weeks in lockdown and some long continuous hours from our staff we finished harvest on April 15th, 2020. All our Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are now safely in the winery in tanks and barrels. We have seen some extraordinary, high quality fruit across all three varieties and the sun has continued to shine despite the unusual circumstances.
Vintage 2020 will be one to remember not only for Covid-19 and the challenging times it presented, but for the superb fruit quality. Owner of Dog Point Vineyard, Ivan Sutherland says “for overall fruit quality, this is one of the best vintages I have experienced.”
We look forward to bringing the 2020 vintage to you, but in the meantime, we are thinking of our friends, supporters and trade partners during this unprecedented and challenging time.