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Our Seasons



Black Quail Estate

2019 Report

A severe frost in October fortunately led to less than 5% damage of shoots. November and December were average for temperature and moisture. Significant rain in January and February but a warm March

2018 Report

Spring was dry and this dry hot weather continued into December, Cromwell reached 30°C on 21 days in January, However by February through into March, it had become very wet and cool, which helped slow ripening. In  spite of this harvest was early by up to 3 weeks.

2017 Report

A year of weather extremes  and was the lightest grape crop in Central Otago since 2012.

Spring was very cool with late flowering and a couple of frost events. December and January were cooler and windier than average, but warmed up by February.

A dry warm March, extending to April/May, helped improve the quality of the grapes. But  harvest was later than usual.

Black Quail Estate
Black Quail Estate

2016 Report

New Zealand’s warmest on record.   It was a cold start to spring but by October temperatures were well above average with an early bud burst.

November rainfall was below normal (50-79%), with, good sunshine but very windy. December had very high diurnal temperature variations.This pattern  continued into February, being  the second warmest February on record for New Zealand March and April were dry and  warm.

2015 Report

Spring was dry  but cool, with above normal sunshine, but November temperatures were particularly low, rainfall was above normal. A dry December and Jan. Bunches were variable.  February was wet, but with a good veraison. A good Autumn for finishing the grapes

2014 Report

Warmest August on record. With a dry September and early bud burst. October had some near frost events but led to a dry warm November and December. Cooling in January and February with low rainfall. The autumn was generally wetter than usual.

2013 Report

Spring was dry wit Northwest winds  but south-westerlies cause a cool October. November  was wet but by December it was a warm and sunny month,  which extended into January and February. March rainfall was less than 60 percent with temperatures well above average. April was dry with average temperatures. May was cold.

Black Quail Estate
Black Quail Estate

2012 Report

Vintage: Spring was variable with a serious of fronts leading to a serious frost at higher altitude vineyards, especially in Gibbston. December turned the corner with a warm dry stable flowering leading to excellent fruit set. In a very unpredictable summer season, cold fronts were mixed with warm patches.


An extend dry period was followed by heavy rains just at the right times when vines were beginning to stress. The threat of Botryis appeared but a wonderful warm dry harvest ensured a larger than average harvest of high quality fruit. The jury is still out on the Pinots, but indications from white wines are of good intensity and aromatics, but perhaps not as outstanding as 2009 or 2010.

2011 Report

Vintage: Spring started as one of the best on record, warm dry with limited frost created rapid growth and large canopies. Flowering was average, but around Christmas the season too a turn for the worst. The summer disappeared and was replaced with wet, cloudy periods lasting until March.


The cool cloudy periods meant that vineyard managers had to be extremely careful to limit the development of fungal diseases. Just as the point of losing hope, the season dried out and warmed up until a series of frosts in late March and early April. A truly testing season that many would consider one of their worse vintages, although careful management of wine making and viticulture could create wines that were attractive and in a lighter fruit-driven style.

2010 Report

2010 will be noted as one of our most powerful and concentrated vintage on record. Albeit the start of the growing season was cooler and exposed vineyards sites throughout the region were hit be quick changing weather systems and frequent windy days. Flowering take place over reasonably unsettled weather in December, and because of this berry size was smaller and bunch weights lowered.


Within Central Otago we carry crops in accordance to the vintage, and this vintage only allowed us to carry an average of 4.2 tonnes per hectare. The unsettled weather patterns change from late January, and our vintage finished with higher than usual temperature and long settle periods of dry, hot Autumn days.


Crops were picked within the traditional harvest dates on the majority of our regions vineyards, and most often by well sunned t shirt clad pickers. The smaller berry size, lack of disease pressure and long length of ripening will ensure that this is a vintage that will stand Central Otago proud.

2009 Report

The season started with a normal spring; neither hot nor cool with normal rainfall. There were the usual occasional frost events that were able to be successfully fought. Good weather over flowering resulted in a very good fruit set. The summer was on the cool side and then February which is normally our warmest and most stable month, was unseasonably cool and wet. In recognition of the cooler summer, and then the cool February, growers needed to keep crop levels down to ensure a successful ripening.


March was fortunately a return to normal warm and stable weather and the vines ripened very smoothly while holding good canopies. Picking started in early April which is about normal. Fruit quality was near perfect: small berries with clean fruit. Yields were about normal to just below normal. The young Pinot Noirs are showing beautiful aromatics and a purity of fruit expression that should make it an excellent vintage. Generally the Pinot Noir had slightly higher malic acid than in 2008.


The 2009 white wines are aromatically intense with very good varietal expression. They possess a very fine acidity and excellent balance. The sparkling wine harvest started on the 17th of March with outstanding quality.

Black Quail Estate
Black Quail Estate
Black Quail Estate
Black Quail Estate

2008 Report

The season started with good soil moistures after a relatively wet spring. Warm, stable and sunny weather during flowering resulted in a successful fruit set with moderate to large crops. Above average and well spaced rainfall throughout the summer months led to healthy canopies with a much decreased dependence on irrigation, and in some older vineyards with heavier soils, no irrigation for the whole growing season.


Cool night time temperatures and a cold spell leading up to the harvest slowed and compacted the ripening so that harvest proceeded over a 4 week period starting in the last week of March. The harvest period was very dry and the fruit was in excellent condition. For most vineyards the vintage was completed by late April after which the weather turned very cold with unseasonal snow in the vineyards and heavy rain.


Larger berries and heavier bunch weights along with the prolonged growing season contributed to bright and focused wines without excess weight. The wines possess fine and elegant tannins and are similar in structure to the 2006 and 2003’s. The sparkling wine harvest started in mid March along with a late Riesling harvest in June; the quality of the whites is very good with a good acid and fruit balance.

2007 Report

A wet and cool spring was followed by a cold December and resulted in a slightly later start to the vintage. Numerous frosts were recorded and most were successfully fought, although there were reports of localised frost damage; interestingly mainly on higher elevation vineyards which is unusual. Poor weather during flowering affected the fruit set and reduced yields by around 25%.


The cooler start to the season was offset by healthy canopies and the reduced yield meant that for the most part, the vines didn’t have a problem in ripening the fruit. Summer finally arrived in early January, with February being the driest on record with virtually no rainfall. The warm and dry late season conditions allowed the grapes to ripen fully and have lead to wines which display both good concentration and exceptional flavour.


The early white bottlings of Riesling and Pinot Gris show very good quality, clarity of fruit and weight. The Pinot Noirs, at this early stage show good concentration and the typical Central Otago Noir definition. Overall 2007 is a very fine quality vintage that will reward the best sites and viticulture producing some very high quality wines.

2006 Report

An early bud burst and a very dry spring led to even shoot growth and an early flowering. Warm and stable conditions during flowering resulted in a very successful fruit set. The warm conditions continued with harvest starting as early as March 16 for many sites (the earliest on record). Interestingly, March was cooler than normal and provided more “hang time” and slowed the rate of ripening.


Without these cooling temperatures the harvest would have been over very quickly and quality could have suffered. Overall this is a very exciting year for Central Otago, with a good year in quality and a very good year in quantity with higher yields than expected. At this early stage, we see similarities to 2001 and 2003; not the concentration of the 2004 and 2005’s but wonderful ripeness.

2005 Report

A good warm start (Budburst around 10th of October) to Spring with no frost damage reported anywhere. The latter half of November and the month of December were miserably cold, (4 degrees below average monthly temperature) drastically affecting crop set with most areas seeing a 50% crop reduction (Average bunch weight at harvest 40 to 60gr, normally 80 to 120gr). January and February were both slightly warmer than average with a mini heat wave through for two week's where temperatures approached 40 ˚C. 


There was more rainfall than average through these months with a shower every couple of weeks lessening the dependence upon irrigation. Autumn played a mostly benign hand with cool weather and very little rainfall allowing fruit to hang to full ripeness resulting in very low Malic acid levels. A late autumn frost did affect ripening in some parts of central. Total tonnage harvested 1695 tonnes.

Black Quail Estate
Black Quail Estate

2004 Report

Very good even bud burst before frosts on 14 and 28 November which are responsible for a large reduction from the anticipated 4,000-4,500 tonnes down to 1,800 tonnes.


Generally cool summer with above average rainfall in February before weather settled and ripening could proceed sufficiently in warmer sites before the early frost during harvest on 8 April. Despite being a very challenging vintage, early samples have shown very good tannins and fruit expression.

2003 Report

Very cold weather in spring resulted in slow spring growth yet amazingly frost damage free. Unusual hot spells followed by cold spells in early summer. Typical warm to hot February and March (incredibly dry), evened growth and ripening.


An unusual series of frosts in early to mid April slowed ripening allowing hang time without usual rapid sugar accumulation. Harvest started on April 6. Rainfall Feb=30mm, Mar=2mm, Apr=24mm.

2002 Report

Very cold winter temperatures in 2001 were followed by an unusually early and warm spring. This was followed by a moderate summer with warm temperatures without the highs (few days into the 30’s) and lows (very few summer snow events on mountain tops).


Strangely enough, this led to the earliest harvest date yet of March 26. Yields were low to moderate with small berries. Rainfall: Feb=12mm, Mar=19mm, Apr=53mm. Harvest at Bendigo started on March 21 for Pinot Noir still wine and for sparkling wine on March 11. The last very early harvest was in 1990 at Black Ridge on March 27.

2001 Report

After the lower yielding 2000 vintage, 2001 was large. Incredibly hot, sunny and stable weather during the flowering in early-mid December gave us the faster and most even flowering yet seen. A warm summer with the heavier crops, harvest started on April 6. Rainfall Feb=25mm, Mar=28mm, Apr=8mm.

2000 Report

A vintage that was dominated by the heavy rains in mid-November of 1999 that caused the flooding in Queenstown and Wanaka. December was dry then followed by a very wet January (117mm). Feb=28mm, Mar=32mm, Apr=53mm. Low to moderate yields caused by very small berry size gave wines excellent concentration. Harvest date of April 12.

Black Quail Estate
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