Vineyard Update | March 2020

Un-be-leaf-able isn’t it, Autumn is here already 

Our grapes are currently going through a process where they change from hard green inedible shapes to something that starts to resemble the soft fleshy grapes that you are most familiar with.

This process is called Veraison which is French for the onset of ripening. It is also the time when the red varieties like Pinot Noir begin to colour up. As the season advances the berries will get heavier as the sugar concentration increases and the acid levels decrease.
This is when the magic begins!

At the moment the berries are not edible, but as the sugar level increases, and they taste less acidic, the fruit becomes more attractive to birds. So a lot of effort is spent at this time of year attempting to prevent the birds from eating the grapes.

The flavours in the Sauvignon Blanc increase as the fruit ripens, our goal is to harvest at maximum flavour and the fruit refines enough to hold that refreshing acidity aspect to make our famous, award winning Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Autumn is an exciting time of the year for all winemakers around Marlborough, all we need now is for the weather gods to play their part.

Cheers Glenn, Winemaker

Vineyard Update | December 2019

Summer has arrived. 

This time of the year as the weather starts to warm up the shoots are growing very quickly. As the shoots get longer the small unfertilised flowers that appear as miniature bunches of grapes become easier to see. It’s possible to count them to get a potential estimate of the amount of fruit we may get at harvest however nothing is certain until after flowering which is in a few weeks time when the flowers start to become berries.

Spring & Summer in Marlborough is all about bud burst and the vine growth. This is the beginning of a sequence of events that repeats annualy and ultimately results in the harvest of ripe grapes for winemaking.

Images below resemble this. 

Cheers Glenn, Winemaker

Vineyard Update | October 2019

Spring is in the air.

We are just starting to get the emergence of this season’s shoots which will create a sea of green across the vineyard. A sure sign spring is here. The Tupari vineyard site is a unique, it has it’s own specific mesoclimate created by the geographical location. What does this mean? It means our site produces wines with distinctive characteristics! This year the start of spring was slightly cooler than last year which delays the bud burst. In turn this affects the ripening and ultimately the flavors our grapes produce, so when we say out site is unique, we mean exactly that. At this time of the year we carefully monitor the progress of the shoot growth as this is when we can see how many potential bunches of grapes there will be. If there are too many bunches they will be removed, this will be done by hand one vine at a time until we have the perfect amount of grapes to ensure the best possible quality.

Unfortunately we can’t yet see the flowers but they will appear shortly, they will look like tiny bunches of grapes. I will keep you posted of the progress as these start flowering (weather gods permitting).

Cheers Glenn, Winemaker

Vineyard Update | June 2019

Welcoming Winter.

Winter is the time of dormancy for the vines. We experienced a much warmer May with no frosts which resulted in the vines being left on longer than usual. We had a lengthened period of those beautiful Awatere Autumn colours. We prune the vines during this time of dormancy which allows us to plan ahead of next season and make decisions on the amount of buds we leave on each vine, this determines how much potential crop we will get. For Tupari Wines that will be controlled to ensure the best possible quality as we do not want too many bunches left on the vines.

Cheers Glenn, Winemaker

Sav & Pinot – safely tucked away. 

Our 2019 Boulder Rows is safely tucked up in oak barrels. We harvested some beautiful Sauvignon Blanc fruit this year, which is the perfect quality and style to make a balanced flavoursome drop. The secondary flavours are already starting to form and the recognisable “struck match” notes I look for already evident. I will leave the 2019 Boulder Rows in the oak barrels until after the 2020 grapes are harvested.

The 2019 Pinot Noir crop was very light and only made half the volume we were hoping for however the quality was excellent with the deep colour, ripe tannins and fine aromatics. Malolactic fermentation is complete and the wine will be gently aging in French Oak barrels for a further 9months.

Cheers Glenn, Winemaker

Vineyard Update | November 2018

Shooting high for Quality

The new season’s shoots are away and growing.  Everything looks green and healthy in our vineyard. At this time of year we count the florets (which look like little bunches of grapes) on a selection of vines to estimate the quantity of fruit on our vineyard.  We have decided to reduce the number of bunches to ensure that we grow the best quality grapes. We do this by removing shoots which achieves two things. Firstly it reduces the number of bunches, and results in better quality wines with more concentration and flavour. Secondly, it opens up the grape vine canopy and allows better air flow for a healthy plant. This is important for all the varieties, particularly the Pinot Noir.  Our aim is to make the best wine we can for you, which means starting in the vineyard. 

Pinot and Sav resting beautifully & getting ready for bottling early 2019

I have just tasted the 2018 Pinot Noir which is still resting in our French oak barrels. The wine has good weight,  and some lovely dark cherry flavours are starting to evolve. This wine will stay in oak until early next year, when we will make a decision on a bottling date.

The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc is still in tank on what we call “light lees”.  The lees are the expired yeast cells and grape solids which fall to the bottom of the tank at the completion of fermentation. The lees help keep the wine fresh, and impart a creamy texture to the palate. It will bottled in early March next year.

Cheers Glenn, Winemaker

Vineyard Update | September 2018

Pruning Complete – ready for the berries to burst

All the vines are pruned and still dormant. Although it won’t be long until we get the first  awakening of bud burst.  The current cold southerly conditions may hold that off for a bit longer.

We have left just the right number of buds to ensure we get high quality grapes, and enough fruit to satisfy all our customers.

We will watch the vineyard carefully over the next few weeks to look for the buds which swell up initially and final push out tiny green shoots.  From there they grow quite quickly until the vineyard look green again.

Pinot Noir coming along nicely

The 2018 Pinot Noir is maturing quietly in its oak barrels. The malolactic fermentation went through early this year with no help from me.  Malolactic fermentation is the secondary fermentation carried out by bacteria that usually takes place after the primary fermentation and results in a softer acidity in the wine.  I will keep monitoring the progress, and we will look at bottling the Pinot Noir early nest year.

At the moment there are some nice fruit derived aromatics showing and the oak is beginning to integrate nicely.


Glenn, Winemaker

Vineyard Update | June 2018

Winter Hibernation

This is the time of year that the vines go dormant. All the leaves have fallen, and vines look like skeletons with their canes pointing upwards.  The vines are waiting for the pruners who will cut back the hardened canes until the correct number of buds are achieved to produce next year’s crop. We manage this carefully to make sure we get the right amount of grapes next season, but not too many.

Blending Our “Star Sauv” 

In the winery I am blending the 2017 Boulder Rows Sauvignon Blanc which will need to be transferred out of the old French oak barrels it has spent the last 15 months in, to a stainless steel tank for bottling at the end of July. This is the style of wine that we recently won Platinum at Decanter World Wine Awards. We will keep you update on Facebook with the bottling process. The time spent in oak has allowed the wine to develop a rich creamy texture, flinty notes and an aroma of dried sage.  I am looking forward to seeing it finished and ready to bottle.

Star warm out there!


Glenn, Winemaker

Winter in the vineyard on our Boulder Block site

Vineyard Update March 2018

Harvest Time

Autumn is harvest time in Marlborough, which is later than many other wine regions.  Because the fruit has finished ripening during Autumn when daytime temperatures are a bit lower, and the nights are cooler, the flavours develop with more intensity. So, although we had a hot Summer, now that the temperatures have cooled off, the flavours are developing well, and they are retaining enough acidity to keep our wines naturally balanced.

Gita, Hola and a scorcher Summer

It’s been wet this year! Warmer waters have resulted in tropical cyclones retaining their strength outside of the tropical region, and New Zealand has experienced several of these! Thankfully the Awatere hasn’t been too badly hit, and the Tupari Vineyard holds up well under these circumstances. The free draining nature of our soils help with clearing the water away quickly.  This growing season has also been hot! So altogether, it’s still looking like harvest will be early and currently we are very happy with how things are progressing.

Tasting Time

At Tupari we have Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling all very close to being harvested. I was tasting the Riesling this morning with the viticultural team, and it was easy to distinguish the lemonade flavours with a hint of lime.  The Pinot Gris berries are pink and taste of pear juice.  The Pinot Noir bunches are almost black in colour, and looking very close to full ripeness.

The Sauvignon Blanc block is in perfect condition, and the flavours are looking great.  We are looking forward to making a classically styled wine from Marlborough’s number one variety.

Autumn is an exciting time of the year for winemaker’s.  All we need now is for the weather gods to stay on our side.

Cheers, Glenn – Winemaker

Vineyard Update February 2018

Summer berries galore!

Summer in the vineyard is the period where the berries actually grow bigger and start accumulating sugar. The tiny flowers that we talked about in the Spring newsletter now look much more like what most people would call a bunch of grapes (see below photo)


Out in the vineyard now, the Sauvignon Blanc is still hard and green, and not yet suitable for winemaking, although it is not too far away.  As February passes us by, the individual berries will get bigger and sweeter and will soften.  The softening process is known as veraison, and is also the time that red varieties start to colour up. Pinot Noir bunches go from green to black as veraison progresses.  The hotter the weather, the faster and earlier this process proceeds. Because this Summer has been one of the hottest on record,  we are now well ahead of an “average” season.

Keeping things in check

Work in the vineyard at this time of the year centres on managing the vine canopy to produce the best possible quality wine we can. This may mean that some fruit is taken off (thinning) in order to get the light and sun onto the rest of the plant to ensure we have the best flavours and are ready for Harvest.  The flavours are developing and it is not long now until we find out what this season has brought us. Quality is in the canopy!

Have a great rest of your Summer

Cheers, Glenn – Winemaker

Vineyard Update November 2017

The 2017-18 growing season is a few days ahead of the last couple of years. Want to know why the winemakers around the country are obsessed with a a tiny little thing called bud burst? Because the time of bud burst will affect the harvest date. Bud burst occurred 4-6 days earlier than last year, which means we are on-track for a timely harvest.

Unique climate, unique ripening, unique flavours

The timing of bud burst varies per region, sub-region and even by vineyard. One reason why the Tupari vineyard site is so unique, is that it has it’s own specific mesoclimate (yes that’s a word!) created by our gorgeous geographical setting. This means our vineyard does not follow the “average” for Marlborough or even most of the Awatere. So, when we say our site is unique, we mean exactly that. Unique climate, unique ripening, unique flavours.

Flowers that turn into grapes

We can’t see the flowers yet, but they will appear shortly, and look like tiny bunches of grapes. I will keep you posted of the progress as these little flowers turn into bunches of grapes (weather gods willing).

Too much of a good thing

At this time of the year we carefully monitor the vines, and when we can see how many tiny bunches of grapes there are, we can make sure there are just the right number. If there are too many bunches, which dilutes the flavours, we will remove some by hand. Working one vine at a time until we have the perfect number to ensure the best possible quality.

Below images: Bud burst, Pink Pukeko Rosé and noble rot Riesling on the vine – perfect conditions for our Late Harvest Riesling


For Dessert Wine Lovers

The winery is busy preparing our 2017 Late Harvest Riesling for bottling. We have stored the wine at low temperature (<0C) for the last few months as it slowly falls clear.

It smells of honey and candied citrus peel and tastes luscious – your dessert wine lovers will LOVE this wine. It’s deliciously sweet. We only produce this wine when the conditions during harvest allow for the formation of “Noble Rot”. This sounds like an oxymoron, but if the berries don’t split, the rot or mould allows water to pass through the skin and concentrates the sugar and flavour inside the berry. Sugar and flavour a key and our award winning 2014 vintage (available now) illustrates the depth of flavour we can produce when the conditions are right. In 2014 and now in 2017 the conditions were perfect.

Another Sophisticated Savvy

Our 2017 Boulder Rows Sauvignon Blanc is maturing in oak barrels and will be bottled before next harvest.  This wine relies on extensive lees ageing to develop the creamy texture and layers of secondary flavours that are the hallmark of our Boulder Rows. We taste it regularly to monitor the progress. The time and effort of crafting this wine in individual oak barrels is what makes it special. Who will love this wine – restaurants, wine lovers & sophisticated wine drinkers!

Cheers, Glenn – Winemaker