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Central Otago

Central Otago is located on the 45th parallel, similar in the southern hemisphere to Burgundy and Oregon in the northern hemisphere (47th and 45th respectively). Both Burgundy and Oregon are recognised as producing the world’s finest Pinot Noirs and over a very short time Central Otago has carved an enviable reputation that rivals the best these regions have to offer. Despite being a marginally cooler climate, Central Otago has hot summers and a lower rainfall over the ripening period. These factors allow the grapes to perfectly ripen over a long growing season without the associated disease risk common in wetter regions. To further investigate the weather in Central Otago, reveiw past weather summaries in the monthly weather archive. Alternatively, if you would like to know how good the growing season was for your favourite Central Otago wine visit vintage reports. 

Vintage reports

 

2019

SEASON RATING*** (3 star). June was the coldest month during winter. October saw the first real warmth but this disappeared during November. The spring of 2019 was wet and still with temperatures near average. One damaging frost was recorded at the beginning of the growing season (13th of October). The summer of 2018 was typical with January slightly warmer and February slightly cooler. After a warm March (200.5 GDD's) - some 40% up on usual,  temperatures plummeted in April   down to an average daily temperature of 9.1C and only 22.3  GDD's. After average temperatures in Spring and Summer, the March heat would have been welcomed, only for temperatures to plummet in April. Cool April conditions would have retarded disease caused by rain in March.

2018

SEASON RATING**** (4 star). The winter of the the 2018 growing season was wet and warm. July was the coldest and wettest month recording a daily average temperature of 3.0 C and 108 mm rainfall. Early spring rains charged the soils and warm conditions (21 GGD's recorded in September) made for a good start to the season. Spring was hot and dry with only 75 mm of rain falling and accumulated GGD's some 50% up on normal. Brutal January temperatures (GGD's 60% up on normal) came to an end In February which recorded 25% less GGD's than normal. Welcome rain in February (123mm) ended the dry conditions prevailing during spring and early summer periods. Autumn provided good ripening conditions and with harvest up to a month early, most fruit was harvested by mid April when a series of frost brought close to the season. Overall the 2018 growing season provided excellent conditions.

2017

SEASON RATING ** (2 star). The winter of the 2017 vintage was mild. July was the coldest, windiest and wettest month with 63% of the entire winter rainfall falling over the last two weeks. September was warm recording a very high daily average temperature of 9.7 C. This didn't last long, as the spring conditions were significantly cooler than average. Cooler conditions resulted in poor set and lower yields. On the positive side, no damaging frosts were recorded after budburst. Cool summer conditions continued the theme with 20% fewer heat units recorded during January and February. The autumn of  2017 provided normal average daily temperatures but a light frost on the 7th of April and rain during the middle of April made the harvest period tougher. Lighter crops would have allowed earlier ripening with many vineyards avoiding the rain in April. Overall, 2017 was  not a great growing season. 

2016

SEASON RATING ***** (5 star). The 2016 winter was long and mild. While July was the coolest month (3.6 C), warm average daily temperatures were the likely result of elevated averages wind speeds keeping cloud/inversion away. Cool conditions extended into September with lower than average ground temperatures marginally delaying budburst. Spring conditions were very dry with only 74 mm of rain falling from the beginning of September until the end of December. Over the same period temperatures and wind were typical and only one light frost was recorded on the 30th of October. A mild, dry January  was followed by a very hot February (291 GGD's). A warm, frost free conditions continued into autumn resulting  in  an excellent growing season.

2015

SEASON RATING *** (3 star). The winter period of the 2015 season was dreary and wet through until the 2nd week of August.  Temperatures then began to rise, however ground temperatures remained cool in September which most likely retarded the onset of budburst. October provided good growing conditions but deteriorated in November which recorded low temperatures and numerous light frosts. Conditions finally improved in December which was hot and dry and provided good conditions for flowering. A hot dry summer was followed by a warm autumn and providing crop yields were well managed and fruit was harvested by the third week of April (frosts were recorded on the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th of April) grapes would have been of high quality. The heavy frost on the 16th essentially marked the end of the season. Overall, the 2015 season was marked by a cool spring, a hot summer and a warm autumn which all came to a close after the 16th April.

2014

SEASON RATING **** (4 star). The winter period of the 2014 season was warm.  June and July were wet with, 133 mm and 73 mm respectively, and after good snows in June (3.3 C), the temperatures rose in July (6 C) to record highs dismissing hopes of a great ski season. August was warm and September typical with little rain falling over these months.  Warm conditions continued during spring with good heat accumulation during October-December. Rain came at the end of October charging soils and warm soil temperatures during November promoted early growth. With only two mild frosts recorded on 16th and 28th October and lighter than normal winds the spring weather conditions provided a very good start to the 2014 growing season. This was soon to change as cool overcast conditions over the first three weeks of January resulted in 20% fewer heat units recorded. Temperatures warmed at the end of January and by the end of February heat units were only ten percent down on normal. While rainfall in January was normal (51 mm), little rain fell during February (6 mm). Unfortunately there was to be no catch up during the autumn period with normal temperatures recorded during March, April and May. While temperatures were normal over the ripening period, rainfall progressively increased with 15mm recorded in March, 52 mm in April and 104 in May. The first damaging frost was recorded on 24th April.  Overall, the 2014 season provided good growing conditions thanks largely to a very good spring period.

2013

Season rating****(4 star). A mild, dry winter ended with September rains and increasing winds. Despite a hot Christmas day, cold conditions dominated the spring period and not until after a wet first fortnight of January did summer begin. Temperatures then remained hot until the end of March. A dry harvest period resulted in excellent growing conditions; however significant frosts during the beginning of April challenged many growers. Overall the 2013 season provided excellent growing conditions and if spring and autumn frosts were avoided or mitigated fruit quality was high.

2012

SEASON RATING *** (3 star).  After a mild and dry winter, spring rains fell over October and November. A cold polar blast during the beginning of November resulted in a frost on the morning of the 5th, however besides this, only two other mild frosts occurred during the spring period. This changed in December which was hot and dry, accelerating growth and providing a good flowering conditions.  Summer was mild with warm nights propping up average daily temperatures. Light winds and moderate rainfall made for an agreeable summer period.  While March was cool with generous rainfall, a fine April provided a great finish to the season. The first significant frosts occurred on the 18th, 19th and 20th April (-2.5 C). Overall, a hot December and fine April contributed to a very good growing season.

2011

SEASON RATING *** (3 star).  After a mild and dry winter, spring rains fell over October and November. A cold polar blast during the beginning of November resulted in a frost on the morning of the 5th, however besides this, only two other mild frosts occurred during the spring period. This changed in December which was hot and dry, accelerating growth and providing a good flowering conditions.  Summer was mild with warm nights propping up average daily temperatures. Light winds and moderate rainfall made for an agreeable summer period.  While March was cool with generous rainfall, a fine April provided a great finish to the season. The first significant frosts occurred on the 18th, 19th and 20th April (-2.5 C). Overall, a hot December and fine April contributed to a very good growing season.

2010

SEASON RATING *****(5 star). Spring was cloudy and largely frost free with temperatures marginally below the long term average. October was very still and cloudy and November dry. Much needed rain arrived in December and a cool morning on the 21st surprised many people. Overall, Spring was mild and a touch on the cool side. The beginning of Summer was wet and overcast and these conditions continued through until the last week of January. This was followed by a month of fine, hot weather. March and April were dry and warmer than average. Finally, on ANZAC weekend (25th April), the skies opened and the rain fell heavily for three days. While the ripening period was largely frost free, two frosts early in April put growers on guard. Summer and Autumn periods were warmer than average and overall the 2010 season was warm and the quality high.

2009

SEASON RATING *** (3 star).  After a warm start to the season daily temperatures dropped during December (flowering) and were accompanied by 112 mm of rainfall (three times the average). Cool, wet conditions during this period slowed heat accumulation and resulted in a lack lustre spring period. A cool, wet January was followed by an even cooler February. This weather continued into March and although April was warmer than average, overall 2009 can be considered a cool year.

2008

SEASON RATING **** (4 star). After a cool October, warm temperatures in November prevailed until Christmas. A late frost on 28th November caught many growers out, and dry conditions necessitated irrigation in many vineyards. Overall, spring conditions were very favourable with a good flowering and high heat accumulation during the early season. A hot January and warm February were followed by moist conditions during March (around Easter) and dry, stable but cooler conditions in April. Five light to moderate frosts at the end of the season had growers on tender hooks. Overall the 2008 Vintage was hot and productive.