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Great Pinot Noir Blind Tasting with our staff.

Unofficial end to Harvest!

Karl put together for 14 of the staff a very exciting and informative evening. We have here at Johner quite an international line up of staff, with Kiwis, Germans, Swiss & French!

Karl gathered together 14 different Pinot Noirs to give us all the opportunity to gain an overview of Pinot Noirs. They were Wairarapa Wines except for two which came from Central Otago. This tasting was conducted as a blind tasting and of recently released 2009 Pinot Noir wines.

Karl kept the bottles covered as we tasted the wines. 14 glasses of Pinot Noir wine certainly looked very impressive as we arrived at our delightful cellar door. At this blind tasting everyone gave points out of 20 and then had to vote for the overall winner.

Interesting enough the most positive comments were awarded to Escarpment, but for Karl the Ata Rangi Pinot was top notch. The tasting panel showed quite a preference to Te Muna Road Pinot Noir.
In this tasting the wines were revealed according to the most liked which meant that the Air NZ Trophy winner & the top grade wines from Matthew Dukes and Tyson Stellzer got revealed reasonably late in the proceedings! Our own Johner wines were quite a favourite for the French due to their more European approach. It was good to see our Pinots averaged in the middle of preference overall.

This research was carried out in a very professional manner and we were very fortunate to have had this opportunity to smell, taste and see the differences between the Pinots. All in all they are not too far apart from each other!

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Evening session with Karl at the Wairarapa Wine Cellar in Greytown

On Friday 15th the first evening session at the Wairarapa Wine Cellar was held. This successful event saw Karl speaking to a large group of wine enthusiasts about selected wines from the local boutique wine growing areas. The entertaining and informative talk was only interrupted for the enjoyment of Greytowns’ Cuckoo pizza. The pizzas did a great job of complementing the wines that were tasted.
Karl spoke about the special terrior north of Martinborough that created elegant and different flavoured wines. He was entertaining and many thoroughly enjoyed his passionate outlook on making wonderful wine.
One group of ladies that attended said that they were fascinated on Karls’ blind tasting stories and they particulary liked learning about the sensory components within the wine.
It was great that everybody felt comfortable in sharing what they liked whether it was the fruit flavours or the linguring after taste.
We were fortunate to have other wine makers happy to mingle with the crowd. Wine stories were shared and every one was well looked after. Many were happy to stay on after Karl had finished his presentation. From the feed back on the night this will be the first of many successful evenings at Greytowns’ Wairarapa Wine Cellar.

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Wasps and Bees on the grapes

One of the big problems in the wine industry is pests. Wasps and bees attack the grapes and damage the berries. They make a hole and suck the juice and this makes the juice oxidize and go brown. If you pick such grapes and use them to make wine it will change the colour of the wine and the smell. As the wasps and bees attacks sporadically it makes the grapes difficult to select. Luckily here at Johner we hand harvest so our team are always on the alert for grape damage and they are careful to only select the best grapes. You can be assured that they also keep a wary eye out for these pests as they sure have a nasty sting.

So far our Kiwi Grant is winning the “How many stings?” Competition, 3 times – ouch!! Johannes is glad he has only been stung once!

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Inspecting Grapes at Little Vineyards and Lyndor

A few days ago Karl inspected the grapes at Little Vineyards.  Karl keeps a close eye on the grapes and is checking for the level of ripeness. This vineyard is situated just east  of Masterton on limestone soil and is owned by Nick Dench. Karl makes his wines, and they are under Nick Dench’s label of “Little Vineyards of Wairarapa”


Our top of the range Cabernet & Merlot “Lyndor” is sourced from a vineyard not far from Nick Dench’s Pinot Noir. The grapes were first planted in the clay limestone soil in 1986. It is one of the oldest established vineyards north of Martinborough.


As you can see… that the vines are certainly old!




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Wild yeast goes wild!

In order to express the true terroir of our vineyard we do use some indigenous yeast from the vineyard. This means we have to collect some of the juice after being pressed and put the juice with out any other addition in to the warmth, and the warmest place at the moment happens to be the kitchen. This ideal temperature will encourage the multiplication of the natural yeast. Once they are going they can get out of hand and froth away into overflow, as you can see by the picture – it simply makes a mess on the floor!



As the Sauvignon Blanc grapes continue to come into the winery today, they are quickly taken care of and will soon be fermenting in the barrels.



This weekend weather permitting we will continue to pick our youngest Pinot Noir vines. Already we have a tank full of Pinot Noir fermenting. Now we need to supervise temperatures and occasionally cool down a little to prevent stuck ferments.
It is important that there is no rain for our harvesting of Pinot Noir, so keep your fingers crossed for us!















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Crushing our 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Our Sauvignon Blanc grapes continue to be harvested even though we are having a few spots of rain and the temperature is rather chilly, they tell me there is a sprinkling of snow on the tops of the Tararua mountains. Not a wonder it is a little chilly! It is uplifting when the sun manages to break through the clouds.




In the winery the Sauvignon grapes are destemmed as they arrive in and then softly crushed. All this juice, seeds & skins get a soft press so we can get lots of lovely juice. The mouth starts to water just to think of all that lovely Sauvignon Blanc wine which will eventually be made with our wine makers tender loving care.
Two young French men, Antoine & Laurent are picking for us for the first time in New Zealand. They have a lot of expertise as they have been working in their parents vineyards since they were 7 or 8 years of age. Their vineyards are  15 ks  north of Colmar, Alsace and only 1 k away from the very beautiful medieval city of Riquewihr which is surrounded by a very vineyard. They have come to NZ to see the country, improve their English and see the techniques used here at our vineyard. They plan to return home to continue to work on the family vineyard with the hope that they will take over and make wonderful wine.

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Picking our first 2011 Sauvignon Blanc grapes

As the morning dew lifted the sun welcomed the harvest team when they went to C4 block to pick the first of the Sauvignon grapes. Only a few hours later a short southerly snap swept quickly through the Wairarapa valley bringing rain. Luckily it was soon gone and the harvest continued. This year a team of enthusiastic young German & French students are helping us picking all grapes by hand. With the temperatures on the cool side this morning it seems to be ideal working conditions. As the grapes are cut from the vines they are gently placed into crates. When full the grapes are put into bins and transported into the cellar.

All is going well and we expect to move soon onto A block, with the Sauvignon grapes all being harvested sometime next week. As yet no one has been stung by the wasps or bees! Sabrina says she is happy to be here and as it is her first time picking grapes she finds it much more interesting than reading about it in a book.