Although it is Spring now, the last few days have been very cold in parts of New Zealand. In some grape growing areas, the temperatures have dropped to minus 5 degrees at night. During the spring, new leaf buds develop on the vines and frost can kill the buds.
In the South Island, Central Otago grape growers said that about 10% of their grape vines were damaged by the frosts this week. This area is famous for Pinot Noir. Probably the price of Pinot Noir will increase with the next harvest.
Hawkes Bay in the North Island is also a famous wine producing area. They produce other kinds of red wine like Merlot but also white wines like Chardonnay. Hawkes Bay has also had frosts in the last few days.
Grape growers use many different methods to stop frost damage. They use helicopters and wind machines to bring the warm air from above, down into the cooler vineyard. Some growers use oil heaters. Others use sprinklers to spray water on the plants. All these methods are expensive.
Wine is one of our top 10 exports. It brings more than $1bn into the New Zealand economy.
• vine (n) – a plant which climbs
• harvest (n) – when the grapes are picked; also a verb
• Pinot Noir is a popular red wine
• to produce (v) – make; verb has stress on second syllable; noun (= crops) has stress on first syllable
• vineyard (n) – place which grows grapes for wine. Note pronunciation: vine (long i) but vineyard (short i)
• sprinklers (n) –send out a fine spray of water