23 Sep 2015

El Nino 'bad for farmers, great for grapes'

1:30 pm on 23 September 2015

Pastoral farmers may be dreading a dry summer brought on by the intense El Nino, but winemakers are looking forward to it.

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Photo: 123rf

The 1997 El Nino, which was as intense as the current one, helped bring on a severe drought in the summer of 1997 and 1998.

Geoff Wright from Wrights Vineyard and Winery in Gisborne said 1997-98 was a fantastic year for winemakers, particularly in Gisborne.

"So if we are looking for an El Nino dry summer, what we are looking at producing is probably really good ripe grapes from our vineyard and producing some really good wine," he said.

"From a vineyard's perspective it's quite good and I guess in Hawke's Bay and the South Island it's quite dry for them and they are probably looking at a bit more irrigation.

"It's a bit of a risk for them because in Hawke's Bay at Gimblett Gravels they grow in stones and if they've got a dry summer they will need a bit more irrigation. It will still be good for them but they will have to work a bit harder, whereas in Gisborne we dry farm and don't actually need to irrigate which is a bit of an asset for us."

Please contact us if you had an experience - good or bad - with El Nino during 1997 and 1998, at ruralnews@radionz.co.nz.