These tens and hundreds of decisions by grape growers in Poverty Bay, being made now and in the past, have resulted in the distinctive mix of varieties of this region. Reid Fletcher also recognises the risks that they face if their relationships break down with the companies they supply:
I want to look at some security of market as well. And local growers say ‘you’re a good grape grower, you have no trouble dealing with companies’. But actually it’s not quite like that because if I ever fall out with Corbans, I have a hell of a lot of tonnes of grapes to put on the spot market. It’s not like a grape grower with 10 acres who can shop around. I can’t really with that tonnage.
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This caution is based on experience in the tough and vitriolic times of the wine price wars in the mid-1980s when some Auckland-based wine enterprises broke their contracts with their growers in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.
With over 30 years of experience of growing grapes behind him, Reid Fletcher also has clear ideas on where the future lies as far as Gisborne’s grape varieties are concerned:
Yeah, I definitely think that the four varieties that show the most promise in Gisborne are Chardonnay first, then I think Gewurztraminer has a big future in Gisborne; I think Semillon has a big future and I think of the red varieties Merlot may have a future.
At the same time he recognises that despite his experience they are still learning about the behaviour of different varieties under the conditions of any particular season:
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