Cyclone Pam passed over the north side of the North Island on Monday. We had expected some very dangerous weather.
What had actually happened: Pam’s skirt provided Sunday night with a good dose of rain. Since the weather was not uniquely poor, my American visitor and I went back out to Waiheke. We figured we could still go taste wine. On Monday afternoon, the weather turned for the better.
The reason the Waiheke Vintage Festival is scheduled in March is because this is roughly the time of year that the grapes are picked. White wine grapes were already picked; the red grapes still need another three to four weeks.
The winery staffer I spoke to on Waiheke said island winemakers were concerned as to whether Pam could damage their red grapes, among other things (homes, etc). The Waiheke winemakers had a decision to make: Do they gamble and let the crops stay put, fingers crossed that the weather doesn’t wreck the grapes? This way, they can still have their three or four weeks more?
The island winemakers took the gamble; it worked out for Waiheke. Now, whether the red grapes in the Gisborne, Hawkes Bay region got picked or not is another story. That region was supposed to receive the brunt of Cyclone Pam, and news reports are now focusing on cleanup efforts.
Eventually, I will do a writeup of the Waiheke wineries we visited. To do it now is tone deaf. It would undermine the damage Pam did do in Vanuatu and along the east coast. New Zealand Red Cross is taking donations for its efforts here. Take this post as a “we’re OK” sort of post.