It's the First Week of Harvest / by Kathy Dunbar

Harvest is officially in full swing!  We worked through the expected start up pains of getting the new machine and new equipment dialed in, plus some extra excitement cleaning up issues left over from the cyclone.   After having a chance to further survey the farm, we count ourselves lucky that the storm didn’t cause worse damage. 

In addition to the usual beginning of harvest fun, we’ve actually enjoyed a few new problems this year.  The conveyor belt leading to the kilns got overloaded with too much weight of hops, because the changes we’ve made to the picker allow us to pick so cleanly, gently, and quickly that our old conveyor couldn’t quite handle it.  Those are the kind of problems we love finding solutions to!  We're pleased with the new picking systems and processes we’ve implemented and are definitely enjoying the ease with which we can fill the kilns with clean cones.  We think the biggest win from these improvements is that it's created flexibility for us to pick varietals when we believe they're perfect, rather than being restricted by our capacity limitations.    

This season’s hot+dry followed by cool+wet weather continues to produce surprising results.  We’ve been harvesting for a week now and are pleased with how everything is rubbing.  It's interesting to see the significant variation between varietals and blocks as they mature, and we've been adjusting our harvest timing this season to achieve the aromas and flavours we're after.  So far we've picked all the Pacifica, and are now selectively working our way through the NZ Cascade, Motueka, and Wakatu, as we think each block is ready and hitting our flavour and aroma goals.  I'm confident that if we get our timing and processes right our amazing terroir will give us results we'll love.  This season is really confirming to us the value of systematically gathering rubbing impressions from the blocks, as we've found that frequently a varietal will appear ready to go by by all other measures, but show a trend of gradually increasing aroma intensity that indicates it's not quite there yet. 

I'm heading back to the kiln shed to keep obsessing over our harvest decisions with Richard and Sean (so much quantitative and qualitative data to consider!).  We’ve got a great crew in the field, and at the picking shed, and we're excited to keep chasing perfection.  I'm looking forward to more days of walking into the kiln shed and being greeted with a blast wave of tropical fruit aromas.  That never gets old!