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O-I NEW ZEALAND TEL: 0800 263 390, +64 9 976 7100 EMAIL: w w w. o - i . c o m

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14 R E GUL A R S

4 Editorial


Our Wines Soar in the US

Despite producing less than 1 percent of the world’s wine, New Zealand soared into third place in terms of value imported into the US during 2016. That’s a phenomenal achievement, highlighted in the recently released Gomberg Fredrikson Report.

Tessa Nicholson


From the CEO

Philip Gregan



In Brief

News stories from around the country


Pinot Noir 2017


Bob’s Blog

Bob Campbell MW


Family Vines

Jane Hunter and James Macdonald

Pinot Noir 2017 was the biggest ever event undertaken by NZWinegrowers. It took two and a half years to plan, three days to execute, and involved 115 wineries and more than 600 guests. In a special feature, this issue we take a closer look at the event itself and the symposia that surrounded it.

62 Calendar

Wine happenings in New Zealand


Research Supplement

The latest science and research projects funded by NZWinegrowers

Front cover: Staete Landt, Marlborough. Supplied by NZW


Royal Easter Wine Show

We have all the trophy results from the Royal Easter Wine Show, New Zealand’s longest running wine show.




E D I TO R Tessa Nicholson


CO R R E SP O N D E NTS Auckland: Joelle Thomson Hawkes Bay: Mary Shanahan Nelson: Neil Hodgson Central Otago: Mark Orton

A DV E R T I SI N G Sales Manager & Upper North Island: Stephen Pollard Ph: 09 913 9637 Mobile: 021 963 166 Central North Island: Ted Darley Ph: 07 854 6292 Mobile: 021 832 505 Lower North Island: Ron Mackay Ph: 04 234 6239 Mobile: 021 453 914 South Island: Kaye Sutherland Ph: 03 376 5552 Mobile: 021 221 1994

C I R C U L AT I O N & SUBSCRIPTIONS Lorraine Rudelj Ph: 09 303 3527 Fax: 09 302 2969 New Zealand Winegrowers PO Box 90 276, Auckland Mail Centre, New Zealand

PUBLISHING & P R E - P R E SS Rural News Group PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 Ph: 09 307 0399 Location: Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Publisher: Brian Hight Managing Editor: Adam Fricker Production: Dave Ferguson, Rebecca Williams

Published by Rural News Group Ltd under authority of New Zealand Winegrowers (jointly representing Wine Institute of New Zealand Inc and New Zealand Grape Growers Council Inc). Unless directly attributed, opinions expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of Rural News Group and/or its directors or management, New Zealand Winegrowers or its constituent organisations. Published every second month. One free copy is mailed to every member of the Institute, the Council, the New Zealand Society of Viticulture & Oenology and the New Zealand Vine Improvement Group, and to such other persons or organisations as directed by the owners, with provision for additional copies and other recipients to be on a subscription basis.

ISSN 1174-5223

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t the end of December 2016, New 2017 are so vitally important. With hundreds Zealand wine accounted for more of guests getting to sample our most popular than $1.6 billion of this country’s red variety, along with dozens of international export revenue. Pretty impres- media being involved in the Aromatics and sive when you consider that back Classic Red Symposia, the message is beginin 1960, we exported only $51 million worth ning to filter out. New Zealand has even more (according to NZTE stats). to offer. We are not a one trick pony, instead A lot of the recent growth has come from we are a wine producer of a varietal basket. exports into the US, which in 2015 became our From Syrah, to Riesling, Merlot to Gewurlargest market. Philip Gregan refers to the US ztraminer and of course Pinot Noir, New consumer as currently having a “love affair” Zealand can produce wines of exceptional with our wine, in particular Sauvignon Blanc. quality. Now the task is to make sure that mesAnd growth is sage gets back to continuing at a consumers. fantastic rate. With That has been NZWinegrowborne out by the ers inviting 80 key influencers, recently released Gomberg Freincluding 29 somThe value of our wines is drikson Report, meliers to Pinot which tallies all greater than Australia or Chile, Noir 2017, some wine import figof the hard work Argentina or Spain. In fact, ures for the US. has already been only Italy and France have a done. And if the Last year, New Zealand hit third higher import value than New stories appearplace in terms of ing in magazines Zealand. value, US$400m and blogs such as worth of our wine Decanter, Drinks was imported Business, Forbes, into the US. Vinography and Vintage ExperiThe value of our wines is greater than Australia or Chile, ences are anything to go by, there will be litArgentina or Spain. In fact, only Italy and tle chance that wine lovers won’t know about France have a higher import value than New New Zealand’s breadth as a wine producer. Zealand. Third in value, despite being eighth This issue we dedicate a fair amount of in volume – which in itself is nothing to be space to Pinot Noir 2017, and justifiably so. sneezed at. It was the largest event ever undertaken by Percentage wise, since the late 1990s, the NZWinegrowers, with the largest budget. It volume of New Zealand imports into the US took two and a half years to plan and three has increased by 3,600 percent. days to wow. The message it sent out to the The figures are pretty impressive and world is; we may be small, but boy can we pack while many may express surprise, the man a punch. behind the Gomberg Fredrikson Report, did As Joe Czervinski, Wine Enthusiast edinot. Jon Moramarco says the growth is predi- tor said; “I see very few poorly made wines, cated on Sauvignon Blanc, and believes if we which means that every contact consumers can sell our other varieties on the back of our have with a New Zealand wine, is likely to be a good experience.” Sauvignon, the growth will continue. We couldn’t have said it better.■ Which is why such events as Pinot Noir





en years ago, in the April 2007 edition of NZ Winegrower, my editorial was entitled Sustainability Part II: The Path Forward. The article noted that the NZW Board had been considering a review of Sustainable Winegrowing NZ and had decided to issue a draft Policy on Sustainability: ‘The draft Statement very much represents a line-in-thesand from the New Zealand Winegrowers Board. In short the Board is saying: we regard sustainability as a key strategic issue for the future success of the New Zealand wine industry. As a consequence the Board has decided to take, what it regards, as a strong leadership position on the issue, and is encouraging/ cajoling all industry participants to do the same’ Ten years on and sustainability remains a hot market place topic as any participant at Pinot Noir 2017 or any of the related events will have noted. The Board of NZW (made up of your representatives) is just as committed as ever to the importance of sustainability. So in 2017 what does the future look like for sustainability? The short answer from an NZW perspective lies in the letters CI or Continuous Improvement, as members who attended recent sustainability workshops will have found out. SWNZ CI is the new initiative that NZW will launch postvintage. In its first year SWNZ CI

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will be a pilot programme for up to 50 industry members. Once the lessons from the pilot have been incorporated into the programme, SWNZ CI will be open to participation by all members if they so choose. It is important to note that SWNZ CI is not a replacement for the existing SWNZ programme. Rather SWNZ CI is an entirely voluntary add-on for those who are doing more or want to do more in terms of sustainability, and who

So that is the core of SWNZ CI – we have set some goals, but it is up to individual members how fast they go in their own business in pursuit of those goals. To participate in SWNZ CI there are some ground rules of course. You must currently be a member of SWNZ and hold a current SWNZ status letter. You can participate in as many or as few Pillars as you like, but within each Pillar you must address all the identified relevant pathways (eg for Waste that would be marc, waste water etc) and of course you must pay the requisite fees (the level of which is still being worked out). SWNZ CI is a programme that has been NZW is really excited about the opportunity that developed over the past 18 months or so. It SWNZ CI offers to members follows feedback from workshops in which and the industry as a whole. many members made it clear they wanted to For us it is a new line in the sand, it is the future. step up in sustainability in their businesses. Of course if you are not interested in participating want to have their sustainability 10% or 20% or whatever amount in SWNZ CI that is fine … the progress verified and recognised. per year – the details in the plan programme is entirely voluntary, SWNZ CI is a programme that are up to you to set, not SWNZ. To so it is up to you whether you parhas been developed over the past assist members with plans, SWNZ ticipate or not. 18 months or so. It follows feed- has developed guidelines which However, just so you know back from workshops in which reflect best practice pathways what you will be missing out on, many members made it clear they towards these goals. However, over the coming months as the wanted to step up in sustainability these are just what they say they Pillars are progressively released in their businesses. are … they are guidelines, nothing they will be sent to all members so So what are the core elements more nor less, and it is up to you as you are aware of the details of the of the new SWNZ CI programme? a member to decide the plan you programme. Pillars: SWNZ CI is structured will put in place. So remember the new acroaround 9 focus areas (Pillars) Finally Verification: With a nym: SWNZ CI. which will be broadly familiar plan in place SWNZ CI will then SWNZ CI is the future for susto existing SWNZ members eg, conduct audits to Verify that the tainability in the NZ wine industry. waste, water, air etc. members are actually implement- If you are interested in particiAspirational Goals: For each ing the steps laid out in their own pating, give myself or Justine at of those pillars SWNZ CI will set plan. SWNZ a call.■


Aspirational Goals, which (as the name implies) are the goals we think the industry should aspire to. For example, for the Waste Pillar the goal may be Zero waste or for Energy, 100% use of renewable energy sources. Member Plans: For members, it will then be up to you to set in place a Plan that will reflect your needs, your goals and your priorities within the Pillar framework. For example in the Waste pillar, you may plan to lower waste by


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INTERNATIONAL Family of Twelve Scholarship A former Canadian, now a Tastings Executive at Decanter Magazine, Christine Marsiglio has won a scholarship offered by the Family of Twelve. The scholarship which is open to all students on the Master of Wine Study Programme,

provides a unique opportunity for the winner to experience the personalities and values of the 12 wineries of Family of Twelve. Chair Judy Finn says the students applying had to submit an essay titled; Is it time for real world

fine wine, not just the old world and new world wine? Finn says the scholarship committee felt Christine’s essay was the clean winner and commented on both the clarity of her argument and also of her commitment to the wine industry and her

own personal development. Christine was in New Zealand in early March.

Bayer Young Viticulturists On Tour

Ata Rangi’s Clive Paton with Young Vits, Caleb Dennis and Cameron Price.

The past two year’s winners of the Bayer Young Viticulturists of the Year were on tour during the end of February. As part of the win, the young vits get to spend a week meeting with industry leaders, pioneers, CEO’s and NZW Board members. Caleb Dennis (winner in 2015) and Cameron Price (winner 2016) also got to meet Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra conductor, Giordana Bellincampi, whilst visiting Auckland. In total the pair travelled from Hawke’s Bay to Martinborough, to Wellington, Nelson, Auckland and Central Otago.

Training Assessment for Cellar Door Staff ServiceIQ has introduced a new unit standard dedicated to cellar door expertise as part of its NZ Certificate in Tourism (Visitor Experience) Level 3. The qualification can be completed on the job by staff taking care of customers at any vineyard cellar door in the country. ServiceIQ CEO Dean Minchington says the NZQA recognised assessment is an exciting addition to the tourism qualification. “This acknowledges the significant contribution made by those people providing outstanding customer service at many of our vineyard cellar doors,” he says. For more information email

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HAWKE’S BAY Dam Plans Stalled

New Bubbles For Art Deco

Hawke’s Bay’s Ruataniwha dam project has stalled following last year’s election of a new group of councillors who are questioning the desirability of the $33 million scheme. The newly-elected Hawke’s Bay Regional Council placed a moratorium on further activity relating to the dam and voted for an independent review of the scheme. A final decision on the dam’s future is expected early this year. The scheme would create a 92 million cubic metre reservoir in the upper Makaroro River west of Waipawa in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Sileni Estates added extra sparkle to this year’s Art Deco Festival with the launch of a limited edition bubbly wine. The Hawke’s Bay winery has partnered up with Napier’s Art Deco Trust for the last two years to promote the hugely popular weekend of events. Designed by award-winning London company BD Creative, the bottle labelling for Art Deco Sparkling incorporates the era’s characteristically geometric motifs.

MARLBOROUGH Wither Hills’ opens new restaurant Timing was everything when it came to 9th of December last year – the first day that the new Wither Hills winery restaurant doors finally opened. The original intention was to

open the newly kitted out, sun drenched courtyard and indoor restaurant in November, but it wasn’t exactly an ideal world in Marlborough last November. An earthquake followed by

a series of complications all caused delays to the lunch time restaurant opening. The new facility is now open as an informal outdoor space as well as a redesigned, intimate indoor space.

The cellar door has a range of Cellar Release wines which are only available on site, either for tastings or to drink at the new restaurant, which is in the same space as the tasting area.

CENTRAL OTAGO Inaugural Competenz Central Otago Young Cellarhand of the Year Simon Gourley from the Central Otago Wine Company is the winner of the first ever Competenz Central Otago Young Cellarhand of the Year. The competition was established to create an opportunity for young cellar hands to further develop and enhance their skills. Different to the Young Winemaker and Young Viticulturist of the Year, the competition tested competitors in eight separate sectors, including forklift driving, assembling a pump,

first aid, wine tasting, budgeting, fault finding, lab work and a quiz. Gourley who is a former Central Otago Bayer Young Viticulturist of the year winner in 2013, has been working in Australia until last year. While he is relatively new to the winemaking side of the industry, he proved during the competition to be an all-rounder. In second place was Abby Gallagher from Mt Difficulty wines and third was Jade McCormick from Amisfield.

Winner Simon Gourley with Glenys Coughlan, Central Otago Winegrower’s Association and Kirk Spinks, Competenz.



Our wines are soaring in the US Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


he value and volume of New Zealand wines exported to the US have grown exponentially in the past 12 months, and we are now surpassed only by wine producing giants, Italy and France. That is the finding of the Gomberg Fredrikson Report released in February. Referred to as “the definitive bible” on wine imports into America, the report looks at month by month and year by year figures, and has been providing information since 1948. The figures are based on data supplied by the US Department of Commerce along with Customs, covering all wine shipped into America. In 2016 the total value of New Zealand wines exported to the US reached US$400m. Italy exported US$1,860m worth of wine, while France exported US$1,589m. Compare our US$400m worth of exports with other wine producing giants such as Australia (US$393m), Chile (US$286m) and Argentina (US$328m). For a country that produces less than one percent of the world’s wine, to be the third ranking in terms of value in one of the world’s largest markets, may surprise many around the world. However owner of The Gomberg Fredrikson Report, Jon Moramarco, isn’t one of them. “New Zealand (wine) and especially Sauvignon Blanc is very popular here in the US and it continues to grow at a rate much faster than the total market,” he

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says. “The growth doesn’t surprise me, just because of the quality and value of what New Zealand has to offer. But what does surprise me, is when you think about the volume of wines shipped in from a country like Chile or Australia, the value shipped from New Zealand, plus volumes are actually much more valuable than the countries you would think would be much bigger.”

Pinot Noir and other varietals, but Sauvignon Blanc is the vast majority of imports of New Zealand wine. But likewise people are beginning, especially with Pinot Noir, to understand the quality of what is available and the value.” In percentage terms the value of our wine into the US market has increased by 11 percent in the past 12 months, as shown below.

wine producer has managed such a steady incline, with many dipping or plateauing in the same time frame. (See Figure 1). Since exports to the US began to take off in the late 1990s, New Zealand’s volume has increased by 3,600 percent. Moramarco believes if the New Zealand industry continues to look at expanding distribution, then continued growth will occur.





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What is even more interesting is that while the US market has grown in terms of imported wine, the vast amount of that growth has been based on sparkling wine, (from Italy and France) Vermouth and Sangria. That New Zealand is exporting mainly still

As for growth in terms of volume, once again New Zealand is going from strength to strength. With a total of 7,333m 12 bottle cases exported to the US in 2016, we rank eighth for wine producing countries selling into that market, as shown below.

“I think New Zealand has fairly consistent distribution across states, but I actually believe there are still opportunities to expand distribution. There are a few brands that are maybe getting close to saturation in all accounts that are viable. But most brands





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wines, and continuing to grow in value and volume, is going against the current trend. Moramarco says the growth is predicated on Sauvignon Blanc. “You are seeing an increase in


The trajectory of wine exports to the US, has been on a steady incline since 2000 and in 2015, it became New Zealand’s largest market, surpassing for the first time, the UK. No other major

are not. So it will be a case of continuing to expand that distribution account by account, whether you are in a large state like California, Texas or New York, because there are still accounts that don’t have

enough penetration of New Zealand wines.” And whatever wine producers do, they should not be looking at dropping prices to increase volume. “I have not seen a lot of brands that get a significant benefit from a price drop,” Moramarco says. “I am bias against dropping prices to get more volume. I believe maintaining price is a better position to be in.” Instead he believes value can be raised by introducing new products. “It is actually very difficult to raise prices on an existing item. Most people or countries that are successful, introduce new items or are always looking for opportunities to place them slightly higher than the existing market.” This is where he feels New Zealand could benefit, by introducing a wider range of varietals, that on the back of Sauvignon Blanc can take this country’s value even

Figures 1 . Notice the trajectory of New Zealand wine exports to the US, versus other countries. The steady upwards trajectory since 2000, is unique.

higher than it currently is. For NZWinegorwer’s CEO Philip Gregan, the writing has been on the wall that the US market share would increase, but even he has been stunned by the

figures provided by The Gomberg Fredrikson Report. “If you had asked me 10 years ago whether we would be the third most valuable importer into the US, I would have said; no way that

is not possible. But increasingly, the numbers have had us pointing in that direction. It is a stunning achievement. It has probably happened sooner than we expected.” In terms of further growth, he


agrees with Moramarco that other varietals will play a role – although Sauvignon Blanc is obviously leading the pack. “I believe there is a significant amount of growth still available to us. That is what a lot of the investments in the industry, in Marlborough in particular at the moment, are predicated on – growth in the North American and particularly the US market. So I would presume given those investments being made, the wine companies have a similar view.� He describes the growth as an indication of “the love affair in the US market with New Zealand wine.� But the latest figures also show that there is a lot of work to be undertaken to ensure the market realises we have a number of other varieties that are equally as high in quality. Wine Enthusiast Editor Joe Czervinski says the quality of New Zealand wine is a major selling point.

“I think the biggest things are the high technical quality of the wines and the bold fresh-fruit flavours so many of them have. I see very few poorly made wines, which

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litre was among the world’s highest. “But to see how much that’s impacted the overall value of wine inported into the US is very impressive.� ■






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Big, bold and a huge success Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


inot Noir 2017 was touted as the largest event ever undertaken b y Ne w Z e a l a n d Winegro we rs. An extra $450,000 was provided by the governing body, to bring key influencers to the event, and the symposia and Sommits that preceded and followed it. NZW hosted 84 international media, including 24 sommeliers, while another 73 international guests were hosted by wineries and their regions. On top of that there were 30 guest speakers, ranging from the world’s best known wine writer, Jancis Robinson MW through to a number of our own superstars, including Sam Neill, Emma Jenkins MW, Helen Masters, Jane Skilton MW and

Larry McKenna. Of the 600 people attending Pinot, 250 of them came from overseas. And if you think they were all writers, sommeliers or critics, think again. On one day, I was sitting next to an Australian who having read about previous Pinot Noir events, had shouted himself to this one as a retirement gift. On the other side of me I had two Americans who had saved for the previous three years to come to Pinot. In front was a Japanese couple who had fallen in love with New Zealand Pinot Noir and wanted to experience the full gambit all in one go. All were consumers, none were wine professionals. It was an extremely full on week for the international guests,

What could be better? A tee pee tent set on the edge of the ocean, and more than 50 aromatic wines to taste.

with many arriving well in advance of Pinot Noir 2017, to experience the many facets of New Zealand wine. Sommeliers and other guests took part in the Waipara Forage, before heading north. A number stayed in Marlborough for a few days, as part of a “reintroduction” to the country’s largest wine region. Then it was over to Nelson where 55 invited guests from 12 countries were treated to stunning weather and a vast array of aromatic wines from throughout the country. Under a tee pee tent at Mapua Beach, they were able to taste their way through 54 wines, ranging from

Food was an important facet of Pinot Noir 2017, under the direction of Ruth Pretty, and individual chefs, such as Josh Emett.

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Chenin Blanc to Albarino, Riesling to Gewurztraminer. Oysters and bubbles preceded the opening night dinner. It was the Master Class the following day that gave guests the chance to try an array of different styles within the aromatic varietal range, with our own experts leading the way in discussions. Leaving the Nelson sunshine, many of the northern hemisphere guests were sporting a noticeable change in colour. Sunburnt feet, faces and arms were a common sight among the individuals who had travelled from winter to the peak of our summer. There were high hopes the sunshine would continue in Wellington. Alas that wasn’t to be. But it did little to deter the enthusiasm of those attending the three-day event. From the opening moments, it was obvious this was a very New Zealand event. With Embrace, Explore, Evolve as the mantras, guests were taken on a journey that showed who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. The best word to describe the mood of the event, is confidence. Confidence in what wine producers have achieved in the 16 years since the inaugural Pinot Noir event was held in 2001. Confidence in the ability to let the wines tell the story, without having to compare to other Pinot producing countries. The confidence to provide a very New Zealand word, Turangawaewae, to explain our place. And the confidence to dedicate half of

every day to tastings rather than seminars. Given how well New Zealand wines can be matched to food, the culinary programme was an equally important facet of Pinot Noir 2017. Ruth Pretty was once again the culinary director, and brought on board some of our country’s top chefs to direct the daily menus. Al Brown, Graham Brown and Josh Emett ensured all the guests went away with their palates fully sated by local produce matched perfectly to local wines. How do you top off a threeday event like that? Well you take them on an Air New Zealand Wine Flight, over some of the major wine regions, while offering them tasty nibbles and regional wines. The flight that left Wellington in near perfect conditions flew to Nelson, dipping down to 5000 feet, to allow the guests to get a bird’s eye view of Neudorf Vineyard, while they were sipping on a Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay. Then to Marlborough, where with a Cloudy Bay Te Koko in hand, the guests looked down on the one of the company’s vineyards. From Marlborough to the Wairarapa, and this time it was with a glass of Te Kairanga Chardonnay that

The Air New Zealand Wine Flight covered four wine regions in two hours, allowing guests to get a birds eye view of New Zealand’s diversity.

the guests drank while viewing the diversity of landscape of this region. This is wine tasting in three d at its best. Sipping, viewing and listening to Captain Bob Campbell MW explain each of the regions below and the wines in hand. After the two-hour flight, guests disembarked at Napier Airport, to be greeted by examples of the city’s art deco heritage. Dancers, cars and greeters dressed in 1930s costumes, highlighted the fact that it was the 86th anniversary of the devastating Hawke’s Bay earthquake in 1931. A classic greeting, which preceded the Classic Reds symposium. Dinner at Craggy

Range, with a musical concert from members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, set the guests up for an in-depth tasting of Syrahs, Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons the next day. The weather certainly came to the party, providing near perfect conditions for the Master Class, luncheon and dinners. But it was the wines that the guests were most stunned by. With New Zealand renowned for Sauvignon Blanc, and more recently Pinot Noir, many of the invited were impressed with the range of styles of reds on offer. So after eight days of wining and dining, the guests were

reluctantly packing bags and considering heading home. Their thoughts and memories will be filtering through to consumers the world over during the months ahead. To NZW and the organising committees of Pinot Noir, Aromatics and Classic Reds, congratulations, you did the New Zealand wine industry proud. The events were seamless, the organisation superb, the wines on show outstanding. The resulting feedback in terms of promoting this country’s wine industry, is going to be priceless.■

Guests were treated to a recital by members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, prior to dinner at Craggy Range.



Day one - Embrace Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


or far too many years, New Zealand Pinot Noir producers have spent time comparing their wines to those of Burgundy. But not this year. For the first time the Pinot Noir event refused to compare. Instead it embraced our people, and our wines. The over powering message from day one, was the New Zealand wine industry can be summed up in one word - Turangawaewae. Turangawaewae, literally means a standing place for our feet, according to the Pinot Noir 2017’s opening presenter, Dame Anne Salmond. The Distinguished Professor and former New Zealander of the Year, gave an impassioned explanation of our country, its people and the current wine industry. And she also explained why the word Turangawaewae makes sense for New Zealand Pinot producers. “On a marae a person will identify themselves by naming their ancestral mountain and river. I think that something very like this existential interlock between people and land is emerging in the

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wine industry in New Zealand.” Dame Anne, who comes from a family of winemakers and grape growers, said she knows the passion and pride that goes into producing superb grape vines and the ensuing wines from regions throughout New Zealand. While New Zealand may be viewed as new to this world, Dame Anne explained how grapes originally arrived here in the 1820’s. “Wine was much loved by many early settlers,” she said, “including the missionaries, and the first vines were planted by Samuel Marsden. In 1820 he planted 100 vines at Kerikeri, hoping to establish a wine industry in New Zealand. The plants did not flourish, however, and during a later visit, Marsden was told that the last vine had been eaten, by a goat.” As was quickly noted by the delegates, the first foray into wine in this country was not auspicious – but boy have we made up for it since then. The theme of Turangawaewae was continued, with Larry McKenna adding a winemaker’s perspective to the word.


“Turangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation and our place in the world - our home. I would like to suggest the idea that it is very easy to commit to your Turangawaewae if you are born in that place. But the mission is far greater and stronger, in my opinion, if you have left your country of birth and committed a lifetime to growing wine here in New Zealand,” the Australian born winemaker, often referred to as New Zealand’s Prince of Pinot, said. Which was a point picked up on, on the very last day of Pinot Noir 2017, when two “imports” spoke of how they had come to find their place away from home, here in New Zealand. Two women, Claudia Weersing from Pyramid Valley and Anna Flowerday of Te Whare Ra Wines both spoke of the gratitude of being able to put their roots down in New Zealand. Flowerday whose family have been involved in the Australian wine industry for five generations, found that place in Marlborough, with husband Jason, in 2003.

“To me that search for the place is very closely linked to the search for authenticity, something I hold dear,” she said. “Our search for a place to put down roots was also very much a journey to find a home and about creating a legacy for the next generation of our family. We have embraced the idea of being kaitiaki (or guardians) of this land and looking after it for the next generation, and that drives everything we do to our property.” For New Zealanders, the use of the word Turangawaewae as a broad concept was easily accepted. But for the large contingent of approximately 250 overseas visitors, it added a new appreciation of the very unique differences within this country and how well the industry has embraced those differences. Swedish Master of Wine Madeleine Strenwreth described the decision to use the theme as “incredibly wise.” “It set the scene and calmed us down a bit. You spread the soul and the heart and the passion for the country. We could have dove straight into the wine, but we didn’t. It brought us down to

open our eyes, to see the wines with a different perspective.” Yoshiji Sato a wine writer and international judge based in Tokyo described the use of Turangawaewae as an indication of the confidence New Zealand Pinot producers now have in their own “place”. He said that in earlier Pinot Noir events producers were looking towards other countries for lessons on how to produce better wine. ‘But that is a rapidly changing concept. Now they try to look inside, look at what they are. They are finding their own identity. That is the confidence they now feel.” However, while he liked the idea of Turangawaewae, he warned that it is probably not the best marketing tool, for export markets. “I hope you guys use that word for your own identity, because it is a great idea. If you pursue that concept to make your own wine, it is quite unique. But not for marketing.” ■

The opening day ensemble, who told the story of Turangawaewae to the 600 plus attendees.

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Day two – Explore greatness Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


reat, according to my dictionary, means; “much higher than average in amount, extent or intensity”, or “much higher than average in ability, quality or importance.” Take whichever meaning you prefer and then relate it to wine. On day two, that was the task at one of the sessions. How do we define greatness or quality in wine? Is there a universal ideal – is it possible? Well if anything was going to get the delegates talking, this was it. With a panel of (excuse the pun) great wine writers and makers, it quickly became obvious that greatness is very much a personal opinion. Marcel Giesen from Giesen Wines and Bell Hill Vineyard, said a great wine “demands my attention. It raises my awareness

through its balance, power, intensity, persistence, purity. It flows and it engages me. It draws me in, complex, compelling, authentic.” In Australian wine writer Mike Bennie’s case, “what defines quality to me is more about emotional impact. Drinkability and understanding of interpretation of the winemaker’s intent. How wine gets to bottle is paramount. Quality in essence is a seesaw between usefulness and paradigm beauty.” Japanese Master of Wine Kenichi Ohashi described great Pinot Noir as being, “transparent, with the best qualities of premium water.” And finally Jancis Robinson MW said a great wine had “charm, refreshment, intrigue, balance, aging potential, development in the glass, terroir expression, persistence and memorability.” See what I mean? There are a fair few differing opinions on what

Mike Bennie.

18   // 


Jancis Robinson MW.

makes a wine great. But there are also a few consistent definitions. Terroir, balance, persistence were words that were repeated by more than one panelist. In an effort to show how different each person’s perspective is when defining great –the four panelists were asked to nominate two wines that they felt supported their argument. The only criteria was, none could be from New Zealand, and there was a price limitation. (The wines and who chose them are listed to the right). As delegates tasted their way through the wines, and the panelists explained why they had chosen them, discussions began on what criteria needs to be con-

sidered when defining greatness. Jancis suggested that for a lot of people, “greatness equals greatness of price”. Mike Bennie was quick to agree, stating that for “the pubic one of the greatest motivating factors is a red circle with a line through it with the original price and the new price below. I think that is a driving factor, followed by a pretty label.” A question from the floor wondered if the age of vines was a defining characteristic, which Marcel Giesen replied to. “It’s hard to generalize, but in New Zealand we see a change after 10 to 15 years, and vineyards that are 20 to 25 years are getting

into a much more comfortable space. Those older vines produce wines that have less of a focus on variety and more on the structure of place coming through.” Ageability is a factor that some in the audience believed was important when defining greatness. Which given how young New Zealand Pinots tend to be drunk, could mean we have yet to produce “great” wines. Not so according to Jancis. “New Zealand’s trump card is that it does make Pinots that are so charming in youth. So much more charming in youth than red Burgundies of the same age. I can see why people don’t sit on their New Zealand Pinot Noir, because they are pretty delicious when they are young.” Jane Skilton MW warned that people need to be careful when using ageability as a

greatness factor. “If longevity is the hall mark of a great wine, then you would never have a truly great Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough would you. It doesn’t exist by those paradigms, so perhaps that is not a fair assessment?” It quickly became obvious that to some of the people in the room, a great wine is defined by the circumstances it is drunk in. As one delegate said, there are four P’s that are required for a wine to be great. “A great wine is partly the P of product. It is also the P of place and also the P of people. And for some people, it is the P of price. It is all those P’s that add to the experience of the greatness of wine.” Blair Walter commented that wine is judged on its first taste, whether it is a critic, judge or consumer drinking it. “My preferred method

POINT SYSTEM DOESN’T DEFINE GREATNESS The question of whether a great wine is characterised by a perfect 100 point score was raised during the Pinot Noir 2017 celebrations. For one acclaimed writer, the notion of such an idea is an anathema. Dan Berger, producer of the US Vintage Experiences has long held a radical viewpoint, that placing numbers on wine, homogenises “how we all were expected to view quality, with regionality and varietal distinctiveness not rated to be anywhere as important as the reviewer’s perception of intensity requirements.” In a recent Vintage Experiences, written after he visited New Zealand for Pinot Noir 2017, Berger went on to describe a wine he tasted here, as beyond any score possible. “I tasted a sensational bottle of Syrah (2013 Schubert Syrah from Martinborough) that was so far and away fascinating (not to mention tasty) that I couldn’t

imagine putting a score on it, because it was so regionally correct, varietally precise for the region from which it came, and unique in several regards. “ He went on say; “Not once did anyone suggest so mundane a concept as what sort of score this wine should command. Quite simply, it was sensational.” So in his own words – a great wine is not one that scores the perfect or close to it score. “A great wine should be its own reward and its greatness theoretically comes from several disconnected elements, only one of which is related to its concentration. To try and separate one wine from another by even a single point in a 100point linear scale is to replace emotion with faux science and that means compromising the entire process of wine appreciation.”

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however, (on deciding which wine is great) is which bottle on the table gets finished first.” However the best quote of the day came from a tweet: Quality is in the bottle, but greatness is in the mind of the drinker. A perfect definition. ■

20   // 

The eight wines chosen by the panel Jancis Robinson MW: Mark Haisma, Morey SaintDenis, Burgundy. Premien Cru Les Chaffots 2013 Tolpuddle, Coal River Valley Tasmania - Pinot Noir 2015


Ken Ohashi MW Dr Mayer, Yarra Valley – Pinot Noir 2014 Meyer-Nãkel, Ahr, Germany. G Spatburgunder Qba, Troken 2014 Mike Bennie Mythopia, Arbaz – Switzerland. Illusion Pinot Noir 2013 Mount Pleasant, Hunter Valley.

Mother Vine Pinot Noir 2014 Marcel Giesen Au Bon Climat, Santa Rita Hills – California. Larmes de Grappe Pinot Noir 2005 Domaine de la Côte, Santa Rita Hills, California. Bloom’s Field Pinot Noir 2014

Day three – evolution Te s s a N i c h o l s o n

sight of who you are. “That is a confident explorer.” As for evolution, Jenkins said this is the “quiet confidence to just be still and see what is happening around you. It is listening to and often being one of the people who pushes through the boundaries, but not getting caught up in fashion. “I think the wine industry is

As chair of the third day’s session, Emma Jenkins MW explained, evolution cannot happen unless you have already embraced and explored. Embracing is having the confidence in “your sense of place”, she said, which then allows you to move on to explore. Beginning to explore means you need to be open to new experiences, without losing

Blair Walter – Felton Road

they know will never produce a great wine, so it is consigned to a different label. Back in the early days, most of us only ever had one label of Pinot. Whereas now, most of us have several different Pinots. “So that notion of comfort is something you can really only get with experience and making wines from the same sites. For me it is very exciting as a producer to be in my 21st year as a winemaker.”

“There is an inherent comfortableness in the wines now, where people are understanding their sites and delivering the wines to a particular package that has a lot more honesty and accuracy about it. “If I think back to my earlier years, we were trying to find where quality was and pushing and trying to think that this might be great. Nowadays, there are people with vineyards

Anna Flowerday – Te Whare Ra Wines “Initially in the first few years, we tried to do way too much and focused too much on winemaking interventions. The wines we made were too big, too ripe and with too much oak. “We thought that made them impressive, but really, they lacked any soul and any sense of where they came from. “We thought bigness equaled greatness, but we made these big, clumsy,

Marcel Giesen “It is very important to understand Burgundy for new world winemakers. You have to know how that place runs, how it works, its history and where it has come from.

quite prone to the Emperor’s New Clothes scenario. We have to be careful to guard against that and make sure we don’t end up becoming as rigid as some of the people we are trying to rebel against.” A number of individuals attending the event, had their own idea of New Zealand Pinot Noir’s evolution. As can be seen by the comments below.

show pony Pinots that said nothing about Marlborough, or our place. “So we tried to embrace the growing and began to learn that was where the intervention was required. We have also tried to notice what the vineyard is trying to give us and embrace that. “In the early years, we tried to make layers and complexity happen in the fruit from young vines and it felt very forced. But over time, we learned to back off on the winemaking interventions and to make wines that had more purity.”

“In a way it is a bit like here in New Zealand where we have some wonderful artists who put paint on canvas. But in the 50’s and 60’s, they all went through the Canterbury Ilam Art School. They were taught by someone how

to draw, how to do pencil drawings and how to do wood cuts and prints. They had to learn the craft of actually painting. “How they evolved after that, was everyone’s own journey. “I think as a community of

winemakers, we have all gone through art school and now we have to show our own expressive idea of what we can do with the canvas, which is our land and the grapes that are grown there.”


Our evolution through international eyes

Jancis Robinson MW – UK “If this (Pinot Noir 2017) was taking place last century, I think we would have mentioned the B word far more times. But there has been a sea change and many of you in this room have played a part in that. Over the last 15 years, pos-

Madeleine Strenwreth MW – Sweden “I was last here three years ago for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and there has been huge strides forward in those three years.

Roger Jones –Michelin Star Chef, and owner of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn - UK “I always knew how good New Zealand Pinot Noir is. It produces

22   // 

sibly even more, many of us were brought up to believe that Pinot could not be a great wine outside of Burgundy. That is now not the case. “I decided to look at our data base of tasting notes on and see how many Pinot Noirs in there

have scored more than 18 out of 20 points. “There were 0.1 percent of tasting notes on Pinot Noir that scored over 18 points. That comes down to 140 wines. They are mostly from four places. “In fourth place with 18 was Oregon.

“In third place with 37, was Australia. “Second with 38 was California, pretty much all of them on the cool Pacific Coast. “Now in first place with 46 wines scoring over 18 points – was New Zealand.” Impressive

“In styles, confidence and the way you show respect to Pinot Noir. I see much less make up in the wines and they are much more true to their place, true to their personality

and showing that they are proud and confident, without being arrogant in any way. You now don’t need to mention the B word. You are much more confident, in (believing) that

the place you have, can give you these wines. I don’t think three years ago that was obvious for you. I can see it in the wine styles – they are much more confident as well.”

clean, precise, pure amazing wines. “It is very similar to food these days, which is clean and precise. No cream, no butter, just absolutely fresh. That is what I see in New Zealand wine. Purity, preci-

sion, cleanliness. “In the past (New Zealand winemakers) were trying to make a dirty old Burgundy. If you look at Burgundy now, there are some new kids on the block and their

wines are much cleaner, fresher. But the old guys are still doing the old things. Unless they change, they will suffer. Clearly New Zealand has got that market of modern, fresh Pinot Noir.” ■

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Taking Pinot on the road Joelle Thomson


ou hear the words ‘road trip’ and think Thelma and Louise, but a little more planning was required for the 600 people who took three trips around New Zealand’s six Pinot Noir regions earlier this year. The road trips were part of Pinot Noir NZ 2017, and were metaphorical rather than real. But still. That’s a lot of wine and it is, literally, impossible to look at, taste and form an indepth impression on each and every one. A wine writer commented that another approach to the regional tastings had to be found – and fast. This is easier said than done. A sit down tasting might be more contained. This could feature one wine from each producer, but many might wonder why we couldn’t taste more wines and have the invaluable opportunity of talking with winemakers, owners, marketers and those intimately involved with growing grapes and making wine. And since so much time is spent sitting at wine conferences, do we really need any more long sit-down affairs? It’s easy to see – and taste – why the road trips have evolved into rooms of people who have long since tired of sitting and are now focused on tasting, talking and sharing the Turangawaewae of their wines. Each of the three road trips had its highlights. Here are my stand outs.

Road trip 1: Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and North Canterbury This was the most diverse road trips, spanning the widest geographic area and biggest range of climates, soils and elevations.

24   // 

Auckland is home to the smallest amount of Pinot Noir produced anywhere in New Zealand but it is significant due to the quality focus of Kumeu River Wines – a consistent high hitter with Chardonnays and now making pretty, floral, red fruited Pinot Noirs.

Bay’s best: Sileni Pinot Noirs Hawke’s Bay’s Pinot Noir has been eclipsed by its big reds and Chardonnays, but the Bay frequently produces more Pinot Noir than the entire North Canterbury region. And it’s mostly from one producer– Sileni Estates. This medium sized, family owned winery owns significant inland vineyards that benefit from cool coastal breezes, inland vineyards and a slight elevation. At last count, Sileni Estates makes five different Pinot Noirs, not all made every year. The top wine is Sileni EV (Exceptional Vintage) Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir –20% new French oak allows the red fruit, refreshing high acidity and softness to shine. This bodes well for the Bay’s red future. Lime Rock Pinot Noir from Central Hawke’s Bay never fails to impress from a small limestone vineyard.

North Canterbury North Canterbury had the most diverse range of wines in this room, unsurprisingly, given its vineyards span the gamut of cool maritime Waipara to cool inland Waikari. Soils vary massively from loam to limestone, with other variations. Like the Wairarapa, North Canterbury’s vineyard’s are beaten up regularly by wind, which can intensify savoury flavours and firm tannins. Pegasus Bay and Pyramid Valley impressed me the


most. The library release of 2009 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Pinot Noir was one of my top three wines of the entire Pinot Noir NZ 2017 event. Other top drops included: 2013 Bell Hill, 2015 Black Estate Home Block, 2015 Pyramid Valley Angel Flower and 2015 Greystone Pinot Noir.

Wellington Wine Country Savoury, dark and intense. These words apply to Pinot Noir from this region, thanks to high quality wines from Martinborough, Gladstone and northern Wairarapa. Favourites for me were: 2015 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, 2015 Big Sky Pinot Noir, 2015 Craggy Range Te Muna, 2015 The Escarpment Kupe, 2014 Julicher, 2015 Te Kairanga Runholder and 2014 Urlar Select Parcels - yet to be released, this is the first wine from Carol Bunn. She is the new winemaker at Urlar Estate, and making choices to ensure this is a winery to watch. And let’s hear it for Wellington Wine Country. The name makes geographic and logical sense. Wai words abound and cause confusion internationally. Wellington Wine Country offers great potential for tourism. Enough said.

Road trip 2: Nelson and Marlborough The two regions of Nelson and Marlborough are perennially overshadowed by their southern neighbours and Marlborough is the most underrated over performer for Pinot Noir. Highlights are too numerous to name and star players are consistently raising their quality. The most outstanding, juicy, deliciously savoury Pinot Noir from Nelson is the 2015 Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir. History showed earlier this year (in an old bottle of 2006 Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir) that it has stellar aging potential. Marlborough’s star performers are a long list, but the biggest wine company in the country ranks high for me right now. Brancott Estate winemakers Patrick Materman and Jamie Marfell are growing quality from $16 to new Pinot Noir peaks around $100 – yet to be released. I am a big fan of the red fruited Stoneleigh Pinot Noir, particularly the Rapaura Series, which reveals more depth of flavour and a savoury twist. Look for the company’s new Brancott labels later this year. Other top wines for me: 2015

Astrolabe Province Marlborough Pinot Noir, 2015 Churton Pinot Noir, 2015 Corofin Settle Vineyard East Slope Marlborough Pinot Noir (exceptional), 2015 Dog Point Pinot Noir, 2015 Greywacke Pinot Noir, 2015 Jules Taylor Marlborough Pinot Noir, 2014 Nautilus Pinot Noir, 2014 Spy Valley Pinot Noir, 2013 Te Whare Ra Single Vineyard 5182 Pinot Noir, 2013 Terravin Pinot Noir, 2014 Villa Maria The Attorney Pinot Noir and 2016 Zephyr Pinot Noir (Not yet released).

Road trip 3: Waitaki Valley and Central Otago Central Otago shines for its cohesive polish and top producers, the peaks being Folding Hill, Mount Edward, Domain Road, Domaine Thomson and Felton Road. This region’s presentation has it in spades over all others. Perhaps it’s the relative

Nick Mills from Rippon, introduces the guests to Central Otago.

isolation of the world’s southernmost wine region, perhaps it’s the people, perhaps it’s the strong sense of Turangawaewae in Otago, but this region walks all over the others with its strong identity. My absolute top list is: 2013 Bald Hills Single Vineyard

Pinot Noir, 2010 Brennan Wines Pinot Noir, 2014 Brennan Gibbston Pinot Noir, 2013 Domain Road Central Otago Pinot Noir, 2014 Domaine Thomson Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir Rows 1-37, 2015 Felton Road Calvert Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2015 Folding Hill Orchard Block Pinot Noir, 2015

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Empowering consumers Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


hen Master of Wine Bob Campbell urged New Zealand Riesling producers to utilise a taste profile on their labels at the recent Aromatics symposium, there was one person in the room who broke into a wide smile. It was Dan Berger, a 40-year veteran American wine columnist, who was a guest at the Symposium courtesy of NZWinegrowers. He had good reason to smile, given he was the one who came up with the International Riesling Foundation (IRF) taste profile. The idea came about during a Riesling conference held in Washington State nearly a decade

ago, he said. “One of the ideas that came out of that conference, was if we had a sweetness scale, consumers would be more comfortable about buying a bottle of Riesling, because they would not be worrying if it was sweet or dry.” Given the wide range of taste profiles the variety can produce, Berger says consumers can become confused about what they are buying. Which in turn can be detrimental to sales. “Each winery makes their wine slightly different. Some wineries make Riesling as a dessert wine. Some make it almost as a Chardonnay look alike. Then there are styles in between. So we decided to ask someone to create a scale

Dan Berger, the man behind the IRF’s Taste Profile.

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that would explain where in the parameters a wine sits.” The task fell on Berger himself, who immediately began seeking help from winemakers in the US and around the world. The first question he required an answer for was just what criteria needed to be considered in any guideline. Number one was eventually agreed on – acidity. “But number two, very close behind it was pH.” However once Berger began writing the technical guidelines, it became apparent that there were other factors that needed to be considered as well. Alcohol levels were one, while another was the use of oak barrels. Eventually after careful consideration, both

were dismissed as not being as relevant on the dry to sweet scale as sugar, pH and total acidity. The Riesling Taste Profile was created. The next question facing the proponents, was whether or not to make it a mandatory element for members of the IRF. “We decided that was not appropriate. Some marketing plans do not call for this, while others would love to use it. So we decided it was optional, for whoever wanted to use it.” The scale allows producers to place an arrow above the scale it believes best suits their wine, somewhere between dry and sweet. “They are not limited by the

The Taste Profile developed for the International Riesling Foundation doesn’t limit itself to just Riesling. It can be used on a number of aromatic varietals.

suggestions or formula we came up with. The formula is there as a guideline only.” Since its inception, it has been used on a hundred million bottles around the world. Wineries from Germany to Argentina and also New Zealand have adopted it, in an effort to clarify the wine for consumers. And Berger says it has increased sales for those that have taken it on board. “Riesling has become a much easier wine to sell when it has the sweetness scale on the back label. My belief is very simple. In most people’s eyes, Riesling is sweet. We all know that is not true. Riesling can be made very dry, and usually when it is it is a perfect match for certain types of food. But the consumer is left to their own devices to figure it out and that becomes very confusing. The more information consumers have, the more choice they have. If a wine is completely dry and it says so on the back label, you may

not want to buy it. But it would be nice to know that before you buy it, wouldn’t it?” The Riesling Taste Profile is available for anyone to use and guidelines and the graph itself can be found on the IRF’s website, What’s more, it doesn’t limit itself to the one varietal. Berger says the scale has proved so worthwhile that it has been adopted by wineries producing Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer. “It is the same scale, same formula, the whole thing. It is now being adopted for many other grape varieties, even people who are not members of the IRF.” It is also free of charge to all winemakers. “If they want to use the scale on the back label of an Albarino, they can go ahead and use it. We are just thrilled the consumer is now being empowered to make a purchasing decision.” ■

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Give a back label respect Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


hy is it that winemakers feel they have to give a chemical analysis on their back labels, a Master of Wine wonders. At the Aromatics Symposium held in Nelson, Jane Skilton MW said these labels are a golden opportunity to tell the consumer a story, rather than provide a “weird food and wine match”, or a rundown on brix and pH levels. “Why not tell the consumer something useful, like what does the wine taste like. Not in a pretentious way, but tell them something like; we have left some sweetness in the wine because we think this is better balanced. Or

this is a drier style of wine because we think it works particularly well in this vintage. Tell the consumer something they can use. They are already confused, they feel hesitant. Wine has this incredible ability to make people feel embaressed.” Skilton and Nick Nobilo led the Masterclass on Gewurztraminer at the Symposium, where three flights of wine, in three different styles were tasted. The first flight was considered dry (ish), the second off dry (ish) and the third, sweet (ish). Skilton said there has been a lot of talk about why Gewurztraminer is a hard sell to consumers, but she believes much of that relates to confusing messages on the

bottle itself. “If you continue to write back labels in that hideous mumbo jumbo, that nobody can understand, then it’s no wonder you can’t sell your wine. We do not want a whole lot of Tolstoy prose on the back that nobody can understand. If you told everybody how sweet it was or it has a taste that we can recognise, it might be alright.” T h e d e b a te o v e r w h a t determines dry, versus off dry and sweet is a reoccurring one. And it was one that garnered a lot of discussion during the Symposium. Skilton feels that a simple numbering system is one way that could help lift aromatic wines out of the doldrums, in

terms of consumer preference. She said a number of own brand supermarket wines in the UK are already utilising a system that rates the sweetness of a wine by numbers between one and nine. “You might think a wine is a four, and I might think it is a five. But you won’t get one person saying a wine is a two while others think it is a nine. You will find the range you like and will know what to look for when picking up a bottle.” One question put to both Skilton and Nobilo was whether people are embarrassed to acknowledge they like sweet wines, which Skilton says is ridiculous. “When was the last time you


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Jane Skilton MW

heard someone say they were scared of sweetness, especially when we are drowning in sugar. People will have ice creams, cakes, brownies. Nobody says they don’t want to eat those things because they are sweet. “But in wine there is such a lot of perceived opinion. I would love to know exactly when was the last time anyone did research into what consumers believe. I think we are told that people don’t

like this or that, without anyone actually asking them.” Sommeliers and those producing wine lists may also to be to blame for a number of aromatics failing to grab consumer attention. Skilton says go into any restaurant or bar, and the list for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is likely to be extensive. “Then there is this licorice allsorts at the back. One Gewurztraminer, one Albarino,

one this or that. People say why is there only one of them? By the sheer numbers it must look as though Sauvignon and Chardonnay are much better. “I know I am not running a restaurant, but to me it is like someone has wanted to have a few unusual wines on the list to make it look more rounded. But to me that is sweeping up.” There was no way the 55 attending the Aromatics

Symposium in Nelson didn’t know how much more New Zealand has to offer in this category. Besides the Gewurztraminer Master Class, the guests were treated to three flights of Riesling, led by Andrew Hedley and Bob Campbell MW, a Pinot Gris class led by Dom Maxwell and Emma Jenkins MW, and a smaller plantings class led by Simon Nunns and Stephen Wong MW. ■

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Late to the party for a reason Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


or the 70 invited guests at the Classic Reds symposium held in Hawke’s Bay, it was a lesson not only in the wines on show, but also an explanation of why these wines have been late to join the New Zealand wine party. Although as Chair Steve Smith MW explained, the classic red varieties of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot go right back to the 1830’s and 40’s. “James Busby brought his first grapes to New Zealand in those days, although they weren’t really known as Syrah. Instead the variety was known as Hermitage. Then in 1883, William Beetham’s vineyard in Martinborough was recognised for producing fine Pinot Noir and Hermitage.” So with a history that goes back nearly 200 years, why is it that these varieties have not led the way in terms of New Zealand wine? “Well we had phylloxera,” Smith explained, “followed by World War 1 and World War 2

and then it took extra time for the birth of the modern wine industry to appear in the 1970’s.” In Syrah’s case, the clones that had derived from the 1830’s and 40’s were so badly virused, “they were no use in New Zealand wine’s arsenal.” “In the 1970’s the virus was so vigorous and in that time in New Zealand, it was much easier in the warmer parts of the country, to make a decision to plant Cabernet and Merlot, rather than Syrah.” Thankfully Alan Limmer founder of Stonecroft Wines was able to see past the trials and tribulations of Syrah in the past, when in 1984 he headed to Te Kauwhata Research Centre, to pick up the only virus free Busby clones to be found in New Zealand. “He heard that the vines had been ripped out and left in a pile to be burnt, “Smith said. “ He brought them back to Hawke’s Bay and planted them. They are still producing today.” Others followed suit with

Master of ceremonies at the Classic Reds Symposium, Steve Smith MW.

32   // 


Syrah, not just in Hawke’s Bay, but also Martinborough, Waiheke and Marlborough. Smith describes the vines seen here now as being clonally diverse. “We talk about Pinot Noir being clonally diverse, and certainly it is. But I believe that a story that hasn’t been told is the clonal diversity of Syrah. We have some mature plantings at Craggy that are all in one block and it is almost as if you are looking at different grape vines.” Trinity Hill’s Warren Gibson said the variety is probably even more terroir oriented than Pinot Noir. “Syrah is the variety in Hawke’s Bay and maybe in New Zealand, that says I come from this place. I think New Zealand Syrah tastes like New Zealand Syrah. In Hawke’s Bay, wines from the Gravels say, I am a Syrah from the Gravels. I am from a hillside, I am from this place and I think we need to be very mindful that we don’t push that too far away.” In what was a unique tasting, Smith devised a system where the 16 Syrahs were placed on a graph like form.

“As you move across left to right, one aspect of terroir changes. As you move down the page, one aspect of terroir changes.” So the wines at top left were from the coolest of the areas, the ones to the right gradually got warmer. The terroir change moving down from top to bottom, reflected changes in the amount of stones within the vineyard. The 12 New Zealand wines were rounded out by four international, all from regions deemed to be as close to New Zealand as they could be. There was a lot of positive response to the tasting, and the discussion following reflected the quality shown. But if there was one comment made that was taken on board, it was about allowing the wines to speak for themselves, without pushing them. “We have just come from Pinot Noir, where a few years ago the wines were fighting for attention,” one international said. “But now there appears to be more confidence to let them be what they are. Looking at some of these Syrahs, I see that they are still fighting

Specialists in anti scuff and water resistant coatings, on uncoated textured stocks. for (attention) and showing off. Maybe you might need to trust what you have.” That was backed up by Warren Gibson from Trinity Hill. “My point of view is that Syrah is behind the progression Pinot Noir has undergone, and we need to take those comments on board. This is our progression, to respecting the fruit and not trying to put too much make up on top of what we already have. You don’t need makeup if you are already beautiful.” In terms of recent heritage, Cabernet and Merlot have more than Syrah according to Smith. All varieties suffered from virus, phylloxera and the slow growth of the industry. But thanks to Cabernet and Merlot wines made by Tom MacDonald in the 50’s and 60’s, those varieties were taken on board in the Hawke’s Bay sooner than Syrah. The fresh fruit styles of the wines from New Zealand was a talking point after the tasting, which like Syrah was done in a grid style. The changes from left to right moved from Merlot predominance, to Cabernet. From top to

bottom, it was again moving from less stones, to more. “So this time it’s not just about physical aspects,” Smith explained. “It is about the relationship with the land, the stones and the human element, which is the blend.” In all there were 12 wines, nine from New Zealand, three from overseas. Fresh when young, but with the potential to age was a winning combination according to Matt Stafford, winemaker at Craggy Range. “That shift is exciting for us because we have that approachability and balance of fruit,” he said. “We have been surprised with how well our wines are ageing. That’s one of our great hallmarks. They have that approachability in their youth but there’s that potential for ageing.” He went on to say with the food culture exploding globally, New Zealand wines have a golden opportunity to push the remarkable ability to match our gentler styles of red wine, to the fresher, cleaner food options now available. ■


WHAT: AROMATIC AND CLASSIC REDS SYMPOSIA WHERE: Nelson January 28-29, Hawke’s Bay Febraury 3-4 WHO: International sommeliers, writers and critics, all guests of NZWinegrowers

34   // 



Wake up call for industry


new immigration policy means employers who breach their employment obligations may be barred from recruiting migrant labour from 1 April 2017. On top of the current penalties an employer could receive for breaching employment law, stand-down periods of six months to two years for recruiting migrant labour may also be applied depending on the severity of the breach. For industries such as viticulture who rely on migrant labour, the policy should send a clear

message that the exploitation of migrants will not be tolerated, says Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Kevin Finnegan. “Having written employment agreements, paying at least a minimum wage, providing holiday pay, and keeping employment records relating to time, wages, and leave are long-standing requirements of New Zealand law - employers cannot plead ignorance.” New Zealand Winegrowers fully supports government moves to clamp down on contractors or employers not meeting minimum conditions of work. “As an industry our reputation

is paramount, both here and overseas, and breaches of employment obligations are not acceptable” says New Zealand Winegrowers’ General Manager Advocacy, Jeffrey Clarke. “The government has now made its position clear that there are severe consequences of noncompliance which could impact on access to international workers, including from the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme.  It is timely for all employers to check they are meeting their obligations and to also ask the same of their contractors.” Clarke noted that New Zealand

Winegrowers is developing guidance to support and encourage members to uphold good employment practices throughout the labour supply chain. “The Labour Inspectorate has offered to work with us on this, which we welcome”. More information on employment obligations is available at Anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the employment situation of someone they know, can call MBIE’s contact centre on 0800 20 90 20 where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.■

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Royal Easter Show wine awards – the trophy winners Champion Wine of the Show Villa Maria Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2014 Champion Methode Champenoise or Sparkling Te Hana Reserve Cuvee NV Champion Chardonnay Villa Maria Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2014 Champion Gewurztraminer Giesen The Brothers Gewurztraminer 2014 Champion Sauvignon Blanc Thornbury Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 201 Champion Riesling Mount Brown Estates Riesling 2016 Champion Pinot Gris Waipara Hills Pinot Gris Waipara Valley 2016

Champion Other White or Red Varieties Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Malbec 2013 Champion Sweet Wine Whitehaven Marlborough Noble Riesling 2014 Champion Rosé Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Rosé 2016 Champion Pinot Noir Wild Earth Special Edition Pinot Noir 2014 Champion Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet predominate Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 201 Champion Merlot or Merlot predominate Mission Estate VS Merlot 2015

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Champion Syrah Goldie Estate Reserve Syrah 2014 Gold Medal for Winemaker of the Year Nick Picone (Villa Maria) Heritage Rosebowl Hunter’s Wines NZ Ltd Marlborough Riesling 2006, 2010, 2016 Inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame Dr Alan Limmer, formerly of Stonecroft Wines.


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W fo

r 201



What’s it looking like in the vineyard? This preview by staff reporters was undertaken in early March. As we all know things can change fairly quickly when it comes to weather conditions. But this was the state of play at the time of writing. AUCKLAND


Joelle Thomson

aster of Wine Michael Brajkovich reports that the 2017 Auckland vintage was on time, despite a “quite ordinary” summer with maximum temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius, compared to a usual Auckland summer with one or two days of 30 degrees.

A significant amount of south west wind caused drought stress symptoms followed by 60 millimetres of rain, which precipitated harvesting at Kumeu River Wines. At the time of writing there was still a lot of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris to be harvested. The weather would dictate if harvest was able to continue with overcast conditions prevailing. “There are a lot of similari-

ALD0471 NZ Wine Grower Half Page 120x180mm-Ron_PATHS.indd 1

ties between this year and last, in terms of the grapes coming in about the same time. There is a bit of moisture, so we’re looking at getting grapes in rather than letting them hang out too long, although we’re not even a quarter of the way through yet.” Brajkovich said it has been a relatively cool season rather than a long one, but this did not seem to have affected the vines signifi-

cantly because everything was on time, to date.



Tessa Nicholson

ffusive is one word that describes how James Millton of Millton Wines defines the build up to the 2017 vintage. “I reflect back to 1983, 1989 and 1998, which were truly classic, amazing and brilliant vintages,” he says. “This is almost on top of that. So we have high expectations.” Conditions for flowering were extremely good, there was good

19/09/16 4:31 PM NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2017  //   37

fruit set and the yields are more on the average side than high. “There have been, as there is around the country, some issues with powdery mildew, but we are very happy with our ability to have dealt with that.” Millton said the February full moon resulted in an incidence of botrytis, but that has also been dealt with. “To my mind it has been almost perfect. It could be a glorious Gisborne vintage.” Prepared to only comment on the varieties he himself grows, Millton said the Pinot Noir looks amazing, but it is the Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay that are standing out. “The Chenin Blanc bunches are starting to take on a slight apricot colour, which I haven’t seen in years. That is because of the wonderful conditions we are getting and it reaching physiological ripeness. The Chardonnay is looking just a blast. It’s all berries.”

38   // 

Gisborne vineyards are all dry farmed, which Millton says is not due to an abundance of rainfall, but because the soils have the ability to hold moisture. “Therefore the vines can take what they want, when they want, and how much they want. That has shown through this season, which I would have to say is an unbelievable one.”



Photo: Lime Rock Wines Ltd. Supplied by NZW

Mary Shanahan

n exceptionally good growing season marred only by a late three-day rain bomb has set Hawke’s Bay up well for a great vintage. With two months of picking ahead of them, growers were counting on settled conditions in expressing cautious optimism about the forthcoming harvest. As Rod McDonald of Rod McDonald Wines said, “as long as the weather behaves itself, it’s going to be a


beauty. “The early hot weather, from the New Year through February set us up really well. We got the heat around flowering and veraison and the fruit has gone through evenly. We haven’t got a spread of ripening in, for example Chardonnay with 21-24 brix. “Everything has hit the magic right spot at the same time, which is a strong indicator for quality wines.” Late February’s unexpectedly

heavy rain event - between 90 and 120mm across the Bay’s sub regions - was the last thing growers needed. But McDonald said that while the three days of wet were not ideal, only perhaps 20 percent of vineyards were affected and with those only five percent of the fruit sustained damage. “Those affected vineyards will produce a slightly lower yield. The only variety really affected is Sauvignon Blanc and then not much.” Xan Harding of Double or Quit

Vineyard at Haumoana, said there had been “a bit of splitting around the place, for example a little in the Syrah.” But, he added, it had been a wonderful growing year. Vineyards had dried out since the rain and were back on track going into vintage. “We had good sets with the dry weather. There was a bit of a challenge with early spring rain but after a dry winter we needed that to recharge the soil. From late October on it’s just been fantastic with very good flowering weather and no disease pressure.” Villa Maria viticulturist Jonathan Hamlet characterised the season as really hot and dry. As a result, the company’s Hawke’s Bay fruit was a little advanced at the start of harvest, which got underway at the end of February with Pinot Noir for low alcohol Rosé. Red varieties had gone through veraison very evenly and were looking “fantastic”. Chardonnay was also ripening really well. Chris Howell of Prospect Vineyard at Maraekakaho said ongoing winds during the first half of the season caused a few headaches in generating extra work. “We thought we’d finished the tucking job but it blew shoots off the canopy. So it was tricky in that regard.” The rain bomb also created further work for growers. “It encouraged extra vigour after we thought we’d shut the

vines down so we were using soft chemicals to hold the crops. “ However Howell wasn’t expecting it to have caused any problems in the long run - “the grapes will hold up fine.”



Joelle Thomson

atherine Jacobs from Big Sky Wines in Te Muna Road, Martinborough, says the 2017 season was tracking with the same sunshine hours as 2013, which seemed surprising after quite a poor summer. Bunches were relatively big, so ruthless fruit thinning was being done to ensure fruit intensity and tannins. “We are very excited about 2017 vintage and will be looking to pick as late as we can to make the most of the benefits of long slow ripening that bring the fantastic savoury notes the Wairarapa is famous for.” Gladstone winery, Urlar’s n e w w i n e m a ke r i s C a r o l Bunn who says this year’s vintage was on target with last year’s in terms of brix levels. “We’ll be looking to start harvest before the end of March this year. We’re not finding bunch weights or crop loads to be significantly out of the ordinary – we’re on target for predictions.” Spring had been dry, but with enough rain during the growing

season to keep the vines going with very little irrigation. “This is good for the vines as they will push their roots further down and can withstand longer periods of time without the need to irrigate.” Compared to down south, Bunn says that the wind moderates bunch sizes more in the Wairarapa. This meant less need for fruit removal with naturally lower crops and more open bunches, but she stressed this was a generalisation. Parts of Central Otago were comparable. “I’m keeping our fingers crossed. If good weather keeps rolling in, I’d expect this vintage to be very good for Gladstone and for Urlar.”



Tessa Nicholson

t hasn’t been the usual summer for Marlborough winegrowers. It began with mixed conditions in December just as Sauvignon Blanc began to flower. The earlier part of the month was cool and wet, with temperatures and sunshine not emerging until the end. That has resulted in variability of crop levels throughout the region. Stuart Dudley, Villa Maria’s Regional Viticulturist says the season is little bit behind because of that variability. “We are finding block to block there is quite a big change and from clone to clone.”

Pernod Ricard’s chief winemaker, Patrick Materman, says the changeable December weather had led to more hen and chicken in bunches. “Yes there is some of that out there, but it depends where in the valley you are. Some (blocks) have got some pretty healthy crops, but there are others that have slightly lighter bunches because of those December conditions.” Dudley says they have had to undertake a bit of thinning in Sauvignon Blanc to try and nullify the variability. “The later flowering blocks were sitting at or above average so we have done a fair bit of yield work on them.” There was little let up once 2016 morphed into 2017. Especially as the region was battered by strong winds, that hit gale force on numerous occasions. For many, including Dudley, it was a case of going into repair mode. “Trellising maintenance has probably been as hard as I have ever seen it. We have had to deal with a number of broken posts due to the relentless wind run.” Rain that occurred in mid to late February brightened the canopies and he says they have been able to keep on top of disease. But any thoughts that this will be an early harvest have been quashed. We will really ramp up the Sauvignon Blanc harvest into April, rather than the last week of



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March, where we often do,” Dudley says. “We are a little bit behind. Although the temperatures make it look like it has been a warm season, with the wind and overcast conditions, it hasn’t resulted in pushing the fruit along.” Everyone spoken to believes the crop will be average, or maybe slightly above. But there is very little anticipation that yields will reach last year’s highs.



Neil Hodgson

cross the various subregions in Nelson the story is pretty much the same -  after a wet vintage last year, spring was basically free of cold nights and frosts allowing the vines a great start to the 2017 vintage. Regular rainfall, with some significant events during spring and summer has provided enough water to ensure very good canopy growth and fruit development. 

Photo: Pegasus Bay. Supplied by NZW.

However the regular, and reasonably strong winds, have kept mid-summer temperatures lower than long-term averages with many commenting they have never experienced a summer like it in Nelson. Low temperatures and strong winds during November, December and January along with regular

rain impacted on fruit set, however normal bunch numbers have been produced but with slightly lower berry numbers on the bunches. In general across the region, crop levels are at around longterm averages or slightly above with vines delivering naturally balanced crop loads along with reasonably open canopies and

bunches so the quality of fruit is looking very promising. Gary Neale from Brightwater Vineyards on the Waimea Plains says they didn’t need to do very much fruit thinning this year and the balanced crop is ripening pretty much as expected. He says; “a few growers were concerned about the ripening speed, but the long, warm and dry weeks leading up to vintage was forecast so we are very much where we would expect to be. “The fruit is in beautiful condition and the slightly lower bunch weight with quite open bunches will help with both ripening and drying if we do have wet weather during vintage.”



Tessa Nicholson

he signs were looking good for Waipara growers in early spring. There were no frost events, and enough

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timely rain to allow good canopy growth. However the drizzly conditions did drag out the flowering period, according to Dominic Maxwell of Greystone Wines. “We have a little bit of variability because of that. Some bunches may be a couple of weeks behind other bunches, so a lot of work has gone into thinning and that is continuing now, (early March). He says the thinning hasn’t been because of high yields, more to try and even out the variability that has been showing through around the region. “In some areas we would be sticking fruit on, if we could.” The rain that fell during December abated fairly quickly and Maxwell says they were now facing very dry conditions, which was impacting on the vines. Berry size was small and there was more hen and chicken showing through in all varieties, than normal.

“The dry weather has contributed to that, along with the poor flowering. I think it will be a short, sharp harvest. If it stays warm and dry then those vines aren’t really going to want to hang onto the fruit for too long.” However the fruit looks robust and given the settled conditions during late February and early March there has been very little disease pressure. “We are expecting some good intensity in the fruit this year, and from a wine quality point of view that is great.”


W Mark Orton

hen someone who has been growing grapes in Central Otago for 25 years says that the 2016-17 season is one of the trickiest yet, then that carries some weight. But

when you learn that he has fought frost in every month of this growing season, then something a little odd is up. For Timbo Deaker, and Jason Thomson whose company Viticultura provide vineyard management services through Central Otago and the Waitaki, there are two words that crop up regularly when describing this season… “aggressive wind.” “If you had called me at this time last year I would had been full of glowing rhetoric about a cracking vintage, but this one has not been quite that straight-forward. We started off thinking that we were heading into what was going to be a very warm-hot season, and after a cracking good spring when we were probably 12 days ahead of where we would be historically. Since then it has been unseasonably cool with plenty of moisture and extremely aggressive winds. “We’ve failed to accumulate

the heat that we would expect at this time of year and have been very mindful that our canopy has taken a beating from the weather and that we are going to need every bit of ripening that we can at the end.” Even in steady growing seasons, Deaker reckons that it isn’t straight forward estimating yields and even less so when elements dish out a dodgy hand. “What we are really concerned about is the variation of big berries and small berries within the bunch. Basically the vines have combatted the wind by closing down their stomata and not producing as they normally would. “If we were seven days ahead at the beginning of the season, then we are running 7-10 days behind now, but in saying that, some of our bunches have filled out really well over the last couple of weeks so perhaps it’s too early to say.” ■



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The science of wine – Dr Brian Jordan Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


rom the early stages of his scientific career, Dr Brian Jordan has been focusing on the impact light has on plant development. From Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to Cardiff, Stanford University, to Canberra and finally New Zealand, his efforts have helped uncover the importance of light UV on fruit. For the past 12 years he has focused that research on wine grapes. The former Dean of Lincoln University, has been a member of the Board of the Marlborough Wine Research Centre since 2003. In 2008 he “pulled out of management” at Lincoln and with the help of NZ Winegrowers transferred back into his academic professorship to work with the wine industry. There is probably no better place to be studying the effects of UV-B on grapes than in the Southern Hemisphere, Dr Jordan admits. “In New Zealand we have about 30 to 40 percent higher UV-B radiation than an equivalent latitude in the northern hemisphere. That is UV in the environment, without anything to do with ozone depletion or anything like that. The natural UV environment is significantly higher.” UV-B is the radiation that affects all life forms, it is the one that causes sunburn in humans, and as Dr Jordan has discovered it also has a major impact on plant life of all forms. “UV-B is absorbed by a lot of molecules, it is highly energetic and can do damage. However, recently UV-B has also been shown to have more positive effects on plant growth and development.”

42   // 

Opening the canopy up to expose berries to sunlight, can create changes within the fruit itself. PHOTO SPY VALLEY WINES, SUPPLIED BY NZW.

So when a grower removes leaves from a vine to minimize humidity and a subsequent disease threat they open the fruit to UV exposure and this will cause changes to the grape berry biochemistry. “The one thing UV-B does, is actually increase the flavonoid compounds and that can bring about a change in the antioxidant capability of the berries,” he says. “The flavonoids are in the skins so they can alter the skin characteristics as well. So once you expose the fruit to extra UV, you are changing the characteristics of the grapes.” Which could be one reason why certain varieties grown in New Zealand throw up differing characteristics than the same varieties grown in the northern hemisphere. It is literally another aspect of terroir – where climatic conditions


impact on the end wine. “Absolutely right. The light environment is a major factor. The other component is that UV-B interacts with other environments, such as higher temperatures or water status. All these factors interact to give you the outcome of the grape composition and the uniqueness of an individual region. Even the grape varieties themselves appear to react differently to UV.” His research has shown that compounds such as methoxypyrazines, or the aroma compounds, can change dramatically. “The high levels of these are produced just pre veraison. Those levels are then reflected in the grape berries at harvest time and the wine. So leaf removal can reduce these levels, although that is very dependent on the season. The role of light and UV-B remains unclear.”

Dr Jordan says the largest impact on methoxypyrazines tends to be in a cooler season. Which is a catch 22 for growers, who often remove leaves to help the fruit ripen in time, when temperatures are not at their optimum level. The research has also shown that leaf removal has an effect on the levels of amino acids in berries. “Leaf removal decreased the amount of amino acids that go into the berry. That is highly significant because amino acids are there for YAN for fermentation and they also add to the quality of the wine. They are the pre-cursors for a lot of different flavour compounds. So if you reduce canopy, you reduce those amino acids.” The third finding in the research concerns levels of flavonoids and how UV-B impacts on them. “We have confirmed that UV-B


Dr Brian Jordan

increases the level of these flavonoids, in particular a type called flavonols. These are the compounds which are recognised in the industry as quercetin and kaempferol. These compounds are increased substantially as soon as the fruit is exposed to UV-B and they alter the characteristics of the grape at harvest.” Which creates a conundrum for growers, he admits. Do you remove leaves to prevent disease pressure at the risk of changing the flavour components of the fruit? Or do you leave the canopy unmanaged and risk disease towards the end of the season? Dr Jordan says the answer may lie in the timing of that leaf removal, which is where his research is heading now. While this is a full time project, it hasn’t prevented him from spreading his wings into other

fields. He is currently editing a book, due to be released late this year, entitled The role of UV-B radiation in plant growth and development. He has also been granted a prestigious Marsden research grant to investigate the adaptation of plants to the terrestrial environment. “That is essentially how plants moved from an aquatic environment onto land and dealt with difficult dry and high UV environments. What were the protective compounds produced to allow them to do that. “So we are looking at primitive biochemical pathways that provided protection to these early land adapters. This all relates back to UV and understanding the various protective compounds produced, which in turn links up to the grape research.” ■

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ON TOUR I’ve just completed a two-week tour of New Zealand wine regions organised by UK wine tour specialist, the splendidly named Arblaster & Clarke. The group comprised 11 Brits with five from the US. They’d all been on Arblaster & Clarke tours before and had a high level of enthusiasm for wine and wine knowledge. We visited seven regions, 15 top wineries and tasted a total of nearly 300 wines. First stop on the tour was a visit to my home to taste my smoked salmon and a few well aged wines from my cellar. In anticipation of screwcap-resistance I opened two bottles of Esk Valley 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon – one sealed with a screwcap and the other with a cork. The wines were decanted and all were invited to sample two anonymous wines before picking a favourite. 18 people judged both wines including my wife, Marion, and the tour organiser, Caron. Each wine received nine votes which I thought was a fair result – they were both quite different but each had merit. After the tour I asked them all to complete an anonymous questionnaire. What’s your favourite NZ wine style? Two-thirds indicated Pinot Noir What was the best wine you tasted on the tour? This attracted a wide range of answers, naturally enough, although the winning wine was

44   // 

Seresin 2012 Sun & Moon Pinot Noir with four votes What was the most beautiful wine region (we visited all the main regions except Gisborne)? The clear winner was Central Otago

Which was the best vineyard restaurant (we dined at Coopers Creek, Stonyridge, Mills Reef, Esk Valley, Craggy Range, Hunter’s, Mahana, Pegasus Bay, Amisfield and Mt Difficulty)? Pegasus Bay was first, followed

closely by Amisfield Which winery was most hospitable? Esk Valley was way out in front. Gordon Russell was an enthusiastic host and his wife prepared a tasty lunch using local ingredients.

KEEPING KRUG I love bottle-aged champagne. I blame Australian wine critic, James Halliday, for leading me down that particular primrose path. He was a regular house guest for many years when he co-chaired the Royal Easter Show with me and would bring with him a bottle or two of aged champagne (among other treasures). Often as much as 50 years old they were occasionally flat but always delicious. If you want to hold a bottle of bubbly for an extended period it is necessary to buy vintage wine so that you know how old it is. There is no good reason why non-vintage champagne won’t develop attractive toasty, biscuit characters with age it’s just that you are never really sure when the grapes were harvested and, by extension, when it is ready to drink … until now.


Krug has introduced a novel way to track the blending details with harvest dates and bottling date on every wine. Simply note the ID number on the back label, go to the Krug website ( and enter the six-digit ID number into the appropriate slot on “Krug ID”. T h e l a te s t K r u g Grande Cuvee NV, for example, is ID213035. Krug’s website reveals that it is a blend of 142 wines from 11 different years between 1990 and 2006 and that the wine was bottled in Summer 2013 after being aged for six years in the cellar. The final composition is 44% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 21% Meunier. The website also recommends pairing the wine with pureed artichoke, a vegetable that I read somewhere is “the enemy of wine”. Must try it.

STEMLESS GLASSES I’ve become a big fan of stemless glasses. At first I was reluctant to embrace them, citing the usual objections that I now believe are less valid; they don’t look as elegant as stemmed glasses (true), white warms up too quickly (easily overcome) and they don’t “feel right” (get over it). It’s worth considering that the bowl on a stemless glass is identical to that on a stemmed glass

by the same producer. The only difference is that one has a stem and the other doesn’t. In terms of expressing a wine’s bouquet or the “feel” when you sip from them, stemmed and stemless glasses offer an identical experience. Now consider the benefits of stemless glasses. • They are cheaper • They are less likely to break • They are more stable

• They fit easier into the dishwasher and microwave • They allow you to warm wine up by cupping your hand

around the bowl - easier when there is no stem If you are worried about warming white wine up too quickly the simple solution is to pour less in the glass or not hold it in your hand. I still use stemmed glasses but mostly at dinner parties when trying to dress the table up a bit. My wife, Marion, prefers stemmed glasses at all times.

THE PERILS OF HOARDING Founding CEO of NZ Winegrowers (then Wine Institute of NZ) Terry Dunleavy, invited me to sample some ancient vinous treasures. He was sorting out the wine cellar in the back of his garage and, realising that quite a few bottles were past their “Best By” date he thought it might be fun to open them. Unfortunately the storage temperature proved to be less than ideal. Many of the bottles were only three-quarters full. Terry chose a dozen bottles of local wine that ranged in vintage from 1969 to 1985. All were seriously ullaged. A tip to anyone in the same situation. Use a Teflon-coated corkscrew with a wide worm to get a better grip. If the cork starts

to mushroom and is clearly going to break, back off and try using a two-pronged “Ah-So” corkscrew. If all else fails you can remove cork chips with a coffee filter. The corks in most of the bottles were very soft. Some were impossible to extract but I managed to get most out in one piece. Terry had a few old Bordeaux (which we didn’t open but plan to do so at a later date) including a 1959 Mouton Rothschild, 1976 Cheval Blanc and a 1986 Chateau Cos d’Estournel. They had been stored in the same conditions but had much higher fill levels. The reason is simple, they used better corks. The best of the Kiwi contingent was Hunter’s 1985 Chardonnay, Marlborough. Although very

developed with little fruit it was rich and buttery, Chardonnay as it used to be, and not at all bitter. Montana Chablis 1969, was pretty undrinkable but I could still taste the character of a wine that I drank many times while working for Montana in the early seventies. It was probably made from the hybrid Baco 22A and Palomino and tasted pretty ordinary upon release but in the day we quaffed it without complaining. Temperature-controlled storage facilities (I use Transtherm cabinets) will greatly extend

the life of wine but they can also encourage wine hoarders to keep precious bottles for far too long. I don’t regard myself as a hoarder but reckon that at least 20% of the bottles in my cellar are in decline. The greatest challenge facing every wine cellar owner is how to avoid the obsolescence factor.



Italian love affair Joelle Thomson


hey met on Wellington’s Lambton Quay, fell in love in Rome and planted Sangiovese in Central Hawke’s Bay, but Mike Olds and Hazel Allan learnt the hard way that this grape and that place are not a marriage made in vine heaven. The couple own one of the smallest wineries in New Zealand, Lauregan Wines in Elsthorpe, in Central Hawke’s Bay. The 1.4 hectare sloping vineyard experiences cooler nights and hotter days than many other areas that are closer to the coast in the Bay. The couple lived in Italy for nearly a decade before returning to

New Zealand in 1983 and planted their vineyard at Elsthorpe a decade later. Their time in Italy made them want to replicate a little of the food and wine culture they had fallen deeply for on their travels. Enter Sangiovese. They bought Sangiovese grapevines from Corban’s Viticulture and planted them, watching vigorous growth all through summer. The growth seemed to go well, until late in the season when rainfall put paid to this late ripening Italian grape. But the climate there is significantly different to Hawke’s Bay because it tends to be drier throughout summer and autumn. And, as they discovered, it is a rather different proposition in Hawke’s Bay,

so they have now replaced their Sangiovese with the early ripening Pinot Noir, much to Olds’ chagrin. “I would love to have another go at Sangiovese but it would have to be under very strict conditions and a small enough block to do a lot of handwork because, even in a very good vintage such as 2013, it struggles in this environment,” he says, adding that while Malbec also holds strong appeal for him and Allan, he would prefer to specialise in Pinot Noir – “and do a bloody good job of it.” That job translates to a full bodied, deeply coloured Pinot Noir, which Olds attributes to the hotter days and cooler nights in Central Hawke’s Bay.

WE HAVE MATCHED A FINE SELECTION OF LEGAL EXPERTS TO COMPLEMENT YOUR BUSINESS. FOOD STANDARDS Tania Goatley / Kristin Wilson RESOURCE MANAGEMENT Andrew Beatson PUBLIC LAW Simon Watt HEALTH & SAFETY Tim Clarke CORPORATE STRUCTURE Anna Buchly To access the full breadth of our team, please contact Tania Goatley in the first instance on 09 916 8766 or email W W W. B E L L G U L LY. C O M

46   // 


Asked why he views this central area as different in climate to the rest of the Bay, he suggests a number of factors. To begin with, the location is inland so the climate is cooler in winter and during

the night, year round. Then there’s the altitude. Lauregan Vineyard is about 170 metres above sea level and surrounded by hills, such as the 520 metre high Mount Maraetotara and the 620 metre high Mount Kahuranaki. Both offer shelter from wind and protection from cooling coastal breezes so that many days reach 30 degrees Celcius in summer and have a more pronounced temperature difference between day and night. “These extremes of morning and night mean it can be one degree or a frosty morning followed by a 30-degree day. This, in turn, can often be followed by very cool night time temperatures, which can drop down to four or five degrees. Even during a warm vintage, the nights are very cool,” says Olds. “Valley climate conditions come into play where we are, which are exacerbated by changing altitudes, even in our small vineyard. “The valley combined with the

altitude drives the day-night temperature variations, with the shelter of the valley leading to higher temperatures during the day and the collection of cold air at night leading to regular spring frosts and cool temperatures overnight.” By planting on the hills, he has discovered it is possible to gain a more even distribution of

sunshine on the vines and to gain absorption of heat into the soil. “Although our average temperatures here are less than in the rest of Hawke’s Bay, our ripening isn’t as delayed as would be expected because of the hillside aspect,” Olds says. He and Allan are mindful of minimising inputs on the vine-

yard and aim to be as organic as possible on the relatively heavy clay soils they work with. “Our clay soil means we generally have a slower start to the season while the ground heats up but we don’t have to irrigate because there is enough water in the soil to keep the plants happy.” They planned to make their first vintage of Pinot Noir from the 2012 vintage, but Olds describes that year as “the worst summer of my life”. The first vintage of Lauregan Pinot Noir was in 2013, a year he describes as sublime. “It was like chalk and cheese experiencing the difference between the 2012 and the 2013 vintages. From here we need to keep getting better. The only way for us to make any money is to produce really good wine. We don’t want to be millionaires, we just want to make really good wine and have a little money in our retirement.”■

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Italian love affair Joelle Thomson


hey met on Wellington’s Lambton Quay, fell in love in Rome and planted Sangiovese in Central Hawke’s Bay, but Mike Olds and Hazel Allan learnt the hard way that this grape and that place are not a marriage made in vine heaven. The couple own one of the smallest wineries in New Zealand, Lauregan Wines in Elsthorpe, in Central Hawke’s Bay. The 1.4 hectare sloping vineyard experiences cooler nights and hotter days than many other areas that are closer to the coast in the Bay. The couple lived in Italy for nearly a decade before returning to

New Zealand in 1983 and planted their vineyard at Elsthorpe a decade later. Their time in Italy made them want to replicate a little of the food and wine culture they had fallen deeply for on their travels. Enter Sangiovese. They bought Sangiovese grapevines from Corban’s Viticulture and planted them, watching vigorous growth all through summer. The growth seemed to go well, until late in the season when rainfall put paid to this late ripening Italian grape. But the climate there is significantly different to Hawke’s Bay because it tends to be drier throughout summer and autumn. And, as they discovered, it is a rather different proposition in Hawke’s Bay,

so they have now replaced their Sangiovese with the early ripening Pinot Noir, much to Olds’ chagrin. “I would love to have another go at Sangiovese but it would have to be under very strict conditions and a small enough block to do a lot of handwork because, even in a very good vintage such as 2013, it struggles in this environment,” he says, adding that while Malbec also holds strong appeal for him and Allan, he would prefer to specialise in Pinot Noir – “and do a bloody good job of it.” That job translates to a full bodied, deeply coloured Pinot Noir, which Olds attributes to the hotter days and cooler nights in Central Hawke’s Bay.

WE HAVE MATCHED A FINE SELECTION OF LEGAL EXPERTS TO COMPLEMENT YOUR BUSINESS. FOOD STANDARDS Tania Goatley / Kristin Wilson RESOURCE MANAGEMENT Andrew Beatson PUBLIC LAW Simon Watt HEALTH & SAFETY Tim Clarke CORPORATE STRUCTURE Anna Buchly To access the full breadth of our team, please contact Tania Goatley in the first instance on 09 916 8766 or email W W W. B E L L G U L LY. C O M

46   // 


Asked why he views this central area as different in climate to the rest of the Bay, he suggests a number of factors. To begin with, the location is inland so the climate is cooler in winter and during

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wear them when they were way too small so his feet were all arched up. He worked here at the winery basically all the way through school. But it wasn’t a fait accompli that he would choose a career here. He could have gone and worked anywhere, in anything he wanted. But it was always something he wanted to do. He never actually talked to me about becoming a winemaker, it just sort of evolved. That didn’t surprise me, I don’t know why, but I just thought if he came into the business, he would end up being a winemaker. It probably offered him more of a challenge, as there is a whole other side of winemaking, that involves marketing and travel. I thought that would suit him. I have always said to him, don’t do this with the thought that this place will be here at the end of it. You need to do it because you want to do it. Not because you think we are going to sit around waiting for you as a winemaker to come back. We tried to make it clear that he could go off and do whatever he wanted to. In fact, in a sense we said if you want to do winemaking, make sure you go off and do


back then. In 1991 the Macdonald family moved to New Zealand and Mac (James’s father) became Jane’s right hand man. James was four at that time, and he used to come here (to the winery) after kindy. We had this racking system in the wine shop and he would sit there and stack the wines in. He worked it out by the colour of the labels, because obviously he couldn’t read. He used to call Pinot Noir, Pinot Quinair for some reason. He was always helping out, stacking things and carrying water jugs around. I remember his favourite job at the Wine Festival used to be counting all the festival francs. We have photos of him with all this money and the counting machines the bank had given us. There he was with these great wads of francs, putting them into the counting machine. They say that I started him off liking the finer things in life because when he was about two, I was on a wine trip in New York and bought him a pair of Weebok baby shoes. Apparently he never took them off and kept trying to

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something somewhere else. He would do an overseas vintage for three or four months, then a bit of travelling and would come back for vintage here. That was a valuable time for him I think. In France he really amazed us. He had to speak French to talk to the growers and I don’t think he had done French at school. He was living in a totally different environment and just got on with it. That was truly remarkable. I would have been hard pressed to do anything like that at his age. That gave him the ability to work with lots of different groups, which is important. You meet different spectrums of people in these sorts of jobs, so it pays to get along with everyone. You can’t stand on your credentials. That is one of his strengths, the ability to get on with people. He is a much more even temperament than I am. Although sometimes he can be inflexible like we all can. But his biggest strength is his more

James, Jane and Edward.

moderate temperament. He seems to be able to have a lot of balls up in the air and deal with them. It is one of the things we have to keep an eye on, that he doesn’t burn out. In a place this size, his strengths are an ability to relate to everyone, but still stay in charge. He can be reserved, but he is probably different with his friends than with other people. They probably see a more relaxed James. He is a big guy, in the physical sense and you don’t naturally think he has the softer side to him, but he has. He is very thoughtful.

Probably an old head on young shoulders. We don’t ever think of it as being unusual, that we are an aunt and nephew, rather than a parent and child. And I don’t know if having a different name to Hunter has helped or hindered. Although I remember when they first came over here back in 1991, I had done this telelvision ad for the BNZ. It showed the winery and kept mentioning my name. We were at Chris and Phil Rose’s house once when this ad came on. Their

kids didn’t know James and at one point someone turned to him and asked who he was. He was four at the time, and he just turned to them and said he was James Macdonald Hunter. We were like – what? He has never done that again, and to be honest he probably doesn’t even remember it. They (James and Edward) will be taking this over eventually – if it is still going. As Edward has always said, James will make the wine and he (Edward) will run the business. Let’s see what happens.



eople often ask me why I got into this business. When I was a boy Dad and Jane used to go on these sales trips to Europe and England and would come back with these football jerseys from my favourite teams and all sorts of great presents like English wine gums. I remember all that, and it was the travel that really attracted me to the business. From when I was four, I was convinced that I was employed and was a key part of the operation. That hasn’t really waned. I started out stacking bottles in the cellar door, and later I was mowing lawns, and pruning olive trees, or hanging out with Paddy the dog. (Jane’s Clumber Spaniel). Then I started getting paid for it, $5 an hour. Before I knew it, it was expected by Dad that I work every

50   // 

holidays for 40 hours a week. I always had this game of cat and mouse with Gary (Duke – winemaker at Hunters from 1991 until 2014). He wanted to sort me out and show me what hard work was really like. He wanted to put me on the bottling line. I would always use my position as nephew of the owner and son of the GM to avoid that at all costs. It went on for years and years and became a running joke. I never actually had to do it, so I guess I won that one. I have loved the work. If as a young boy you are into tractors and machinery and agriculture, then this is the perfect place to grow up. Although there was a bit of reluctance to let me behind the wheel of a tractor. I had to go to


Adelaide and my Grandfather had to verify me as fit to drive one. He did that when I was 14. He had been driving tractors for 60 years, so he taught me everything I needed to know. Then he told Jane that I was fit to drive a tractor, that I could be trusted not to break anything. That was that, off I went. I was signed up for three boarding schools in my time.

Firstly, St Peter’s in Adelaide at birth. Then I was ready to go to Nelson Boys College in the third form and was ready to get a scholarship for cricket at St Andrews in the fifth form. I pulled out of them all because I didn’t want to leave here. I couldn’t face leaving home and leaving the winery. I remember a lot of my decisions were around the fact that I wouldn’t have a job any more. I wasn’t that interested in school, I just wanted to be here. There was never ever any expectation that I would become a part of the business. I spent five years away after university, working in Australia and France. My parents made sure that I knew there were other options out there. As soon as I finished school I had a gap year and went and worked at a 25,000 tonne facility

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in Riverland. Dad and Jane thought I needed exposure to the harsher side of the industry. In 2005, people were printing money here, the situation was buoyant and everything was pretty easy. So I went to a place where grape prices were as low as $200 a tonne and got to see the other side. My first actual vintage though

was here when I was 15. I was working after school, during the holidays and at weekends. And I have done vintages here ever since. The only thing that got in the way was university in the end, because the holidays didn’t work out. I work not only for my aunt, but also my Dad, and while I guess it is a bit unusual, this is what I have

grown up with. I still call her Aunty Jane and she always ends her emails with the initials A J. I do have to take a step back sometimes though. I know the reality is that if Jane wasn’t my aunt, I wouldn’t be running a 2000 tonne winery at the age of 30. So I have been very lucky, I know that. Jane is incredibly generous.

She is meticulous in her planning, takes notes on everything. And she is trusting. She trusts Edward and I to have the ability to do our jobs, which is really great. I would be lying if I didn’t say we had disagreements. But we always manage to overcome them for the family unit and the business. We know with Jane, if we present a clear case for something or change within the business, and she can see a clear benefit, she will back us all the way. Would I like to see another generation come through here? Of course. Although we as a family are not dynastic. We have a very clear and shared consensus that we are in this to have a profitable business and an enjoyable life. We are not here to create this big dynasty for a family name. We are here because of the family name, but we also are here because we love the business and the job we do. We don’t have any sense of entitlement that this will continue forever. ■

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Moving images – so important Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


here is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well if that is the case, then maybe a moving picture is worth tens of thousands. NZWinegrower contributor Mark Orton certainly believes so. While his stories from Central Otago have been a feature of this magazine for the past few years, Orton’s background is in social and observational documentary filmmaking. It is his understanding of this medium, that has made him question the lack of professional looking video being used by wineries to engage with their customers “It has surprised me when I go to their websites, that they don’t have a lot of moving images. They may have some very nice still photos, but I think there is a real opportunity that is being lost here, to tell individual stories.” Even when he finds websites with video included, he often gets a little depressed at the lack of professionalism of them. Which he

52   // 

puts down to individuals using everyday equipment to shoot a short video and then uploading it, despite their lack of skill. “Unfortunately now that you can shoot video on your phone at a high standard, it doesn’t mean that the operator knows what they are doing. I have been watching videos and it alarms me that an organization capable of making fantastic wine would expose themselves to potential customers with really below par video.” While the picture may be okay, Orton says it is often the poor sound quality that is the biggest detracting feature, especially given so many wine videos are filmed in an outdoor environment such as a vineyard. “It is one of the things people don’t tend to think about when they are videoing something, just how incredibly important audio is. The first thing that crops up, is you have wind buffeting the microphone. Then they are trying to record off a camera that is quite some distance from the per-


Mark Orton at work.

son who is speaking. So it is hard to hear what the person is saying and even worse with the wind noise.” The impact of a good video cannot be underestimated Orton says. Especially if it is used to tell a story – which as marketers have been saying for years, is one of the most important aspects of marketing your wine. And a video doesn’t need to be overly long. It could be anything from a 30 second greeting, to a three or more minute story. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either he says. Not when you consider the impact it has. “If people are embracing social media, especially for the marketing of their business, then they

are losing a massive opportunity if they haven’t got some form of video content playing on that feed. It means that the client base if they manage to find their way to the website, can actually interact with the people at the winery or in the vineyard.” There have been other benefits, with a video Orton took for Urban Vino in Dunedin, helping the owner gain traction with his Pledge Me Campaign. “Brendan said it was the video that helped him get over the line, he was really thankful for it.” A case of a moving picture – telling far more than a still image. ■

Among the vines Reminders for April/May


he period leading into harvest represents a key time to gauge the insect pest status in your vineyard. Pests like leaf roller and mealy bug build up their populations as the season advances, so tend to be at their most abundant around harvest time. Both migrate into bunches around veraison. The bunches offer a protected environment and highly-nutritious food source. Once inside, their presence can impact negatively on fruit quality. The ability of mealy bug to transmit the grapevine leafroll 3 virus underlines the need to keep this pest under control. Best practice to get an indication of pest pressure is to destructively assess a representative sample of bunches in each block and record the number which harbour insects. This gives you an accurate record of the resident pest population, but will also help frame the crop protection strategy for the following growing season. Remember Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand requires systematic monitoring be carried out before insecticides can be applied.

Black dead arm and dying arm diseases of grapevines are caused by wood-infecting fungi such as Botryosphaeria stevensii and Eutypa lata. Both have the ability to invade healthy vines through the unprotected wounds caused by pruning. Rainfall releases spores, which are carried by wind and washed onto the cuts. The spores

then germinate on the cut surface and grow into the healthy wood. Preventative control is the key to successfully managing the problem. Infected parts of the vine should be removed during pruning and burnt, particularly older wood. If practicable, prune vines

during spells of dry weather and apply suitable wound dressing (for example Greenseal Ultra™) to significant cuts soon after they are made. Apply an even coat of the wound dressing and ensure it extends to the margins of the cut. ■

Mealy bug among the berries.





Contact Norwood, Blenheim Ph 03-578 1021

Ph 0800 476 868 NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2017  //   53


River T Estate Mark Orton


riving from Central Otago to the Waitaki Valley, you could be forgiven for that no wine region existed here. Apart from a few pockets of grapes, it’s hardly like driving through Gibbston, Bannockburn or even the road from Cromwell to Wanaka. But with more than 12 labels currently in production, The Waitaki Valley does a pretty good job of flying under the radar, though it’s hardly by design. For Murray Turner and his partner Karen Tweed, the launch of their new label, River T Estate, is something they certainly want people to know about, even if that just involves the 350 permanent residents of Kurow for now.

54   // 

Arriving at their four hectare site, the rustic sign and wagon wheel sum up the down-home feel and philosophy behind River T Estate. With over 40 years of horticulture heritage in the Wait-


aki valley, most of that spent in his family’s stone-fruit business, Murray Turner knows more than most what the challenges and benefits are. After taking an 18-month break

in Australia in the late 90s, Turner always knew he would return to the valley, so purchased back a block of land that his family had sold in 1997. “The joke around here was

that I moved across the road via Australia.” When Turner did return, he discovered that Dunedin businessman Howard Patterson had taken an interest in the area and was planting the first grapes in the valley at a place called Doctor’s Creek. Turner had developed an interest in viticulture at University in the late 1970s, so was keen to get involved, if not a little skeptical. “It was a little random really, but after we planted the first four hectares in 2001 and had a great growing season that first year, other’s started to plant at the same time.” The excitement in creating a new wine region was one thing, but for those pioneers there was something intrinsically special below the surface, a relic from an ancient sea that once enveloped the area, that convinced them they were onto a good thing. “The limestone was the key. Certainly Jim Jerram (Ostler) thought so after he used a plane to find the site that he has down in Duntroon. That site is basically on

a limestone escarpment.” In 2003, the fledgling valley had their first vintage which Turner describes as ‘spectacular’. Not quite Central Otago and not quite Waipara, the Waitaki Valley started carving out a reputation for wines that didn’t sit easily in either of those camps. It is often looked upon as a promising upstart that hasn’t delivered on the initial promise. Both Turner and Tweed grin wryly over their tea-cups when musing on some of the things that have been said about grape endeavours in the Waitaki Valley. “As stone-fruit growers we were lumped in with Canterbury and often people try to tack us onto Central Otago for the wine, but we aren’t either” says Turner. “It’s different you know, and that’s why there was such interest in the early days. The long growing season and ethereal climate gives the wines that we are producing now a real distinction. Though, it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted.” With harvesting in the Waitaki going right through until late May,

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River T’s Karen Tweed and Murray Turner.

it takes a certain type of character to ride the rollercoaster of anticipation that happens each year. When winemakers further north have put their wines to bed and are planning their winter adventures, in the Waitaki they will be clenching their teeth, looking skyward and often itching to start picking. With such an inconsistent climate and untold challenges, the question must be asked…why bother? “Well, we’ve always been able to ripen, so the nervous wait at the

end is just part of it. Though, any temperature spikes in a marginal area like this are really magnified. That year that the iceberg came up past Dunedin was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Fortunately, the lateness of our grapes actually works quite well for our winemaker Antony Worch (Alexandra Vintners). He has time to process his Central Otago grapes before ours arrive.” Through a process of trial and error with root stocks, varieties

and clonal selections, Turner and Tweed reckon that with 10-15 years of hindsight, Waitaki winegrowers are only now starting to realise the true potential of this pioneering district. “My brother and I had a company, that pretty much planted and managed every single block that ever went into the valley” says Turner. “In fact we only stopped managing some of them last year so that we could do our own label.” “Back in the mid-2000s there

was an awful lot of Pinot Gris planted which we now regret, so people are already revising what we have here,” says Tweed. “There has been quite a bit of re-planting which includes Chardonnay, and that is looking really good.” From the dusty collection of trail and farm bikes stretching back to the 60s, everything about this place still feels like the town where a young lad with the surname McCaw learned to play rugby. Times are changing though, and with a mini property boom in Kurow itself, Turner and Tweed were convinced that the time was right to launch their own label. “Rather than just grow grapes, we want to be part of the whole thing and have some fun with it. “Up until now, from our 10,000 vines out here, we had just been growing and selling to Grant Taylor (Valli) for his Waitaki Pinot and Riesling. He is very much part of our story.


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The picturesque Waitaki River.

“We don’t have time to market to every restaurant and that is not our skill, so we thought that if we can move our wine through local outlets at a price point that rural people can accept, then that will be our focus. “At this stage we are trying to cover off every possible outlet within 100 kilometres of where we are sitting. As we own all the viticulture equipment and Karen does all the day-to-day vineyard work, we can keep the cost down so we can pass on those savings in

the bottle price.” Part of the crusade that Murray and Karen are on, if you can call it that, is to educate the locals to take pride in an industry that is 15 plus years old, yet still relatively concealed. In a valley overshadowed by a couple of prominent labels, both Turner and Tweed who have worked on the majority of vineyards in the district, want to shout about more than just their own label. “The locals have no idea what is grown here and most of them

could only name two labels in the whole district.” says Tweed. “The worst thing is going to the liquor stores in Oamaru (50 minutes away) who do absolutely nothing to champion the wine from here.” With the Alps 2 Ocean cycle track passing through town and plenty of holidaymakers floating about in the summer, River T would also love to see tourism Waitaki getting behind the labels in the valley. “The people who are coming through have some money to

spend and they want to drink wine, but people show up here and ask ‘where are all the wines’? Fortunately the trail goes through the rear of our property so it might be time to put a cellar door in.” Given all the challenges that a tempestuous growing season provides and the tricky nature of selling wine, both Turner and Tweed are positively brimming about what the future holds, but not without a healthy dose of realism. ■



Dancing to the wine tune Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


ophie Harris has to thank her mum for more than most people around her. The assistant winemaker at Rod McDonald Wines in Hawke’s Bay may never have considered a career in the wine industry, if it hadn’t been for her mother’s tenacious mid-life career change. Looking for something she could see herself enjoying, Harris’s mum decided to undertake the EIT Diploma in Viticulture and continued on to complete the degree.

From there she went on to manage the Kim Crawford cellar door. So Harris herself also got to do some part time work there, not that she thought too much about it. “I didn’t think her decision to study at EIT had influenced me at the time, at least not when I was leaving high school and was unsure about what I wanted to do. I was working in the cellar door, but wasn’t really that interested in wine at that time.” Instead her interest was in the


Sophie Harris – from dancer to winemaker.

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58   // 


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Rod McDonald vineyards in Hawke’s Bay.

performing arts, contemporary dance in particular. Initially she had dreams of being a dancer, but after a year of study at Unitech in Auckland, she realised that maybe there wasn’t a future in it for her. “I loved it and I would love to be doing some dancing now. But I wasn’t sure what I was going do to with it in the future. I didn’t want to teach dancing and that was the only viable option if you are not going to be in a dance company.” So back to Hawke’s Bay, where she once again joined the cellar door staff with her mother, before heading to Marlborough to undertake a vintage at the Kim Crawford winery . Even this wasn’t enough to set her pulses racing – it was just a way to earn some money so she could travel to Australia. So what was it that turned this young woman from dancer to winemaker? “I came back after a year in Australia and did another vintage. When I did that first vintage I loved it and loved the work, I just didn’t understand what I was doing. But when I did the second vintage in Hawke’s Bay, it all clicked. I loved the physicality of it, there was so much to learn and it was so exciting. The people were exciting and they were all so passionate about what they were doing.” She decided she was going to be a winemaker, despite the fact she hadn’t been the greatest science student at school. “I probably wasn’t interested in it back then, but when I went to EIT, I loved the chemistry side of things. I could

see where it was heading and all of a sudden it had a purpose.” Graduating in 2012, Harris then took off to gain as much experience as she could, via vintages around the world. She believes that international experience has helped her develop as a winemaker. “It was really important, the gaining of knowledge and making relationships with people. Hearing the way others think about things is also important. It makes you think differently.” The work in places like Italy, Napa and Australia gave her hands on experience with a range of varieties – and a love for Cabernet Sauvignon. “I found that variety really appealed to me, especially as I got to taste a few older wines. They are so deep and really interesting.” Rod McDonald Wines doesn’t normally produce a straight Cab Sav, Harris says, but just recently they made a one off. “Rod had this beautiful parcel of Cabernet from 2014, sitting in barrel. It looked spectacular and he didn’t want to lose it by blending it with anything else. It is looking amazing, so that is really exciting.” As is her new position. “I am getting to see everything through to bottling. I hadn’t done a lot of the finishing of wines before I came here, so now I am getting to do things I have never done before. And working with Rod is fantastic. He is well known as a great winemaker – I just think I am so lucky to be learning from him.” ■

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Join the programme


ntering its 14th year, the MPI/NZW Viticultural Benchmarking Programme is looking to extend, and is keen to have more growers come on board. The programme which began in 2004, initially aimed to create a full financial model, based on 15 vineyards in both Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay. The results were extrapolated out, to provide a template for the rest of the country. Since 2014, when NZWinegrowers joined as a co-funder, the programme has expanded and alongside the full financial model it began producing gross margin benchmarking in 2015 – again based on results from Marlborough and Hawkes Bay. Last year Gisborne and Wairarapa were included, and this year Central Otago growers will be able to take part as well. Fruition spokesman Greg Dryden, who oversees the programme, says there are significant differences between the two programmes.

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Both in terms of information sought and the numbers of growers involved.

Gross Margin Benchmarking This is a tool for growers that allows them to compare the financial and productive performance of their blocks in their own vineyards, with other vineyards in their region and around the country. “It includes winery and contract growers and we are able to provide reports back to sub groupings so growers can compare their data with other like businesses,” Dryden says. Participants receive a full report that shows the operational costs per block, in a dollar per hectare basis, a dollar per tonne basis and a dollar per metre or kilometer basis. A second report that gathers all the information together is also provided to MPI and NZW, (where it is available to view in the member’s section of the NZWine website).


But as in all forms of data collation, the more coming in, means the more information going out. That is why the programme is extending. “We would like to break down the data further, but until we get critical mass of data coming in, we can’t break it down to sub groups.” Growers who have taken part over the years have said it has been a valuable exercise and provided information to make efficiency and cost efficiency changes within their business. “The information provided can point them to an area where something needs to be done. And growers can gain valuable information on benchmarking themselves against growers within their region.” The web based programme is free to all, and Dryden is keen to see the numbers participating grow this coming season. MPI are also looking for more growers in the Marlborough region to take part in the full Financial Performance Model.

Currently there are 38 growers, contract and winery, taking part. The range of vineyard size varies from less than 10 hectares to over 50 hectares, and Dryden says they are looking for a further 12 to take part this year. “This programme looks at indepth detail. We view the whole vineyard financials and this gives us the ability to do some quite significant breakdowns. “We are able for example, to report on a winery grower average for the Awatere Valley, or a contract grower average for the Wairau Valley. “We can do very good upper and lower quartile analysis on this model. “So if financial monitoring is your thing, we are keen to have you involved.” Both programmes are free of charge and all information is treated confidentially. • If you would like more details contact Greg Dryden on; or phone 027 484 3857.■


History in the glass – the Calvert Vineyard Joelle Thomson


ts legacy of gold sluicings, Dijon clones and biodynamic certification make the 44 hectare Calvert Vineyard one of Central Otago’s most distinctive sites, and it has an interesting history of high profile winery involvement too from Cloudy Bay, Craggy Range and Felton Road to Pyramid Valley. The Felton Road winery has the longest history of involvement at the Calvert Vineyard, having used grapes from the property for 17 years now. It purchased three Pinot Noir blocks - Willows, Aurum and Springs blocks - from Owen Calvert. “We planted these ourselves to our specifications back in 2001 when we started leasing the entire

(44 hectare) Calvert Property from Owen. They are fully certified by Demeter as being farmed biodynamically. The area of vine rows between our section of Calvert and MacMuir, are the sections of Calvert that Cloudy Bay now leases from Owen,” says Felton Road winemaker Blair Walter. “The MacMuir vineyard was originally part of the Calvert property and was a nut orchard and a bare paddock that we were using for growing hay and straw for our animals, but also our compost and mulch programs. “We purchased this bare land in 2010 and started planting in vines in 2012. A little bit of the fruit now goes into the Bannockburn Pinot Noir with most of it in 2016

being whole bunch pressed and made into Vin Gris.” The Calvert site has a northeast facing aspect and relatively low elevation at between 215 and 228 metres. This means the grapes generally ripen earlier on this vineyard than on some other nearby sites, due to the lower elevation providing more sunshine, with less shading from the western hills. Its soils are all classified as deep silt loams. They are consistent across and down the vineyard slope except for a heavier, more silt laden component at the south eastern corner, which is known as the Willows Block. The soil is derived from a mixture of fine textured lake bed sediments (tertiary clays) and quartz sands as well as

quartz and fine schist gravels. Walter says the soils are regarded as having relatively high natural fertility with good water holding capacity. And, despite their dense texture, there are no impenetrable layers. Felton Road planted the Aurum, Willows and Springs Blocks in 2001 in three clones of Pinot Noir (B667, B777, B115). The planting density is 3500 vines per hectare, with three different rootstocks (3309, 101.14, Riparia Gloire). Standard VSP canopy management is employed using a cane pruned double Guyot. The viticulture is 100% organic and biodynamic and is fully certified by Demeter.■



To have events listed in this calendar, please email details to;

APRIL 1 Explore Waiheke Wine and Food Festival – Main Event Waiheke Island


The Food Show – Horncastle Arena



Clyde Wine and Food Festival

Judging for the International Wine Challenge 2017

Decanter World Wine Awards 2016, Judging week

Clyde, Central Otago

Tranche 2




MAY 5 International Sauvignon Blanc Day the world


Saint Clair Half Marathon Marlborough


The Great New Zealand Food Show Claudelands Event Centre Hamilton

JUNE 2-25 FAWC Hawke’s Bay Wine and Food Classic Winter Series


NZWinegrowers Grape Days Napier


NZWinegrowers Grape Days Marlborough


NZWinegrowers Grape Days Central Otago


The Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference ASB Theatre, Blenheim. Registrations;

62   // 


20 Bluff Oyster Festival Bluff

26-28 The Food Show – Westpac Stadium Wellington




APRIL Australia

Melbourne Wine and Food Festival Made in NZ

April 6&7


The Great NZ Wine Tiki Tour (Vancouver)

May 4


New Zealand Wine Tasting (Austin, Texas)

May 17


New Zealand Wine Fair (Shanghai)

May 19


New Zealand Wine Fair (Beijing)

May 22


New Zealand Wine Fair (Chengdu)

May 24


New Zealand Wine Fair (Guangzhou)

May 26

Hong Kong

New Zealand Wine Fair

May 29


Game of Rhones (Perth)

June 3


Game or Rhones (Melbourne)

June 10


Game of Rhones (Brisbane)

June 11


Game of Rhones (Sydney)

June 18









2018 forecast

PRINCIPAL EXPORT MARKETS % of Total in 2018 forecast







Hawkes Bay Central Otago
















Wairarapa / Wellington














National Total

Exports for the year to date to the end of January 2017 (Moving Annual Total)


Litres (m)


Growth Decline Litres %

Growth Decline FOB %



















































Hong Kong




































Sauvignon Blanc


Pinot Noir


























Chardonnay Pinot Gris





Cabernet Sauv












Cabernet Franc




Sauvignon Gris




All other varieties Total








Regional area producing ha

Auckland/Northland Canterbury Gisborne


Average of Area ha 4

Number of Vineyards 93







Hawke’s Bay

















Nelson Northland Central Otago Waikato








Wellington / Wairarapa








64   // 



RESEARCH SUPPLEMENT Information and Updates on NZ Winegrowers Research Programmes. Editor Dr Simon Hooker, General Manager Research and Innovation

A regular feature at the back of each issue of WineGrower to inform industry people about research projects being undertaken for their benefit. Newly approved projects (when available) are briefly summarised in the first section ‘Introducing New Projects’. Longer reports in the section headed ‘Progress Reports’, will describe what has been achieved so far. Scientists in charge of each project have been asked to make these reports reader-friendly rather than to follow the usual format of scientific papers. When completed, each project will be reported in full detail, with references, on the website:

LIST OF PROJECTS Quality Wine Styles for Existing and Developing Markets The pathway of volatile sulphur compounds in wine yeast – The Bragato Trust and NZW Scholarship University of Auckland – (Dr Bruno Fedrizzi - student Matias Kinzurk) Lower alcohol wine (PGP) University of Auckland and Plant and Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MPI Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) fund. High-throughput genotyping of transposon-induced mutations in vines Lincoln University (C Winefield) Population genomics of the wine spoilage yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis Auckland University (M Goddard) Low alcohol-reduced calorie wines using molecular sponges for sugar removal University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi)

Pests and Disease


Grapevine Trunk Disease; young vine ecology, diagnostics and preventative treatments New Zealand Viticulture Nursery Association Incorporated (VINA) (N Hoskins)

Pinot noir wine composition and sensory characteristics as affected by soil type and irrigation in the Waipara region Lincoln University (G Creasy)

Leafroll virus and mealybug monitoring in Marlborough, 2015 to 2017 Plant and Food Research (V Bell) Virus diversity in New Zealand grapevines: sequence, ecology and impact – The Rod Bonfiglioli Scholarship Plant and Food Research (R MacDiarmid - student A Blouin) Optimising management of grapevine trunk diseases for vineyard longevity South Australian Research & Development Institute (M Sosnowski) Developing Powdery Mildew Best Practise in New Zealand Vineyards Lewis Wright Valuation & Consultancy Ltd (T Lupton) Supported by MPI Sustainable Farming Fund

Vineyard Ecosystems Programme University of Auckland and Plant and Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MBIE Sector weather data licence & tools HortPlus (NZ) Ltd. Cost efficient optimisation of weed management in vineyards Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

Cost Reduction/Increased Profitability Grapevine growth stage monitoring for prediction of key phenological events Plant and Food Research (R Agnew) Supported by MPI Sustainable Farming Fund

Shoot trimming effects on Pinot noir vine leaf area to fruit weight ratio, productivity and fruit composition Lincoln University (G Creasy)



Optimising management of grapevine trunk diseases for vineyard longevity Mark Sosnowski1, Dion Mundy2, Eline van Zijll de Jong3 and Alvaro Vidiella3 1 South Australian Research & Development Institute 2 The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited 3 Linnaeus Laboratory 16 - 102 Eutypa and botryosphaeria dieback are major grapevine trunk diseases worldwide, causing significant yield and quality reduction. They threaten the sustainability of New Zealand vineyards and are becoming an increasing problem as vineyards age, leading to removal of vineyards (Fig. 1). Outcomes of previous research by New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW 13-100) is leading to registration of fungicides, which can be applied with tractor-driven sprayers post-pruning to protect against infection by grapevine trunk pathogens, and could save the New Zealand industry up to $NZ20 million per annum. New research has commenced (NZW 16-102) that will continue to optimise strategies by validating the curative and preventative properties of fungicides. Trials will be established on Sauvignon Blanc vines in Marlborough to evaluate the efficacy of Gelseal Ultra™, Megastar™ and Gem® when applied up to 1 week after pruning and inoculation with eutypa and botryosphaeria dieback pathogens. In addition, trials will evaluate how long the fungicides remain effective, once applied. Wound susceptibility has been shown to vary between climatic regions around the world, so trials will be established on Sauvignon Blanc vines in Marlborough to evaluate the effect of pruning time on duration of wound susceptibility. Early, mid and late pruning will

66   // 

Figure 1. Removal of grapevines in Marlborough due to trunk disease.


Figure 2. Burkard fungal spore trap with solar rechargeable power supply in a vineyard in Australia.

be conducted, and then wounds will be inoculated with eutypa and botryosphaeria dieback pathogens at intervals up to 3 months. There is limited information on the dispersal of spores of these pathogens in New Zealand vineyards. Burkard spore traps (Fig. 2) will be deployed in Hawke’s

Bay and Marlborough, based on systems currently being used in Australia. Molecular diagnostic protocols will be developed to detect and quantify spores on tapes and then used to analyse samples collected from spore traps. This will provide knowledge on

the timing and duration of spore release periods in these regions, along with the impact of weather variables. The outcome of this research will be to develop best-practice recommendations for the critical timing of grapevine pruning and wound protection based on fungi-

cide efficacy, wound susceptibility and spore dispersal. In future, this research will expand to other regions with different environmental conditions and provide localised regional recommendations, which will contribute to vineyard longevity.■

The Powdery Project 16 – 101 The words “powdery mildew” are enough to send fear through any grape grower. It is the stuff of sleepless nights and money down the drain. Five years ago our understanding and control of powdery mildew was relatively routine and achievable. However the past few seasons have been tough. With the loss of systemic chemicals to help control it and the discovery of the new sexual phase of powdery mildew (Chasmothecia) causing season on season pressure, we are facing an unprecedented challenge and work load to keep powdery mildew under control. To help growers adjust to the new challenge New Zealand Winegrowers together with the Sustainable Farming Fund have invested in a three year project on powdery mildew control. The project has two key focuses 1) To help growers and viticultural advisors understand the best practises for managing powdery mildew, and to provide support and practical tools to help. 2) To better understand powdery mildew management through research on: • Evaluating the effectiveness of different fungicide spray programmes • Evaluating the effectiveness of sulphur mixed with fungicide • The impact of a late eradication spray on Chasmothecia levels

What has happened so far? Since July 2016 when the project started the following has been made available to growers: Spray Days 2016 These were a series of practical workshops held for growers and operators around the country look at the key aspects needed for good powdery control. Overall 700 people attended the events which included workshops on how to set up your sprayer correctly, how to calculate application rates correctly and how to manage you canopy to reduce the risk of powdery mildew. Sprayer Setup Guides A series of ‘sprayer setup

guides’ have been produced by new Zealand Winegrowers in conjunction with sprayer manufacturing companies. Sprayer setup guides are available for Silvan Evo/ GII/GIII, Croplands Quantum Mist, Bertolini and FMR V series sprayers. Setup guides are available as A4 shed posters currently and will soon be loaded to the New Zealand Winegrowers website for download. Spray Mix mate App Calculating spray application rates can be complicated and calculation errors are common and have major implications. To help tackle this challenge New Zealand Winegrowers has developed a new mobile app that calculates


Sprayer setup videos Developing the ‘sprayer setup guides’ concept further, a series of short video are being developed for the common sprayers on the market. These will provide growers and operators simple and easy to follow guidance on making sure your sprayer are setup properly to ensure good coverage.

68   // 


S P R AY E R S E T - U P CROPLANDS: QUAntum mist


Offset inner and outer heads


ing Spee

Keep nozzles in airstream Up to

10 km/hr

Op e

Head parallel to canopy, no forward or back angle

700 - 1000mm from head face to canopy centre

Top head in centre of upper canopy. Lift as canopy grows

ting Pres ra

Set fan speed so spray plume passes 150 - 250mm through the canopy

re su

What’s coming up?

Case Studies Ten case studies are currently underway throughout New Zealand. The case studies include vineyards who are struggling with powdery mildew control right through to these operating with excellent control levels. The case studies work with New Zealand Winegrowers to look at what practices they are doing, identify gaps and opportunities to improve and then implement the improved practices and monitor powdery mildew levels. The knowledge gained from these case studies will help show growers the critical aspects of management for good powdery control. If you would like to discuss the Powdery Project or get copies of any of the setup guides please email: Anna Lambourne – (Powdery Project Manager for New Zealand Winegrowers) powderyproject@ • This project was made possible by funding from New Zealand Winegrowers and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF 404900).■


the maximum application rate per hectare required for your row spacing, stage of growth, spray target and label rate. You can go a step further, you can calculate tank mixes, using your planned application volume, tank size and area to be sprayed, the app then calculates exactly how big the job is, how many tanks you need and how much chemical to add to each tank to get the job done. This information can then be shared by email or SMS with others. Spray Mix Mate Calculator is free to download for the New Zealand wine industry and is available for both android and iOS users from Google Play and the App Store.

4-10 Bar

Top head horizontal, no up/down angle


FRUIT ZONE Bottom head height just below fruit zone


Bottom head angle 10-15° upward

Spray volume distribution from flowering onward

CHECK K e y p o i n t s f o r s p r ay e r s e t - u p 1. Offset opposing heads so spray plumes do not interfere with each other. 2. Align heads parallel to the canopy. No forward or back angle. 3. Distance of 700 - 1000mm between head face and canopy centre. 4. Bottom head just below fruit zone and angled 10 – 15° upward. 5. Top head horizontal and in the centre of the upper canopy. Start with head low and lift as canopy grows - do not use aggressive down angles. 6. Operating speeds up to 10km/hr.

7. Nozzle pressure between 4 - 10 bar. 8. Ensure nozzles are angled so that spray is mixed in airstream. 9. Volume 60% bottom head 40% top head - from flowering onward. 10. Fan speed set so spray passes 150 - 250mm through canopy. 11. The following fan speeds are a guide only (VSP canopies). Fan Size Early season (rpm)

Full canopy (rpm) Bunch line only (rpm)






2000 - 2500

500mm 1000 - 2000

Bring head to 500mm from canopy centre

R E M E M B E R ! B E F O R E YO U S P R AY Personal protective equipment

Check heads are at correct height and angle

Check coverage

Look for problems

Lighter wines – occasion to innovate Early success and future promise have led three of the country’s power brands to make substantial investments in lower alcohol wines An industry initiative to develop high-quality, lower alcohol and lower calorie wines is already proving to be no lightweight when it comes to growing a new product category in the marketplace. “Lighter Wines” (formerly known as “Lifestyle Wines”) is a seven-year research and development programme led by New Zealand Winegrowers and cofunded under the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership (PGP). With contributions from industry levies and direct investment by 18 participating companies, the programme focuses on all aspects of lighter wines (less than 10% alcohol by volume), covering everything from vineyard and winemaking practices to sensory assessment to marketing approaches. Participants also seek to benefit from any learnings that enable them to lower (slightly) the alcohol levels in full-strength wines for improved balance and market appeal. The cooperative approach, combined with wine quality and serendipitous timing, has seen category growth for lighter wines double in the domestic market since 2014, when the programme was established. The category is continuing to grow by 18% to 20% a year, says Richard Lee, marketing manager for Lighter Wines. “It’s gone from nothing to rocking on towards 300,000 cases a year very quickly.” Lee notes that if Australia was selling the same proportion of lighter wine as New Zealand is now, there would be an “opportunity gap” of around one million cases. In the United Kingdom, the gap would be double that, he adds.

“We have come a long way, to the point where the New Zealand category is the most advanced in the world in terms of proportion of wine sold as lower alcohol.” The programme’s extensive research agenda rides tandem with rapid product development and has turned New Zealand into something of a “laboratory” for the category, says Lee. “We figure out what works here and take it to the world. We know there is definitely potential in those markets and the key proviso is equal quality and flavour to what people normally consume.” Three companies participating in the programme are powerhouses Constellation Brands,

Pernod Ricard and Lion.

Constellation Brands Lower alcohol wines must offer a “like-for-like” experience that satisfies aroma, texture and flavour expectations, says Nina Stojnic. The vice-president of Constellation’s marketing for Australia and New Zealand says quality is non-negotiable if the nascent category is to continue its growth. Figure 1. Constellation Brands received the Business Innovation Award at the 2016 New Zealand Food Awards for VNO lighter wines. As shown here, the VNO Lighter Sauvignon Blanc wears an intelligent label that turns blue when wine is chilled to 8ºC.

LESSONS LEARNED Extensive research conducted by the Lighter Wines programme has revealed key market findings, says Richard Lee, marketing manager. “We are now seeing companies adapt their strategies based on what the market has told us it wants and expects.” Here’s a quick round-up of recent developments. Meeting expectations: First and foremost, the wine has to meet the consumer’s expectations of the variety and brand, says Lee. “The key proviso is equal quality and flavour to wines people normally consume.” Messaging: Recent market research has revealed that consumers typically describe lower alcohol wines as “lighter”, making that the best descriptor for companies. VNO’s lower alcohol offerings initially hit the market with the descriptor of “skinny”, but are now branded “lighter”, based on market research. Brand association: Launching lower alcohol labels under the auspices of a known brand has been key to success for several companies in the Lighter Wines programme. Constellation launched First Pick in New Zealand as a tier of the wellestablished Kim Crawford brand, using

its trusted name to win over consumers who may have been sceptical about lower alcohol wines. Fitting the occasion: The lower alcohol category is occasion-driven, says Lee. For regular drinking occasions, alcohol content is not high on the list of consumers’ purchase decision criteria. But for “moderation occasions”, such as needing to drive or stay sharp for a meeting, or perhaps having come straight from a yoga class, alcohol content becomes a much greater purchase consideration. “For some occasions it can be the difference between somebody having a glass of wine or none at all.” A lighter look: The market tends to associate the category with clear glass wine bottles, which is an opportunity for companies to make lighter wines more easily recognisable. “The other thing is that consumers associate lighter wines with more refreshing – lighter, brighter, fresher – wines,” he says. “Lighter-coloured bottles play to that. Pernod Ricard goes one step further, with the wines in its Stoneleigh Lighter series a shade paler than their standard counterparts.”


“That’s particularly important for ‘Brand New Zealand’,” she says. “We have to be fiercely protective of our quality messages.” Constellation launched its first lighter wine as a trial close to five years ago, following an innovation workshop that looked at the success of lighter and mid-strength beer, she says. “It made sense that alcohol beverage consumers within the wine category would have similar desires for lower alcohol for certain occasions.” However, lower alcohol wines were historically sweet, and people seldom found the flavour and texture of their usual wine choice, she says. Constellation began by extracting alcohol through reverse osmosis in the winery, but has since refined its methods to naturally reduce alcohol through earlyharvest methods. “We landed on 9% alcohol, which still offered optimal flavour, but was on average 25% less alcohol than the regular wines we were making.” Once satisfied with the product, Constellation launched First Pick in New Zealand as a tier of the well-established Kim Crawford brand. Stojnic says the launch coincided with the release of several otherwise unknown brands that hadn’t earned the trust of consumers, who therefore proved unwilling to shelve their scepticism to lean lighter. By embedding First Pick wines within a trusted brand like Kim Crawford, Constellation won over a good segment of its market, offering them an alternative wine for certain occasions, she says. Other “macro trends” were emerging globally at that time, with people seeking products that were organic or deemed healthier, such as those with lower sodium, lower sugar or lower fat, says Stojnic. “People were becoming far more conscious of what they put

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in their bodies.” Meanwhile, ageing populations were “ageing well”, with people determined to remain healthy while enjoying the things they love, including wine. The sweet spot of healthy attitudes, moderation, a sound brand and quality product saw Constellation establish and lead the lighter alcohol segment. New products have entered the market in recent years, but the company still holds the number one and two brands in lighter wines with its First Pick and Selaks Breeze ranges. The category is showing strong growth year-on-year, and Constellation’s latest brand, VNO, has helped increase its overall value, with a $13 retail price tag, up from $10 for the other two offerings. When it comes to price points, Constellation has worked with industry gatekeepers – from restaurants to grocery partners – to counter any assumptions that lower alcohol means a lower price. People do not pay less for decaf coffee, trim milk or diet soft drinks, and nor should they pay less for a lighter choice when it comes to wine, Stojnic says. Until now Constellation has focused on the New Zealand market, but it recently stepped into Australia with VNO, which targets older millennials, aged 25 to 35. The brand breaks norms in its packaging, including an awardwinning, temperature-sensitive label that indicates optimum chilling for consumption. Stojnic says that, along with clear and concise tasting notes, the label is about removing barriers and uncertainty for consumers. Constellation entered the Lighter Wines programme with good products that offered consumers a “like experience” in terms of flavour and mouthfeel, and a good understanding of their existing markets’ reaction, says Stojnic. But the programme’s research has provided the company with a


“global view” in terms of people’s attitudes to lower alcohol wines. “It validated a lot of our thinking and quantified opportunities outside of New Zealand.”

Pernod Ricard Pernod Ricard also tapped into key research findings (see the sidebar, “Lessons learned”) when creating and launching its Stoneleigh Lighter series, which hit New Zealand shelves and tables in August 2016. With a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Rosé, the new sub brand offers wine that has 25% less alcohol than the standard Stoneleigh Classic wines, is paler in colour, but high in aromatics and flavour profile, and is packaged with a lighter, brighter label. “We have certainly tried to input all our learnings into this product,” says Kerry Wheeler, Pernod Ricard New Zealand marketing manager, wine. She says the company’s research, along with the Lighter Wines programme findings, clearly indicated a significant desire for a lighter wine option, driven by those mindful of alcohol consumption. The research also reinforced the importance of providing people with clear information about the percentage alcohol difference between a lower alcohol and a standard wine. With that in mind, the marketers challenged the winemakers and viticulturists to achieve 25% less alcohol across the Lighter range, compared to each wine’s standard counterpart. That’s not easy, she adds, because every vintage brings something different to the winemakers’ table, including sugar

Figure 2. Consumers tend to associate lighter wines with lighter-coloured bottles. Pernod Ricard goes one step further, with the wines in the Stoneleigh Lighter series a shade paler than their standard-strength counterparts.

and alcohol levels. But the result has been warmly welcomed by the market, with one of the Stoneleigh brand’s most successful launches ever, and distribution, rate of sale, and volume targets well on track to be delivered, says Wheeler. In another innovation driven by research findings, the wines are

paler in colour than the standard Stoneleigh versions, she says. “When you see them in the glass they retain colour, but the Rosé in particular is a very pale pink hue.” Research also came to the fore when taking Stoneleigh Lighter to market, with the team using messaging developed in the programme to educate and influence the trade, ensuring a rapid and strong buy-in. The Stoneleigh Lighter range follows Pernod Ricard’s successful Brancott Estate Flight, which was launched in September 2012 as the first lower alcohol offering produced using natural methods. Back then, more people were using reverse osmosis to process the alcohol out of lighter wines, often affecting the flavour profile, says Wheeler. Brancott winemakers instead went to the vineyard, adjusting the management and harvest of the grapes to naturally reduce sugar and alcohol while retaining aromatics and flavour. That is key to Stoneleigh Lighter as well, ensuring the wines retain the distinctive aromas and flavour profile people associate with Stoneleigh, says Wheeler. Consumer response has been “hugely positive”, without cannibalising the brand’s other fullstrength wines, says Wheeler. “It’s all been incremental. We are not switching people out of Stoneleigh wines.” The launch has focused on offering people the chance to sample the wines, she says. “Trying it is believing it, and we were really confident.” The wines are speaking for themselves, and so are the judges. The Stoneleigh Lighter 2016 Pinot Gris was awarded 90/100 (4 stars) from Bob Campbell, the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc won Silver at the New Zealand International Wine competition, and the Rosé took Bronze at both the New Zealand International Wine Competition and the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

Stoneleigh Lighter has been launched in the New Zealand market, but the global team is already talking to other markets about the range, Wheeler says. “They will be using what we have done as a case study.”

Lion Lower alcohol wines have played a crucial role in growing Lion’s Wither Hills and Lindauer brands over the past year, with the majority of growth i n t h e l i g h te r sparkling sector attributed to Lindauer’s Enlighten sub brand. And the market’s appetite for lower alcohol bubbles has not been at the cost of its older siblings, says Dave Campbell, Lion senior brand manager. “The Lindauer Enlighten range has produced increased sales and been incremental to our current sparkling offering.” Campbell says the company has put “an incredible amount of resource” into the lower alcohol proposition. Lion launched two lower alcohol sub brands in New Zealand at the end of 2015, adding the 9.5% Early Light Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris to the globally acclaimed Wither Hills label, and the 8.5% Enlighten Sauvignon Blanc and Moscato Rosé sparkling wines to its Lindauer Range. Late in 2016, Lion also launched an Early Light Rosé and an Enlighten Pinot Gris. Says Campbell, “We are looking at ways to innovate, and looking at new varieties as well.” Wither Hills worked with lower alcohol wines for a few years

before taking the step to commercial release, initially offering some limited-release wines at the cellar door in Marlborough before 2015. They looked to that early work when developing the Early Light r a n g e , s ay s Campbell. “Like other participants, we are still

driving laws and an ageing population determined to live well have meant the trends are more pronounced now than ever, coinciding with an evolving lower alcohol wine category, Campbell says. “To me it is how we tap into that. We are all still learning how big this segment of the market could get – from a winery side and a marketing side.” He compares the growing strength of the lower alcohol wine segment to Rosé, which has been the fastest-growing wine style in the country. Ten years ago, Rosé on New Zealand shelves was often imported or very sweet, and there were few options. But with growing interest from wineries, and a strong response from consumers, it has become a very strong category, rich with interesting wines, he says.

The Future

Figure 3. Launching lower alcohol labels under the auspices of a known brand has been key to success for several companies in the Lighter Wines programme. The Lindauer Enlighten range has increased sales for the sparkling category without cannibalising its full-strength offerings.

learning about these wine styles, but the success of the segment is about quality in the bottle, which is our key focus.” He agrees the category has tremendous potential, with three or four cultural shifts converging over the past decade, each growing the latent demand for lower alcohol wines. An increased focus on health and wellness, a change in drink-

Richard Lee says the collaboration of the 18 wine companies involved in the Lighter Wines programme means New Zealand is rapidly innovating and developing in the category. “I don’t think New Zealand winemakers and vineyard managers are claiming we have totally cracked it – that is why they are keen participants in the sevenyear programme. We’ve made some fantastic progress, but it’s not easy figuring out how to naturally produce premium-quality lighter wine,” he says. “From a marketing point of view, we need to understand consumers and understand them better than anyone else. From a technical side, we need to continue to deliver on the quality that consumers of New Zealand wine expect from us.” New Zealand’s lighter wines are starting to pick up awards and accolades at recognised wine award shows and getting some great reviews, says Lee. “That’s great, but we will not rest until we win the big trophy.”■


Is fungicide resistance affecting botrytis control in our vineyards? Rob Beresford and Peter Wright The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited 15-103

What We Did: National survey of botrytis sensitivity In 2016, New Zealand Winegrowers, Plant & Food Research and ten agrichemical companies funded a survey to determine the sensitivity of Botrytis cinerea (botrytis bunch rot) to anilinopyrimidine (AP) and succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicides in the main New Zealand winegrowing regions. The principal aim was to gather accurate data on botrytis sensitivity to AP fungicides to determine whether resistance is present and whether further restrictions on AP use, in addition to current resistance management requirements, should be introduced. Another aim was to determine sensitivity to SDHI fungicides, so that we can detect future shifts in sensitivity to that group. The survey also looked at sensitivity to two other at-risk botryticides: 1) fludioxonil - the mixing partner for cyprodinil in products like Switch®, and 2) fenhexamid - the active ingredient in some other widely used products, e.g., Teldor®. Just before the 2016 vintage, Plant & Food Research collected over 600 B. cinerea isolates from 33 vineyard blocks in Poverty Bay (11), Hawke’s Bay (10) and Marlborough (12). Twenty single-spore isolates were taken from each block and tested in agar-based sensitivity assays on six different fungicides. Two of the vineyards sampled in Hawke’s Bay and in Marlborough and one in Poverty Bay were under organic management; this provided a comparison of sensitivity where synthetic fungicides had not been used, at

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least not since organic management started.

Why It’s Important Fungicide resistance and its management Resistance to fungicides is an increasing problem in crops worldwide where management of certain diseases relies heavily on fungicide applications. Resistance mainly affects modern synthetic fungicides that target specific biochemical sites in a fungal pathoFigure 1.


gen’s metabolism. It develops when a genetic mutation in the fungus allows it to survive in the presence of the fungicide and this sometimes, but not always, leads to a loss of disease control. Fungicides are classified into groups according to their biochemical mode of action. Different products that contain fungicides in the same group are similarly at risk from resistance. We can tell which groups a fungicide product contains from the group codes

that are printed on the product label, as shown by the example of the grape botrytis fungicide Switch in Figure 1. Management of fungicide resistance requires knowledge of the groups contained in every product that is used in a crop. Resistance management is achieved in three ways: 1) Limiting the number of applications of an at-risk chemical group 2) Applying an at-risk fungicide in mixture with a fungicide from a different group 3) Alternating applications of fungicides in an at-risk group with fungicides from different groups. These three strategies are used in different combinations, depending on various crop and disease considerations.

Fungicides of concern for botrytis Resistance in B. cinerea is a major concern in New Zealand, as this fungus develops resistance quite readily. It developed resistance to the once highly effective benzimidazole group (e.g., Benlate®) in the 1970s and resistance to the dicarboximides (e.g., Rovral®) in the 1980s. The AP group (Group 9), which includes highly active compounds against botrytis, like cyprodinil (in Switch) and pyrimethanil (in Scala®), was introduced in the late 1990s and, as elsewhere, the New Zealand wine industry has come to rely heavily on these for botrytis control. Botrytis has developed resistance to APs overseas and, although they have been less intensively used here, the possibil-

other. All isolates in the survey were highly sensitive to fludioxonil, which is very reassuring for AP resistance management, as fludioxonil is the mixing partner in cyprodinil-containing products. There was also high sensitivity to fenhexamid and there was no statistical difference in sensitivity to fenhexamid between the most cyprodinil-sensitive and the most cyprodinil-resistant isolates. This is also good news for AP resistance management, because there is no fenhexamid resistance associated with AP resistance and therefore fenhexamid would be good to use in alternation with AP fungicides.

Organic vineyards

ity exists that botrytis control in our vineyards may be affected by AP resistance. In New Zealand, AP fungicides have been under resistance management since they were first introduced because of the known risk of resistance, but no monitoring has been carried out to determine if resistance is actually developing. There is also concern about botrytis resistance to the SDHI group (Group 7), e.g., boscalid in Pristine® and fluopyram in Luna® Sensation. SDHI fungicides are active against both botrytis and powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) and therefore their use in vineyards against either disease could affect resistance development in both pathogens. SDHIs have had only a small amount of use in New Zealand vineyards since they were introduced around 2008, but because an increasing number of new SDHI registrations is occurring, it is important to

understand the resistance status of botrytis to SDHIs.

What We Found Survey results The majority of the B. cinerea isolates sampled (69%) were sensitive to APs, although there was a subpopulation in each region of 15 to 20% of isolates that showed a low degree of resistance (Figure 2). Resistance in these isolates was low, and would probably not cause a noticeable loss of disease control in vineyards. However, there was a further group of isolates, comprising 5 to 13% in the three regions, that had medium-level resistance, and these could become a problem if their frequency increases in future as a result of continued AP use. Although the pattern of sensitivity was similar in the three regions, Hawke’s Bay vineyards had a slightly greater proportion of the medium-resistance isolates. Both the AP fungicides

used in New Zealand (cyprodinil and pyrimethanil) showed a similar loss of inhibition of resistant botrytis strains and are therefore similarly at risk from resistance development. There was high sensitivity to the SDHI fungicides across all regions, although 6.4% of isolates nationally showed slightly decreased sensitivity to boscalid. SDHI fungicides have so far been used very little for botrytis control in New Zealand vineyards, unlike overseas where both boscalid and fluopyram have been widely used. The degree of SDHI sensitivity found in the study is probably close to the baseline sensitivity for a population that has not been exposed to SDHIs. There was a low correlation in sensitivity between boscalid and fluopyram, suggesting that B. cinerea strains that become more resistant to one of these fungicides would not necessarily become resistant to the

The patterns of AP resistance in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough organic vineyards were similar to those in the conventional vineyards, probably because conventional vineyards were planted nearby and resistant strains were able to migrate from them. The Poverty Bay organic vineyard, which was geographically isolated from other vineyards and had been under organic management for more than 10 years before AP fungicides became available, did not have the AP-resistant subpopulation seen in all the other vineyards.

AP resistance in relation to fungicide use When the number of AP fungicide applications in each surveyed vineyard was considered in relation to the degree of AP resistance, no correlation was found. This lack of correlation could have been due to: 1) Fungicide usage differing little between vineyards over the time frame relevant to resistance selection 2) Migration of resistant strains between vineyards evening out resistance differences, or 3) The sample size from each vineyard, which was 20 isolates, being too small to represent the


sensitivity in individual vineyard blocks accurately. The spray diary data showed that over the last 15 seasons the overall use of botryticides that are at risk from resistance averaged about 3 per season in Poverty Bay, about 2.5 per season in Hawke’s Bay and about 2.3 per season in Marlborough. In the last 5 seasons, overall usage of at-risk botryticides decreased slightly in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough, and increased slightly in Poverty Bay. AP fungicides, particularly pyrimethanil, have been used less in the last five seasons, particularly in Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay. It is good from an AP resistance management perspective if AP use is decreasing at the time when resistance to AP fungicides is likely to be increasing. There has also been an increase over the last five years in the use of products containing fluazinam and this is good for AP resistance management, as fluazinam has a low risk of selecting resistance development. Use of fenhexamid, to which B. cinerea was highly sensitive, decreased slightly in the last 5 years and this decrease may represent a missed opportunity for AP resistance management through the alternative use of an effective non-AP fungicide.

Recommendations on resistance management The New Zealand Committee on Pesticide Resistance (NZCPR) updated the grape AP resistance management strategy in 2014 in response to concern about the high reliance on APs ( php?p=fungicides/ap_in_grapes). The strategy recommends a maximum of two AP applications per season, always in mixture with another effective botryticide from

74   // 

a different group. In the report written for the botrytis survey project we recommended that the wine industry continue using AP fungicides for botrytis control under strict adherence to the resistance management guidelines. We considered that the resistant strains that are present have a low degree of

application of pyrimethanil alone. The survey showed that B. cinerea isolates that are resistant to cyprodinil are highly sensitive to fludioxonil, so the use of the co-formulated cyprodinil-fludioxonil mixture continues to be an excellent resistance management strategy. Use of SDHIs in grapes has, to

There is no need for any change to the SDHI strategy at this time. Fungicide resistance management in New Zealand has been helped over the years by two things: 1) Resistance development overseas often forewarns us by 5-10 years of the risks associated with prolonged use of certain compounds. 2) Compared with many countries overseas, our agrichemical industry, through the NZCPR, has taken a responsible and conservative approach to the use of at-risk fungicides, and this has helped to delay resistance development here. However, instances of resistance are increasing and only field monitoring of sensitivity can provide the information required to develop robust resistance management strategies. For botrytis resistance management in grapes, the 2016 vineyard survey suggested that resistance to AP fungicides is probably not affecting botrytis control yet; nevertheless, the wine industry and the agrichemical industry should work on ways to achieve a substantial reduction in reliance on AP fungicides over the next five years.

resistance and are at such a low frequency that they are probably not affecting disease control at present. In view of the concern about future AP resistance development, a possible reduction from two to one AP application per season should be jointly discussed by the New Zealand wine industry, NZCPR and the agrichemical industry. Application in vineyards of the AP cyprodinil, which for grapes is always in a co-formulated mixture with fludioxonil, is preferable to

date, been small and the survey showed that New Zealand vineyard populations of B. cinerea are sensitive to SDHIs. The SDHI resistance management strategy for grapes (http://resistance.nzpps. org/index.php?p=fungicides/sdhi) recommends one or two applications per season, depending on the total number of botryticides applied. Each application should preferably be mixed with an effective fungicide from different group and, if two are applied, each should alternated with a different group.

This project (NZW 15-103) was funded by New Zealand winegrowers, Plant & Food Research, Adama NZ Ltd, Adria Crop Protection, BASF Crop Protection, Bayer CropScience, Etec, Fruitfed/PGG Wrightson, Orion Crop Protection, Syngenta Crop Protection, Tasman Crop Protection, The NZ Horticentre Trust and Zelam. Thanks are due to PFR colleagues Peter Wood, Rob Agnew, Carol Curtis, Michelle Vergara and Luna Hasna for technical expertise and to the grape growers whose properties were surveyed.■




Reduce powdery mildew inoculum for next season with a post harvest Excel Oil or HML32 + Nordox.

Soil tests

Tests are available now to determine what capital fertiliser inputs are necessary, so you can get these on in autumn/winter.


Farmlands has a full range of pruning tools, pruning supplies, clothing and safety equipment. For prices or a quote on bulk purchases, talk to your Farmlands Technical Advisor or visit your local Farmlands store today.

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New block development?

Make sure you secure your post supply and indent products such as bamboo to avoid supply issues later.


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NZ Winegrower April/May 2017  

NZ Winegrower April/May 2017

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