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N e w Z e a l a n d g l a s s f o r w o r l d cl a s s

New Zealand Wines The skill of New Zealand’s winemakers has ensured that the results of each new vintage are eagerly awaited around the world. The quality of these wines demands the quality packaging that O-I can provide as our wine industry grows from strength to strength.

O-I New Zealand. 752 Great South Road, Penrose, Auckland, New Zealand Phone: +64 9 976 7100 Fax: +64 9 976 7191 Email:



28 R E GUL A R S



10 PINOT NOIR 2013

Tessa Nicholson


From the CEO

Philip Gregan


Regional Viewpoint

Dominic Pechennino – Marlborough


In Brief

News from around the country

Cameron Douglas MS


Bob’s Blog

Bob Campbell MW

67 Calendar

Wine happenings in New Zealand


Research Supplement

The latest science and research projects funded by NZ Winegrowers

FRONT COVER PIC: Villa Maria Marlborough, supplied by NZ Winegrowers

The single largest promotional wine event held in New Zealand for three years, Pinot Noir 2013 attracted aficionados from around the world. The success and respect given to our most acclaimed red variety, bodes well for the future.


34 Sommelier’s Corner



NZ Winegrower magazine believes the efforts of the young viticulturists are worthy of special mention. Particularly in a year where our Viticulturist of the Year also took out the Horticulturist of the Year title – the fifth young vit to do so in the competition’s seven year history.


While it is still too early to say how vintage 2013 is likely to go, it appears most regions have experienced ideal flowering and fruit set conditions. We look at how the start of summer has treated each individual region.



In a novel competition, Ningxia in China offered 10 international winemakers the opportunity to produce wine in their region. Two of those winemakers came from New Zealand. How did they find the experience?


E D I TO R Tessa Nicholson


CO R R E SP O N D E NTS Auckland: Joelle Thomson Wairarapa: Barbara Gillham Gisborne: Christine Boyce Hawkes Bay: Mary Shanahan Nelson: Neil Hodson Canterbury: Jo Burzynska Central Otago: Max Marriott

A DV E R T I SI N G Kaye Sutherland Ph: 03 376 5552 Mobile: 021 221 1994 Stephen Pollard Ph: 09 913 9637 Mobile: 021 963 166

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


fter three years of planning and four days of learning, Pinot Noir 2013 is all over. This years was the fifth such event, attracting over 500 delegates, with close to 200 of those, international visitors. It was a brave move by organisers to take the premise of past events, yet change the structure. A brave and sensible move.

event should spend time on the ground in those regions. While a nice idea, logistically it would have been near impossible, and besides – Wellington is the perfect venue. It is neutral, can provide the conference facilities, restaurants, hotels and most of all Ruth Pretty’s catering. Why would you want it to be held anywhere else? (Having the hottest week of the

Quote of the event, from Michael Brajkovich MW; “You will taste a lot of great wines in your lifetime and most will be Cabernet based. But only a dozen will take you to the angels, and they will all be Pinots.”

PUBLISHING & P R E - P R E SS Rural News Group PO Box 3855, Auckland 1140 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.

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After Pinot Noir 2010, there were murmurings among some regions, that the event was not promoting all Pinot producers fairly. Those murmurings were taken on board by the new committee and the latest celebration provided a far greater chance of promoting regionality. As one delegate put it – the new look event allowed people to immerse themselves thoroughly in each and every one of the Pinot Noir producing regions. Another commented that it showed the confidence of the New Zealand wine industry, to allow each region its own time in the sun, without fear of distracting from the overall picture. With three separate venues, delegates spent a day in each – one housed Central Otago, another Marlborough and the third the Pioneers of Martinborough, Nelson, Waipara/Canterbury. Allowing visitors to spend so much time in each region ensured individual stories were told, nuances explained and the wines thoroughly investigated. There had been some talk that maybe given the new emphasis on regionality the

summer during Pinot certainly added to the attraction.) If there was one criticism to be had, it was the length of the event. By day four people were waning and the number of empty spaces at the New Zealand Regional Tasting at the end of the conference said a lot. It is a very long time for staff to be away from their business, especially for the smaller wineries taking part. And there is only so much talking, discussion and tasting that one can do before you start to switch off. But that is something I am sure organisers will address when they review the event. I think it is appropriate to congratulate the organisers for their efforts and hard work. It was a seamless event, a huge step up from previous years, which matched the step up in wines as well. There is probably some tweaking to be done before 2016, but all in all Pinot Noir 2013 was an event that did New Zealand proud. I am sure that we will see the impact in articles and sales from our important overseas markets.


WELCOME TO 2013 What do we know about the year ahead and what don’t we know?


ell, we know that we don’t know exactly how big the vintage is going to be. We might have a feel for the size but it is still a big unknown with potentially big impacts on every participant in the sector as the last few years have shown. However what we do know is that the supply demand balance is critical for the industry. Produce too many grapes and too much wine (compared to sales) and ultimately both grape and wine prices will come under pressure with negative consequences as a result. On the other hand if some tension is kept in the supply demand balance, we know this ultimately will deliver the opportunity for price increases. The lesson in this is that we must watch the market carefully and not get ahead of ourselves - quite a balancing act as we all know. But at least the industry has a measure of control over the size of the vintage (weather aside) so to an extent the crop size and the supply/demand balance are controlled by the industry. What about the markets? Well we know the USA and Europe are still trying to come to grips with all the financial and structural issues arising from the global financial crisis and recession. What is much less clear is how much progress, if any, they will make in 2013. China and the developing world seem to

be doing somewhat better but at the moment these are still relatively small markets for New Zealand wine. However the high and volatile NZ$ exchange rate (a direct consequence of the economic turmoil) is having a direct impact on our sector. Today the NZ/US cross rate has gone over 0.84 and we know that will directly affect the profitability of sales into the USA. There are measures wineries can take to mitigate some of the risk from exchange rate movements (hedging, diverting sales into markets with strong currencies, perhaps selling in NZ dollars but there are market place consequences from this), but ultimately a high NZ dollar will impact the sector and everyone in it. And the future for the exchange rate - well there will be all the theories in the world, of course, but it is really a major unknown with the ability to have a major impact on profitability, good or bad! What else do we know about the year ahead? We know Pinot Noir 2013 and associated events represent a major opportunity to promote our wine to a highly influential audience. We know we must seize the opportunity that these events and other like them present. We know that being, and being seen to be, socially responsibility is of increasing

Courtesy of Pernod Ricard, supplied by NZW

importance for our sector. The year ahead will see the new alcohol act come into force and the industry will need to respond positively to the challenges this new legislation presents. We know that sustainability is increasingly important to the industry and that we are now in a better place than ever to tell our sustainability story that we have worked so hard to build over the past 20 years. We know that government can be a force for either good or bad for our sector. We have proposals in with the government around bulk wine controls and geographic indications and we are working very positively with NZTE in

China and Europe, and with MFAT in APEC, WWTG, OIV and a number of other areas. But are there any negative surprises in store from the government? Hopefully not, but no one in the sector knows for sure of course. I could go on and on, but there is one thing every grower and winery in the New Zealand wine industry knows with absolute certainty - the most prosperous, sustainable future for our sector will be built by focusing on producing quality grapes and wine. Best wishes for a prosperous 2013 - let’s hope all the surprises in the year ahead are positive ones. ■



MARLBOROUGH As 2013 swings into gear, the Marlborough mood in terms of the wine industry is also undergoing a change DOMINIC PECCHENINO CHAIR WINE MARLBOROUGH


or the past four years, times have been tough in the top of the south. The large yields of 2008 impacted on every aspect of the industry. Prices dropped, land values fell, receiverships began making headlines and profitability became a thing of the past. There were many who wondered if they could ride out the downturn, while others decided it was better to pack up and go. The only problem there, was the lack of willing buyers in a depressed industry market. But thankfully the tide has begun to turn. There is once more optimism in the air. There is also a feeling of anticipation for the upcoming vintage. While frosts plagued minor parts of Marlborough in late spring, there wasn’t too much long term damage. Sunshine and warmth during December ensured flowering was more in lines with normal, especially when compared with the difficult times we had in the 2011/2012 season. Crops aren’t likely to be huge, again thanks to the conditions in December 2011. But the crops are manageable and going by the earlier flowering, vintage will not be producing a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, by the potential shortage of Marlborough drawn out like it was last year. Hopefully Sauvignon Blanc in the near future. Who in association with Craggy Range. Brent the stress of potential autumn frosts will be would have thought that would be the case Marris has increased his land holdings in something we don’t have to deal with. four years ago. the province buying the massive Leefield But it’s not only the seasonal conditions Many growers are now feeling that have brought positivity back more confident about the future into the industry. There are a num“After years of little or no development, all of a as well. That is being indicated by ber of other aspects that are seen as the repairs and maintenance some sudden Marlborough is going through a revival.” signs that the tide is turning. are undertaking – the first for many After years of little or no develyears. Fertiliser sales are increasopment, all of a sudden Marlboring, as growers strive to produce the best farm, with the goal of turning parcels of the ough is going through a revival. Treasury fruit possible this year. And given it is likely 2000ha property into vineyard. Estate have purchased Babich Wines’ slice to be just an average crop, yield caps are not These purchases are the latest in a long of Rapaura Vintners and are planning a multi as dominant as they have been. list of vineyard sales in 2012. After years of million dollar expansion. Meanwhile Babich It is still early days, and I don’t want to nothing selling, all of a sudden buyers are have announced they will build their own get ahead of myself, but it’s nice to see the queuing up. Those interested include estabwinery within the region. A massive new positivity in the region after years of having lished growers, wineries and international contract facility (VinLink Marlborough) is to deal with stories of doom and gloom. purchasers. There can be no better sign of nearing completion, again a multi million Hopefully that optimism will be felt by all faith in a region, than that. dollar project. French company Rothschild other wine regions in the country as well. ■ Apparently the interest has been created has purchased land in the region and intend

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National Book Winners Congratulations to the winners of Joelle Thomson’s book A Wild Bunch, which we gave away last issue. While we only mentioned giving one book away, we did in fact give two. Prue Younger from Gisborne and Liza Hertz from Blenheim were the two lucky recipients. I’m sure you both enjoyed reading it over the holiday break.

JOHN BUCK AND IVAN DONALDSON Two of New Zealand wine’s stalwarts were recognised in the recent New Year’s Honours. John Buck, Chairman of Te Mata Estate was made a Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit, (CMNZ) for his contribution to the wine industry and the ats. In terms of the wine industry Buck helped found Hawke’s Bay Vintners, now known as Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers. He was the chair of that organisation during the 80s. In 1991 he helped organise the Hawke’s Bay Charity Wine Auction which has gone on to raise over $2m. He has also represented the region on the board of New Zealand Winegrowers. The second wine stalwart to be acknowledged, also with a Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit was Professor Ivan Donaldson of Pegasus Bay. Donaldson’s acknowledgment was as a world-class leader in neurology. However many in the wine

The first of the Nelson Marlborough scholarships will be awarded to a successful first year Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production student; the second to a successful second year student, enrolled in either the Diploma in Business or Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Ivan Marketing or Management Donaldson with an interest in the business (left) and John Buck. and commerce of New Zealand wine. “Supporting education globally is a key industry will also acknowledge his pascomponent of our company’s CSR program sion for wine and the work he has done to and we are very pleased to establish these promote the region of Waipara. new scholarships to further the interest and passion about wine,” says Joe Stanton, CEO Constellation’s New Wine of Constellation Brands New Zealand. Scholarships Constellation Brands New Zealand has also Constellation Brands NZ has just launched initiated internal scholarships to support four new scholarships this year intended to tertiary level education for employee family support students interested in developing a members. career in wine. These are intended to encourage further They include a $5000 scholarship to a suceducation in any tertiary field and to assist cessful second year Bachelor of Viticulture with the financial impact this level of educaand Oenology student at Lincoln Univertion can bring to family members. Five sity; two $2,500 scholarships to the Nelson scholarships to family members of ConstelMarlborough Institute of Technology and lation Brands New Zealand Ltd employees additional scholarships for employees of will be offered annually. Constellation NZ.



Central Otago

New Name, New Celebration

All About Fencing

Gibbston Wine and Food Festival

All about Fencing is a unique demonstrative fencing industry event which is being run within the South Island Agricultural Field Days March 20th – 22nd at Lincoln. This purely fencing specific area focuses on machinery and product, coupled with installation techniques. Well regarded industry fencers will be carrying out the installation process on four different fence line types which includes timetabled demonstrations. The essence of All about Fencing is the opportunity to talk one on one with the designers and manufacturers, combined with viewing the machinery and product in usage.

This has undergone a name change for 2013, but the promise of great wine and food is still at the forefront. Formerly known as the Gibbston Harvest Festival, this year’s event will go under the banner of Gibbston Wine and Food Festival. Into its 8th year, the event will take place on March 16, and will be held across two sites, Mt Rosa and Brennan Wines. Eighteen wineries and ten food stalls will be scattered among the two sites.

The Royal Easter Wine Show has a new name and a new reason to celebrate – this year its general director, Terry Dunleavy, marks 60 years of the show’s existence. The show’s new name is the Diamond Jubilee Easter Show Wine Awards. Dunleavy, who has organized the show since 1953, has introduced a new deputy chair this year; ex-pat Kiwi Sam Harrop MW. Harrop is also the co-chair of the International Wine Challenge (IWC), held every year in London. Winemaker Kate Radburnd is again chair of judges at this year’s show. The judging takes place in Auckland from 22 to 24 February.

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Hawke’s Bay


Top Accolade for Lime Rock Wine

Three Wines in Wine Spectator’s Best

The Lime Rock 2009 Pinot Noir has been ranked as one of the Top 100 Wines in the World, according to Jancis Robinson MW. Her top 100 was made up from the 10,000 wines she had tasted throughout 2012.All the wines received a ranking of at least 17/20. Robinson’s comments on the wine were as follows; “From Waipawa, an exciting new New Zealand region with Pinot-friendly limestone. Vines planted in 2000 include some Burgundian clones. Pale. Very flattering nose, medium weight and truly burgundian subtlety.”

Changes in Hawkes Bay Winegrowers After nine years as the executive officer for Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers, Lyn Bevin stood down in December. Bevin has been instrumental in promoting the wines of the region, via a myriad of events. While her position has not been filled as yet, many within the industry will miss the passion and dedication shown by Bevin during the past nine years.

Every year Wine Spectator ranks its top wines from the past 12 months. This year three Marlborough wines made it into that prestigious listing. Greywacke 2011 Sauvignon Blanc was rated with a score of 92. Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc 2011 had a rating of 91, and Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir Marlborough 2010 made the list with a rating of 90.

Wairarapa Pheasant Plucker Pinot… When it comes to wine names, Pheasant Plucker isn’t one that’s easily forgotten. It is the Wairarapa’s newest label from one of the region’s smallest producers; Porter’s Pinot. The winemaker is 25–year-old Hugo Porter, son of John Porter who founded Porter’s Pinot in Martinborough in 1992; He has been helping in the winery since his teens and will this year release his own label for the first time; “Pheasant Plucker” is a family joke on his father’s penchant for pheasants, which

he farms in the Wairarapa. The Porter family owns 10 acres of vines in Martinborough; mainly Pinot Noir with a small amount of Pinot Gris.

Martinborough’s Unsung Heroes… The Martinborough Wine Centre’s first ever Consumers’ Choice Award tastings, held in late 2012, revealed a range of relatively unknown but extremely promising new Pinot Noirs from the Wairarapa. The consumer’s

choice award evolved through discussions about Pinot Noir between Martinborough Wine Centre staff and local winemakers. “Having the ‘consumer’ do the tasting and then vote for their favourite has unveiled some amazing results,” says organizer and coowner of the centre, Amanda Ritchie. All wines at the evenings were served blind and uncovered two contenders for first place; 2009 Stonecutter Pinot Noir and the 2010 Cobblestone 2010 Pinot Noir. Stonecutter was the winner on the final night.  ■



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here were a number of highlights at Pinot Noir 2013. The Wellington weather for one, the camaraderie among those attending, the guest speakers, (most of them anyway) the willingness to share from the winemakers and viticulturists, the catering by Ruth Pretty and the frank and open discussions held. But the stand out of the four-day event was the wine itself. 2010 was a great vintage for New Zealand and that was obvious from comments by those attending. A step up in terms of what New Zealand is doing and producing was the over-riding

2010 was a great vintage for New Zealand and that was obvious from comments by those attending. A step up in terms of what New Zealand is doing and producing was the over-riding feeling, especially from those who had attended previous events.

feeling, especially from those who had attended previous events. Every one of the four days began with an international guest speaker. Their observations were then discussed later on in each of the regional venues, allowing some thought provoking debate.

Thankfully there were some words that were banned from the discussions. Passion was one of those, referencing Pinot Noir as the Holy Grail was an immediate red card dismissal for anyone uttering the words and later on in the week, the name Burgundy was

also banned from conversation. This was after all an event designed to celebrate New Zealand and the many diverse regions within it. So to the event itself. Opening day and 500 delegates and wine industry personnel arrive at the Wellington Town Hall, fanning themselves from the heat of a perfect day. Welcomes are given, introductions made and it’s time for the

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Wine writer Matt Kramer. “A selfconfessed Pinor Noir aficiondado.”

event opening guest speakers. First onto the podium is Matt Kramer. A full time independent wine writer with 35 years experience, author of eight books, and a self confessed Pinot Noir aficionado. If one of the goals of this event was to promote discussion, then Kramer was obviously the perfect choice for an opening address. The following is an extract from day one of Pinot 2013.

2+2=5 Burgundy has something that no other region in the world that grows Pinot Noir has achieved – that achievement simply put is; that two and two in Burgundy, equals five. How do they get that other one? How did they find it, how do they achieve it? In all of my travels, at best two and two only ever equals four. It’s now that elusive one that everyone, including New Zealand, has

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to look for. Cause and effect, modern mind rationality and science have taken over all the other wine growing regions in the world, with a philosophy that could never have been previously achieved, so that two and two is four. To get to that four is no small achievement and it’s amazing what has happened here. But to get to five you have to be way out there on the edge. We now face the question of how do we achieve difference and this is the 21st century challenge. I remember when the Dijon clones came onto the market. It was a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment. This was going to create great Pinot Noir. To be fair they have very potent powerful flavours and colour. We can all distinguish them. They were commercialised and plantings of Dijon clones became world spread. But they were planted out

in different blocks, separately. And then that done, at harvest time, you would harvest each block separately according to planting. And they would be picked at optimum ripeness. The result is a stunning uniformity and homogeneity of flavour and ripeness in Pinot Noir vineyards wherever these practices and these plantings occur. What results more often than not is wines that lack nuance, wines that lack shape. They are simply too uniform and they are made from too few clones. There are not enough voices. Pinot Noir is in fact like an orchestra, but this orchestra is comprised mostly of cellos. No piccolo, no double bass, no violins. Never mind the brass or woodwind instruments. We now have reached a structural wall to get two and two to equal five.

If this is how your vineyards are planted and if this is how you are making your wines today, there is no question that the wine is good, but it will never reach that elusive five! It’s the one that is the great challenge of the wine industry. We now have to retreat from the over reliance on the narrow band of Dijon clones. We need to retreat from the idea of having clones planted in separate blocks. We need to retreat from control. The other way in my opinion is to view your vineyard as a field of wildflowers... Just as packets of wildflower seeds can contain 20, 30 or 100 varieties, so too should your vineyard. If in in the future it doesn’t contain somewhere between 20 and 40 different clones of Pinot Noir, you will never achieve the shading and nuance that is necessary. If those clones are not inter mixed, almost without any control, you will not

achieve the shadings and nuances that are necessary to create great Pinot Noir. This is a leap of faith, it is a loss of control and it will be harder than anything you have ever done before because no one likes to lose control. You know perfectly well, that when the time comes to pick, you can’t chose it. You make multiple passes of the vineyard when the larger aggregate is pretty much ripe and then you dive in and make

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your wine. Your orchestra will surely have piccolos in it, grapes that are definitely under ripe. Your orchestra will surely have bassoons, double basses from one clone or another, that will surely have grapes that are over ripe. But the majority of the orchestra will fall into that middle range. All of this requires a willingness to step back and accept you cannot control the greatness. That the greatness will be found in the shadows and the nuances of the wine itself.


he two plus two equals five scenario became somewhat of a mantra for the conference overall. Although Kramer’s comments on mixing up the clonal mix within blocks was one that many felt was inappropriate in New Zealand conditions. A Marlborough winemaker

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pointed out that (using Kramer’s orchestra analogy) if you pick your grapes with piccolos, double basses, and bassoons, you are risking the end quality. It may be the piccolos are green, whereas the bassoons are ripe – and what winemaker wants to add green to their Pinot Noir? Renowned wine writer Tim Atkin MW commented that while Kramer’s talk was thought provoking and interesting – his reference to Burgundy as being the only place to create wine that equals the five he referred to, was 10 years out of date. “The sense that Burgundy always makes the best Pinot Noirs in the world is slightly silly. I think the improvement in quality of New Zealand is unbelievable. To patronise New Zealand Pinot Noir by saying it is always two plus two equalling four instead of five, isn’t true. There are some wines (here

in New Zealand) that are at least four and a half, and I have tasted some wines today that I would put pretty close to five. And I think a lot of Burgundy is three and some is one and some is even minus one. I think this slavish worship of Burgundy does nobody any favours in the end.” Hence Atkin banning the use of the B word in later sessions. The other over riding message that came from the conference was the speed with which New Zealand has gone from zero to hero in terms of Pinot Noir quality. Much was made about how as a country we are still finding ourselves in terms of wine regions. Unlike our European counterparts, we don’t have hundreds of years of history and winemaking experience to fall back on when it comes to defining styles. We are still learning which are the best areas within a region to

grow Pinot Noir, which clones work best where and most of all we are still waiting for our vines to age. What has been achieved in less than 40 years is remarkable, everyone agrees, but there is still a long way to go. Things can only get better the more experience and knowledge we gain. Which is why events such as Pinot Noir 2013 are so vital to the longevity and development of this variety within New Zealand’s wine portfolio. ■ • Time constraints meant we were not able to cover as much of Pinot Noir 2013 in this issue as we would have liked. But we will have comprehensive coverage in the April/May issue.

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hile this is usually announced at the end of each year, NZWinegrower decided to hold off announcing the annual Personality of the Year until now. 2012 was a turning point for the industry, tough in terms of growers dealing with climatic conditions, low yields, low prices and the ramifications of a number of years of higher than average crops. For wineries the exchange rate added stress to the already hurting bottom lines. Yet by December there was a sign that maybe the tide was turning, that the industry was on a slow road back to something that could be viewed as positive. (Although there has been no let up in the value of the high New Zealand dollar unfortunately.) One of the standouts of the year, and to be fair not just 2012, but many Caine Thompson

years beforehand, has been the dedication and passion shown by the wide range of viticulturists during the tough times. Especially the younger ones that have come into the industry with a yearning to be the best they possibly can. Therefore, NZ Winegrower would like to acknowledge those that have tirelessly worked to control yields, produce quality fruit and maintain the premium position that New Zealand wine has created for itself. New Zealand’s Young viticulturists are the 2012 Wine Personality of the Year. As the New Zealand wine industry grew exponentially in the 90s and early 2000s, so too did the need for qualified personnel. The days of small holdings, run and managed by the owner, were gone. People who had no intimate knowledge of growing

grapes were buying vineyards, to firstly supply wine companies and later to create their own wine labels. While the larger companies have always invested in viticultural managers, now there was a need for smaller companies to also look towards

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employing expertise. The educational sector came to the party with an emphasis on viticulture as well as oenology. A new breed of young viticulturist was emerging. Given the maxim that all good wine is

Emma Taylor

made in the vineyard, it was more than appropriate that those working among the vines should also be recognised as the important cog in the wheel of wine production. No longer were the positions considered as minions, instead they stood out as valuable assets within any organisation. For decades the wines themselves were always what the industry celebrated. Competitions where winemakers were recognised, by the number of medals their wines produced, always outshone what was happening within the vineyards of the nation. But that was to change too, with the founding of the Young Viticulturist of the Year, now known as the Markham’s Young Viticulturist. All of a sudden there was a forum where those who were

concentrating on vines, soil, canopies and fruit could pit their skills against their peers. The competition was the nation’s first acknowledgement of the skills occurring on a daily basis within the field. The Young Viticulturist was part of a wider celebration of the horticulture industry overall, which meant the national competition winner was able to compete against other young people in land based industries, for an overall Young Horticulturist title. Proving their worth, our young vits have taken out five of the national titles, in the seven-year history of the competition. Marcus Wickham, Stuart Dudley, Caine Thompson, Emma Taylor and 2012’s winner Braden Crosby have not only been at the top of their game in terms of

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viticulture, but also the broader horticultural sense. Each winner has been a feather in the cap of the New Zealand wine industry and each of these winners has gone on to become a leader in their own right, among the vines and wider wine sector. These are the people whose names come to the forefront of my mind when talking about viticulturists, but there are dozens of others who have made a significant difference. And the profession as a whole has had a steep learning curve since 2008. Gone are the days when wineries want as much fruit as growers can supply, regardless of quality. Yield caps, canopy management, disease pressure, climate curve balls have all meant a rethink

within the vineyard. Often it has been the job of the viticulturists to liaise with growers and help them rethink their methods. It hasn’t been easy for anyone, especially as prices for fruit fell, yields dropped below profitable levels, and viticulturists had to convince growers there were benefits in their advice. Given we are still able to call ourselves an international premium wine producer, five years on from our over supply crises, says a lot for the industry as a whole. And without doubt, the young viticulturists deserve credit for how they have helped the industry achieve that. ■ Stuart Dudley

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AUCKLAND A cold frost which plummeted temperatures in some parts of West Auckland to minus 4 Celcius looks to have wiped out about 20 per cent of Kumeu River Wines’ harvest this year. At the time of writing in mid January, it was too early to say for sure but the vintage would be significantly reduced, says the

family-run winery’s viticulturist, Milan Brajkovich. “Due to the early frost in September, we flew two helicopters because it was a big one; on average we’d use choppers once every three years but this was a pretty bad one. We had a big southerly come through, which blew up a whole lot of

cold air from the deep south and there was no inversion layer for the helicopters to work with, so it

caused the problem.” This means the vintage is likely to be a week, possible two weeks, late this year. And in terms of quality? Brajkovich says it’s looking good – “A small crop always helps but we never like to talk about that until the fruit is in the winery”.

years which has seen some grim times, this year is looking a lot more positive.” James Millton of Millton Vineyard & Winery agreed flowering conditions had been “fantastic” apart from some late frost in November. “The flowers seem to have settled with little shatter, and the dry

weather with intermittent rain has been very sustainable for the vineyard and sward.” While there was still a long way to go, based on early indications Millton believed this vintage could deliver some good quality wine at affordable prices. It may also help growers bounce back after a difficult run last year. “With a bad vintage like 2012, very few wineries of our size have been able to put aside any reserves to tide them over from a bad vintage. In 2013, we need the best conditions and best quality to continue in a sustainable fashion.”

GISBORNE After two challenging vintages, Gisborne grape growers are optimistic 2013 will deliver some wonderful wines thanks to favourable weather thus far. Gisborne Winegrowers Society president Doug Bell said while it had been one of the colder flowering seasons the region had seen in a while, there were only a few minor frost events that had any impact. “Flowering was good weather

throughout; we think the cooler weather in that period has seen some hen and chickens in bunches which can reduce the weight. In general I would describe the weather as being very kind, returning a typical Gisborne summer with lovely hot days and cool nights,” he said. “There has been rain periodically which was worthwhile . . . I would say most farmers would be pretty happy. Given the last three

WAIHEKE ISLAND Waiheke Island’s Stonyridge Vineyard had the driest December ever and 12 days over 30 degrees as at 11 January, said Stephen White, who has been winemaking on the island since 1985; his first harvest. “That’s triple the average number of days over 30 degrees that we usually get. Early on there were some periods of sustained misty light rain, so there was a bit of disease pressure, but that’s all gone now and we’re out the other side of it.” Cropping levels looked relatively light on the island, but it was too early to tell how harvest dates are looking. “So far it’s looking great but it can all go wrong next week and the weather never holds. If it carries on like this we’ll be extremely happy, and our vineyards are in great shape, so we’re just hoping it holds hot and dry.” The average vine age at Stonyridge is 18 to 20 years.

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WAIRARAPA Lime Rock, Hawke’s Bay.

HAWKE’S BAY Hawke’s Bay is buzzing with excitement about the coming vintage after a flowering said to be ideal. After the last two challenging vintages and a few frost frights early in the 2012-13 season, growers are expressing delight about progress in the region’s vineyards. Chris Howell of Prospect Vineyard said: “If I was to describe Hawke’s Bay’s flowering season in one word it would be perfect. It was short, hot and breezy which gave us good pollination, and it was all over in a week over all varieties whereas it would normally take two to three weeks.” Alwyn Corban, managing director of Ngatarawa Wines agrees with Howell’s assessment. The set was even across vineyards, he says, avoiding the problem of variation in the ripening of bunches. Most observers are predicting that if the weather continues hot and dry, harvesting will be a week to 10 days earlier than is usual. Prospect Vineyard notched up its warmest December since 1996, when Howell started keeping weather records. Looking at his computer data, he says the season is shaping up much like the 1998 vintage, which many in Hawke’s Bay regard as a watershed year in the production of quality wines. “It was cooler this season until the end of November. And at year’s end, we were still down on the degree days but caught up a tremendous amount in December.” As is always the case in a region with such a long season, much depends now on rainfall levels. Going into 2013, Hawke’s Bay had already dodged the whip-like tails of Cyclones Evan and Freda. Howell says that if the season continues dry and hot, Hawke’s Bay could have a great year for its red wines in particular. “It’s looking like an exciting season. I’ve got my fingers crossed but am not counting my chickens – you’ve got to love a good mixed metaphor!”

One look at the weather charts tells winemakers and grape growers all they need to know: 2013 is shaping up to be a hot year, in more ways than one. By the end of the first week in January, the region had already experienced scorchingly hot days which saw one of the region’s oldest vineyards, Lansdowne Estate in the northern Wairarapa – owned by Derek Hagar – experiencing several readings of 41+ degrees Celcius in the vineyard, in the middle of the day. Meanwhile, Martinborough township had recorded at least one day of 39 degrees, which prompted lawyer-turned-winemaker John Porter of Porter’s Pinot in Martinborough to liken the year to several good vintages throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. “It’s shaping up to be a wonderful vintage; we’ve had no frost damage and are having very even ripening and excellent conditions, “ says Porter, who celebrated his 20th vintage last year. “It’s too early to be absolutely sure of anything but so far it’s looking like we’re getting back to where we used to be in the late 90s and early 2000s. I remember those years because even at 10 o’clock in the morning, you couldn’t see more than 100 yards in front of you without a wavy heat haze on the road.” While people may find this heat excessive, vines enjoy it, says Porter, who does not irrigate his vines. And just outside Martinborough at Te Muna – 9kms west of the township – Larry McKenna of The Escarpment Vineyard said the climate was on average a degree and a half warmer than normal throughout December. “We’ve had very good fruit set with warmer and drier conditions than usual, said McKenna. “We feel like we’re at least a week early and vintage will be early if this keeps up, so we’re very happy, but there are still eight weeks to run (at the time of writing), so it’s not over yet.” In terms of its resemblance to other vintages, McKenna says 2013 looks similar to 2009 – so far.

Murdoch James Estate, Wairarapa.


MARLBOROUGH There was concern leading into this season’s flowering, about whether or not crops in Marlborough would be substantially affected by the poor flowering conditions 12 months prior. The cooler than expected December/January of the 2011/12 season saw a drop in yields that impacted heavily on the overall vintage. In response many growers moved back from three canes at pruning to four, some laid more buds down, and everyone hoped for better conditions this time round. That optimism has paid off, with Marlborough experiencing near perfect conditions for flowering. Hot, dry, albeit with some rather intense winds, meant flowering this year was more towards the average mark – certainly not a large crop, but better than last year. Viticulture consultant Dominic Pecchenino says it was a very

fast flowering, with most areas showing good results. “Cluster sizes aren’t as big, but the bud initiation is taking place (at time of writing) for next year’s crop. The weather we have had of day after day of sunshine is ideal for setting up next year’s budwood.” He said there’s unlikely to be large crops this year, again a reflection of last year’s conditions. And that appears to be across the board, from the earlier flowering varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and aromatics, through to the backbone of the region Sauvignon Blanc. “Pinot Noir took a while, it was quite slow to come through, and some clones didn’t fare as well as we would have liked. They may be down on the average. Sauvignon Blanc within the Wairau Valley is

looking quite good, but it appears the flowering wasn’t as consistent in the Awatere. Chardonnay looks to be about average.” The vines are well ahead of this time last year. “I would place the season as similar to that of 2010/11, certainly an earlier vintage than 2012.” Villa Maria’s Marlborough Regional viticulturist Stuart Dudley says flowering has been variable across the region. In parts of the Awatere which are cooler, there are less bunches per shoot, but growers had anticipated that he says by laying down more budwood last year. “There were patches here and there throughout the region of frost damage, but that won’t have a huge effect on the crops.” Overall he says the bunches are a bit smaller, and bunch numbers

could be a little bit down. “Certainly they are not anywhere near the big bunch weights we have had in the past.” The strong winds experienced between Christmas and mid January have impacted on the shoot tips in some blocks, but Dudley says the one major positive, is the wind has kept disease pressure very low. “The rain we have had, (mid January) was very welcome, as things were getting a bit dry out there. The canopies are looking very healthy and green across the district.”

NELSON In general terms the 2013 vintage in Nelson is shaping up reasonably well at the time of writing. Almost perfect conditions during flowering in November and December have resulted in nicely balanced crop levels across the region with some vineyards expecting to only need light thinning to achieve the optimum levels

22   // 


for their requirements. Chairman of Nelson Wine Growers Association, Richard Flatman, says “that as a result of the poor flowering in November/December 2011 bunch initiation and therefore bunch sizes this season have been noticeably smaller than the long term average”

He says in 16 vintages the weather this year has resulted in one of the easiest early season starts he has experienced. With the long-term hot, dry weather that has been forecast the 2013 vintage in Nelson is shaping up to be slightly early and of almost perfect size and quality. He does however provide a note of caution about removing too much leaf cover early in the season as we may not see a lot of canopy regrowth to provide protection for the fruit if the season does turn out to be very hot and dry. Strong near gale force winds in early January caused some minor damage to vineyard infrastructure (a few broken posts) but it appears the region has escaped any crop damage as a result of the winds. In summary growers are cautiously optimistic about the 2013 vintage in Nelson with great fruit set, minimal thinning needed and a good long range forecast but as Richard says “we are working with Mother Nature so only time will tell”.

CANTERBURY/ WAIPARA Across Waipara and the greater Canterbury region, the start of 2013 saw its winegrowers largely pleased to have evaded the effects of the frosts that hit many parts of the area and share high hopes for the vintage to come. “It’s been a good season so far,” reported Lincoln University’s Glen Creasy, “though there were a few late dumps of rain that have kept the grass and vines growing. Other than some cool and wet weather during flowering, my vineyard on the Port Hills and the University’s are looking good in terms of fruit set - not huge, but this means more open clusters and less chance of disease later in the season.” On the Plains, temperatures dropped as low as -2.8C in early November. While frost protection allowed some growers to avoid dam-

age, others – even with protection - lost crops. Waipara’s season got off to something of a chilly start. Some growers reported that this had affected fruit set and meant bunch numbers were slightly below average, while others report “fantastic flowering” with good crop levels. A series of late spring frosts saw growers engaged in more frost fighting than usual. “Waipara experienced many frost events over spring, but most were only just under zero and so those vineyards with protection survived well,” observed Greystone’s Dom Maxwell. “The last frost event of the season on November 7th caused damage to unprotected blocks, as well as some protected sites, particularly those reliant on inversion layer movement. Being so

late in the season it is expected only very small crops will come from those sites.” “From December the season leapt into a dry hot summer with fantastic flowering conditions and excellent canopy growth,” said Martin Tillard of Pernod-Ricard’s Camshorn Vineyard. “Fruit set looks good and canopies are great, so the potential is definitely there for a fantastic harvest.” “The season is looking like it will be a warm one and hence harvest could be expected to start in late March, early April,” concluded Pegasus Bay’s Lynnette Hudson. “However, there is still a long way to go and anything could happen between now and harvest.”

CENTRAL OTAGO The season in Central Otago has been tumultuous; fraught with extreme temperatures, snow, frosts and window-rattling thunder storms. Budburst was a fraction earlier than usual, but then a wet, cold October dramatically slowed growth to the point where the season was behind. A series of aggressive frosts in early November exacerbated the sluggish start to the season; some survived the sub-zero onslaught, others were not so fortunate. Thankfully, the second half of November and December saw a return to typical Central Otago summer temperatures and scarce rainfall; a chance for the canopies to make up some lost ground and for flowering to progress quickly and effectively. However, despite relatively ideal conditions across the region during this phase, there was no guarantee of strong fruit set. Effects of the earlier cold and frosty weather were an unknown factor on the health of inflorescences, and it wasn’t until well after flowering that fruitfulness could be realistically assessed. At time of writing, the first fortnight of the new year has brought some much needed rain to the region. Early vineyards are through bunch closure and the vines seem to have caught up somewhat. Sites that escaped the frost unscathed are reporting good fruit set with medium-large bunches. Those affected by the frost are seeing a mixed bag, with some inter-bunch and inter-vine variability that will require attentive green thinning to promote greater uniformity. With the season still behind, it’s hard to gauge at this early stage the prospective crops and tonnages, suffice to say that they will be down on average. The early rain in January will help plump up berries, potentially leading to average or above average bunch sizes (circa 120gm). Conversely, the damage from frosts will see Central Otago’s overall tonnage down by approximately 10-20% (less severe than earlier estimates). ■

Carrick, Central Otago. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED BY NZW





n his book The Wine Atlas of New Zealand Michael Cooper says; “Nelson has some of the most stunning vineyard settings in the country”. When he talks about the region’s wine styles he says; “Nelson’s wine identity has not been aided by the fact it does not have a dominant wine style along the lines of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Central Otago Pinot Noir. A versatile region, it is succeeding with several varieties, Sauvignon Blanc from the Waimea Plains can be

distinctly Marlborough-like, and Riesling and Chardonnay perform strongly throughout the region. Some highly aromatic, richly flavoured Gewurztraminers and Pinot Gris are also produced, and Pinot Noir is yielding superb wines at Upper Moutere and on the edge of the plains in heavier clay-based soils at the base of the hills.” Located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island and surrounded by mountains to the east, west and south, and Tasman Bay to the north the Nelson region enjoys

a region-wide sheltered horticulture climate with an average 2700 sunshine hours per annum. While other regions occasionally have slightly higher annual sunshine hours, Nelson is considered the sunshine capital of New Zealand. The region’s clear, cool nights allow all fruit grown in the region to develop full flavour intensity as they ripen slowly. This is particularly important with grapes as this diurnal temperature change allows the fruit to develop distinct varietal flavours while retaining

the ripe fruit acidity that provides structure and balance to the wines. Historically the region has been one of the two major pip fruit producing regions in the country and that industry sat side-by-side a vibrant berryfruit industry, New Zealand’s only hop growing industry, a sound sheep, beef and dairying industry and for many years a tobacco industry. With the high sunshine hours, moderate annual rainfall that is generally concentrated in the winter months, diverse geographical

Harvest at Rimu Grove.

24   // 


features and a temperate maritime climate, the region has the natural versatility to do many things well and that versatility is reflected in its wine production industry. Wine grapes have been grown in the Nelson region since about 1868 when FHM Ellis & Sons produced wine from grapes and other fruits in Golden Bay for about 70 years. In 1872 Government Viticulturist Romeo Bragato said Nelson is; “Admirably suited to cultivation of vines and trees” and he “has no hesitation in advising residents to plant vines on a large scale”. While wine has been made on a small scale continuously since then and the modern wine era was established in a small way by Viggio du Fresne in 1967, it wasn’t until Hermann and Agnes Seifried established Seifried Estate in Upper Moutere in 1974 that the scene was set for the vibrant wine industry we see today. As the pip fruit industry faced significant challenges in the world market in the mid 1990’s the Bolitho family were one of a number to convert their apple orchards on the Waimea Plains to grape vines and they established one of two major vineyard plantings, along with Seifried Estate who had expanded significantly onto the fertile alluvial soils of the Waimea Plains. Of course many other winegrowing businesses were established during this period and since, some of significant volume, many of significantly high quality and some that produce industry leading wines.

The Sub-regions The Nelson winegrowing region is split into two key geographic areas, the Waimea Plains and the Moutere Hills, with an emerging area, coastal Tasman, and another that produces tiny amounts of wine in particularly challenging terrain, Golden Bay. While rainfall, sunshine hours

Typical coastal Moutere clay.

and growing degree days are very consistent across the region, soil types vary significantly between the plains and the hills. The Moutere Hills run in a south-west to north-east line reaching to the coast from the protecting southern hill ranges, while the ancient river bed soils of the Waimea Plains are wedged between these hills and the Richmond Ranges to the east. There is a strong argument for further defining specific areas within these sub-regions as the soil structure varies significantly in different parts of both the generic Moutere Hills and Waimea Plains sub-regions.

The Moutere Hills Inland Moutere Hills and coastal Moutere Hills share many of the same geographic features but the closer you get to the coast the more free-draining the clay soils become, with sandy loam soils over deep ancient stony clay soils, rather than the slightly heavier loam soils over stony clay on the more inland vineyards. Closer to the coast both mois-

ture and cool air drain down the slopes to the coastline reducing the risk of spring frosts to almost nil and certainly minimal. The gentle afternoon sea breeze also eases the temperature spikes in the heat of summer and quickly dries vineyards after any summer rainfalls reducing disease risks. While inland Moutere Hills vineyards may not enjoy the same climatic benefits of coastal vineyards they do have the benefit of a more elevated and sheltered environment. This elevation gives these sites the benefit of slightly higher degree growing days with cooler air draining down the valleys creating just enough air movement to protect well located vineyards from late spring frosts. Slightly heavier soils result in rich, textural and highly flavoured wines that have a distinct mineral backbone as proved beyond doubt by the Neudorf Vineyards site that delivers powerful world class wines. Ask Judy Finn what makes their wines so good and she has a two word answer - ‘The soil’. She says even with the huge effort they put into viticulture and

winemaking, without their unique soil structure the wines they make simply wouldn’t have the same characteristics. Varieties that perform particularly well in the Moutere Hills environment include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling. More recent plantings of Albarino and Gruner Veltiner are delivering promising early results while little micro-climates successfully ripen Syrah and Montepulciano.

The Plains In general terms the vineyards of the Waimea Plains enjoy free draining silty or sandy soils covering deep river gravels. Closer to the foothills however you will find a layer of slightly heavier clay soils that have washed down from the hills over many centuries above the deep river gravels. As an example Seifried Estate has vineyards in several areas of the wider plains district and have planted varieties best suited to the soil types. The Rabbit Island vineyards consists of “a silty, sandy surface with a very gravelly


sub-surface making the ground free draining, friable and easily worked” and because the nearby Appleby River flows to the coast not far from their vineyards the water table is high and there is no need for irrigation. Seifrieds Brightwater vineyard 15km inland from the coast sits on soils that range from large

gravelly areas to light sandy loam soils, which result in a very porous soil structure that requires some irrigation in the summer months. These two vineyards sit at either end of the Waimea Plains and the area between the two is primarily friable and free-draining soils, often with a very thin layer of soil over the ancient, deep river

gravels. This mid-plains area is dominated by Waimea Estates but is also home to a number of midsized and more boutique producers. The soil structures are particularly well suited to the varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay while

The Waimea Plains – with the Moutere Hills in the background.

vineyards like Greenhough have the benefit of a layer of clay soils on the foothills at the edge of the plains to add depth and texture to their Pinot Noir. As with the Moutere Hills Albarino and Gruner Veltliner are delivering promising early results. Because this is a near coastal environment there is almost always a gentle breeze flowing down the plains from the protective mountains in the south to Tasman Bay just as the river that created the plains has done for many centuries. I will leave the last words to Garry Neale from Brightwater Vineyards who says “We are not a slice of Tuscany or Provence. We are Nelson, New Zealand, and proud of it, Nelson is a fantastic place to live and make wine, and the rest of the world is starting to realise it”. ■

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n what has to be one of the most novel ways of promoting a wine region, the Ningxia Wine Challenge has also provided the local province with an abundance of international knowledge. The Ningxia Wine Challenge was first promoted last year, as it advertised for 10 international winemakers to come to the Chinese northwestern wine region, to take part in the 2012 vintage. The two-year contest would see each of the successful winemakers select grapes and make firstly a red wine, then a year later return to make a white wine. Each winemaker would also be given the opportunity of return-


ing to Ningxia up to three times to oversee the wine’s development. All expenses would be paid, but there was an even greater incentive. Each of the red and white wines would be judged by an independent panel in 2014, with the winner of each category taking home US$31,000. Some incentive you would agree. Ningxia, which is one of China’s six major wine producing regions, has already gained a reputation for stunning reds. To the extent that in a blind tasting in 2011, where judges compared five Bordeaux and five Ningxia wines within a similar price bracket, four Ningxia wines were selected

in the top five. (The judging panel consisted of five French and five Chinese.) This winemaking competition however, was seen as a novel way of bringing the quality of the region’s wines to the attention of the media through the successful applicants talking about their experiences. Initially the competition was advertised in late July. By early September, 10 winemakers had been chosen, and were prepared to head away in time for vintage 2012. However, two had visa issues and one had a family matter that meant they couldn’t take part, leaving just seven winemakers, two of whom came

from New Zealand - Dave Tyney and Patricia Miranda, from Marlborough. Both admit they were intrigued by the competition and the opportunity to experience Chinese wine production at the ground level. Tyney has links to the country, as his parents have lived in Shanghai and Beijing for the past few years. For Miranda, though, it was her first experience of the vast country. Ningxia as a province is in the bottom five, when it comes to GDP in China due to its predominant agricultural base. However of the six main wine regions within the country, Ningxia is flagged as producing the highest quality red Dave Tyney and Patricia Miranda among the vines prior to harvest.

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wines. It is also on track to expand on an exponential level. Tyney said to say they were treated as royalty, is putting it mildly. There were three banquet meals a day, (starting with breakfast), vineyard and winery visits, and always lots of Ningxia wine. That went on for two weeks, before the winemakers even had the chance to start the real work. “We were based in the city of Yinchuan, (population 4 million),” Tyney said. “Everyday we would visit a different vineyard in the morning, then the owners of the winery would take us out to a banquet lunch, where we would get through about two dozen red wine. Then we would shoot out and look at the winery and do further wine tastings. We had to do that for two weeks and by that stage we were ready to start work.” Miranda said while that twoweek period was very much a learning experience, it was also a time of exchanging ideas within the vineyards and wineries they were visiting. While money and resources don’t appear to be a problem, the lack of experience in some cases, particularly in terms of viticulture, stood out. “The wineries look fantastic, they are impressive buildings with the best equipment. They are often massive in terms of how much they can produce, but there is no correlation between current production and the wineries capacity. They are building for what they will produce in the future, although there seems to be a need for more focus on how to make the winery more efficient in all areas.” In terms of viticulture, Ningxia couldn’t be more different to New Zealand. Trellising in particular. Given the extremes of temperature, the vines are pruned straight after vintage, so they can be buried prior to the winter snows arriving. Which means the vines don’t have significant trunks, instead grow-

The winery built specifically for the seven winemakers taking part in the competition.

Sorting the fruit.

ing unconventionally and can look like an uncontrolled tree. Which in itself leads to issues during the hot humid summer months. (See next story on why China is unlikely to threaten world production.) Added to that the majority of locals don’t actually own the land, and most are former farmers of other agricultural products, turning their hand to viticulture on advise from the government. There appears to be a lack of ownership of the vineyards, creating a dearth of viticultural understanding. “The wineries need to increase communication with the growers,” Tyney said. “The majority of growers focus on producing grapes that look good, (like table grapes) rather than focusing on yield/vine balance and flavour of

fruit.” So how did both winemakers find the 2012 vintage? Like many around the world, it wasn’t the best apparently. Disease due to the conditions during vintage was rampant. “Yields were down and disease was up, and that all stems back to good vineyard practises,” according to Tyney. “You couldn’t pick when you wanted to, you had to pick before disease set in. Having said that, there were vineyards that didn’t have much disease, where they could get the fruit ripe and the fruit quality there was quite good.” All the competition winemakers were given a parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon, all coming from the same vineyard. They then had the

facilities of a brand new winery to produce their wine in. Those wines are now resting in barrels, and each winemaker will be able to make up to two trips to oversee any further development. In September they will all head back for vintage 2013, where their task will be to produce a Chardonnay, under similar conditions. Same fruit, from same vineyard, made in the same winery. The final trip back to Ningxia will occur early next year, when the wines will be bottled and judged. Although both Miranda and Tyney say it is unlikely to be their last trip back to the region overall. Both have been entranced by their experiences and would like to think they could be of use in any future development of the Ningxia wine region. “For me, to be involved with people so interested in learning and growing in the wine industry was an amazing experience,” Miranda said. “They want to be the best in China so it is fantastic to be a part of that.” ■





iven the size of the country and the thirst for wine, could China’s growing production swamp the world in the near future? Not according to Professor Ma Huiqin, from the Agricultural University in Beijing. At last year’s Hong Kong Wine and Spirits Fair, Professor Ma outlined why. While China does produce vast quantities of wine, drunk mostly in the domestic market, that production is being put to the test by the proliferation of imported wines. As more consumers become au fait with wines from both the northern and southern hemispheres, consumers have the chance to compare with their own domestic production. And in many cases,

according to Professor Ma, the Chinese wines aren’t stacking up in terms of quality. “In the next five years we need to consider consumption of our wines, because we are already seeing a decrease in consumption, (of Chinese produced wine) and every year it becomes more severe,” she said. There are a number of reasons why she believes China won’t become a massive exporter of wine. They include; Climatic conditions Disease threats Lack of water supply Costs And interestingly, lack of labour

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Disease such as downy or powdery mildew can decimate up to 50% of the fruit.

In terms of climatic conditions, Professor Ma says China’s continental climate is very different from most other wine producing nations. “We have the rainfall in the summer time, during periods of high temperatures. We have more risk from disease, powdery and downy mildew, and these cause a lot of problems,” she said. “We can reach up to 20% of crop loss (because of disease) and can go as high as 50%.” Then given the extremes of temperature, the vines have to be buried before the winter hits. “In north China, it is harsh, cold and dry. Not only does the temperature kill the vines, but there is very low humidity. So the vines would die if you did not bury them.” The window in which growers have to bury the vines is extremely short, almost straight after vintage. “You need to hurry to harvest the grapes, finish part of the fermentation and then have the labour to prune before you bury. Most of that work is done by hand and it takes about two or three weeks. If you wait too long, the ground will be frozen and there will be no


Professor Ma

chance to bury any more. “In the spring you have to dig up quickly, because we have the continental climate and the temperatures rise up very quickly, especially in the areas which are very dry.” Professor Ma says the burying and digging up, makes up 35 – 40% of the vineyard’s overall costs. Water supply is another major issue, most severe in the north west regions of China,

where many of the emerging wine regions are situated. “The areas with (good) water supply are used for crops. The grapes are in low water supply areas. Some areas get as little as 20 millimetres a year. So irrigation is important.” However there is concern that if not managed properly, the areas will become flooded, creating even more headaches for the vines. As for a lack of labour, Professor Ma said most people can’t comprehend that as being a factor in China. “People laugh at that. ‘You have such a population,’ they say. But we do have a shortage of population in the farm, because the young are going to the cities, factories where they make more money.” Given all these challenges, she said the production of wine is an expensive task in China. “In general, China will be an importer, not exporter. Maybe some will be exported to China towns, or for curiosity consumption. But there is a long way to go for improvement and control. Also a long way to go before it becomes a profitable business.” ■,





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hile New Zealand wine holds only two per cent of the Chinese wine market, the opportunities are vast, although a lack of brand awareness is stymying growth. The partnership between NZWinegrowers and NZTE is hoping to break through that lack of awareness and in the process increase our wine’s market share. John Isacs, a journalist who has lived in China for 30 years, says while our wines may not have the highest profile, New Zealand as a country does and that is something the industry needs to take advantage of. The clean, green, pure image is something that is aspirational to most Chinese, and works well alongside the Pure New Zealand wine image we are promoting. One of the major issues for companies trying to break through into the market though, is finding the right importer, who will promote the wine. “The first great challenge for New Zealand wine producers in China is to find the right partner,” he says. “In China today there are too few qualified importers, most of whom already have too many brands.” He provides two examples, one that didn’t work and another that was successful. In the negative example he says; A producer met and agreed to a contract at a major China winerelated exhibition. The Chinese importer correctly portrayed themselves as a big company with resources and contacts (however no due diligence was done) The Chinese importer made and paid for a sizable initial order then over a period of 6-12 months disappeared. Damaged wines from that initial shipment are still being sold in

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the China market hurting the reputation, brand and prospects of the producer. The below is an example of how to be successful. New Zealand producer spent considerable time (4-12 months) meeting with and evaluating prospective importers as well as getting third party perspectives. They invited the Chinese importer to New Zealand to gain knowledge and insight. The winery made a commitment to a full (in one case part-time) local representative. The producer and their China importer have experienced steady growth in sales. Isacs says gaining an importer is only the first step on the rung of success in the Chinese market. There is no such thing as being able to walk away and leave it to the importer/distributor to do the work. “China doesn’t reward casual relationships, the more you show you care and visit, the greater the results.” There is also a need to increase the number of key influencers being brought out to New Zealand. “In a larger sense New Zealand needs to upgrade its China-related wine tourism infrastructure and promotion.” NZTE and NZW are already working on this, with a large number of writers and educators being brought out for events in New Zealand, firstly Pinot Noir 2013. Having someone on the ground in China is an obvious solution, although for most companies that is not a viable option. In that case, regular visits, events and social media campaigns are the alternative. The latter especially, given the steady rise of influence social media is having. While the Chinese consume approximately 7 litres of alcohol per annum, only two per cent of that is wine. A great deal of that is domestically produced, although the importation of wine has grown exponentially in recent years.

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Consumers in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are more likely to consume wine, and the younger generation is becoming more aware and educated about it. But according to Demai Ll from Beijing Agriculture University, consumer preference is based more on a variety of aspects, rather than quality or taste. The aspects influencing choices include; region, varietal, brand, package, style, health benefits and story. Any branding by New Zealand wine companies needs to take these pointers into account. ■

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inot Gris is a popular choice for many consumers off and on premise – it is easy to pronounce, has a familiar aromatic lift, relatively simple white fruits bouquet, and is available in dry to medium expressions. It can work pretty well with food, and price points can range from $10.99 to an average of around $25.99 at retail and $25.00 to over $60.00 on premise, so it’s generally affordable. We’re also seeing an increase in carbonated versions. There seems to be a Pinot Gris that suits everyone, and many wine companies are enjoying its success - fantastic news for the variety and of course those who are enjoying cash flow from what can be an easy grow, high cropping grape. Throughout 2012 I tasted through quite a few examples of Pinot Gris - on one panel alone over 150 were poured. The chance to see how this aromatic and often delightful, yet uncomplicated wine really stacks up against its peers was very evident - in short – “what the! Pinot Gray”. The more I tasted this wine in flights (say ten to thirty) the more concerned I become. The benchmark Alsatian examples are exciting, and these, with the more austere Italian Pinot Grigio versions set the standards for producers. New Zealand Pinot Gris is a clear example of a wine that is very transparent on the table – if there is an excess of (for example) residual sugar or alcohol, then it stands out like a Hobbit on an aeroplane – you can’t help but notice. Reading through some of my recent notes, phrases like bruised apple, oxidised, too much residual sugar for the acid, botrytis, sour fruit and volatile acidity make appearances too often. What’s going on? With reference to 2012 examples, while it was a testing vintage, many producers rose to the challenge and turned out some stunning wines. The wines that did stand out were clearly fault free, varietal, actually aromatic, a sound mix of tree fruits in harmony with a layer of citrus and fruit spice - any use of oak was minimal and added complexity rather than flavour – the wines were balanced in all aspects on the palate and had flavourful, memorable finishes. Variability will always exist in a range of examples from the same varietal – it’s what makes wine so exciting, and when a line-up of wines is fault-free it is the balance, length and complexity of each that ultimately determines the best examples. Significant variability in Pinot Gris is something I seem to notice more than among the other aromatics. It can originate from vineyard and/or winery: Phenolic ripeness, over cropping for the sake of volume, extended hang time, not enough leaf thinning and lack of attention to disease pressure can somewhat affect a finished Pinot Gris more than other varieties. In the winery, attention to phenolic management, final alcohol, residual sugar levels and sensitivity to volatile acidity play an important part in the final balance of decent Pinot Gris – it appears to be very sensitive to oak – a little goes a long way. A positive barrel-work program for Pinot Gris may mean less is more; and the older the better. In the end it is all about balance. In fact ‘Balanced’ is one word many wine reviewers and judges like to use when recognising and rewarding a well made Pinot Gris. Finally, I notice that the degree to which a Pinot Gris is dry or less dry is confined to back label notes if at all. Given that consumers are faced with a very wide selection of Pinot Gris at different price points perhaps even more sales of your wine can take place and greater brand recognition realised if the front label had some indication of sweetness/dryness that is easy to spot and remember.■

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Syrah Challenge


ow does New Zealand Syrah compare with top wines from the northern Rhone? In search of an answer I selected four top Hawke’s Bay wines from the excellent 2010 vintage and served them blind in two flights against four of the best Côte Rôtie I could find from the excellent 2009 vintage. The judging panel comprised of 35 Hawke’s Bay winemakers. Wines in the first flight were Te Mata 2010 Bullnose Syrah $49, Mills Reef 2010 Elspeth Syrah $45, Ogier 2009 Cote Rotie $100 and Gerin 2009 Cote Rotie $70. The winner, by a slim margin was Mills Reef with Te Mata and Ogier second equal. The second flight comprised Bilancia 2010 La Collina $90, Sacred Hill 2010 Deerstalker Syrah $58, Yves Cuilleron 2009 Bassenon Cote-Rotie $90 and Jaboulet 2009 Cote Rotie Pierelles $134. It was again won by a Hawke’s Bay wine, this time it was Sacred Hill with Yves Cuilleron and

Bilancia second equal. The wines were not worlds apart stylistically although the French tended to be leaner, drier and perhaps slightly more complex and savoury while the Kiwis showed more pronounced fruit character and fruit sweetness. New Zealand has a miniscule 354 hectares of bearing Syrah vines. We surely need to devote more acreage to a variety that

can stand up to the world’s best.

Lies, damned lies and statistics Perhaps it’s my accounting training but I am a bit pedantic when it comes to numbers. I’m frustrated when, after landing in a new country, the pilot gives local time which is out by ten minutes. Similarly when the time beep on National Radio is

out by two minutes. How hard is it to get it right? I celebrated when NZ Winegrowers announced the release of their new Vineyard Register which is claimed to be “...the most accurate information on New Zealand vineyards to have been reported in the last decade”. I’ve always had a sense that the old Vineyard Survey was not particularly accurate

Syrah vines in Gimblett Gravels.

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due to low participation rates. I recall a discrepancy between the Marlborough District Council’s vineyard estimate and the figure from Winegrowers Vineyard Survey that was roughly the size of Hawke’s Bay’s vineyard area. Although Winegrowers acknowledged that their figure was flawed I think the same might have been true of the Council’s calculation. I doubt that the 15% shortfall between the 2012 vineyard area of Marlborough assessed in the 2009 Vineyard Survey and the more accurate figure shown in the new Vineyard Register would have greatly influenced the expansion of planting in the region and ultimately to surplus production but it is important that the official figures are accurate. And congratulations to Central Otago for its new status

as our third largest wine region.

Waipara wins When a fellow wine writer suggested to a group of Central Otago winemakers that Gewurztraminer was one of their very strong suits and they should plant more of it there was a group groan with mutterings of; “Who’s going to buy it?” I posed the question to John Caro’s of Caro’s Wines in Auckland. “We don’t sell a lot of Gewurztraminer although when we get a good one at a competitive price I’m always surprised at how much does fly out the door. Older males seem to be the main buyers.” Gewurztraminer is a “love it or hate it” wine with a sizeable chunk of wine drinkers falling


into the latter category. That was confirmed by Andrew at First Glass Wines who said that it was one of the few wines that

some members of their wine club refused to even taste. “If they discover we are pouring Gewurztraminer some people put their hand over the glass”. Gewurztraminer’s unfashionable status is a pity because New Zealand makes good Gewurztraminer. I believe that the overall quality of our Gewurztraminer is second only to the excellent wines of Alsace. I recently tasted a cross-section of New Zealand Gewurztraminer and on the basis of the results declare Waipara as our Gewurztraminer capital. Every Waipara Gewurztraminer scored at least a silver medal with fifty percent earning gold. ■



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fter an extensive search New Zealand Winegrowers has announced the appointment of Chris Stroud as the new Marketing Manager – Europe. This position is the leading figure for New Zealand wines in Europe and will take an ambassadorial role in all key markets and act as a figurehead for both the trade and key media. Chris Stroud has been working for New Zealand Winegrowers for 18 months as Market Programme Manager and more recently has been ‘Acting’ in the position of Marketing Manager. With over 15 years experience in the wine trade, Chris has spent over nine years at Treasury Wine Estates in a variety of Marketing roles which enabled him to gain experience working across the European region on several high profile PR and Event activities and develop strong links with the media. Chris’ love affair with New Zealand began when he spent a year working in the New Zealand

wine industry in 1999/2000. This demanding role will involve being the main contact point for all key influencers in Europe, driving our seminar and education programme, our in-bound visit programme and keeping New Zealand wineries up-to-date on the market. The Marketing Manager will also be responsible for working with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to drive a joint, multiyear programme to develop the New Zealand wine brand, specifically in the key markets of Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands. Chris Yorke, Global Marketing Director for New Zealand Winegrowers, who oversaw the selection process commented: “We have been very impressed with how Chris has handled the recent step up in responsibility and are confident he will ensure New Zealand Winegrowers continues its momentum to build the high regard for New Zealand Wines in Europe. “

Chris Stroud adds: “This is a wonderful opportunity for me and I am very excited about the challenges that lie ahead. I have always been a keen and passionate supporter of New Zealand wines. I am looking forward to help build the New Zealand wine brand in Northern Europe and to maintain the highly regarded position that New Zealand wines have in the UK and Ireland.” Sarah Shepherd has been confirmed in her position as Events Manager – Chris Stroud Europe. ■

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ow important is Riesling to the New Zealand wine industry? If numbers were the only way to judge – and they are a good indication, in sales terms – then Riesling has significantly less value today compared to a decade ago. While Riesling occupies 1009 hectares of vineyard nationwide – up just 356 hectares since 2003 - Pinot Gris now occupies 1,764 hectares nationally; not bad for a grape which had a total of only 316 hectares a decade ago. Lest this picture sound bleak for devotees of Riesling, Marlborough winemaker Andrew Hedley, North Canterbury winemaker Mat Donaldson and a handful of other passionate Riesling makers say the state of Riesling in New Zealand has never been better. “In terms of what New Zealand can offer the world, we’re not really going to compete on volume compared with places like Australia, Italy and France and so on. Riesling is not trendy, popular or big volume for New Zealand, but it adds to New Zealand’s high quality image,” says Hedley; a self-professed Riesling fanatic and maker of a vast range of different styles at Framingham Winery in Marlborough. Donaldson from Pegasus Bay agrees: “I used to think Riesling might be the new Sauvignon Blanc but now I just think more people will start to get what Riesling’s all about, but that it will remain a relatively minor variety in terms of volume.” So, what does this

mean for Riesling’s future? Hedley says the only way Riesling has been eclipsed is in numbers; which are driven by “supposed mass appeal”. “Whenever you get companies chasing “mass appeal” – volume, in other words - you’re always going to get plenty of cheap, dull wines as well as innovative wines. This has meant that producers that are serious or even semi serious about Riesling have had to make sure they have good vineyard sites and are more quality focused with their vineyard practices. If you can’t or aren’t prepared to do that, you may as well replant,” says Hedley. Far from doing so, he has devoted greater time and energy to creating a vast range of different Riesling styles. “The rise in naturally lower alcohol and more tense styles of Riesling over the last five or six years from many New Zealand wineries shows the level of seriousness with which those in the industry take Riesling,” he says. Donaldson predicts Riesling will remain relatively minor in terms of volume but suggests an increasing number of wines will be made in which botrytis is an accepted, valid component of the wine – rather than something to fear and shy away from. “I think more people will get that aspect of Riesling and not be afraid of it in the future the way we have been up till now. The whole paranoia about botrytis in Riesling stems from what happens when we get it in Sauvi-

10mm 20

50 60 70 Riesling – adding to NZ’s high quality image.

gnon Blanc; in which it oxidises the thiols,” Donaldson says. “Many people naturally assume it’ll be the same with Riesling but in actual fact the same compounds which give Riesling its terpenes are bound and are not readily oxidized.” Another aspect of Riesling’s challenge is its versatility – and therefore its confusing array of styles for the consumer; from bone dry to sweet, with everything in between. “Because of our obsession with dry wines, quite a few Rieslings which have a bit of residual sugar end up polarizing some wine drinkers, but we need to show these wines can taste delicious so that wine drinkers are no longer afraid of enjoying them,” says Donaldson. Compared with Pinot Gris, Riesling is more of a challenge. The wine industry should view this as a good thing for Riesling. “The general cross section of the population are not looking at wine intellectually and we in the industry are not just looking at a beverage – we’re looking for an X-factor and we don’t mind paying higher prices and drinking more challenging wines. In fact that’s exactly what we want and why we enjoy Riesling,” says Donaldson. “The reason Pinot Gris is so popular is that it’s low in acid and it’s easy to just chuff back. It’s reasonably high in alcohol and has an effect, but Riesling is hard work. It’s high in acid and it has a specific type of phenolics. You can’t just

chuff it back, so it’s never going to be a variety with mass appeal, unless it’s made in a bland style.” Central Otago viticulturist Max Marriott specializes in Riesling, making four individual vineyard expressions from different sites in Central every year. “When you look at Germany as Riesling HQ - the benchmark for Riesling - the naturally high acidity that we are also lucky enough to get in New Zealand Riesling gives it an edge and versatility above many other New World countries that could one day - and perhaps that day is coming - rival those of the Old World, as our vines age and our experience increases.”

Hedley’s Riesling Advice “Keep calm and carry on. Absolutely don’t chase mass appeal and volume with Riesling as that is often a path to rubbish. Avoid any sense of fashion. Retain a quality focus at all times and develop your individual expressions. Preach the gospel whenever possible, but don’t expect to convert masses of people to the variety. Preach a different gospel to the already converted and get Riesling lovers (they exist) around the world to drink more New Zealand Riesling by talking in terms of balance, tension, minerality and richness. Avoid the ‘s’ word. This is starting to sound like McLaren’s 10 lessons from the Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle, I should stop.” ■

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ew Zealand may be at the cutting edge of Sauvignon Blanc production and second only to France in terms of plantings, but this country has other strong strings to its white wine bow, which it could also champion, so why aren’t we? “Talk to any Marlborough winemaker and they’ll tell you they’d like to have a go with white grapes which aren’t Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s pretty hard to sidestep Sauvi-

gnon Blanc right now,” says Marlborough winemaker and white wine champion Simon Waghorn. Like many in Marlborough, Waghorn’s reliance on Sauvignon Blanc boils down to market demand but even then it is important to branch out. The self-professed Sauvignon Blanc fan is well placed to talk about alternative white grapes, having long been a champion of many luscious alternatives to mainstream Sauvignon Blancs and

also to grapes which are relative unknowns in New Zealand. Waghorn’s latest Chenin Blanc is a case in point. A full bodied expression of the classic French Loire Valley speciality, Waghorn’s Astrolabe

“It always mystifies me that people put their hands up for what I regard to be lesser European varieties that don’t have the nobility of lineage that Chenin has or as much to offer for the consumer who wants to age a wine.” – Simon Waghorn

Wrekin Chenin Blanc is so zingy, fresh and different for New Zealand that it begs the question: why is New Zealand so strongly reliant on a single white grape? When he began winemaking life a couple of decades ago in Gisborne, Waghorn says he used to make a lot of wine from Chenin Blanc; most of which found its way

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into bag in box wines. He could see the potential to do something far more noble with Chenin than put it into a plastic bag in a three litre box. “I don’t think enough people

have given it a fair crack on the right sites, apart from the obvious likes of James Millton and Gordon Russell, who have been great champions of it over the years. If you do it right, it’s alongside Riesling as the best aging white variety we have and I think it’s probably the most versatile of the whites we could possibly do,” says Waghorn.


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“It always mystifies me that people put their hands up for what I regard to be lesser European varieties that don’t have the nobility of lineage that Chenin has or as much to offer for the consumer who wants to age a wine. Or Gewurztraminer for another case in point,” says Waghorn. Then there are southern French (and one Italian) grapes which are like the string section of the orchestra – “each filling the space”, says winemaker James Millton of The Millton Vineyard in Gisborne. He’s talking of Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Vermentino (the last one growing in both southern France and also along Italy’s northern coast and in Sardinia). These grapes can also be complemented by Muscat a Petit Grains and by Petit Manseng; the latter being tried by Marlborough winemaker Sam Weaver.

So variety is alive and thriving; the numbers are just extremely small in New Zealand. So small in fact that many of the wines are likely only to sell via mail order or cellar door, once released.

grown locally on Matakana Road but the birds ate them all in 2011 and in 2012 they were used for a vineyard trial (sad). The winery has since top grafted some Roussanne into its vineyard and will pick its first grapes this year, but quantities are small. They have also planted Albarino and will make their first this year. Waghorn is also making a small quantity of Albarino and expects the first will most likely appear from the 2013 vintage.

Which Whites? Arneis, Gruner Veltliner and Viognier are the best known alternative white varietals to have found their way into New Zealand vineyards in the past decade but there is a clutch of winemakers branching out further still; this is where Albarinho, Chenin Blanc, and – in very small quantities – Roussanne and Marsanne come in. Mahurangi River Winery in Warkworth, an hour’s drive north of Auckland, is dabbling in Albarinho and Roussanne, although the 50 cases of 2010 Garden of Light Roussanne (13.9% ABV) was all but sold out at the time of writing. The grapes for this wine were

Pinot Gris That said, Waghorn is proPinot Gris; a variety he regards as having “a great place in the Marlborough context. I think it can be a very serious wine and is a niche variety for us.” Compared with Sauvignon Blanc - now the 10th most planted grape in the world with 98,000 hectares internationally - Pinot

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Chenin Blanc devotees, Annie and James Millton.

Gris may look niche. But in the New Zealand context, Pinot Gris is becoming relatively mainstream these days. Coupled with its generous cropping levels, Pinot Gris offers an easy to drink, often relatively neutral white wine; both of which must account in some part for its overnight popularity among both the winemaking and the wine drinking fraternities. “We think Sauvignon Blanc, particularly in Marlborough, has a long way to go and won’t necessarily fall out of favour. It’ll always be a go-to Sauvignon from around the world so it’s unlikely it’s going to fall off the face of the Earth but you always want to hedge your bets a little and have some other varieties too,” says Waghorn.

Back To Basics Hawke’s Bay winemaker John Hancock is no stranger to pioneering interesting new grape varieties

44   // 

– red and white – but he sees Riesling and Chardonnay as the grapes of greatest untapped white wine potential in this country. “We could learn a lot from the Aussies with regards to making

in interest. “With regards to Chardonnay, we have the potential to produce a wide range of styles of world class. We do need to continue our direction of restraint and elegance with-

New Zealand has the potential to make truly great Riesling and when we do, I am expecting that to coincide with an increase in interest.” – John Hancock Riesling - not in their steely dry style, but simply in the purity of their winemaking, producing wines that age exceptionally well: we haven’t achieved yet. It’s about getting the purity and longevity right with the best sugar/acid balance. “New Zealand has the potential to make truly great Riesling and when we do, I am expecting that to coincide with an increase


out going into the dull and boring. As existing drinkers of Sauvignon Blanc move on, as they inevitably do, then Chardonnay will have its day again. We are seeing a move towards Chardonnay again as we have pulled back from the overly oaky, buttery, golden coloured and phenolic wines of our winemaking adolescence.” Chardonnay also has the versatility, Hancock suggests, to be

made successfully in a wide range of styles from all parts of New Zealand. “For a grape variety to be considered a success, it has to be commercially viable. My view is that the variety must have proved itself commercially viable in its region of origin, and be recognizable internationally by consumers, to have a chance of success. That’s what makes Riesling from Waipara and North Canterbury such a success with great potential.” For anyone stuck in the Sauvignon Blanc groove, Waghorn says: “It’s important in the restaurant market to have other things to add breadth and depth to your offering and make your life more interesting as a winemaker but essentially it’s about brand profile and showcasing interesting varieties rather than just the mainstream.” ■

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he ability to rapidly measure tannin, total phenolics and total pigment of fermenting, macerating and newly finished red wine is very useful to the red winemaker. This was examined in an address by Dr Paul Smith, Research Manager at the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) a few years ago. Subsequently Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers funded a project at the EIT School of Applied Science that examined the applicability of the new AWRI Tannin Portal analysis technique to local red wines. This project has been extended, and during 2011 and 2012 further investigations into quality aspects

of Hawke’s Bay red wines were explored. Paul Smith identified a consumer preference, which he termed a “tannin sweet spot”, which relates wine astringency intensity with mean liking scores for red wines. He reported this sweet spot as being between 1.31.9 g/L of tannin. The question which this suggested was; Is there a similar “tannin sweet spot” for Hawke’s Bay (HB) red wines? Or more generally what is it about HB red wines that mark them as wines of quality? Initially the concern among HB red winemakers was that the so called quality red wines of the

Source M Reeves/R Chittenden.

46   // 


region were being described by international wine scribes as being overly tannic and not completely in balance because of this. Is HB red wine any more tannic than red wine from other regions?

Tannins and Astringency The main sensory attribute of a red wine that contributes to whether that wine is perceived as tannic or non tannic is astringency. Some explanation of current research on how this is thought to occur is needed as long held anecdotal explanations such polymerisation (on its own) followed by precipitation of insoluble tannins thus resulting in softer

less tannic (astringent) wines do not seem to be backed up by recent research. Phenolic compounds can exhibit bitterness and astringency. Whereas bitterness is a taste sensation and thus restricted to small molecules of particular structures being able to enter receptors within the mouth, astringency is a tactile sensation brought about by precipitation of salivary proteins and depends on protein interaction sites in the molecule.These sites increase with molecular size. Other observations; Phenolic polymerisation reactions enhance rather than reduce astringency whether these are condensation, ethyl linked or oxidation products. Acid cleavage of condensed tannin may generate smaller and hence less astringent species. Astringency can be reduced by oligomeric tannin-anthocyanin polymers. Proanthocyanidins (PA) is another name given collectively to a group of grape phenolic compounds. PA’s have several important roles in winemaking including their ability to complex with other molecules including anthocyanins, proteins and polysaccharides, and also because they attribute to astringency and mouth feel sensations in wine as discussed above. Thus the extraction and consequent modifications to their structures during winemaking processes

nins over time. First, the greater incorporation of anthocyanins into the structure of grape tannins after veraison gives an increased proportion of positively charged subunits leading to increased hydrogen bond interaction with surrounding water molecules and potentially leading to reduced hydrophobic interactions with proteins. Secondly over time the polymerisation of tannins under wine like conditions leads to greater intramolecular hydrophobic interactions and produces a more compact less linear polymer conformation. This results in fewer available binding sites for protein association than for more linear grape tannins of the same molecular mass. Extended tannin conformations are able to interact simultaneously with more than one peptide. Grape tannins and younger wine tannins are more likely to have more extended conformations than aged wine tannins and therefore would be perceived as more astringent. The answer to the question is HB red wine any more tannic than red wine from other regions? can be seen in Figure 1. There are now 280 HB red wines of various blends, varieties and ages on the portal database and when tannin concentration of the HB wines is benchmarked against a comparable region with a similar database size (Coonawarra) the following picture emerges. [See Fig1] Note the negative tannin concentrations for the Pinot Noir and Syrah curves result from normalising the distribution of the limited HB samples. Part 2 of this article in the next issue will explore HB red wine quality and the wine show system. It will move closer to identifying a HB red wine “tannin sweet spot” and explore more generally what it is that is perceived to contribute to a red wine as being described as a “quality” wine. ■


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such as fermentation, maceration and maturation will affect the sensory properties of red wine significantly. Other factors such as grape variety, maturity phenolic composition, extent of berry crushing, skin contact time and ethanol exposure will also contribute to the sensory properties of the PA’s. Factors that promote aggregation also increase the intensity of astringency sensation as measured by sensory analysis. Thus a loss of astringency during wine aging results from cleavage reactions and incorporation of anthocyanins into small tannin structures rather than from polymerisation reactions. Other wine components such as polysaccharides and proteins interfere with astringency perception, probably through competition with salivary proteins in the formation of tannin complexes. Pure anthocyanins don’t elicit astringency. Polymers with anthocyanins are more soluble and reduce precipitation with proteins and hence are less astringent. Hard tannins result from high concentrations of large polymeric tannin. Soft tannins result from just low tannin concentrations or anthocyanin- tannin structures, tannin-protein structures and tannin-polysaccharide structures. Further explanation of wine tannin influence on wine astringency quality shows where interactions between grape seed and skin tannins and proline rich proteins were investigated. Grape tannins reacted with more proline residues (protein) than wine tannins irrespective of molecular size. In other words if tannin reaction with protein is the basis of astringency then regardless of size, grape tannins are perceived as more astringent than wine tannins. There were two reasons for this both of which are to do with structural changes to the tan-

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he three-year Organic Focus Vineyard Project is monitoring vineyards in three wine regions in New Zealand as they convert from conventional to certified organic vineyard management. The project has two major aims: to demonstrate the practices and management decisions associated with organic growing; and to monitor and compare the outcomes of organic and conventional growing regimes across a number of variables, including pest and disease levels, harvest results (yield and

48   // 

ripening), soil health, plant nutrition, and financial costs. The following presents results from the focus vineyards’ first year in organic conversion. Pest and disease levels were similar between organic and conventional growing regimes for all regions and grape varieties, with the exception of a significant crop loss to botrytis in Central Otago’s conventional Pinot Gris. Harvest results were mixed across the country, with neither organic nor conventional consistently producing higher yields across all grape


varieties. Financial costs were mixed, with the organic regime being slightly cheaper to run in Hawke’s Bay, but more expensive to run in Central Otago and Marlborough. However, some cost differences were attributable to one-off costs associated with the organic vineyards’ first year in conversion to organic management. Data from the following two seasons will increase our ability to draw more robust conclusions about the organic conversion process and the potential differences between organic and convention-

ally managed vineyards. A caveat in interpreting results: because this trial was done on existing commercial vineyards which were not planted specifically for this trial, there are a number of differences between the conventional and organic vines for some varieties involved in the trial such as clone and rootstock. Thus, differences observed may be due to differences in clone or rootstock or other noncontrolled variables that cannot be attributed to conventional vs. organic management practices.


The Hawke’s Bay Organic Focus Vineyard project is now based at the winery’s Mere Road vineyard where organic and conventional growing regimes are being monitored for blocks of Syrah and Merlot – varieties more representative of the region. The 2012 season was the first for the Mere Road vineyard, and, in a recently released report, the

project team said the Gimblett Gravels site produced some solid baseline data as part of the threeyear BioGrow organic certification process. Undervine cultivation was the method chosen to control weeds in the vineyard. A BioAg soil amendment programme was followed, with the same organic products used on the vineyard for

the last five years. Inputs included soil drenches and foliar nutrition applied regularly throughout the growing season. Pest and management strategies for both conventional and organic systems were standard control programmes. Undervine weed management proved challenging, with significant wet weather events spurring

weed growth during the growing season. Conventional blocks were given two undervine herbicide spray applications while organic blocks received four passes with the undervine cultivator. No major differences in crop and canopy management practices were reported between conventional and organic systems, with the same level of inputs incurred

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Block Name

Total Yield (Whole Block)

Production Costs $ per tonne

Yield t/ha

Production costs $/Ha

Sum of total (actual)

Area (Ha)

Merlot Conventional







Merlot Organic







Syrah Conventional







Syrah Organic







Mission Estate Mere Road Vineyard – Summary of Costs.

in both growing regimes in terms of shoot thinning, trimming and leaf removal. Fruition Horticulture carried out pest and disease analysis monitoring for powdery mildew in late January and for botrytis, downy mildew and mealybug pre-harvest. While the 2012 season’s wet weather created challenges with pest and disease, very good control of powdery and downy mildew was achieved in both growing systems at Mere Road. Crop loss to botrytis was slightly high in the organic blocks when compared to conventional across both varieties encompassed in the project.

50   // 

However, crop loss was still below 1.5 percent – which the project team found a good result in the challenging conditions. Organic and conventional Merlot performance for yield and brix was very similar. The organic Syrah was also similar for fruit ripeness and yield when compared to the conventionally grown Syrah. The conventionally grown Merlot yield of 5.02 tonnes per hectare was 3.7 percent higher than the organic Merlot (4.84 t/ ha) while there was no difference in TA or pH. The conventional Merlot brix was marginally higher


than the organic. Crop and shoot thinning was undertaken in both blocks. The conventionally grown Syrah similarly yielded three percent more than the organic Syrah. Shoot and crop thinning was also undertaken in both systems. Again, there was no difference between the organic and conventional pH and TA. The organic Syrah brix was slightly higher Production costs were calculated as both cost per hectare and cost per tonne. The organic and conventional total costs per hectare were very much the same,

with organic management proving slightly cheaper for both grape varieties. Expenditure in the conventional blocks was slightly greater than for the organic blocks for both varieties, with both varieties showing a conventional cost on average 2.5 percent higher than the organic costs. Undervine weed management cost more in the organic block, with cultivation costs higher than conventional herbicide spraying. However, the organic canopy spray programme was significantly less expensive than the conventional spray programme.


In the case of Marlborough the Wither Hills block required specific actions to adapt the vineyard for organic management, in order to allow undervine cultivation to take place. Because the block was particularly stony, there was a need to remove large stones from the undervine area, as well as lifting irrigation wires higher and staking the risers. Both blocks received fertiliser applications of reactive phosphate rock and OrganiBor (Boron); in addition the conventional block received sulpher prills and the organic block received gypsum, as well as a solid drench of EM with every pass of the undervine weeder. The organic Sauvignon Blanc block also had a cover crop of barley sown every second row in the inter-row, in an effort to increase organic matter levels and soil biological activity. In the organic Pinot Noir block a cover crop of buckwheat and Phacelia was sown in every 10th interrow with the intention of attracting beneficial insects to predate on pests. In terms of undervine weed management, the conventional blocks received two undervine herbicide spray applications, while the organic blocks received four undervine cultivations. There were no major differences in crop and canopy management practices. However significant differences in growth in the Pinot Noir led to less trimming and leaf removal in the organic Pinot Noir, but more thinning costs to bring crop levels into line with the smaller canopy. In terms of pest and disease issues, Botrytis was the only

issue (albeit minor in the scale of things) experienced in Marlborough. In the conventional Pinot Noir block the incidence was 10.3%, but the crop loss 0%. The organic block saw an incidence of 2.3% and again no percentage of crop loss. In terms of Sauvignon Blanc; the conventional block had 20.5% incidence and 0.1% crop loss. The Organic block had 29% incidence and 0.3% crop loss. (Incidence equals percentage of bunches, out of 400 sampled from each treatment, that had any botrytis present.) While phenology was identical in both the conventional and organic Sauvignon Blanc blocks, the organic Pinot Noir developed more slowly than the conventional throughout the season. The vines never grew a full canopy and the fruit was slow to ripen. As a result the vineyard managers chose to significantly thin the crop in the hope of encouraging ripening in the remaining crop. The thinned fruit was used in Wither Hills sparkling wine. There are some possible reasons for the slow development of the organic Pinot Noir block – the differing rootstocks between the organic and coventional blocks, the young age of the vines contributing to an unformed root system, disturbance of the root system by undervine weeding and/or competition from undervine weeds during the season. It is also unknown if there is an effect on vines adapting to organic growing – that is something only time will be able to confirm. In terms of harvest, both the conventional and organic Sauvignon Blanc were harvested on the same day with no

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phenological differences. However the harvesting of the Pinot Noir blocks were staggered, with the thinning on the organic block taking place two weeks prior to the main harvest. Yields were lower in the organic block, also due to the earlier thinning which did not occur in the conventional block.

Costs The Marlborough Pinot Noir

blocks showed the most significant cost difference of any of the project blocks nationwide. Mainly due to the need for extra crop thinning in the organic block. This added an extra $1,095 per hectare to the costs when compared to the conventional block. Another significant difference in costs was in undervine weed management. Undervine cultivation cost $1077/ha in the organic Pinot

Noir and $1353/ha in the organic Sauvignon Blanc, compared with herbicide costs of $354/ha in the conventional Pinot Noir and $377/ ha in the conventional Sauvignon Blanc. Undervine cultivation costs were particularly high in Marlborough, compared to other regions, due to heavily compacted soils.

• Pinot Noir Conventional - $6,945 • Sauvignon Blanc Organic - $8,541 • Sauvignon Blanc Conventional - $6,064 The major source of cost differences was the preparatory work required for the first year of conversion, particularly the removal of stones and lifting of irrigation wires. The overall cost differences are expected to be smaller in future years.

Total costs per hectare: • Pinot Noir Organic - $10,074



Pruning System

Row Spacing

Vine spacing




Pinot Noir


2 cane







Stony silt loam

Pinot Noir


2 cane







Stony silt loam

Sav Blanc


4 cane





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Soil type


The Gibbston Valley School House Vineyard is located in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago. Perched on a bony, 350m altitude, north-facing slope, the vineyard is 11ha (the largest of the Organic Focus Vineyards), comprising Pinot Noir (clones 5, 6, 114, 115, 667, 777) and Pinot Gris (clones 2/15 and 2/21), on 3309 rootstock. Formerly a lucerne paddock, the vineyard was planted 10 years ago and the patchwork of different blocks has lent itself to a partitioning of organic and conventional blocks rather than a straight split down the middle. Central Otago as a region is often considered by many to be

“readymade” for organic viticulture. Whilst it’s true that as a region low in humidity and low in rainfall there is less comparative disease pressure, the nature of the semi-arid climate reveals a different set of challenges. Soils that are extremely low in organic matter are less water retentive and more susceptible to erosion. Undervine management is the game-changer when it comes to conversion from conventional to organic viticulture, simultaneously attempting to suppress weed growth and competition in low fertile soils whilst promoting organic matter and boosting biology. As someone intimately

involved with the management of this vineyard, vigour has been the most obvious difference/challenge when comparing the two regimes. At times, the conventional blocks have had too much, at times, the organic blocks haven’t had enough. It’s a balancing act; there is a desire to ration water to promote greater root growth and penetration down the profile for the organic vines, yet the surface ground cover is most adept at utilizing available water and creating deficiencies. Add to that the effects of root-pruning from the undervine cultivation and it is little wonder that the organic vines appear a lighter green colour and

tend to stress and sulk a little in their first stage of conversion, as we saw this past year. However, aside from the visual symptoms, the organic blocks cropped at a level comparable to the conventional blocks (in fact higher after fruit thinning), there was greater water penetration down the profile (and far higher run-off observed across the conventional blocks) and the organic blocks already exhibited signs of increased organic matter and health, as much a result of the first cultivation breaking that caked surface layer and aerating the soil. It was also interesting to note that the organic blocks had a mark-




Pruning System

Row Spacing

Vine spacing





Pinot Noir


2 cane





6, 667, 777


Loess on schist gravels

Pinot Noir


2 cane





115, 114, 5


Loess on schist gravels

Pinot Gris


2 cane







Loess on schist gravels

Pinot Gris


2 cane







Loess on schist gravels

edly lower incidence and severity of botrytis outbreak when compared to the conventional blocks, particularly in the Pinot Gris. Due to unseasonably frequent and longer rain events pre- and post-bunch closure, there was increased pressure from botrytis leading up to harvest. There was a 48.5% incidence in the conventional Pinot Gris, compared to a 17.3% incidence in the organic Pinot Gris (bearing in mind that both blocks had identical foliar spray regimes). There were several reasons given for this difference. Botrytis spores live in the vine understory and in the absence of a “concrete pad” (the effective surface layer of the conventional blocks that are treated with glyphosate), there is a reduced ability to spread by impact from water (essentially bouncing up into the canopy). The increased competition from micro flaura and fauna in the organic understory would also serve to reduce the inherent botrytis populations. There were also thoughts about bunch architecture,

whereby weed competition in the organic blocks during flowering could result in a reduced set and therefore more open bunches, less prone to botrytis infection. Unfortunately there were no assessments or measurements made for such things, but they serve as useful hypotheses to prompt further research and trials. The financial costings summary is a useful guide and insight into the first year of the project. Weed and pest control were comparable for both regimes, as was canopy management, harvesting and pruning costs. Fertilizer costs were higher for the organic block ($1227/ha vs $115/ha), due largely to the cost of sourcing, making and spreading compost. There were also increased costs attributed to the organic blocks for irrigation/ trellis repair/maintenance due to unforeseen damage from the

undervine cultivation. Aside from these two areas, there were no other differences except for the one-off costs associated with conversion; namely raising irrigation/ wire and staking young vines and irrigation risers/valves. We found that staking each of the block irrigation valves wasn’t enough to protect them from damage, so

Soil type

wood boxes were made instead (this also helps deter the sheep who like munching on the solenoid wires). At the end of the day (permit me to use round figures), the average cost for managing the organic blocks was $13,000/ha vs $11,000/ha for the conventional blocks. This for premium, $50/bottle, Central Otago Pinot Noir. To walk away from the first year with a 15% difference – including the oneoff setup costs – makes organic conversion and management look very appealing and feasible. It’s early days yet, and we look forward to monitoring the progress of the vineyard and comparing the results from the end of year two. The full report on the Organic Focus Vineyard project is available at ■

Block Name

Total Yield (Whole Block)

Production Costs $ per tonne

Yield t/ha

Production costs $/Ha

Sum of total (actual)

Area (Ha)

Organic Pinot Noir







Conventional Pinot Noir







Organic Gris







Conventional Gris







Central Otago Summary of Costs.

54   // 



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here are three major energy usages within a winery and all can be fine tuned to help cut down on costs. That’s according to Jeff Smit, Demand Response Manager and Paul Gibbs a Project Engineer from Transfield Worley. Both addressed NZW Sustainability winery workshops throughout the country (Hawkes’ Bay, Marlborough and Otago) focusing

on how to create efficiency within the winery, while also maintaining production. The three areas highlighted were; refrigeration, compressed air and hot water. In terms of refrigeration, it is predicted it makes up between 60% and 80% of a winery’s annual power use. That’s a fair chunk, and any efficiency is also likely to produce major savings.

General Use

Hot Water

“When you are designing a refrigeration system there are some key issues that you need to consider,” Smit said. “First of all, what’s the load. There’s the peak load at vintage and there’s the load across the rest of the year. It’s no good having a plant that delivers a peak output for every month of the year. “Extendibility – if you are planning an expansion, banging

Compressed Air



on unit after unit may not be the best way from an energy perspective. So bear that in mind. “And air or water cool system? Air-cooled has a lower performance than a water system. But you have to take into account the initial capital cost involved.” When deciding what type of refrigeration system you want to go with, Smit says there are choices. Ammonia, standard

Fruit Receival and Processing

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Typical Winery Energy Usage

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freon refrigerations often in package solutions and upcoming refrigerants such as CO2. Each comes with pros and cons. In terms of ammonia, it is expensive and possibly only suitable for larger installations. “But it has higher efficiency and you have more ability to optimise it to your application. What is also important is that it’s a natural refrigerant.” Package solutions utilising freon refrigerants may be the cheap option, but Smit warns you need to be aware of what the package has been built and optimised for. “Often those package solutions are optimised for New Zealand conditions and running them for winery applications is often pushing them to their operational limits. When purchasing any package solution you really do need to consider how it will work within the winery and whether it can do what you need for your application.” CO2 may be the way of the future, he said. Supermarkets are now moving towards these air conditioning systems, placing them on rooftops. “The big issue is, in order to get performance in terms of refrigeration out of CO2 your pressures have to be really high. But if carbon tax does come in, these are the type of systems you will be seeing more of in five or six years.” The heat recovery potential from CO2 is also significantly better than alternative refrigerants. Keeping tanks cool is a major component of a winery’s refrigeration needs. Insulating tanks is a wise move if you are building a new winery, but Smit said the cost of retrospectively fitting it, is hard to justify.But you can help the chilling costs by controlling your glycol temperatures throughout the year.

“At certain times of the year you may want to get the temperature down as low as possible for rapid or low temperature cooling applications. The rest of the year though, you don’t necessarily have to keep it at that temperature. So increasing the glycol temperatures when you can, is a take home message we have got. The higher the glycol temperatures, the less work your compressors are having to do.” Gibbs says the chiller will be more efficient if the glycol temperature is raised. “For every degree you increase your glycol temperature, there’s typically a three per cent efficiency saving. But also the capacity, how many kilowatts your chiller can produce, also goes up by a similar amount. So if you are trying to run your chiller at minus 5, versus zero degrees, you have 15 per cent less capacity. So typically at vintage when you are trying to control ferments and have higher peak loads, by increasing your glycol temperature means you have more cooling capacity. That can help get you through that peak period when you are pushing the plant.” While everyone tends to worry about having enough energy during vintage, many tend to be complacent about what is happening during the rest of the year. For example, one third of all energy use happens when the fruit is being brought in. But it is the rest of the year outside of vintage that uses the most energy overall. Both Smit and Gibbs said this is often overlooked and is where big savings can be made. ■

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The workshop was the first in what will be a series being developed for industry members on energy management. The session was video recoded and is now available to be viewed on the NZWine website.





peak to any New Zealand winemaker of Pinot Noir – past, present or up-and-coming – and they’ve undoubtedly spent time or worked a vintage in Oregon. Those that haven’t will sorely lament the fact. It’s a region that, despite being on the opposite side of the world, in the other hemisphere, on the opposite parallel, has a connection with New Zealand. Two kindred spirits, two children making friends in the schoolyard, two regions that are battling – compet-

itively, yet fairly – for New World Pinot Noir supremacy. It may come as a shock to many locals, especially those unfamiliar with Oregon’s wares, that their Pinot Noirs are exceptional and arguably better than New Zealand’s offerings. Better? Or different? I’ve not long finished a stint working the 2012 vintage in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. On the back of two wet and cold years, Oregon was due for a warmer season, and conditions were hot,

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Process & Packaging Equipment

sunny and “completely unseasonable” for most of the harvest. The tendency is usually for drizzly rain to set in, at some stage in autumn and through the winter. The MAR for the region is 1000- 1200mm and the GDD varies from 10001400, making it most similar to Nelson’s climate (though with less sunshine hours). The soils are a mix of volcanic and sedimentary, the former more highly prized. The Willamette Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area) is divided up into six sub-appellations. They are: Chehalem Mountains AVA Dundee Hills AVA Eola-Amity Hills AVA McMinville AVA Ribbon Ridge AVA Yamhill-Carlton AVA 
 More than 3⁄4 of the vine area is planted out to Pinot Noir. The region was pioneered by David Lett (of Eyrie Vineyards) in 1966,

whose 1975 pinot put Oregon on the map at the Gault-Millau Wine Olympics, on the back of similar contests like the Judgement of Paris in 1976 (where California famously beat France in two blind tastings). 
So there is history in Oregon. History that has brought the Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs to the world, and history that results in a present day

foundation of significant vine age. Is it this vine age that contributes to wines of remarkable pedigree that are able to age gracefully for more than two decades? Or is it something else? Perhaps an inherent structure in the wines, created in the vineyard, shaped by the climate/seasons and fostered by the winemaker? It’s that age-ability in the wines that really surprised me,

having been fortunate to try stellar examples (with life remaining) that included the likes of a 1992 Evesham Wood, 1993 Domain Drouhin Oregon and a 1994 Brick House. 
 Like New Zealand – and Australia for that matter – there doesn’t seem to be any pattern or trend defining the region. They all use varying levels of new oak, they all have their favourite coopers, there is a healthy mix of destemming/whole bunch, different preferences for indigenous and inoculated fermentations, and fairly consistent cropping rates in the vineyard. However, unveil the curtain – look beyond the rhetoric – and there is a stylistic shift towards Pinot Noir that realizes its typicity. It’s slow, but evident, that the days of big and bold are being replaced by finesse and structure, as Oregon winegrowers calibrate themselves and their fruit.


Steve Doerner, of Cristom, explains, “I think preferences are starting to shift away from where they were just a decade ago, which was bigger is better. In the beginning, part of the big shift towards Pinot Noir was its attraction as an elegant variety, but people still preferred the bigger styles. As time goes on, not only are people more tolerant of elegant wines, they are actually favouring them. I think that trend is happening in other wines as well, not just Pinot Noir.” Dave Paige, of Adelsheim, agrees, vindicated by his stylistic perseverance, “Fortunately, I think most Pinot Noir drinkers have a growing appreciation for elegance and complexity. We used to worry more about the image of our Pinot 10 years ago, when the press and consumers still seemed caught up in the bigger is better mode. But we stuck to our guns and couldn’t be happier.” Josh Bergstrom, of Bergstrom, addresses the shift circumspectly, “There was a brief fashion for enormous, well-endowed Pinots that is now changing in favour of balance. I don’t know if the newbie to Pinot knows what to expect or what they really want, they just know that they like it. I’m aspiring to make wines that I enjoy for the very long term. Although I am guilty of making brash, opulent wines in my youth, I have now settled into a

style that balances the elegant side of opulence as a correct interpretation of the vintage; a place I hope to be for many decades to come, regardless of fad or fashion.” Nevertheless, achieving this stylistic tightrope is not without its challenges. All winemakers I spoke to had added water to their musts in certain years (the dry-grown evangelists usually the most culpable), and as a marginal climate there are real struggles for ripeness in many years (I heard of Pinot - for still wine - coming in at 19oBrix in 2011). Then, even with a good/great product in bottle, Oregon shares the same sales and marketing hurdles as any region predisposed to premium Pinot Noir. It’s not quite looking in a mirror, but there is a connection and similarity to it all; as Harry Peterson- Nedry of Chehalem says, “My friends and I view New Zealand Pinot as the third leg of the Pinot Noir stool, along with Burgundy and Oregon”. And the stool is a comfy one. The Burgundy leg very old, but very sturdy, the Oregon leg just starting to rust with signs of fleck, and the New Zealand leg still quite bright and shiny, waiting for time and age to reveal her destiny, be it a path well-trodden or a journey off the beaten track. ■

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o back several hundred years and you would have seen Waipara’s rolling hills and valley floor clad in totara, lacebark, kowhai, lancewood and broadleaf forest. However, as in many of the country’s lowland regions, its landscapes have been transformed by farming and the cultivation of non indigenous plants – which include the vine - resulting in a significant loss in its biodiversity. It’s a situation that the groundbreaking Greening Waipara project has sought to address, with a success

that’s not only benefited the wider environment but the vineyards themselves. Greening Waipara sprang to life in 2006 out of initiatives by Lincoln University, local wine growers, the Hurunui District Council and Landcare Research united by a desire to enhance the biodiversity of the region. It was initially part of a sixyear government programme, Biodiversity, ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture; LINX 0303, which calculated the value of ecosystem (nature’s) services on

arable, pastoral and horticultural land and enhanced it through ‘ecological engineering’. Since then it’s given the region and its vineyards an ecological makeover. Initially teams from Lincoln University and then the growers themselves set about restoring native habitat in Waipara’s shelter belts, entranceways, stream and pond edges, vineyard borders and even the vine rows themselves through planting thousands of plants drawn from species that were once common.

“We stared with four vineyards and now we have 60 involved,” commented the project’s leader, Steve Wratten, Professor of Ecology at Lincoln University’s Bio-Protection Research Centre. “Of those 60, around 55 are winegrowers, with other members including a blackcurrant grower, local schools, the railway station and a sheep farmer.” Vineyards have been at the heart of the programme, which was designed with their benefit in mind. Many of the plants selected by the scheme offer natural assis-


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62   // 


tance in areas such as pollination, pest and disease control, weed suppression and soil quality. Amongst the vines, the project initially worked with buckwheat to attract the parasite wasp that helps control the leafroller precursor to botrytis and help suppress weeds. “It was so successful that it’s brought pests down to below the economic spray threshold, which is in everyone’s interest,” says Wratten. “This has resulted in a drop in the use of pesticides in the vineyards.” However, as buckwheat hails from Asia, the project harnessed the PhD research of Jean Tomkins to discover what native plants could perform a similar function. She arrived at a list of 15 species. The purple form of New Zealand bidibid was in pole position and has now been planted in the vineyards.

Eco-tourism is also an important element of Greening Waipara, through the establishment of biodiversity trails at Mud House, Pegasus Bay, Torlesse, and most recently, Waipara Springs. These allow visitors to experience Greening Waipara first hand as they wander down paths lined with natives supported by information about the individual species and their role in the ecosystem, as well as Maori uses. In order to engage the younger generation, a quiz was also devised that offers children the opportunity to win a biodiversity quiz book. While the plants were drawn from the database established to catalogue local species, each winery’s input has resulted in four quite different trails. Mud House’s path leads into the vineyard; Pegasus Bay’s landscaped trail gives the impression of a

    


 botanical garden; the mature trail at Torlesse has a wilder feel, while the youngest at Waipara Springs is smaller and more gardenlike. “This was just a weedy old hollow when we started,” explained Torlesse’s Kym Rayner as he walks through his trail that he has now opted to leave to nature’s own devices. “It’s been good. We now have a resident bellbird and having the trail is far better than just bare swale.” At Pegasus Bay, Paul Donaldson has seen also more bellbirds, as well as wetas, ladybirds and even insect larvae in the lake, which he thinks may well be down to the trail. Flowing on from this, the winery has been planting wild flowers, with a notable recent success being the propagation of the near extinct native New Zealand orchid. “Waipara is an area where there are a lot of vineyards that are on farmland, so people think you can’t have biodiversity, but this

initiative shows that you can,” observed Donaldson. “It also illustrates how it can get things in balance and control things you don’t want.” State funding for the project has now come to an end. The wineries are funding the upkeep of the trails, while the only financial injection from outside is coming from the Japanese Fourleaf company which purchases blackcurrants from the region. This has enabled the printing of the initiative’s newsletters and an imminent updated reprint of the Greening Waipara leaflet. However, the future of the project now lies in the hands of the region. “Now 40,000 native plants have been put in,” commented Wratten. “Much of the Waipara community took the project seriously and it’s reached a stage where it has to decide whether or not it’s going to continue. I am sure it will.” ■


       

 





he latest Deloittes Winery Benchmark Survey shows the New Zealand industry is on the road to recovery – but there is still a way to travel. The summary which breaks the industry down into production categories, shows the larger companies are making a profit, with the smallest category (up to $1.25m) once again recording a loss. This is the seventh year Deloittes have conducted the survey and the latest results,

while showing signs of positivity, also indicate the industry has not reached the point where the financial returns provide an appropriate financial return on the capital invested. Breaking it down into the five categories, these are the salient points.

Up to $1.25m This is the most volatile of all five categories when it comes to profitability. In 2011 it had the highest recorded profit/(loss)

before tax. There has been a change in the participants of this category, which may account for some of the changes, although Deloittes says it is also the category that is most affected by certain aspects, such as the volatile exchange rate.

$5m - $10m

$1.25 - $5m

$10m - $20m

For the first time since the wine survey began, this category actually record a small profit before tax of 6.5%.

2012 provided the best return for this category – 17% profit, which is similar to what was being achieved prior to the 2010 downturn.

Over the years of the wine survey, this has consistently been a stellar performer in terms of levels of profitability, varying between 7% and 9%. Once again it was in the black in terms of profit before tax.

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64   // 


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$20m+ Another profitable category – with a return of 11.1%, although this is down on last year’s profit of 14%.

There will be no surprise that the major issue facing wineries in all five categories, is the exchange rate, a major challenge for all New Zealand exporters.

Income Statement In previous surveys, it has generally been considered that a gross margin of 50% is required for a winery business to be sustainable, the Deloitte’s survey states. “This has proven untrue this, year, with gross margins being lower than 50% for all categories, with only the largest category close to the 50% level, however four of the five categories have recorded profits. To achieve this, wineries have been able to structure themselves in such a way that they are earning sufficient margin to cover their other commitments. The $10 - $20m category is the stand out with 17% profit on

the back of 39.4% gross margin. In comparison however the $0 $1.25m categories margin of 25.5% is unsustainable.”

Issues Facing the Industry There will be no surprise that the major issue facing wineries in all five categories, is the exchange rate, a major challenge for all New Zealand exporters. However in comparison to previous surveys, the next two major issues have changed. Excise and other levies comes in as the number two issue for all but one of the five categories,

Efficiency starts here...

while marketing product overseas is the third major concern. Again not every category stated this issue as a major, with the largest $20m+ ranking it as of less concern than too little grape supply. Deloitte’s believe this may be due to the fact the larger companies have already established export marketing networks. Following on from the 2012 low yields, the grape supply issue is something most categories are expressing concern over. It’s position as the fourth major concern, is a vast move from its ninth position last year. “It is hoped that if wineries

and grape growers are considering planting additional vines in a hope to mitigate this issue, that any such investment is carefully assessed to ensure it is strongly market led and there is no repeat of the supply/demand imbalance seen in recent years. “For the industry to create value, rather than prioritising additional plantings the first task is to grow the value of sales, rather than the volume of sales. To do this an investment in brands and market development is required rather than investing in further vines. Growing profitability will create value, but further improvement is definitely required. Value driven, market demand led yield management needs to be the primary focus of wineries in the future to avoid the experience of the last four years becoming a recurring trend.” ■

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BOOK REVIEW The Winemaker – George Fistonich and the Villa Maria Story By Kerry R Tyack RANDOM HOUSE NEW ZEALAND. RRP $45 REVIEWED BY TESSA NICHOLSON

“He was and is very experienced, an expert in every facet of the business. He has grown the grapes; he’s made the wine; he’s sold the wine – and he knows it all. I say this in the most complimentary way; it’s not that he thinks he knows it all; he genuinely does know the industry through and through.” – Peter Howell on Sir George Fistonich If there is one quote that stands out in the book, the above is it. The Winemaker goes on to prove why Howell’s comments are so true. New Zealand’s most awarded winery, its owner is the most awarded winemaker in the

country, and not just in terms of wine itself. His services to the industry and its fast tracking onto the world stage; his business skills; his ability to recognise talent before anyone else; his innovation and his lifetime love of New Zealand wine make this book a satisfying read. Tyack who has some skill in the field of wine himself, takes the reader back to the 1920s when George’s father arrived in New Zealand from Croatia. He paints a picture of what life must have been like for these immigrants, none of them speaking English and all looking for a better life for not only themselves, but their families. George’s move into the world of wine wasn’t planned, at least not by his family. Instead he was expected to take up a trade, while his eldest brother went to University. The path from building apprentice to winemaker follows, through the days of selling to neighbours, to establishing a label and creating a legacy. It hasn’t always been a




world of awards and accolades. Villa Maria went into receivership in 1986, only to pull itself out via determination and trust in the man who started it. George has managed to surround himself by extremely talented people – but as Tyack points out, he has often been the one to discover the talent and has worked hard to ensure it Ph +61 8 8323 9001 McLaren Vale, Australia


66   // 


reached its potential. It is no surprise to see the number of wine industry personnel who began their outstanding careers, by learning at the side of the master. The production of this book is a highlight. Stunning layout, with a myriad of photos. Well worth the read and an asset to anyone’s wine library. ■




1: Decanter Wine Award entries close

2- March 3: Classic Hits Winery Tour throughout the country

7 – 10: Seresin’s Waterfall Bay Wine and Food Festival – Marlborough. Details

9: Marlborough Wine and Food Festival – Brancott Estate, Marlborough. Guest performances by Wellington International Ukulele Band and Avalanche City.

13 – 15: NZ Syrah Workshop – Bayview Chateau Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu

22 – 24:

1 – 2: World of Pinot Noir – Showcasing New Zealand – California, Pismo Beach

1 – 17: Melbourne Wine and Food Festival

9: Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival – “The Cliffs”, Dakins Rd, Wairarapa

16: Havelock Mussel Festival – Havelock (Marlborough)

16: Gibbston Wine and Food Festival - Mr Rosa and Brennan Wines

20 – 22:

Diamond Jubilee Easter Show Wine Awards judging

South Island Agricultural Field Days – Lincoln


24 – 26:

Mission Estate Concert with Barry Gibb and Carole King – Mission Vineyards – Napier

ProWein International Wine Fair – Dusseldorf, Germany

APRIL 7 – 10: Vinitaly – Verona, Italy







Dubling Annual Trade and Consumer Tasting


T, M, C

7 Februrary


London Annual Trade and Consumer Tasting


T, M, C

13 Februrary


New Zealand Wine Fair (Tokyo)


T, M, C

19 Februrary


New Zealand Wine Fair (Osaka)


T, M, C

21 February


New Zealand in a Glass (Melbourne)


T, M, C

25 February


New Zealand in a Glass (Sydney)


T, C, M

28 February


New Zealand in a Glass (Brisbane)


T, C, M

4 March


ProWein International Wine Fair - Dusseldorf


T, M

24-26 March


New Zealand Wine Fair – Vancouver


T, M, C

29 April


Winnipeg Wine Festival


T, M, C

1-4 May

T, M, C

6 May

W=Winery A=Agent NZW=NZ Winegrowers

2029-08 AM Page 1 Canada layout_global_P New 9/23/08 Zealand9:32 Wine Fair – Quebec City



M=Media T=Trade C=Consumer











Following is a summary of key indicators at intervals: Region (Actual)


2012 1990

2015 2000 (forecast) n/a n/a 23.017.7 204 358 4,938.5 6,110 10,197 1,791.9 12.2 7.8

% of Total 2010


No. of Growers Marlborough No. of Wineries Hawkes Bay Producing area (Ha)* Otago Average yield (t/Ha)



n/a 22,587.3 n/a 4,841.4 4,880 1,786.7 14.4

Gisborne Tonnes crushed


1,616.5 70,265

74,500 1,586.280,100


Waipara Total production (m.L) 59.6

1,034.5 54.4

56.4 1,082.260.2


Domestic (m.L) 42.6 Wairarapasales / Wellington

39.2 941.9

30.9 943.5 41.3


n/a 5,900

Per capita consumption: Nelson






14% 5%


3% 3%



(litres NZ wines) 13.1 11.7 8.7 10.6 Auckland / Northland 319.77 315.7 Export volume (m.L) 0.8 4.0 7.8 19.2 Waikato / Bay of Plenty 16.1 10.2 Exp. value (m.$NZ fob) 3.0 18.4 40.8 168.4 National Total 34,269.5 34,952.8 *estimate of probable total scaled up from actual returns






Exports Averageup $ again per litre down again!

Exports for the 12 months to end of November 2012 (Moving Annual While total annual exports of New Zealand wine for the 12 months to 31 Total) January 2011 have stayed fairly static since passing the $1 billion over a year ago, the average $ per litre has dropped again, by by an alarming Country Litres $ Fob Average Average 94c. Compared with Jan 2010, annual exports increased 20% in volume, value increased only 6%,(m) $/L 2012 $/L 2011 due to significantly higher bulk exports. In volume and value, Australia retained the lead over UK, with average per litre price to Aussie at $7.00 against UK’s low of $5.68.

United Kingdom

Australia UNITED KINGDOM: 2011 2010


2010 2010 2011 2010

2012 2010 (Forecast)

% producing 2012 area (from 2010)

2015 % Change % producing % Total area Area (2010)

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

19295 19,929.8

19570 58.2

+1.4% 20,214.7

57.7% 57.8

Hawkes Bay Pinot Noir

4947 5096.4

5046 14.9

+2.0% 5175.1

14.8% 14.8

2011 2010

Gisborne Chardonnay

2083 3120.9

2003 9.1

-3.9% 3164.0

6.2% 9.1

IRELAND: Ireland

Otago Pinot Gris Canty/Waipara Merlot Wairarapa/Wgtn Riesling Nelson Syrah Auckland

1540 2396.2 1779 1195.9 871 719.0 842 354.1 550

1543 7.0 1828 3.5 885 2.1 880 1.0 573

+0.2% 2399.7 +2.7% 1245.4 +1.6% 746.2 +4.6% 400.6 +4.1%

4.6% 6.9 5.3% 3.6 2.6% 2.1 2.5% 1 1.6%

2011 2010

Gewurztraminer Waikato/BoP

147 331.3


311.4 n.c.*

0.9 0.4%

Cabernet Sauv National total

284.8 33428

0.8 33600

323.7 +0.5%

0.9 100.0%











All other varieties




New vineyard will increase by only 0.5% over Total Zealand’s total producing 34,269 34,952.9 the next 2 years. This table shows the variation for major varieties (in Ha), with % change and percentage of total in 2012.

PRODUCING AREA IN HECTARES BY SIZE - NUMBER OF 2012 VINEYARDS Variety 2010 % Change % Total (Actual)


Region Sauv. Blanc

16910 0-5




AklndGris / Nthlnd Pinot

1763 60

13 1764

Canterbury Riesling

986 16

6 1009

Gewurztraminer Gisborne

314 20

290 30

Semillon Hawkes Bay


182 56

57 210


(from 2009) 5.01-10 17297

Pinot Noir Marlborough

4773 190

4828 291

Merlot Nelson Cab.Sauvignon Otago Syrah Waikato / BoP Cabernet Franc Waipara Malbec


1403 37 521 61 300 1 162 16 161

Wairarapa / Wgtn Total National *n.c. = no change

68   // 


45 80

297 161 157

2 12

33428 61 561

16 33600 527


Area (2011)

10.01-20 +2.2% 20.01-50 -1.9% 3



4.3% 1


+2.3% 0

2.7% 1


-7.7% 13


-2.7% 32



50.01 44.3% and over 11.3%




+2.3% +0.4%

6 15

+1.0% 1 3


3 3

0.8% _

n.c.*% +2.5%


10+0.5%  8 349

13.9% 100 4.0%


_ 0.5% 4 0.5% 3 143

234.674 +7.1 219036

$7.19 $9.49


62.547 +9.8 56.941

$8.11 $9.40


23.359 +8.4 21.522

$7.26 $8.51


17.724 +18.9 14.901

$8.12 $10.17


DENMARK: 2011 2010

1.079 +3.5 1.042



Singapore 2011 0.848

18.754 +38.0% 13.591

$10.57 $12.02


14.623 -7.8 15.850

$13.14 $13.15


2,420 29,330 12.12 11.52

1.200 -23.4 1.567



1,687 9,028 5.35 7.20

1.113 -7.6 1.204

2011 2010

Hong Kong



1,164 13,935 11.97 11.42 1.561 +21.4 1.286


Cabernet Franc 111.6 108.9 MAJOR VARIETIES IN 0.3 MAJOR AREAS0.3


2,026 14,426 7.12 8.06 2.184 +49.1 1.465

HONG KONG: Germany 2011 2010


0.875 5,572 6.37 6.70

3.216 +27.1 2.530

CHINA:  Japan 2011 2010

$5.68 $6.69


4,469 26,668 5.97 6.04

7.708 +27.2 6.060



296.686 +3.9 285.630


7,002 76,103 10.87 11.21

32.623 +34.5 24.250

Netherlands CANADA:

Variety Region (Actual)



50,719 381,642

52.305 +24.8 42.708

Canada USA:

New Zealand’s total producing vineyard will increase by only 0.5% over the next 2 years. This table shows the variation for major varieties (in Ha), with % change and percentage of total in 2012.


Country/Years Litres(m) +/- % Total NZ +/- % +/- % fob (m) $NZ/L USA 41,574 264,411 6.36 AUSTRALIA: 2011 47.038 +6.0 329.115 +1 $7.00 2010 44.389 325.750 $7.34

14.028 -30.8 20.258


6.451 +11.6 5.778

$11.69 $12.93


$5.98 $5.54




1,218 15,627 12.82 12.69 10.815 +33.9 $12.75 -11.5

+51.4 0.560



GERMANY: Finland 0.205 1,888 2011 0.678 +37.2 5.052 +14.4 9.17 9.32 $7.45 -16.8 2010 0.494 4.416 $8.95 FINLAND: 

Norway 2011 0.289 npr NORWAY:

0.176 *npr 2.673 1,166 npr 6.61 9.07 $9.24 npr npr npr npr

Sweden 2011 0.138 npr

1,345 11,056 npr 1.118 npr npr npr

SWEDEN: 2011 1.607 npr 14.080 npr Others 5,026 50,012 npr npr npr

8.21 8.27 $8.12 npr npr $8.76 9.55 npr 9.95 npr

OTHER: 2011 Total npr

3.352 177,229 1,217,216 npr 34.111 npr npr npr

TOTAL EXPORTS: 2011 156.667 +20.4 1,080.951 +6.0 *(npr = not previously recorded separately) 2010 130.130 1,019.808

$10.17 6.78 npr 6.87 npr $6.90 $7.84


*n.c. = no *(npr = change not previously recorded separately)


RESEARCH SUPPLEMENT Information and Updates on NZ Winegrowers Research Programmes. Associate Editors: 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 Identification of natural genetic variation in grapevine contributing to pathogen resistance Lincoln University (Chris Winefield) Potassium nutrition of grapevines Plant and Food Research (Mike Trought) The development of a functional genomics tool for the capture and characterization of transposon mutants in Vitis Vinifera (PhD Scholarship) Rod Bonfiglioli Scholarship Lincoln University (Darrell Lizamore) Investigation of perceived minerality in white wine Lincoln University (Wendy Parr) Identification and quantification of chiral volatile compounds in New Zealand wines that affect aroma Lincoln University (Roland Harrison) Sensory effects of defoliation timing and method on Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) (Mark Krasnow) Pests and Disease Implementation of Virus Elimination Strategy Various (Nick Hoskins – Project Manager) Supported by MPI Sustainable Farming Fund

70   // 


Managing Botrytis in New Zealand Viticulture Vino Vitis Ltd (Ruby Andrews)

Describing GLRaV-3 sequence variants in New Zealand Plant and Food Research (Robin MacDiarmid)

Understanding causes of slip skin Plant and Food Research (Rob Beresford)

Cost Reduction/Increased Profitability New opportunities for sustainable grape thinning Plant and Food Research (Mike Trought) Supported by MPI Sustainable Farming Fund

Sustainability/Organics Organic Focus Vineyard Project Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (Rebecca Reider) Supported by MPI Sustainable Farming Fund Effects of undervine vegetation management on grape quality, vine performance, grape composition, and soil properties Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) (Mark Krasnow)

Photo: Staete Landt, supplied by NZW

Reduced berry size and Botrytis tolerance through trauma to the vine Plant and Food Research (Mike Trought) Botrytis decision support (BDS) industry training & botrytis sampling protocols Plant and Food Research (Rob Beresford)


The nature of perceived minerality in white wine: preliminary sensory data Wendy V. Parr, 2Jordi Ballester, 2Dominique Valentin, 2Dominique Peyron, 1Rob Sherlock, 1 Brett Robinson, 1Jason Breitmeyer, 3Philippe Darriet, & 4Claire Grose 1

Lincoln University, Christchurch, NZ ; 2University of Burgundy, Dijon, France ; 3University of Bordeaux II, Bordeaux, France ; 4Plant and Food Research, Marlborough, NZ 1

10-115 New Zealand Winegrowers recently funded the New Zealand component of a project aimed at shedding light on the somewhat elusive wine characteristic “mineral”. Over the last 18 months, an international and interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from New Zealand (Lincoln University; Plant & Food Research) and France (University of Burgundy; University of Bordeaux II) has been investigating perceived minerality in white wine. More specifically, we aimed to delineate the nature of perceived minerality in Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand (Marlborough) and from France (Sancerre/Loire, Bordeaux, and Burgundy) by undertaking both sensory and physico-chemical analyses on wines from both countries.

Minerality in wine: What is it? Perception of minerality in wine is currently a hot topic in the industry. Wine producers and wine writers/critics appear increasingly interested in the term, pointing out its illdefined nature and listing terms implicated in describing minerality in wine (e.g., flinty; smoky; oyster shell; chalky; calcareous; silex). As well, wine consumers are indirectly affected by the term in that perceived minerality in wine is linked with high quality wine by being described as a component of some of the world’s more expensive wines (e.g., white Burgundies; Sancerre wines). Despite such industry interest, there is a distinct lack of scientific work addressing the topic, with little clarity as to precisely what the term means to wine professionals or consumers, whether minerality is solely a taste and/or mouth-feel (trigeminal nerve) sensation or can be smelled, and which wine components are implicated (e.g., acidity) in perception of “mineral” in a wine. Much of the interest in perceived minerality in wine centres around attempts at under-

standing sources of perceived minerality, in particular the possible links with terroir and/ or acidity in wine. For example, in a recentlypublished article a graduate of UC Davis in California points out that the association of chalky or limestone vineyard sites with perception of minerality in the wine from such sites could involve a mediating variable, namely acidity. This is because limestone and chalky soils are alkaline, producing wines with higher total acidity and lower pH. More recently, a new issue has become important. The relation between perceived minerality and reductive characteristics in wine (thiol/disulphide compounds) has raised its head, gaining momentum since the introduction of inert wine-bottle closures (e.g., many brands of screw-cap closure) in New World wine-producing countries. The concurrent increased usage of the descriptor “mineral” and the increased usage of screw-cap, bottle closures has not gone unnoticed by several wine writers. Various hypotheses have been put forward by wine writers, often indirectly, to suggest that increased perception of minerality in wines from New World countries such as New Zealand could have its basis not in factors considered important in Europe (e.g., soil profiles; qualitative and quantitative aspects of acidity), but in factors such as (i) sulphide reduction, or (ii) in the sensory context created by unripe fruit and therefore relative absence of fruity flavours in the finished wine (i.e., low concentrations of volatile thiols & esters). In the study reported below, we investigated several of these hypotheses.

Empirical component: Investigation of perceived minerality in Sauvignon wines Sauvignon Blanc wines from central France (i.e., Sancerre and Pouilly sur Loire) have

Wendy Parr

historically been described in terms of their minerality. Words such as “silex” and “chalky” are frequently employed in descriptions of their sensory profiles, an underlying assumption being that the particular variant of descriptor used to describe the perceived minerality also reflects the source (i.e., type of soil in the vineyard). On the other hand, Marlborough Sauvignons have until recently seldom been described in terms of their minerality, but as “fruit-driven” wines, with fruity and green notes dominating their aroma and flavour profiles. Several authors of the current article have previously published the little research to date that has provided data concerning perception of minerality in New Zealand Sauvignons. Initial scientific articles on this topic reported that perception of “mineral” in the NZ wines was not only low relative to that in French wines, but was associated negatively with Marlborough typicality and with liking (2004 & 2005 vintages). Interestingly, more recent data (wines from 2007 vintage that were evaluated in June 2008) suggest not only an increased perception of minerality in the Marlborough wines, but also a change in conceptualisation of the term by New Zealand wine professionals. That is, the more recent data show that some wines perceived high in minerality were also


judged high in Marlborough typicality (i.e., as “good examples” of Marlborough Sauvignon), a result that was not found in the earlier work. Further, these recent data demonstrate that although wines from France and New Zealand were perceived similarly in terms of intensity of mineral characteristics, the chemical compositions of the wines from France and New Zealand differed significantly. The funding from NZWG allowed us to investigate scientifically several hypotheses that to date have been based largely on anecdotal evidence. Our major aim was to delineate the nature of perceived “minerality” in 100% Sauvignon blanc wines from four sub-regions of Marlborough (Awatere Valley;

Rapaura; Wairau Lowlands; Southern Valleys) and from four regions of France (Sancerre; Loire; Burgundy (Saint Bris); Bordeaux). To do this we developed and executed methodologies that allowed us to: Associate via multivariate analyses the umbrella term “mineral” with (i) assumed sub-components of perceived minerality (e.g., flinty/smoky; chalky/calcareous) and (ii) perceived reductive characteristics (e.g., sulphide; burnt rubber). Investigate cultural differences in perception of the concept of mineral by French Oenologists in comparison with New Zealand Wine Professionals/Oenologists. Investigate whether minerality is a smell, a

taste, or tactile (mouth-feel), or a combination of several of these sensations. Investigate relations between wine composition and perceived characteristics as a function of wine country of origin (France or NZ). This involves associating via multivariate analyses the sensory data concerning perceived minerality with selected chemical and physical measures (see below).

Methods To address the first three aims, sensory experiments with 16 wines (8 French; 8 NZ – see Table 1) were conducted, one in Marlborough and three in France. The latter were conducted in the three regions of France

Table 1: Sauvignon Blanc wines employed in the experiment




Ara Resolute Marlborough


Southern Valleys, Marlb

Wither Hills Marlborough Rarangi


Vavasour New Zealand






Lower Wairau, Marlb





Awatere Valley, Marlb




Chateau La Maroutine Bordeaux


Bordeaux, France




Ica-onna Sauvignon Saint Bris


Saint Bris, France




Pouilly Fumé “Les Cocques” Patrick Coulbois


Loire, France




Letter B Brancott Marlborough S. blanc


Lower Wairau, Marlb




Saint Bris Anne Goisot Arnaud FSBAGA

Saint Bris, France




Clos Henri Marlborough


Southern Valleys, Marlb




Le MD de Bourgeois Sancerre Henri Bourgeois


Sancerre, France




Exils Sancerre François Crochet


Sancerre, France




Montana Brancott Estate Festival Block


Awatere Valley, Marlb




Pouilly Fumé Chatelain Harmonie


Loire, France




Staete Landt Annabel Marlborough


Rapaura, Marlb




Chateaux Bertinerie Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux


Bordeaux, France




Stoneleigh Marlborough


Rapaura, Marlb




72   // 


Alc % v/v

known for production of Sauvignon wines, namely Bordeaux, Burgundy (Saint Bris), and the Sancerre/Loire areas. All wines were from the 2010 vintage. In total, there were 31 New Zealand participants and 32 French participants across the four sensory experiments, all being wine professionals (primarily oenologists/winemakers). To delineate the nature of perceived minerality, we investigated via descriptive rating

tasks the assumed sub-components of the term “mineral” including those often linked either directly or indirectly to vineyard soils and wine acidity (e.g., flinty, chalky, oyster shell, iodine) and those assumed to have other sources such as sulphide reduction (e.g., sulphide, rubber, graphite, pencil lead, pungent). The sensory experiments investigated other wine sensory phenomena including key varietal flavour descriptors, palate and mouth-feel character-

istics, varietal typicality, liking, and perceived complexity. The participants in each sensory experiment rated wine characteristics under three conditions, Olfactory (by smell alone), Global (smell, taste, & palate sensations/ mouth-feel), and Nose-clip condition (taste & palate sensations only – aroma inhibited). Table 2 lists the descriptors employed in each condition of the study. Participants also completed a wine Sorting Task (i.e., wine grouping/

Table 2. Sensor Descriptors

English term

French term

Experimental condition Nose Nose Global only clip



Fruit de la passion






Herbe coupée





Boxwood/cat’s urine

Buis / pipi de chat





citrus (lemon; grapefruit)

Agrumes (citron, pamplemousse





green (vegetal/green capsicum)

Végétal / poivron vert


















Acidité / Vivacité






Astringent / sécheresse





Concentration (for nose only) Concentration (nez)Corps/ Concentration /palate weight volume en bouche











Flinty/stony/ smoky/gun flint/

Pierre a fusil / silex frotté/fumé

















Iodine/oyster shell







Mine de crayon / graphite





matchstick/struck match/ burnt rubber/sulphide

Allumette / allumette grattée / phosphore/ Caoutchou brule / souffre / reduit




















Figure 1. Multivariate analysis output showing the first two factors. The upper plot shows Factors 1 and 2 for the 16 wines. The lower plot shows Factors 1 and 2 for the descriptors in the various conditions: O = Olfactive; G = Global; N = Nose-clip; NZ = New Zealand participants’ data; F = French participants’ data.

classification). We undertook extensive physico-chemical measures for each wine, including estimates of organic acids, pH, TA, reducing sugars, ethanol, free and total sulphur dioxide, determination of concentrations of thiols and other sulphur compounds, fermentation-derived volatile aroma compounds, methoxypyrazines, and transition metal elements. The sensory and physico-chemical data will be associated via multivariate analyses to provide information about the relation between perceived subcomponents of minerality (i.e., the sensory

Lincoln University chemists (left to right): Brett Robinson, Rob Sherlock, Jason Breitmeyer.

74   // 


data) and wine composition (i.e., the physical and chemical measures) as a function of wine country of origin. These results will be reported in a second article to follow at a later date.

Results: Sensory data Sorting task: The Sorting Task data showed that both French and NZ participants in general differentiated French Sauvignons from NZ Sauvignons. However, there were a few exceptions: For French participants, a Loire wine (FLPC) associated more closely with NZ wines whilst a NZ wine (NZSVCH – Clos Henri)

associated more closely with French wines. For the New Zealand participants, several wines from Loire and Sancerre (FSHB; FLCH; FLPC) associated more closely with the New Zealand wines and a NZ wine NZSVA (Ara) associated more closely with French wines than it did with other NZ wines. Wine descriptor ratings: Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were conducted on the descriptor ratings with subject origin and wine as factors. Overall, wines from New Zealand were rated as significantly sweeter, more fruity, and with more green characters than the French wines. On the other hand, French wines were rated as more bitter, and as lower on fresh/ zingy, familiarity, and liking than the NZ wines. Wines from NZ and France were rated similarly in intensity of perceived mineral, as well as in intensity of assumed sub-components of mineral (e.g., flinty/smoky; chalky/calcareous). Our hypothesis was not supported in that French wines on average were not rated significantly higher in “mineral” than NZ wines. Of particular importance was the finding that there was a significant wine effect of mineral in all three conditions, Olfactive (smelling only), Global (full ‘tasting’), and Nose-clip (inhibition of aroma). The significant effect of the descriptor “mineral” when judged by bouquet only supports the notion that minerality can be smelled. Not only did participants discriminate different intensities of minerality across the 16 wines in the nose-only condition, but the Olfac-

French participants undertaking the sensory minerality study in Sancerne.

tive condition data show greater separation of the wines (i.e., greater differentiation amongst wines) in terms of their perceived minerality than do the data in the other two conditions that involved palate sensations. The complex relationships amongst the wines and the various descriptors across the three evaluation conditions (Olfactive, Global, & Nose-clip) were investigated by multivariate analysis. Figure 1 shows output for the first two dimensions (i.e., factors). The results are relatively complicated to interpret and are summarised below: French and New Zealand participants overall evaluated the wines similarly. Both groups’ descriptions (i.e., ratings of wine characteristics) separated the 16 wines by country-oforigin, with hedonics (i.e., liking) an important factor underlying the separation. Perception of minerality and perception of sourness/acidity were positively associated. The current data support the notion that a potential source of perceived minerality in white wine is the sensory context created by relative absence of fruit in combination with high acidity. When the wines were described under Olfactive condition (i.e., in the noseonly condition), the fruity and green aromas separated from the minerality descriptors. Minerality appears to be perceived in terms of smell, taste, and trigeminal stimulation (i.e., mouth-feel). For French participants, the data suggest a dissociation between perceived minerality by nose and by palate. Some assumed aspects of perceived minerality, in particular the descriptor ‘lead/graphite’, associated with perceived bitterness and with the descriptor ‘sulphide’ (i.e., reductive character).

Perceived liking, familiarity, and complexity were associated dimensions (i.e., sensory concepts) for both French and NZ participants when evaluating the wines.

Discussion & application The aim of the project was to provide sound sensory and physico-chemical data to both scientists and wine industry personnel that will assist in providing an understanding of the nature of perceived minerality in white wines, and specifically in Sauvignons from Marlborough, New Zealand and from France. A complex and comprehensive data base comprising sensory and physico-chemical measures on sixteen Sauvignon wines from France and New Zealand has been developed. The preliminary sensory data reported here demonstrate several important effects including (i) that minerality is a smell as well as a palate sensation, and (ii) that perceived minerality is linked with perceived high acidity. Further, some terminology assumed employed to describe aspects of perceived minerality (e.g., lead/graphite) associated statistically with perception of reductive notes (e.g., “sulphide”) and with low fruity character in the wines. These data have potential to be generalised to assist in an understanding of perceived minerality in other white varietals of interest, notably Riesling and Chardonnay. The methodology developed for the study, that is the three conditions or modes of evaluation (Olfactive, Global, & Nose-clip), will be able to be employed in future studies (or by practitioners at the winery bench – the noseclips can be purchased online or at sports’ outlets selling swimming nose-clips) to inves-

tigate other wine characteristics that appear to involve a combination of trigeminal nerve (mouth-feel) and aroma/flavour stimulation (e.g., perceived complexity; pungency; perceived “freshness”). The nose-clip allows a wine evaluator to focus on the palate sensations (i.e., tastes and mouth-feel characters) without the presence of the typically-dominant aromas (e.g., passionfruit; boxwood). In conclusion, it is hoped that providing these data will help contribute to informed debate concerning the concept of perceived minerality in wine and related issues such as vineyard soil/location (terroir) and wine bottle closure. In particular, the hypothesis put forward by many wine producers that perceived minerality is associated with wine acidity has been supported by our empirical data. The next step in our research process will be conduction of multivariate analyses linking these sensory effects with physico-chemical measures including pH, TA, wine elemental composition, and determinations of concentrations of organic acids and sulphur compounds in the wines. The results of these analyses will be an important addition to the overall outcomes from this project, contributing information that will further aid in developing an emerging picture concerning the elusive concept of minerality in wine.

Acknowledgement We thank the study’s participants, producers of wines included in the study (Ara; Wither Hills; Staete Landt; Clos Henri; Pernod Ricard NZ; Foley Family wines), and Pernod Ricard NZ & Paris for freighting wines between New Zealand and France.


Do tendrils on retained canes increase the risk of Botrytis Cinerea the following season? Dion Mundy, Plant and Food Research, Marlborough Research Centre 11-103 Botrytis cinerea, the fungus responsible for botrytis bunch rot can be found everywhere in the vineyard and is able to survive between seasons on many kinds of dead plant material, both of grape and other vineyard vegetation. Spores produced on that material in the spring are able to infect grape bunches from flowering onwards, colonising bunch debris (caps, old stamens, aborted berries) and often establishing in young berries as latent infections. Spores produced on trapped bunch debris and the latently infected berries represent the major source of inoculum for botrytis bunch rot at fruit maturity (Figure 1). It is known that rachii retained on the vines over winter can produce abundant spores in the spring creating a risk of early season bunch infections and it is standard practice to remove

them when pruning. The extent to which Botrytis overwinters on tendrils, and their capacity for spore production in the spring has not previously been determined in New Zealand although many vineyard operators routinely remove them from retained canes to minimise perceived risk. Tendril removal is time consuming, adding 10-15 cents per vine to the cost of pruning, or an estimated annual cost to the industry of NZ$2.5 -5.0M per annum. To determine the risk of Botrytis carry over posed by retained tendrils, Plant and Food Research in collaboration with Pernod Ricard and Delegats Wine Estate, made a study of the spore production potential of tendrils over the 2011 -2012 season. The project was initiated by New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) with cofunding from The Ministry of Primary Indus-

Figure 1. Typical components of the life cycle of Botrytis cinerea in a vineyard.

76   // 


tries Sustainable Farming Fund.

Method Parallel studies were made of tendrils from the Marlborough and Hawkes Bay regions with a total of 108 tendrils collected from nine vineyards in Marlborough and 98 from seven vineyards in Hawkes Bay. Tendrils were predominantly from Sauvignon Blanc vines but, in Hawke’s Bay, they were also collected from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. The tendrils were collected in early spring and stapled to lengths of flagging tape. In midSeptember 2011 the tapes carrying the tendrils were returned to the field and held under natural conditions in one vineyard in each district. The tendrils were subsequently assayed in the laboratory for spore production potential on two occasions. The first assay, utilising half of the field-held tendrils, was made at the preflowering stage (28 November 2011 in Hawke’s Bay, 30 November 2011 in Marlborough) to determine the risk of early season infections. The remainder stayed in their respective vineyards where they were subjected to the routine early season vineyard fungicide programmes for those vineyards. They were then assayed at bunch closure (16 January 2012 Hawke’s Bay, 25 January 2012 Marlborough) following the pre bunch closure fungicide applications. In the laboratory, the tendrils from each vineyard were photographed and the surface area of each tendril calculated from the photographic image. Preliminary tests had shown that this method of estimating surface area was as accurate as direct measurement of tendrils using calipers, a method previously used by Seyb (2004) for calculating the surface area of rachii. The tendrils from each vineyard were incubated in separate containers at high humidity held at 20° C, conditions conducive to the production of spores on Botrytis colonised plant material. After seven days, each of the sets of tendrils was immersed in a standard volume

Table 1: Mean spore density (number of spores/cm2 of tendril surface area) on grape tendrils collected after overwintering in two regions and assayed at pre-flowering and at bunch closure. Figures in brackets are at the 95% confidence limits.


Time of assay


95% C.I.




(1693, 2809)

Bunch closure


(229, 379)

Hawke’s Bay

Pre-flowering Bunch closure

(20 ml) of a solution of sterile water to which had been added Tween 20® to facilitate wetting of the tendrils and Trypan Blue, a stain to aid visualisation of the spores microscopically. The tendrils were gently agitated in the solution for 10 minutes to dislodge spores from the conidiophores and the numbers of spores in a fixed volume of the solution counted using a compound microscope and an Improved Neubauer haemocytometer. This allowed the concentration of spores in each solution, and thus the number of spores washed from each set of tendrils to be calculated. Using the concentration of spores in the washings, and the surface areas calculated from the photographic images, the number of spores produced per unit area (spores/cm2) of tendrils was calculated. This value, termed mean spore density, provided a standard basis for the comparisons of spore production on tendrils between vineyards and between regions. Analysis of differences between regions and between vineyards was made using a linear mixed model using GenStat 14th edition software (VSN International Ltd). The data values were log-transformed before analysis to equal-

3904 967

(2866, 5318) (710, 1317)

ise the variances and then back-transformed for the presentation of results.

Results The overall mean spore production on tendrils from the two regions for the two assay times is shown in Table 1 and Figure 1. Tendrils from Hawke’s Bay produced significantly more spores than those from Marlborough at both assay times. There were significantly fewer spores produced on tendrils at the time of the second assay in both regions. There was a wide range in the spore production potential of tendrils from different vineyards. Overall, however, the spore production potential of tendrils was relatively lower than that previously reported for rachii. Other researchers havereported a mean pre-flowering sporulation capacity of 7.5 x 103 conidia per cm2of rachis, a value reached only at the upper end of spore production preflowering on tendrils from some vineyards in this study. The tendril sporulation potential in our study decreased significantly with time in all sampling sites in both regions. This is also con-

sistent with the findings of other researchers, in which there was a significant relationship between conidial production and rachis degradation, with the sporulation potential decreased by at least 40% between capfall and pre-bunch closure for all sites and treatments. This study showed that the spore production potential of overwintered tendrils is relatively low at flowering, and decreases further over time. However, the relevance of this spore source in terms of numbers of early season infections and incidence of bunch rot at harvest is not known although latent flower infections are known to be related to high disease incidence at harvest. The wine industry has a wide range of botryticide control options for use during the flowering and early berry development stages. Since the greatest potential production of spores by tendrils is during this period when susceptible tissues are being protected by the routine spray programme, these early season botryticides could also be a significant factor in reducing the potential for sporulation at pre bunch closure.

Conclusion This study showed that even under ideal laboratory conditions for sporulation, spore production on tendrils overwintered in the vineyard was relatively low at the start of the season and was reduced further following application of standard fungicide programmes. On that basis, and the fact that the young bunches are being well protected early in the season by the standard botrytis control spray programme, we consider that in most vineyards tendril removal during pruning may be an unnecessary and uneconomic process. However, in vineyards in which there had been a very high incidence and severity of botrytis bunch rot the previous season there is also likely to be a higher rate of colonisation of tendrils and tendril removal the following winter could be a wise precaution.


Figure 2 Mean density of spores (number/cm2) on tendrils following incubation, from 16 vineyards in Marlborough (green bars) and Hawke’s Bay (blue bars) at two sampling times (preflowering and post-bunch). Error bars are 95% confidence intervals for the mean.

This is a New Zealand Winegrowers-initiated and funded project, with co-funding support from Ministry of primary industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF project L11/183). Many thanks to Delegats Wine Estate and Pernod Ricard for the supply of the tendrils, use of vineyards for placement of the tendrils and input into the project.


Potassium nutrition in the vineyard: implications for grapevine development and wine composition Trought M, Winefield C, Gunson A. 11-108 The mineral potassium (K) is second only to nitrogen in the amount required by grapevines. A vineyard producing 12.5 T/ha of grapes will require applications of approximately 45 kg potassium/ha to prevent deficiencies developing. Changes in vine nutrients (including potassium) can be followed using foliar analysis (generally petiole analysis at flowering). Leaf blade analysis (at véraison and/ or harvest) or juice analysis at harvest may provide alternative methods. Unfortunately little research has been undertaken in New Zealand to identify the optimum ranges for nutrients, and standards largely depend on overseas information (for example, petiole standards are largely based on recommendations developed in the Central Valley California for Sultana grapes). However, regardless of the analysis used, a regular monitoring regime that follows the trends in nutrient concentrations is recommended, rather than relying on single assessments. This allows viticulturists to anticipate changes in potassium (and other nutrient) concentrations, adjusting fertiliser regimes before deficiencies develop, rather than waiting until critical thresholds are reached, which would require corrective applications. Potassium plays important roles in many of the metabolic processes central to vine development. These include control of water regulation in the cells - maintaining plant turgor and growth; movement of nutrients and assimilates through the cell membranes – amino acids, proteins and sugars; and a key role in many enzyme activities. In practice, managing vineyard potassium nutrition is complex. Unlike nitrogen and phosphorus, roots do not proliferate in regions of the soil rich in potassium, and the low density of roots means that they are not efficient “scavengers”. Potassium transport depends on flow to the root surface, so the ability of roots to exploit soil potassium depends on the

78   // 


soil moisture. In a drying soil, potassium may become unavailable. This is particularly important later in the growing season, when the surface soil may dry out, and the vine has to depend on relatively few deeper roots, in potassium-poor soils. Excessive irrigation (particularly drip irrigation) may leach mobile potassium ions deeper into the soil. Rootstock characters (e.g. depth of rooting, root density and the ability of roots to transport potassium to the shoot) play important roles in controlling potassium nutrition. Vines with Vitis berlandieri (now reclassified as Vitis cinerea var. helleri) parentage generally have lower potassium concentration, and concentrations in the shoot/leaf/fruit are influenced by grape variety. Differences in vine management techniques (e.g. irrigated v. non-irrigated, differences in soil nutritent concentrations, vine yield) add to the complexity. Potassium continues to accumulate in vines throughout the growing season. However, accumulation by fruit accelerates up to four-fold at véraison. Where roots cannot supply the needed amounts, retranslocation of potassium, often from older leaves, is likely. This can mean deficiencies develop rapidly at véraison, a key stage of the fruit development, leading to water stress (through lack of stomatal control) and poor sugar accumulation during ripening. There are marked interactions between potassium and other soil minerals, in particular calcium and magnesium. Excessive potassium may result in calcium and magnesium deficiencies in the vine, while high magnesium can result in potassium deficiency. Vine canopy management is important in controlling potassium concentrations in fruit. Excessive leaf shading may result in retranslocation of potassium from senescing leaves and accumulation of excessive potassium in the fruit.

While much is known about potassium uptake and transport in model plant systems, relatively little is known about the process at the molecular and gene expression levels in grapes. Further research is needed to determine whether the uptake systems described in model plant systems are similar to those in grapes, especially into the roles of ethylene, Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and jasmonic acid (JA) in mediating potassium depletion. This research will potentially lead to a better understanding and ability to predict genotype x environment responses of grapevine to potassium nutrition. Potassium is equally important in winemaking. High potassium decreases the free acids and increases the overal pH of juice and wine. High wine potassium can result in increases in precipitation of potassium tartrate, unstable musts, and wines more susceptible to oxidative and bacterial spoilage. High pH also results in poor colour development in red wines and may affect protein haze development in Sauvignon blanc. Potassium and juice pH also affect the rate of glucose consumption by Saccharomyces yeast and hence the rate of fermentation. Inadequate potassium concentration has been reported to cause stuck ferments, although the critical concentrations are affected by juice pH.

Future Research Possibilities The role that grapevine nutrition in general, but in particular potassium, plays in vine development and wine quality has been largely neglected in New Zealand. This is probably partly a reflection of the relative youth of much of our industry and the fact that vines have been planted in young, fertile soils. However, this fertility will progressively be mined as fruit are removed for wine. There are several areas of potential research that would prove valuable to the industry: The influence that rootstock has on potas-

sium nutrition, especially under irrigation How potassium uptake and transport work within vines, and how these are influenced by rootstock (and scion) genotype Improved methods of determining vine potassium nutrient status. We currently depend on leaf petiole concentrations, using a Californian system. Variety-specific standards are desirable, and the value of monitoring potassium in flowers should be assessed

Understanding the influence of rainfall (timing and amount) on vine potassium. While little can be done to manage rainfall, a suitable model, describing the consequences of rainfall, soil type and potassium availability, would assist with vineyard and winery management options The influence of timing of potassium application. Just before véraison may be the best time to apply potassium-based fertiliser to

ensure adequate concentrations in the vine at the start of fruit ripening. At this time, potassium will probably need either to be applied through the irrigation system, or banded under the vines to be washed in by irrigation/rainfall. • A full review, “Trought, M and Winefield C. Potassium nutrition in the vineyard: Implications for grapevine development and wine composition” is available on the New Zealand Winegrowers website.

The citrophilus mealybug, ground cover weeds and grapevines: assessing a dynamic relationship Vaughn Bell, Lyn Cole, Rachael Horner, Peter Lo, Nandita Sharma, Jim Walker The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, Hawke’s Bay 11-107 Introduction Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 (leafroll virus) is currently the most widespread and economically important virus affecting New Zealand vineyards. In recent years, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), in partnership with Plant & Food Research (PFR), has undertaken research aimed at better understanding both the disease and its mealybug vectors, to develop new protocols to minimise its spread and impact. In 2011, the citrophilus mealybug sex pheromone was deployed in multiple Hawke’s Bay vineyards with the aim of: (1) developing protocols for effective and efficient monitoring

using the sex pheromone; and (2) providing a decision support tool for mealybug management in vineyards. This research was reviewed in New Zealand Winegrower Research Supplement, Issues 71 & 72. Although the attractiveness of the citrophilus mealybug pheromone to males of the species was confirmed, data analysis showed weak or non-existent relationships between daily male trap catch in the first generation (August to October) and late-season counts of mealybugs on grapevine leaves. Confounding this outcome was the possibility that rather than trap catches having simply reflected mealybugs inhabiting grape-

Table 1. Under-vine ground cover management and mealybug insecticide programmes used in the six Hawke’s Bay vineyard study blocks, 2011-12.

Block ID A

Under-vine cultivation

Under-vine herbicide

Mealybug insecticides1


vines, it was instead likely that a significant proportion of the trapped males originated from the ground cover weeds. With no formal monitoring of weeds in 2011, it was impossible to determine the extent to which mealybug populations in that habitat affected the trap catch results. Such possibilities prompted the present research, which had two objectives: To assess what influence, if any, ground cover weeds have in determining the catches of male citrophilus mealybugs in pheromonebaited traps To determine if different vineyard management practices applied to ground cover vegetation influence citrophilus mealybug populations on grapevines. This article summarises the results and the discussion of the first year of a two to three year research programme. The report was provided to NZW in December 2012, and with the same title as this article, it can be viewed on the NZW members’ only website






2 x buprofezin

Site selection


Prothiofos; 2 x buprofezin


Prothiofos; 2 x buprofezin

Vineyard selection was confined to six blocks, all of which were located on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay (iden-


Table 2. The number of male citrophilus mealybugs trapped during the season in pheromonebaited traps and found on grapevine leaves in each of the Hawke’s Bay vineyard study blocks, 2011 and 2012. Block ID

Male mealybugs caught in pheromone traps

No. of mealybugs per 100 vine leaves inspected1











0.15 2







n=200 vine leaves inspected per block during each of November 2011, January 2012 and March 2012

tified as blocks A, B, C, D, E and F). In each study block, the dominant mealybug species was the citrophilus mealybug. Management of the under-vine ground cover, as well as the mealybug insecticide programmes used, varied widely across the six study blocks (Table 1). Prothiofos (Tokuthion®) is applied prebudburst; buprofezin (e.g. Pilan®, Mortar™) is applied pre-flowering. Full details of the insecticide programme for each study block (e.g. water rates) are contained in the final report available on the NZW members’ only website

Results Pheromone trapping and vine leaf assessments Between October 2011 and July 2012 (274 days), two pheromone-baited traps were monitored in each study block. Male citrophilus mealybugs were trapped in all sites, with seasonal catch rates varying from 822 to 16,671 (Table 2). Until late January, catch rates in all blocks were, on average, less than 1 male per trap per day; however, between mid February and mid July, these increased sharply, peaking in June, particularly in blocks B and F (111 and 165 males per trap per day, respectively). In each of the study blocks, we assessed 200 vine leaves on each of three occasions during the season (late November 2011, mid January 2012 and late March 2012). In the laboratory, each leaf was inspected under magnification to provide an absolute count of mealybug numbers. In blocks A, C and D, the low numbers of mealybugs per 100 leaves inspected (range: 0.15 to 6) contrasted with blocks B, E and F where high numbers were recorded (range: 32 to 73) (Table 2).

Ground cover assessments In each study block on three occasions (in

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November 2011, January 2012 and April 2012), we used a 0.25 m2 quadrat to enable visual estimations of the percentage of ground cover in the vine inter-row (n=10 quadrats per block in November; 20 in January and April). A total of 12 weed species were recorded as having at least 5% cover during one or more visits to each block. The most commonly occurring weeds were haresfoot trefoil (n=5 study blocks), subterranean clover (4), dove’s foot (4), sheep’s sorrel (3), hawksbeard (2) and red clover (2). Quadrat assessments also estimated percent grass cover and bare ground. Throughout the study, the percentage of grass cover in each block was generally high (>20%), although we did not analyse grasses further because neither the citrophilus nor the longtailed mealybugs use these as a habitat. The percentage of bare ground in the study blocks was high in November and January (range: 19% to 48%) but by April, bare ground was, on average, less than 10% per block. This unexpectedly low figure probably reflected a cool and wet summer in Hawke’s Bay, with rainfall between January and March being two to three times the average recorded for the same months over the previous 7 years.

Mealybugs on ground cover weeds The second component of the ground cover research included three assessments (in December 2011, January 2012 and April 2012) of mealybug presence on weed species. Rather than an absolute count, we instead estimated mealybug numbers using a categorical score (0 = no mealybugs found; 1 = 1 to 5 mealybugs; 2 = 6 to 10 mealybugs; 3 = 11 to 15 mealybugs; 4 = 16 to 20 mealybugs; 5 = 21 mealybugs or more). On at least one of the three visits to each study block, a minimum of 10 individual weed samples were collected for each of 23 species. Of those weeds

inspected, a mealybug score of at least 1 applied to 15 of the weed species. Mealybugs were most commonly present on creeping mallow (35% of samples with at least 1 mealybug), black nightshade (27%), hawksbeard (20%), red clover (20%), Verbena spp. (20%), white clover (18%) and dove’s foot (15%). We found the highest number of weed samples with at least one mealybug in December (on 30 of the 300 samples) but they were also found in January (26 of 300) and April (22 of 300) but on fewer weed samples. Similarly, scores for mealybugs on weeds also declined, with the scores in January and April being half that found in December. The latter result was essentially the opposite of what was observed in the vine canopy: initially there were low numbers of mealybugs but by late March, mealybugs were present on vine leaves in all but one study block. It might have been inferred from these results that over time, mealybugs naturally dispersed from ground cover weeds into the grapevine canopy, but over six months, ground-based sticky traps established in each block to measure vertical dispersal, trapped a total of only 45 citrophilus mealybugs (range: 2 to 16 per block). It was unclear if this result meant vertical dispersal by the citrophilus mealybug was naturally rare or if there were too few traps per block (n=5) to detect movement between ground cover plants and grapevines.

Discussion Objective 1: To assess what influence ground cover weeds have in determining the catches of male citrophilus mealybugs in pheromone-baited traps As a consequence of the previous study in 2011, we proposed that the apparent disconnection between male trap catches and late-season mealybug infestations in the vines might have been confounded by plants other than grapevines supporting mealybug populations. Of particular interest were the ground cover weeds. In the absence of any formal weed monitoring in 2011, we were unable to determine at the time the extent to which mealybugs resident on weeds influenced trap catches. In other words, if mealybugs were present on weeds, the males moving from that habitat attracted to the pheromone would have added to the numbers of trapped males responding from grapevines, hence increasing trap catches and thus limiting our ability to correlate male trap catch data with mealybug vine infestation data at this time.

Based on the results of the present study, it was clear that mealybug populations were resident on the grapevines as well as being on a wide range of ground cover weeds. Therefore, it is likely that males responding to pheromone traps originate from both habitats and as such, further research is required before ruling out the potential use of the citrophilus mealybug pheromone to guide future insecticide decisions.

Objective 2 To determine if different management practices applied to the vineyard ground cover vegetation influence citrophilus mealybug populations on grapevines In this objective, we set out to measure mealybug populations in the vine canopy and to assess if they were influenced by under-vine herbicide use and/or cultivation. During the January assessments in the herbicide-treated blocks E and F, we did not detect mealybugs on any of the 50 weed samples per block collected from the inter-row or under the vines; however, in each of the remaining study blocks, mealybugs were detected on weeds. By the April assessment, there was no consistent link between mealybug presence/absence data and herbicide use patterns. Of the 50 weed samples collected in blocks B, C, D and F, just one or two weed specimens were found with mealybugs; in contrast, in blocks A and E, mealybugs were found on seven and nine of the weed samples, respectively. Based on these results, it seems that under-vine herbicide use patterns are an unreliable and inconsistent measure of mealybug presence or possibly abundance on weeds. We also assessed under-vine cultivation and its potential to influence the citrophilus mealybug on vines, with the following examples demonstrating the inconsistencies observed. In block B, the herbicide-free under-vine strip was regularly cultivated and yet mealybugs were found on vegetation under the vines and on leaves in the vine canopy (an average of 73 per 100 leaves inspected). In block F, there was

no under-vine cultivation along the herbicide strip, and as in block B, the citrophilus mealybug was abundant on leaves in the vine canopy (an average of 48 per 100 leaves inspected). In blocks B and F, the under-vine management practices adopted over a number of years could not have been more different and yet of the six study blocks, the high numbers of mealybugs found on vine leaves resulted in these two blocks being ranked first and second, respectively. In summary, the inconsistent results we observed around under-vine herbicide and cultivation practices, and the influence either might have had on mealybug abundance or

population distribution in the vines, provided minimal opportunity to advocate for or against one set of strategies over another. Furthermore, it is possible the weather may have influenced the results. Given that this study coincided with a period of above-average rainfall, there would inevitably have been some increase in weed species diversity, growth rates and weed persistence over time. Weeds hosting mealybugs Compared with the grapevines, there is currently limited knowledge of mealybugs on ground cover weeds. Despite this position, we would expect that as on grapevines, mealybug populations on weeds would also be patch-

ily distributed, occurring in some areas of the vineyard in relatively high numbers, while being rare or absent altogether from other parts. Unlike on grapevines, which are a uniform food source (same species and variety – at least within a block), the patchy distribution of mealybugs on ground cover weeds is probably driven by differential survivorship derived from mealybug preferences for one host plant weed species over another. Our research confirmed that many of the weeds already present and apparently relatively common in Hawke’s Bay vineyards, were colonised by mealybugs. In horticultural systems, the floral diversity of cover crops is often cited as benefiting natural enemies (i.e. predators and parasitoids) through the nutritional value of resources like pollen and nectar. When available, these resources can increase natural enemy abundance, their life-span (longevity) and egg-laying potential (fecundity). Despite the relative infancy of this field of ecology, known as conservation biological control (CBC), there are now hundreds of published papers worldwide supporting this concept. In recent years in New Zealand, CBC research has gained some momentum, although much of the focus has been on the lightbrown apple moth (LBAM). Several Lincoln University studies undertaken in vineyards and apple orchards investigated the addition of individual flowering plants such as buckwheat, Alyssum, coriander and Phacelia, as well as differing combinations of these plants. The benefits of floral diversity to a parasitoid of the LBAM were measured and in general, a net gain was observed in flowering compared with non-flowering plots, particularly in respect of parasitoid longevity and fecundity. Our discussions with growers over recent years suggest many already have an appreciation of the benefits of floral diversity, although it is fair to say that among most of them, the perception appears to be that floral resources specifically benefit mealybug natural enemies.


The reality is, however, that we can find no published data showing a definitive link between flowering plants, including weeds, and enhanced mealybug biological control – quite simply, the research does not appear to have been undertaken. Given this knowledge vacuum, we consider it would be unwise at this time to restrict our thinking to a simple two-tier interaction between mealybug natural enemies and flowering plants. Although counter-intuitive, we propose the novel approach that sees understorey plant diversity as a means of sustaining mealybug populations, which as a pest group, are essentially ubiquitous in vineyards and almost impossible to eradicate. In other words, in accepting that we have to live with some degree of mealybug infestation in many

vineyards, it is imperative that we learn how to manage them more effectively, to minimise the populations on vines and the consequential risks posed by leafroll virus. If we assume that many of the weeds already found in vineyards are attractive to mealybugs, and are colonised by them for prolonged periods of time, it may be possible to ‘isolate’ terrestrial mealybug populations effectively from the grapevines. Therefore, rather than exacerbating the problem, a species-rich ground cover benefiting mealybugs may instead be part of the solution, mitigating against mealybugs acquiring leafroll virus and then transmitting the disease to healthy grapevines.

Conclusion Are weeds a ‘trap’ capable of supporting

mealybug populations indefinitely, or are they simply a ‘reservoir’, sustaining mealybugs only for as long as it takes for them to be able to disperse successfully onto the grapevines? Given the potential for ground cover weeds to add value to a leafroll virus control programme, answering this question remains an important focus for future research, the progress of which will be reported to NZW in late 2013.

Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by New Zealand Winegrowers. We are also very appreciative of the significant time and support given by the Hawke’s Bay growers who participated in this study – thank you to you all.

Photo: Lime Rock Vineyards, supplied by NZW

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