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

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40 R E GUL A R S


From the CEO


Benchmarking highlights

Philip Gregan

For the first time Deloitte and ANZ have collaborated to provide an indepth benchmarking of the NZ wine industry. Entitled Ripening Opportunities, the report provides positive news


Exploring NZ’s vineyard virome

In our biosecurity update, Dr Edwin Massey highlights research undertaken into vineyard viromes and the implications for the industry


In Brief

News from around the country


Biosecurity News

Dr Edwin Massey


Family Vines

Sam and Jack Weaver – Churton

60 Bob’s Blog


Bob Campbell MW


How will we fare in 2018


Not on the Label

Legal Matters

The coming 12 months may see some volatility in the international wine market, and Lee Suckling takes a look at how that might impact on NZ winemakers

66 Calendar

Wine events in New Zealand


Research Supplement

The latest science and research projects funded by NZ Winegrowers


30 The Love of a Valli

FRONT COVER: Richard Briggs Photography, Marlborough

Mark Orton takes a closer look at the Waitaki Valley, through the eyes of one of its most ardent supporters – Grant Taylor


E D I TO R Tessa Nicholson


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

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

C I R C U L AT I O N & SUBSCRIPTIONS Jodi Blair Ph: 09 303 3527 ext 0 Fax: 09 302 2969 New Zealand Winegrowers PO Box 90 276, Auckland Mail Centre, New Zealand

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

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

ISSN 1174-5223

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hristmas and the ensuing holiday season may seem like a long time ago, as we race into February, but for many overseas visitors, the holiday is just beginning. Yes the cellar doors were full over December and January, thanks in part to some stunning weather and high temperatures. But the lure of our wine, doesn’t end when the statutory holidays finish. We know that overseas visitors, whether they be travelling under their own steam, or visiting in droves via cruise ships, inundate our shores throughout the year, especially between now and April. Of the 3.2 million international visitors to arrive in New Zealand last year, 22 percent of them or 710,000 individuals, visited a cellar door. Let’s put that in perspective. Imagine if you will, that nearly every single person living in Wellington, Hamilton, Dunedin and Palmerston North* were to visit a cellar door during the year? Get the picture? It’s a lot of people. And that is just international tourists, it doesn’t include the number of New Zealanders who are also visiting. That is the good news today – but the future is even brighter, according to the Deloitte/ANZ wine industry benchmarking report, released in December. The report highlights the opportunities available to the New Zealand wine industry moving forward, and not just in terms of exports. The tourism aspect is a “Ripening Opportunity” the report states, especially given tourist numbers are set to increase dramatically in the future. According to MBIE, the number of international tourists visiting New Zealand will grow to 4.9 million by 2023, and consequently we can expect cellar door visitor numbers to increase as well. The benchmarking report, which has taken the views of 45 wineries (the largest ever pool) to create a picture of the New Zealand wine industry, highlights how

important it is for the industry to take advantage of these visitors, (in the nicest possible way). It also points out how the make-up of nationalities is likely to change as we move into the 2020’s. “China is forecast to become New Zealand’s most important market (by tourist spend) within the next four years and total spending to reach $4.3 billion by 2023 – easily surpassing Australia,” the report states. Which may mean the current mode of cellar door needs a re think to ensure it caters for those specific holiday makers. The benchmarking report highlighting the importance of wine tourism follows hard on the heels of New Zealand Winegrowers and Tourism New Zealand uniting to create a set of interactive, online learning tools to help the wine industry grow the value of their tourism business. The set of six interactive online learning modules, including topics such as leveraging digital marketing, improving service quality and harnessing the Chinese visitor market, can be used on desktop or mobile making it easy for industry to access. Currently in New Zealand wine regions there are a number of wine tourism experiences. Northland has 25, Auckland 90, Waikato/Bay of Plenty 16, Gisborne 14, Hawke’s Bay 63 Wairarapa 51, Nelson: 32, Marlborough 68, Canterbury 38 and Central Otago 65. With the help of NZ Winegrowers and Tourism New Zealand those numbers should increase providing, as mentioned earlier, a “Ripening Opportunity”. For more information on the interactive learning modules, visit the member’s page. *According to World Population data, with Wellington having a population of 381,000, Hamilton 152,000, Dunedin 114,000 and Palmerston North 75,000.T

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hat is the New Year going to bring? At this time of the year that is the question everyone has. So the following are some thoughts on developments to watch out for in the next 12 months.

Is this the year for China? One of the most notable developments in export markets in the past 12 months has been the strong growth in China. Shipments to China grew 42% to $38.6 million in the past year while the price per litre is also up a very encouraging 10% to $14.74 per litre; volume was up 29% to over 2.5 m litres. If the current rate of growth continues in the year ahead that means export to China would exceed $50 million making it our fifth largest export market. The growth numbers are supported by strong winery interest in the market with a record attendance at our wine events last year. So developments in China exports are definitely worth keeping an eye on in the next 12 months.

Brexit – what’s it really going to mean? Continuing the export theme, it would seem that 2018 is definitely going to be the year in which we find out about what is actually going to happen with Brexit. The Brexit decision is now well over a year old and the clock is ticking on arrange-

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Lets hope the report card in coming months is a very boring ‘Nothing to report’!

candidates in the 2016 elections for the New Zealand Winegrowers Board. With an NZW Board election to be held later this year let’s hope that there will be some female candidates – without doubt another space to watch, and if you want to know more about Women in Wine in the meantime feel free to contact National Coordinator Nicky Grandorge at the Auckland office.

The new Government

Vintage – of course!

2017 delivered a new government for New Zealand but in reality there was little time for the new administration to get up and running in the pre-Christmas period. A new government always brings new priorities and a new way of doing things so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months. Our initial contacts with the government have been positive including a decision preChristmas to lift the cap on the number of RSE workers coming into the country. That was a good positive first step from the new administration - let’s hope the trend continues.

A new year, a new vintage. We have already had some media inquiries about how the season is going and our response has been “so far, so good”. At this time of year there’s lots of work to be done in the vineyard and with the season appearing to be early that means time pressure for all concerned. In simple terms there are two aspects that everyone needs to keep an eye on during the vintage – not surprisingly they are quality and quantity. Our industry built its reputation by producing highquality, distinctive wines and that’s what we need to do year in, year out if we are to enhance that reputation. In terms of quantity the risks from both under and over supply are well known so let’s hope that vintage 2018 delivers a harvest of the right size. Good luck for the next few weeks – may it continue to deliver good growing and ripening conditions so that vintage 2018 is one to remember for all the right reasons.T

A new government always brings new priorities and a new way of doing things so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months. ments between the UK and Europe. With the UK being our single largest market by volume and Europe (including the UK) taking over $500 million of New Zealand wine, final decisions on Brexit will be of interest to every New Zealand grape grower and winemaker. And from an New Zealand perspective, there is a prospect of FTAs with both the UK and the EU. So again definitely a space to watch over the next 12 months.

Keeping Brown Marmorated Stink Bug at bay At this time of year the New Zealand border is virtually under attack from BMSB. Information we have received from MPI shows that the number of interceptions at the border in recent weeks is at a higher level than ever before which means the threat to our industry is greater than ever. Keeping BMSB out of the country is a top priority because the industry will face significant costs and major control issues if it gets established here. So please keep an eye on your vineyards and wineries and if you see anything unusual don’t forget to Catch it Snap and Report it.


Women in Wine – the NZW Elections I have just watched a wonderful video message from Prime Minister Jacinda Adern to the initial meeting of Central Otago Women in Wine group. That reminded me that one of the catalysts for forming Women in Wine was the fact that there were no female


NATIONAL Stalwarts recognised Four wine industry stalwarts were honoured for their outstanding service to the New Zealand wine industry at the 2017 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. Joe Babich, Geoff Thorpe, Bill Spence and Lorraine Rudelj were made Fellows of NZ Winegrowers, an accolade that recognises dedication and influence in New Zealand’s flourishing wine industry. “Joe’s contribution has been in the evolution of winemaking styles and development of wine making standards. Geoff has helped drive improved nursery standards while Bill has made major contributions to viticulture and export growth. Lorraine has given 37 years of unparalleled service to industry organisations, including New Zealand Winegrowers,” said Steve Green.

Sustainable Winegrowing Celebrated New Zealand gained top recognition for sustainable winegrowing practices at the 2017 Drinks Business Green Awards in London late last year. Up against winegrowing countries from all over the world, Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) won the Green Initiative of the Year Award. Judges called attention to SWNZ’s Sustainability Report, released for the first time in 2017, which provides benchmarking data for New Zealand wineries to compare their sustainability performance against. Also highlighted by the judges was the Spray Mix Mate app, which was created by SWNZ to help growers calculate agrichemical spray application rates, ensuring best and conservative practice. Patrick Schmitt, editor-in-chief at The Drinks Business, said the judges were extremely impressed by SWNZ’s data driven approach, using case studies to encourage wineries to adopt practices that reduce the impact of viticulture on the environment, while also saving producers time and money. Speaking at the awards presentation at The Ivy Club in London, Schmitt stressed that all areas of a business must be environmentally sensitive to win big in the Green Awards, recognising the importance of not just carbon emissions, but also water use, waste treatment, as well as impact on local surroundings.

New Zealand Sommeliers join Sommit™ For the first time two New Zealand-based sommeliers have been selected to participate in the 2018 New Zealand Winegrowers International Sommelier Scholarship, which allows recipients the opportunity to engage with and learn from leaders within the international wine fraternity. The successful New Zealand sommeliers are: Matthew Bocock - Wholesale Boot Company Restaurant, Wellington Anna Krykunivsky - Imperium Group (Eichardt’s Private Hotel, The Grille & The Spire Hotel), Queenstown Anna and Matthew, along with scholarship recipients from overseas, will attend a Sommit™ event, limited to just 20 sommeliers. The 2018 Sommits™ will be held in Nelson and Central Otago.

INTERNATIONAL US Wine volumes up – beer down The recent IWSR drinks analysis has some good news for New Zealand wine producers. While US alcohol consumption has declined for the second year in a row, wine sales have increased by 1.3 percent. Beer is the alcoholic beverage that has suffered the most in terms of sales,

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with the report stating that consumption decreased by the equivalent of 7.4 million 9 litre cases. What is even more important though with the increase in wine sales is that premium and above offerings now make up 22 percent of the


wine category. Given where New Zealand wine sits, this is

good news indeed. Still wine sales increased by one percent, but it is sparkling wine that is the true winner – an increase of 23.2 percent. According to the report, Prosecco makes up a great percentage of that increase.

HAWKE’S BAY New winery gets ready for vintage Construction work on the new winery facility in Hawke’s Bay continues apace, with the winemaking teams from Esk Valley, Te Awa, Vidal and Villa Maria due to take up residence in February in preparation for vintage. The wine styles will continue to be guided individually with a focus on quality, tradition and a natural noninterventionist approach by each of the winemakers – Nick Picone at Villa Maria, Gordon Russell at Esk Valley, Hugh Crichton at Vidal Estate, and Richard Painter at Te Awa, Left Field and Kidnapper Cliffs. This new winery signifies the start of a new era and each of the winemakers are incredibly excited about what the future holds for their individual brands. The new winery will combine tried and true winemaking techniques in a state-ofthe-art facility, including open-top concrete tanks, temperature controlled barrel rooms, and fruit sorting equipment specially designed for super premium hand-picked grapes. Combining traditional winemaking techniques with the very best modern technology offers the opportunity to gain efficiencies without compromising the historical integrity that characterises what

The new Villa Maria winery will be adjacent to this Te Awa site.

makes these wines so special. Although the winery, adjacent to the current Te Awa Winery site, will not be at full capacity for the 2018 vintage, the winemaking teams are expected to process the bulk of the Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay harvest at the facility this year. “Investing in the Hawkes Bay region is an incredibly impor-

tant part of our long-term strategy,” said Villa Maria Founder and Owner Sir George Fistonich. There has been no confirmation as to the future of the original Esk Valley and Vidal sites. The latter houses New Zealand’s first winery restaurant (opened by Fistonich in 1979).

MARLBOROUGH Romantic movie night

Food Heroes join Wine and Food Festival

Clos Henri in Marlborough is once again celebrating Valentines Day with a very French theme – Les Nuits Romantiques, or in English – The Romantic Nights. Partnering with Alliance Française French Film Festival, the winery will stage an outdoor screening of an iconic French movie, among the vines. Guests will be able to sit on the lawn, sip on a wine, nibble on French movie treats and watch Back To Burgundy – with English subtitles. The movie night has become a staple of the Marlborough summer scene for the past nine years, with this year’s event taking place on Friday February 16.

The 2018 Marlborough Wine & Food Festival is set for change in its Culinary Pavilion with the addition of the Local Food Heroes. The Marlborough food producers will provide talks and demonstrations, with guests able to purchase the chef’s dishes right next door. Along with some of the best wines in the world, Marlborough has the food to match, and what better way to show this than the introduction of a series of bite size talks from the food producers themselves. Think Ted Talks, with the subject matter being Marlborough produce. These guys are the Marlborough Food Heroes. While the Local Food Heroes is new, the Culinary

Pavilion will once again focus on the best Marlborough has to offer in terms of produce, prepared by top New Zealand and international chefs. Culinary Partners Cloudy Bay Clams, Flaxbourne Pure Lamb, New Zealand King Salmon and Kono

have teamed up with Collin Fassnidge, Nick Honeyman, Annabelle White and Karena and Kasey Bird. The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is being held at Brancott Vineyard on February 10.



Deloitte and ANZ benchmarking insights


he benchmarking survey of the New Zealand wine industry took a new turn in 2017, with Deloitte and ANZ collaborating together to provide the report. Forty-five wineries took part in the survey – the largest pool ever - ensuring that it is one of the most thorough to be undertaken. Entitled Ripening Opportunities, there was a lot of good news for the industry, as our summary below shows.

Wine tourism – the next big thing Total international visitor arrivals hit 3.2 million with spending over $10 billion in 2017. Of these visitors, 22 percent or 710,000 visited a vineyard or winery. Those visiting wineries are the type of tourist New Zealand wants to attract more of too as on average they spend $4,500 per visit, which is significantly higher than the average (about $3,200). Primarily this is because they stay longer (23 nights) and visit more places (four to five regions). The outlook is bright with MBIE forecasting international visitor arrivals to grow to 4.9 million in 2023 (from 3.5 million in 2016). This actually assumes that the pace of arrivals, which has been running at close to a 9 percent annual pace over the past three years, moderates going forward. The near-term outlook seems especially strong as new

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airline routes and airline capacity should be supportive of increased arrival numbers. In fact, there are around 30 international airlines flying to these shores, which is up from 19 in 2014. There has been particularly strong growth in new Asian and North American (now New Zealand’s top market) carriers. History has shown that it is new airline supply that is the biggest driver of arrivals growth given New Zealand’s position in the Southern Pacific. Most importantly, total visitor spending is forecast to increase strongly too. MBIE estimate that total international visitor spend (excluding airfares) could top


$15 billion in 2023 – a 52 percent increase. While increased visitor numbers are a big part of this, it is also assumed that visitors spend more per person on average. Interestingly, China is forecast to become New Zealand’s most important market (by tourist spend) within the next four years and total spending to reach $4.3 billion by 2023 – easily surpassing Australia. With this positive backdrop the question then becomes: is the wine sector doing enough to make the most of this opportunity? Some thoughts include: Looking at collaborating with others in the food and beverage

sectors to develop more specialised stores or unique shopping experiences. Examples could include more specialty stores in high-volume tourism thoroughfares and areas that stock only uniquely New Zealand food and beverage products. This can include a range of products, or focus on specific category (i.e. beverages). Equally, there would seem to be greater opportunities to give tourists a controlled experience of the entire production process (growing, harvesting, processing etc) that is then followed up with a shopping, dining, or other event experience. There are certainly

Many wineries already have an online presence, but what is perhaps more interesting is that a recent Winegrowers’ survey showed only six had a Chinese language capacity. And yet this is the country that is set to become our top tourist earner in the near-term! some examples of this occurring, but with lifting tourism spending there feels like scope for more. Tourists are often attracted to authentic local specialities on menus and when attending events. So there is a need to showcase and market New Zealand’s unique food dishes and matching wines that have been the hallmarks of the country’s cuisine for many generations. There can also be regional (Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Otago Pinot Noir, Hawke’s Bay Syrah) or cultural overlays. But it isn’t just about the one-off sale. These products then need to be available to purchase as a gift to take home, or delivered direct when a tourist arrives home. This drives repeat purchasing. Consumers are increasingly being reached through the internet, mobile
apps and social media, so an online presence is a necessity. The ability of tourists to repeat purchase products 
once back in their home country is important when they want to relive
their holiday experience. The changing nature of sale channels through the internet, mobile apps and social media 
is allowing this to occur more easily (both in time and cost) than has historically been the case. Many wineries already have an online presence, but what is perhaps more interesting is that a recent Winegrowers’ survey showed only six had a Chinese language capacity. And yet this is the country that is set to become our top

tourist earner in the near-term! 
 Develop entirely new products with the international tourist specifically in
mind. This could take a range of avenues, but should be targeted at the natural growth areas of Asia and North America. The two groups have quite different wine tastes, food preferences and cultural drivers. Look at joint ventures with some top accommodation providers that give options of winery stays or eco-type accommodation with nice vistas. This would potentially help alleviate capacity constraints at key times of the year and tourist hot spots. Encourage or incentivise tour operators to include agri tourism experiences within their packages, perhaps marketed as the “all New Zealand” experience. This could include visits to farms, orchards, vineyards, tasting rooms etc. Dedicated farms could perhaps be “developed” for this purpose. Encouragingly, the number of Chinese tourists visiting farms or orchards is already high. However, their penetration for food and wine events and vineyards is below average. It’s the reverse for US and UK visitors. Creating lasting authentic experiences that drive future product loyalty. Cultural experiences, such as experiencing the great outdoors, New Zealand’s natural scenery and Māori traditions etc need to be combined into all products and services

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being offered to international visitors. This can help drive brand loyalty and repeat purchases of New Zealand food and beverage products once they return home. Offering opportunities for extended stays (subject to visa requirements) to help with dayto-day tasks on orchard and in wineries. This could be particularly useful in providing some labour to help with seasonal requirements, completing certain projects, or on smaller/lifestyle type operations. While much has already been done by the viticulture sector to ride the tourism wave there is scope for even more. Some key areas are greater collaboration on new initiatives with others in the food and beverage sector, or tourism providers. Adapting product offerings to where future growth is set to come from (namely Asia and North America) is also important.

The make-up of our regions The North Island is smaller in wine volume and high in cellar doors, as wine companies look to engage domestic and international tourists in the unique experience of enjoying wine at its source. Hawke’s Bay is clearly the largest- producing region in the North Island with over twice the production of the next largest region (Gisborne). We have also included the number of cellar doors by region on this map, as an indicator of the opportunities present for visitors to experience each region’s wineries. In this respect, Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa are noted as containing the most cellar doors. However both Auckland and Wairarapa stand out as having a high number of cellar doors relative to production, likely as a result of an aim to cater for visitors from the larger nearby population centres and travel destinations of Auckland and Wellington.

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Auckland, the country’s largest city, is also noted as containing a large number of wineries. However, many are known to house their production and grape growing operations in other regions. With the head offices of some of New Zealand’s largest wine businesses also based here, Auckland includes the largest number of industry employees in the North Island. Furthermore, Auckland has the highest number of cellar doors in the North Island, which is also likely to add to the industry employees. The South Island of New Zealand is home to the vastly dominant producing region of Marlborough. Other regions such as Central Otago are also present in smaller volumes and more specialised wine varieties It can be surprising to some that the region of Central Otago, contains almost as many wineries as Marlborough, despite producing a fraction of the volume. Both regions are also comparable on their total number of cellar doors.


But Marlborough includes a much higher proportion of pure grape growers who sell their grapes to wine producers, which is not present to the same volume and extent in any other region in New Zealand. It is with reference to the Marlborough region and industry employment statistics that we can also explore the regional labour intensity and requirements for the industry’s output. As the country’s biggest producer of wine, it is not surprising for this region to also have the largest number of industry employees in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s wine markets in 2017 Export volumes of New Zealand wine to the ‘big three’ markets (Australia, UK and USA) topped 200 million litres for the first time in 2017. With the jump in NZD against GBP, there was incentive for larger operators to package exports in- market. Growth opportunities remain

from new generations of consumers as well as ‘premiumisation’ and ‘quality over quantity’. In Australia, where retail channels dominate, we also see online retailers changing the landscape, increasingly stocking unique premium labels. Offshore markets outside of the ‘big’ three’ also grew in volume while experiencing a 34% higher price point than the ‘big three’.

Profitability The profitability levels in the Survey showed positive outcomes for all sized tiers, except for those with less than $1.5m in annual revenue. As winery size increases, so do net returns, as cost controls likely associated with economies of scale have greatest impact on bottom lines. Analysis of profitability amongst smaller operators shows vastly more variable profits than their larger counterparts over the last 12 years.

Financial position Participant results sug-

gest that balance sheets have been strengthening in recent years, with long term debt levels
showing a slight downward trend over the last 12 years, most notably from 2013 to 2016. Participants in the $5-10m category reported the lowest debt levels for 2017 while also having the highest level of debtors and inventory. The Survey results also show the higher relative investment in land that smaller producers have, which appears to be funded by equity rather than debt.
Larger operators featured high levels of equipment to process their larger volumes of bought grapes. The relative level of debtors increases with scale up to $10m in revenue, but then decreases thereafter. This is likely due to typical cashflow cycles when initially expanding into export markets.

Selling prices The surveyed ratios showed

that smaller producers achieved more premium selling prices ($17.49/l) compared to their larger counterparts ($7.67/l).

Distribution channels Participants up to $10m in revenue sell between 13 percent and 28 percent of volumes through direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels. They also sell about 27 percent of volume to supermarkets, with that growing to over 70 percent for those with over $20m in revenue.

Challenges and opportunities Amongst the issues that wineries face, sales margin pressure ranked highest once again and interestingly succession rated as the lowest. On the opportunities front, sales margins, somewhat conversely also featured highly, as did sales volume growth from existing products, both in new and existing markets. T

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10/03/16 1:59 pm NZ WINEGROWER  FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018  //   13


Ethical employers Sophie Preece


Marlborough wine company is taking important steps to satisfy international scrutiny around labour practices in New Zealand’s wine industry. Yealands Wine Group is increasing the transparency it demands from contractors, is analysing its systems to ensure their rigour, and is undertaking intercultural awareness programmes to protect its migrant employees, says Quality Assurance Manager Katrina Jones. “We will be one of many that will be doing that. But we are glad to be paving the way for something that is so positive and so necessary. Jones says the move recognises the need for integrity around labour practices, but is also in direct response to a change in the rating given to Yealands and other New Zealand wine companies by Sedex, the not for profit shared ethical data exchange sharing platform used internationally. The move from being a low risk to a medium risk site is due to a change in the way the data for the labour component is calculated, and is likely to have been exacerbated by recent labour law breaches in the New Zealand wine industry, says Jones. The new rating has raised red flags for some of the companies that use the platform, such as Sainsbury’s, who insist on a Sedex ethical audit from any company that is deemed medium or high risk, Jones says. Yealands has responded rapidly, setting in motion a SMETA - Sedex Member Ethical Trade Audit - which is like many of the other assurance processes the company participates in, she says.

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“Any company that is above board and with a serious commitment to good ethical practices should not find any difficulty complying with this standard.” To get some outside perspective on its processes, the company first con-

under.” That includes knowing what workers are getting paid, and how they are being treated, she says. “And we need evidence to support that.” She has used the SMETA questionnaire with a contractor in the

Katrina Jones

tracted a third party to do a gap analysis, which highlighted some procedural issues, most of which Yealands had already identified, she says. Much of the audit is around duty of care in relation to the contract labour workforce, Jones says. “It’s no longer good enough to say ‘OK, our contractors are RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme) accredited; our contractors are Master Contractors.’ We need to understand what it is they are doing. We have to understand the conditions their workers are working


field, and visited worker accommodation to check the standards. They have also explained to the three contractors the company uses that there needs to be constant transparency of information. Katrina believes that the company’s actions are indicative of the processes many New Zealand companies should be considering, as they prepare for a Sedex audit. “We are not the only New Zealand based winery who are having to facilitate this ethical audit and it won’t be long before others will be finding themselves in the same

boat.” In addition to the audit preparation, Jones set up a three-day intercultural awareness course with the Marlborough Migrant Centre. She says Marlborough was traditionally more monoculture than melting pot, but in recent times that had changed. “Those who have been born and raised in Marlborough may not have had the same level of exposure to a migrant workforce, such as those living in bigger cities within New Zealand. Therefore, it is important that we spend time educating about diversity and to highlight the importance of cultural awareness and sensitivity.” The Yealands groups talked first about their cultural perspectives and their communication techniques, and ultimately about their interaction with vineyard workers from different countries. It was soon clear that many times people feel they have communicated effectively, when in fact they have not, says Jones. The course was at times “profound” and the response from the vineyard teams and others was fantastic, she says. Going forward she would like to have it as a routine segment, rolled out at least once a year and also potentially used as part of an induction process when vintage cellar hands arrive in Marlborough from around the world. The region’s wine industry needs to “pull together as a collective” to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal of ethical employment, Jones says. “The requirement for ethical audits is not going to go away - in fact the demand for these will only increase as retailers look for better ways to preserve their brands and reputations.”T

Berry Firmness Provides Botrytis Resilience:

Let’s Stop the Rot!

WORKING WITH THE PLANT HML32, sprayed at the correct growth stage, thickens berry skins and helps prevent the rain from diluting berry sugars - the trigger for latent botrytis to progress to actual infection. The graph and video below show how HML32 partnered with the plant to achieve botrytis resilience through increased berry firmness.1 First application for white grapes is at 50% veraison or 8.5 Brix. Contact Chris for further details or see the link below.2 In our powdery mildew eradication regime, the plant response leads to vastly reduced splitting of HML32 treated berries,3 reducing sites for botrytis and sour rot infections. New Zealand trials show our product range of Protectorhml, HML32, HML Silco, and HML Potum, in combination with sulphur and copper, are highly effective against powdery mildew and botrytis.

Our 2016 enhanced maturity and botrytis trial revealed that one or two applications of HML32, sprayed at the right time2 to the bunchline, can provide increased resilience to end-of-season rots (see graph below). Increased firmness resulted in reduced botrytis incidence and severity. For slipskin resilience in Merlot from the same application timings, watch the video (scan the QR code to the left).

2015-16 Enhanced Maturity and Botrytis trial, Maraekakaho Rd, Hawke’s Bay Botrytis and berry firmness assessment in Syrah block on 29 March 2016 90


94 Average Botrytis % inc

% Incidence / Severity

80 70

Average Botrytis % Sev 0.28


0.26 0.25 0.24


10 0






Control Trt 1a



HML32 / HML Silco Sprayed once Trt 4a

HML32 Sprayed Once Trt 13a

Henry Manufacturing non-residual pesticides

3. products/hml-32/research-and-trials/grapepowdery-mildew-eradication-trial.pdf

0.28 0.27



2. enhanced-maturity/#enhanced-maturityand-end-of-season-trial



60 50


Indicator of firmness*

1. products/hml-32/research-and-trials/2016grape-powdery-mildew-report.pdf

Force (KgF)


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4.0 HML32 Sprayed Twice Trt 22a

0.23 0.22

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New communications manager


ndrea Svendsen is no stranger to a national communications role. Taking on the job at New Zealand Winegrowers late last year, Svendsen has had plenty of experience with five years in a similar position for Harcourts Real Estate. While she admits the change is a big one, discussing the buying and selling of real estate, compared to passing on the news from the national wine industry, it is a challenge she is well up for. Especially given the positivity of the wine industry. “In Real Estate it can be a little bit negative sometimes, especially when it comes to media stories.

Whereas wine, everyone loves it. It is such a positive industry, especially when it comes to the product and the export angle.” Svendsen says the opportunity to be a part of a growth industry is a major plus. While still finding her feet, she is impressed with the friendliness of the people involved and their willingness to help. “They have been so generous with their time and their knowledge.” One of her first tasks as communications manager was to attend the 2017 Air New Zealand Wine Awards, where she was introduced to the joys of sipping and spitting. “I’m not very good at spitting

– not yet anyway,” she joked a few days later. Svendsen replaces Sarah Sze-

gota, who left New Zealand Winegrowers in October, to take up a role at Villa Maria.T

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The circle of death Phylloxera strikes in Martinborough Joelle Thomson


t looks like a circle of death because the vines within it wither with dehydration, experience reduced growth and increased disease resistance. “It seems to move across in a certain blob type of pattern and the vines eventually die,” says Martinborough winemaker Joel Watson, who had to remove a block of affected grapes last year. He is talking about phylloxera, which is usually invisible to the naked eye because it lives under-

ground where it wreaks devastation on the roots of ungrafted grapevines. It’s the ever present fear of every vineyard owner with ungrafted vines. It is also prevalent in regions with relatively old vines in New Zealand because grafted vines have not always been in plentiful supply. The latest region to experience a loss of aged vines is Martinborough. Two vineyards there were ripped out last year, due to phylloxera. Both were planted in Riesling – the unsung white hero

grape of this small wine region. The first vineyard was at Vynfields, which has already pulled up over a hectare of old Riesling vines. Grapes from this vineyard were destined for two varietal Vynfields Rieslings – a classic and a dry – and also for Bliss; a relatively low alcohol style bubbly based entirely on Riesling. The second vineyard was at Murdoch James. It was also planted in Riesling. “It’s not surprising that the vines at Murdoch James’ old vineyard had phylloxera because

this was a 36-year-old vineyard growing on its own roots,” says Joel Watson, winemaker at Luna Estate (the new incarnation of Murdoch James) in Martinborough. Watson has worked there since 2015 but the winery has only just formed as one entity called Luna Estate; an amalgamation of Alana Estate and Murdoch James. (See story on page 58.) The new Luna Estate is focussing almost solely on Pinot Noir, which will make up 85 percent of its vineyards and about the





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same in terms of production. Whites remain important to the new wine brand but Riesling is potentially the smallest of them, in quantity terms. It is currently available only at Luna Estate cellar door and restaurant and available in small quantities to specialist retail or trade customers. Watson says that the Riesling vineyard which was uprooted will need to be replaced, but quantities of this varietal will remain relatively small. The fate of the Vynfields vineyard and whether it will be replaced both remain to be seen. There is another vulnerable vineyard at the old Murdoch James site, but, fortunately, it is on a site that is relatively removed from other vineyards. It’s a one hectare block of Abel clone Pinot Noir, which is the most prized Pinot clone in the region and which, Watson hopes, will remain unaffected. T

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A decade of durable timber posts Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


esting of durable eucalypt posts in Marlborough vineyards has shown that after a decade of being in the ground, the posts are standing up to the test of time. With current estimates of 36,000 hectares of vineyard in New Zealand, the vines are supported by around 21 million posts. The majority of those are CCA treated radiata pine. In recent years, concerns have been raised over the potential of CCA leaching into the soil, and the impact this could have on New Zealand’s sustainable image. Up to five percent of all posts (around a million a year) are thought to be broken or damaged due to machinery, and removed from the vineyard. However with limited ability to recycle them or dispose in landfills, due to the CCA treatment, the broken posts are ending up stored in corners of vineyards. When concerns began being raised about the possible ramifications of CCA treated pine, a number of individuals began looking at alternatives. One of those was to utilise natural hardwood, such as certain Eucalypt species, which require no chemical treatment to endure below ground conditions. In 2003 Vineyard Timbers Ltd, based in Marlborough, began trialing a range of Eucalypt species and identified several promising ones, including the coast grey box (E. bosistoana) and white stringybark (E. globoidea). These two species are the first to have been selected for genetic

20   // 

Installing a E. Globoidea hardwood post as a replacement for a broken CCA treated post. Inset: This E.bosistoana post has been in the ground for 11 years, and despite no chemical treatment, there is very little sign of any decay.

improvement; others will follow. The former is expected to last in the ground for 20 to 25 years, while the latter lifespan is expected to be 15-20 years. Between 2006 and 2009 six vineyards in Marlborough’s Lower Wairau Valley were supplied with 1400 durable hardwood posts milled from trees already growing in New Zealand. Now more than a decade on, the initial vineyards have been surveyed to determine what form of decay the posts have suffered and to gauge the owner’s experience of working with them. Four of the vineyards had installed the posts as replacements for broken CCA-treated posts; one used them in setting up a new vineyard and another in a small feijoa orchard. Five of


the properties are organic, with mechanical harvesting and some mechanical pruning. Two also use mechanical under-vine cultivation. The results of the survey showed that 1065 of the original 1400 initially sold are still in use. Another 14 were found broken, one failed from decay and 45 were in storage. The feedback from vineyard owners was positive. The natural durability has fitted in well with those under organic management, while the strength leading to a lack of breakage was highlighted. With only 14 of the 1065 original posts broken by machinery, it was

discovered that the majority had broken at the point of a knot in the wood, something that could be eliminated with stricter quality control. Overall the annual breakage rate is far lower than the five percent annual breakage rate of radiata pine posts. But perhaps the best news of all for those involved, is that only one of the posts had severe decay, despite none of them having been chemically treated for ground use. The in-ground assessments of 150 posts showed that the coast grey box posts were all still is use, with very low levels of decay, “as would be expected due to their class one durability classification in the Australian Standard.” By comparison the white stringybarkposts are showing somewhat higher decay rate, (particularly on one site) although a large number are still in service and can be expected to continue so for a number of years. There were a few negatives to emerge, mainly that the hardness of the wood meant it was difficult to nail clips and wire hangers into, although it was mentioned that this could have been alleviated by pre-drilling. While this research/survey has provided valuable information, there will be further analysis undertaken in another five years’ time.T


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Exploring NZ’s vineyard virome Dr Edwin Massey


his month’s column examines the recent research conducted by Plant & Food Research scientist Arnaud Blouin on the New Zealand vineyard virome and considers some of its implications for the wine industry. This research, sponsored by New Zealand Winegrowers, provides insight on the prevalence and impact of viruses in the commercial vineyard estate; helps inform useful conclusions on vineyard biosecurity and raises a number of important research questions that could help to protect the wine industry’s long-term sustainability.

Virus prevalence One of the most significant results of Blouin’s work is to illustrate just how common plant viruses are in the vineyard. Of the 18 samples taken from the New Zealand Winegrowers reference collection, 17 samples indicated the presence of one or more grapevine viruses. One plant was infected with eight different grapevine viruses and two viroids! Similarly, in the commercial estate, samples collected in specific Sauvignon Blanc blocks from both Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay indicated the presence of: • One infection of grapevine leaf roll-associated virus 2 • Three infections of grapevine leaf roll-associated virus 3 • One new vitivirus in one plant • High incidence of Maculaviruses - 10% of total vines sampled

22   // 

Grapevine infected with grapevine red blotch virus.

• Very high incidence of Marafiviruses - 59% of total vines sampled • High incidence of grapevine rupestris stem pitting virus • Very high viroids incidence These results are likely to differ from one block to another. These results highlight the significant variety in the New Zealand vineyard virome and show, with the diagnostic tools that are now available, further sampling of the commercial estate will likely lead to more viruses being discovered. Grapevines and the grapevine viruses they contain have most likely co-evolved over a long time period and it is a false expectation to consider that all


the vines in your vineyard will be virus free. Most importantly, these results highlight that the presence of many specific viruses does not equal disease and that, in many cases, plants which contain some viruses can be considered healthy, and still capable of producing the high quality grapes that go into making outstanding wine. Virus management remains a high priority throughout the wine industry. The New Zealand Winegrowers Grafted Grapevine Standard seeks to minimize the probability of infected material being released to the industry. The potential impact of these pathogenic viruses is further

minimised by the quality control systems in place at many grapevine nurseries; and the standard operating procedures for virus management in many vineyards.

What viruses are not in New Zealand? This research also highlights that two important grapevine viruses; grapevine red blotch virus and grapevine Pinot Gris virus; are not present in New Zealand. Grapevine red blotch virus has not been regularly reported outside North America. Symptoms generally occur in late summer as irregular red blotching in leaf blades. The veins of affected leaves can turn partially

or fully red. Symptoms are often confused with grapevine leafroll disease caused by another virus, grapevine leafroll associated virus 3. The primary impact of grapevine red blotch is on the accumulation of total soluble solids. Typically, infected vines can be as much as four to five units lower than healthy vines. In North America this virus primarily affects red wine cultivars such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Merlot but has also been detected in white wine cultivars such as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Viognier. Grapevine Pinot Gris virus is common in many international wine regions and was first identified in Australia in 2017. The symptoms associated with infection include delayed budburst, leaf distortion and mottling, shortened internodes, increased berry acidity and yield loss (reports of up to 80%). These symptoms are most pronounced in spring and may be confused

of these destructive viruses are detected in New Zealand, that this would be most likely from a recent grapevine introduction. From a biosecurity perspective, it is much more cost effective to respond to a recent introduction than a virus that has been undetected for many years.

Californian grapevine infected with grapevine Pinot Gris virus.

Conclusion – being aware of the unusual

with cold or herbicide damage. Grapevine Pinot Gris virus can affect a wide range of cultivars including Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

Next steps – further research important for improved biosecurity Blouin’s research is a great step to better understanding the

New Zealand vineyard virome, yet is far from being comprehensive. Further research, and a larger sample size, would help to confirm the prevalence of a range of viruses and the absence of others, like grapevine red blotch virus or grapevine Pinot Gris virus. Further evidence of absence is important for wine industry biosecurity as it would suggest that if either

Often, it can be difficult to tell whether the unusual symptoms you see in your vineyard are caused by plant viruses, or a range of other biotic and abiotic factors. A clear diagnosis is critical. That’s why if you do see something that just doesn’t look right you should catch it, snap it, report it. Call the MPI biosecurity hotline 0800 80 99 66 and call New Zealand Winegrowers Biosecurity and Emergency Response Manager Ed Massey, 0211924924 After all, it’s your asset, and your responsibility to protect it. T


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For the love of it Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


n 2003 Olly Styles was sat down by his father and given an ultimatum. Find a job, or it is the army or teaching for you. Neither appealed to the English and French graduate, who since leaving university had been stacking shelves to make some money. Given he wanted to be a journalist first and foremost, the army or teaching didn’t quite cut the mustard. Thankfully for Styles and now for NZ Winegrower magazine, he received a call three days later, offering him a part time job writing for Decanter. That morphed pretty quickly into a full-time job, liaising with tastings, writing and some basic marketing. “It was a phenomenal opportunity,” he admits. Between 2003 when he landed his dream job and 2017, Styles has not only written about wine, he has married a winemaker, become a winemaker and held the assistant winemaker position at Vidal Estate, under the watchful eye of wine guru Hugh Crichton. Born in England, with Swiss grandparents, Styles was exposed to the intricacies of wine from an early age. “Grandad used to buy a fair bit of Burgundy, so that was my early exposure to wine. “And my parents were pretty continental in terms of wine drinkers.” Looking back to the early days, he says the Decanter job followed a period of work experience he had undertaken, working on the website. “The guy who went on to become my boss, said to me when I turned up – ‘right, I want you to write 200 words on this and you have 20 minutes to do it.’ It took me a lot longer than 20 minutes – but he seemed to like what I was doing and how I wrote.”

24   // 

PHOTO: Florence Charvin

But it was only a short period of work experience, and before he knew it he was back to “stacking shelves at Waitrose.” The call that literally changed his life came three months later. “I got a call from out of the blue and the person whose chair I had been sitting in had apparently decided to leave and Adam wanted to know if I was keen on coming in on a part-time basis to write for the website. When I turned up, they were doing a Sancerre tasting, so there was this line of bottles and we were going through them. “I was a total novice in terms of wine knowledge. But there were so many people at that time who were quite young and a few Kiwi sommeliers knocking around. They were all keen to impart a lot of wisdom, so you


learn pretty quickly. By the end of it, I was hosting tastings.’’ Meeting his wife to be at a Decanter tasting led Styles to follow her to Spain where he undertook a couple of vintages. “I worked for my wife briefly for a year and we said we would never do that again.” With Amy being a New Zealander, the couple inevitably ended up back in this part of the world. Their first vintage back was in Martinborough in 2011. This was followed in 2012 by a long-distance vintage with Amy in Hawke’s Bay and Styles returning to Martinborough. Later that year, he moved permanently to the Bay – firstly as a cellar hand at Vidal, moving on to assistant winemaker. Now all those skills will be used to inform readers of NZ

Winegrower magazine, about happenings in Hawke’s Bay. Something he is looking forward to getting his teeth into. “Hawke’s Bay is in a very interesting space at the moment. It’s established yet still full of potential; it produces wines with a remarkable sense of place yet there is still a range of styles. It’s easy to point to consolidation, winery sales and large-scale operations and yet, to my far from comprehensive knowledge of the region, there has never been such diversity and potential across the board. It’s going to be a fascinating era.” So welcome Olly. If you would like to contact him regarding story ideas, his contact details are; Email: oliverstyles@hotmail. com Mob: 027 613 2243T


Paying homage to Trinity Hill’s Syrah Oliver Styles


arren Gibson hails me with the kind of nonchalance that suggests we either know each other well enough to be beyond salutations or he has heard my car stereo as I pulled into Eastern Institute of Technology to do the interview (I have two small children - my moments of puerile rebellion are few and far between). The tall, thin, quietly spoken winemaker, as synonymous with Trinity Hill as the effusive founder John Hancock, seems preoccupied as we amble down the road. This is possibly because

he’s chaperoning American wine writer and critic Elaine Chukan Brown – a woman who, I get the feeling, would not be averse to kicking me in the shin were I to suggest she needed chaperoning. She’s Jancis Robinson MW’s woman-on-the-ground in the US and was one of the international judges at the recent Air New Zealand Awards that Gibson chaired. Clearly, though, the widely respected Chief Winemaker at Trinity Hill has multiple duties this afternoon and I’m already beginning to feel like I’ve chosen the wrong day to meet. Before I settle down to talk to him, he’s greeting the two women manning

the guest list and hailing sundry persons as they file in and out of the tasting room. From my pre-winemaking journalism days, I’ve assumed I can sidle into the tasting without an invite. I’m an old hand at blagging my way into events – I’ve even conned my way into a creditors’ meeting – but I’m not getting past the ladies on the door. After a genial effort to show that I might be worthy of a wave-through, I resort to stabbing colleagues’ and friends’ names on the guest list. I’m not far off whispering a “do you know

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who I am?” through my teeth, forlorn in the knowledge that there is only one obvious answer to this. After a winemaker takes one of the doyennes to the side – while my attempt is fruitlessly continuing – to ask if such-and-such could be added to the list and this is met with a straightforward nod, I give up. Luckily, Gibson looks like he’s momentarily free from handshakes, hellos and waves, and we retire to a small patch of grass outside the winery to run over his recent accolade: Trinity Hill’s Homage Syrah 2015 has topped the New Zealand billing with 99 points on US critic James Sucklings’ website. Although not tasted by Suckling himself – a man clearly cultivating a brand image with his long hair and all-climate scarf – respected Australian taster Nick Stock and Contributing Editor to handed out the laurels. Stock is clearly impressed, not just with Trinity’s flagship wine, but with Hawke’s Bay Syrah in general. “Syrah is a quiet force to be reckoned with,’’ he says, ‘’primarily the wines of Hawke’s Bay where things bend in a mediumweight direction and are bathed in fragrance, spice and pepper. Outside of the Northern Rhône, and perhaps Chile, it is hard to think of a place that delivers Syrah with this much allure.’’ Two vintages of Bilancia Syrah – Gibson’s own winemaking project along with wife Lor-

raine Leheny – also feature in the top scores, as does Vidal Legacy, Church Road McDonald Series and Grand Reserve, Craggy Range Le Sol, Millton’s Clos St Anne The Crucible (a Gisborne showing) as well as Te Whare Ra and Fromm representing Marlborough. But we’re here to talk about the Homage 2015. Gibson reckons it’s showing well because of its typicity and relative approachability. It isn’t as structured as 2013 or 2014 – ‘’shy’’ wines from warmer vintages, he says. The 2015 vintage is ‘’more attractive as a young wine [than the previous two]’’. He calls it, with a little smile, ‘’the goldilocks vintage – not too hot, not too cold, not too dry, not too wet…’’ – in short, he believes it possesses both seriousness and

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drinkability. Stock clearly thought so too. ‘’A superb wine,’’ he writes. ‘‘Quite possibly the greatest expression of Syrah that New Zealand has produced.’’ Gibson tells me – with no hint of boastfulness – he has a bit of pedigree with, picking up 97, 98 and 99 points over the last few years.  And how did Gibson manage it? As when talking about most things, he’s endearingly unassuming as he rattles through the three vineyards – all, incidentally, within the Gimblett Gravels, although the wine is not labelled as such – that make up the blend. In some years he’ll use non-Gimblett fruit, hence the need to keep Hawke’s Bay most

precious ‘terroir’ off the billing. In this instance, the vineyards range from eight to 22 years old. One six-ton parcel gets a foot stomp with a layer of Viognier skins laid out in the middle – for a brief moment I think of the Morbier cheese with its little central line – and the wines get a once-a-day pumpover. ‘’We try to be respectful of the fruit – use less new oak,’’ he says, absently tugging at a patch of grass. ‘‘We make it like Pinot Noir – it doesn’t get moved much in barrel. And the Whole Bunch component is a big part of the wine.’’ This makes up 35 percent of the blend in 2015 and, looking at some of the producers topping the ranks for Nick Stock, it looks like the use of whole bunch in Pinot and Syrah is almost de rigueur. Gibson, who’s still acknowledging people as a group files out of the tasting room and into a waiting coach, tells me he’s looking for a more savoury tannin profile with the wine. Nonetheless, he believes it’s showing a good deal of attraction as a young wine and it reminds him of the 2004 – Homage’s third vintage. I’m now starting to feel like I’ve encroached enough on his time. So we leave it there. Gibson heads off to entertain more connections while I, with my tail brushing my knees, consent to hand over cash to get in to the tasting.T


2018 predictions: How will the global wine market change? Lee Suckling


ast year didn’t yield a great harvest on an international scale, and some economists are predicting that in 2018 a global wine shortage may hit. There are several key drivers behind the wine industry’s predicted volatility this year, all of which should be understood by Kiwi winemakers. The environmental impacts on various 2017 vintages are notable, particularly in Europe – which had the worst season in that

year since 1982. The continent had an extremely cold spring – Burgundian grape growers were unusually forced to deploy fans to protect their crops from frosts, for example – and also had heavy hailstorms to deal with. Soon after the region had droughts all throughout the summer, culminating in a grape supply that experienced significant damage. The result is estimated that France, Italy, and Spain (combined) will only have produced 14.5 billion litres of wine during

2017, which is a 16 percent drop from 2016. Italy was hit the worst during 2017, with a production decline of 21 percent (France and Spain both saw 15 percent falls). In Sicily, grape production was a third lower than 2016, and the culminating effects will be up to 10 percent price rises for some wine varieties. Such a disastrous harvest upon three of the countries that together produce half of the world’s wine will directly affect wine prices for the consumer.

Consumer wine prices in the UK could rise by a quarter as Britain’s exit from the European Union gets closer. Kym Anderson and Glyn Wittwer, two Australian economists, have produced a model that suggests “by 2025, the price of wine for UK consumers will be 22 percent higher, the volume of consumption 28 percent lower, and the value of UK imports 27 percent lower” than it would be without Brexit, according to the Financial Times. This largely owes to the devaluation

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Wines like these may be harder to source after a particularly difficult European vintage in 2017 and the Californian fires.

of the pound (GBP) during the nearly two years since the vote to leave the EU happened, alongside slower-than-usual economic growth which has pushed up costs and simultaneously cut demand. As the UK accounts for 20 percent of the world’s wine imports, such an effect will be felt worldwide in 2018 and beyond. Another, more irreverent

factor could be problematic for the wine industry in 2018: baby boomers’ declining average income. With retirement age hitting for the bulk of people born in the 1950s now, the international wine market may begin taking a hit as this generation is the largest drinker of wine in the world. Economics professor David Jaeger of City University of

New York’s Graduate Centre says, “The aging of the baby boomers and their transition into retirement might lead to a reduction in wine consumption as their incomes decline. Overall, then, I would expect wine sales will not continue to grow at the pace they have in the recent past or even level off.” Such economics news from

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Europe has received less media coverage than what happened in the US last year. After the California wildfires destroyed many vineyards at the end of the 2017 North American summer, the economies of wine counties Napa and Sonoma were put in jeopardy. Fires on both sides of the valley ripped down the hillsides and destroyed

unpicked, almost ripe grapes across many of the region’s wineries – around 90 percent of the harvest was complete at the time. In a lot of the cases where grapes remained intact, they were tainted by exposure to smoke (which is to grapes like sunburn is to human skin). Not all grapes exposed to smoke taint are unusable, but Australian wine research (comparing Adelaide’s wildfires) has found that grapes exposed to smoke for just 30 minutes result in an undesirable aroma for the subsequent wine production. Some winemakers will be attempting to filter out smoke aromas and adding powdered carbon to continue separating out any smoky compounds, although it’s unsure whether or not this will work. Eleven wineries were destroyed in the summer 2017 fires, contributing to the 30-60 that were seriously damaged. Napa and Sonoma wineries now face the task of dealing with their insurance companies over the

value of grapes lost, the “Napa Valley average” for insurance purposes is up to US$7000 per ton. High-end wine brands will be hardest hit, e.g. the Cabernet Sauvignon growers that have crops valuing more than US$12,000 per ton. The effects of this horrific Act of God goes further than crops, too. The Northern Californian wine country is an economy of its own: employing thousands of workers and providing financial security and housing to the whole area. Just like New Zealand, California also have a very low supply of affordable housing and the result will be vineyard workers are forced to leave and seek work elsewhere – further adding challenge to wine production. That aside, most of the Northern Californian wineries suffered no damage and while their 2017 vintage may not be affected, tourism numbers have plummeted and all wine brands’ bottom lines will be

felt as a result. As for how this will impact – and probably increase – the consumer price of Californian wine, remains to be seen. However, the US (and California in particular) will see some positive financial movements for the wine industry in a completely unrelated matter. Owing to the US Senate’s tax reform, led by President Trump’s campaign promises, the wine industry is going to receive significant tax cuts. According to Wine Spectator, American wineries can expect between a 10 and 65 percent tax break, depending on the volume they produce. Tax credits that were previously only available to small wineries are now available to larger ones. Theoretically, this means some US wineries could lower their prices to the consumer, or wineries may take a healthier margin. Bobby Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute believes it will give a lot of relief to Califor-

nian winemakers, which produce 85 percent of all US wine. “We are the epitome of value-added agriculture and our wine and vineyards represent a long-term commitment that is uniquely tied to the land, generating jobs, tax revenue, trade, tourism and international appeal,” he said in a press release. The way all of these international markets will affect New Zealand winegrowers remains in a crystal ball, though a shortage of Northern Hemisphere wine in the global market could work for us. For example, it could be used to change the dynamic of price negotiations and become a “seller’s market”. Kiwi winemakers may be able to use this leverage to negotiate more favourable margins on exports – something that many will find a welcome change, considering the length of time the wine world has been considered a market that has been overly favourable to the buyer.T

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The love of a Valli Mark Orton


hen Grant Taylor casually agreed to discuss his wine endeavours, it came with the proviso...I needed to take a drive with him and conduct the interview as we travelled. Figuring that this was as good an opportunity as any and a pretty novel way to pick Grant’s brain, I jumped aboard his ute and we set off. Perhaps we’d be off to the Gibbston, Bendigo or even a round trip taking in Bannockburn? Nope, Grant had only one region that be was itching to get to, and that was way over the Lindis Pass. It seems that you can take a boy out of the Waitaki, but not the Waitaki out of the boy. Born in Kurow, Grant Taylor’s fascination with the Waitaki Valley has never waned. In many respects, he sees his involvement with the valley as being a natural progression from his formative years making wine in the USA, Australia and France through to getting started in the Gibbston Valley and then encompassing other sub-regions within Central Otago. “I came back to Central in 93 and I guess there were 40 acres of grapes and now there is more than 5000, so over that time, I have had a chance to appreciate how different parts of Central Otago work. From a winemaker’s perspective, it’s not something that you might ever get the chance to do. It’s like being the first man on the moon and then I get the chance to do that all again in the Waitaki which is pretty special.” The great thing about conducting an interview in Taylor’s vehicle, is the lack of distraction

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Grant Taylor, who says; “When the Waitaki fruit comes into the winery, you have to wipe your brain and pretend that the harvest is starting again, it bares barely any resemblance to any factors that we have employed to process the Central grapes.”

from the winery and two and a half hours to think of questions related to wine in the Waitaki Valley. The history of the valley and grapes is well documented online for anyone curious to know more, so rather than turn this into a history lesson, I’m keen to tap into Taylor’s enthusiasm for the region, especially as we spot Kurow on the road sign leaving Omarama. “Well, when we first purchased grapes from the Waitaki in 2004,” says Taylor, “I instantly realised how different they were from Central. What people were saying back then about the Waitaki was what people said about Central when we got underway. I firmly believe that the best wines are made on the edge and that is where you want to be. Central Otago is no longer on the edge, we might have been in the very early days with young vines and poor clones, but now we have people picking in the Cromwell basin in the middle of March... that’s far from the edge, even Gibbston isn’t on the edge like the Waitaki.


“Originally the Waitaki was an interesting side-line that I was keen to discover more about, but now there is a real energy that will probably keep me alive for another 50 years. It’s like anything, you need a change to refresh you, a new challenge to explore. People have holiday homes by the beach but coming over here to the Waitaki is like that to me...even though the girlfriend won’t think it’s much of a holiday.” Approaching the Aviemore Dam as we descend into the valley, Taylor is waving an arm about pointing out some distinctive features of the area. Having made wine from 11 different sites in the area, his knowledge of the different geological features and climatic conditions is very handy. “The area above the dam is a little bit warmer because it has a higher elevation which would normally mean cooler, but in the case of the Waitaki, the cool easterly breezes and fog that come into the valley never get high enough to get up here. I have been getting fruit from two sites above

the dam, so I know how different it is from the stuff below.” Driving past the cute tasting room at Bobbing Creek vineyard, it’s hard not to notice the number of bicycles out and about. The Alps to Ocean cycle trail rolls right through here, and initiatives like this have certainly created a buzz about Kurow. Taylor is also keen to point out that the great cycling weather has also been great for grapes from the valley. “This year I have been fielding calls from wineries looking for Waitaki fruit which is unheard of. They want something with acid and energy, and with the rest of the country being hot as hell, there is going to be a lot of over-ripe flat wines out there. It’s a real shame that it didn’t happen four to five years ago, before vines got pulled out to make way for commercial grazing.” As we turn off State Highway 83 into the aptly named ‘Grant Road’, Taylor’s enthusiasm for the region is brimming over and I figure that it might be time to get out of the vehicle and up close and personal with some vines...


but not before Taylor drives us to the end of the rood to meet another Waitaki Wine personality “You’ve really got to meet Steve Harrop,” says Taylor. “He was here selling wine real estate in the very early years and never left.” Life amongst the Waitaki vines evidentially suits Harrop and his family who moved into the area to pursue wine. After most of the early pioneers packed their bags and many pulled their grapes, Harrop grins when he talks about making a go of it in the Waitaki Valley. “We came back to New Zealand (from Europe and Asia) and wanted to live in the countryside and the opportunity to get involved with the development here was exciting, especially the challenge of doing something new, though I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself involved with. The hardest thing was living with the expectation that this was going to be a new boom area. It’s a difficult place to make it work commercially, I don’t think anyone would want to do a time and cost analysis, as it would be pretty hard to justify what we spend and what time we put into our vines.” These days, Harrop and his wife Fenella are capitalising on the growth of tourism in the district by offering boutique accommodation to guests who also get to sample the wine produced from their special home block

Sublime Vineyard. As much as I would love to sit on the porch with a glass of their Pinot and strum a rare Gibson guitar from Steve’s studio collection, the last stop on our magical mystery tour beckons. Six months ago, Taylor took the plunge and purchased land with vines already planted and managed. “I realised that the amount of grapes that I could buy from here is always limited and every year we sell out of Waitaki Pinot and Riesling, so I needed to guarantee a source of fruit. This four hectare parcel of land will give us eight or 10 tonne of Pinot Noir and five or six tonne of Riesling. It was planted 12 years ago, so I am planning to do a wee bit of replanting here. There is a small amount of Pinot Gris that could make way for Chardonnay, as it was making wine from Waitaki Chardonnay grapes in 2015 that actually pushed me over the edge to buy this land. When people tasting that wine blind think it is a white Burgundy, there was no question... this is where we need to be.” Walking amongst the very healthy rows of Pinot Noir, Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay, it’s hard to get Taylor to stop and answer any questions as he tears about dropping shoulders and plucking leaves. Gesticulating at the noticeably smaller berries to those in Central, Taylor ruminates on how having lighter bunches isn’t any impediment



Steve Harrop came to the Waitaki to sell wine real estate, and has never left.



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to production, it just required a change in vineyard management. Now, they double up on the amount of bunches they were getting by laying down extra canes. “When the Waitaki fruit comes into the winery, you have to wipe your brain and pretend that the harvest is starting again, it bares barely any resemblance to any factors that we have employed to process the Central grapes. “The skins are noticeably thinner too, but there is great acid and

length of flavour. We might pick here a month after Central Otago, but the grapes are ripe and there is nothing green about the tannins.” Admiring the limestone hill at the rear of the vineyard and the rocks thrown up from an old riverbed that was once here, Taylor drops all technical talk and gazes wistfully over the latest addition to the Valli portfolio. “I have made some wine from this block before, but the grapes

were never properly managed. So this year the simplest way to describe the feeling, is that it will be kind of like getting ready to go on a date with the most beautiful woman that you have ever seen, and you are excited as you haven’t slept with her yet, but you know it is going to happen. That is what this harvest feels like.” Leaving Kurow, I doubt I will ever look at the valley and the wine produced here the same way again. For Grant Taylor though,

there is a real sense that he is fulfilling some sort of destiny. “I don’t really know what the purpose of life is or whether anybody does, but I feel like this journey is closing the loop. I was born in room seven at Whalan lodge in Kurow which was a hospital ,and now... it’s an old folks can you see where this is ending. I might go out the exact same spot I came in. I don’t know many people who can do that”. T

The spectacular Waitaki Valley from the air. Grant Taylor’s recently purchased block of grapes can be seen middle of the landscape.





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Waitaki challenges and success Is Waitaki Valley the most challenging or the most promising New Zealand wine region and who is making money from this area? Joelle Thomson investigates.


hen it comes to challenges, the winemakers of Waitaki Valley know a thing

or two. The valley is one of the southernmost wine regions in the world at 45° latitude and its winemakers are the last in New Zealand to harvest their grapes each year, typically picking two to three weeks later than Gibbston Valley, which is the last of Central Otago’s wine areas to harvest – and is even further south.

Waitaki is on the border of North Otago and South Canterbury. It has one of the longest, slowest ripening periods in the country with extremely low yields, by anyone’s measure. It is not uncommon to harvest a bunch of Pinot Noir that weighs 50 grams compared with a bunch from Central Otago that weighs 120 grams, says winemaker Grant Taylor, who has learnt to modify his pruning and trellising methods to get bunch weights up. This makes it expensive to

grow grapes and produce wine from Waitaki but the up sides are ripe flavours with high acidity, which gives energy to the wines - and alcohol levels that can be lower than in Central, says Taylor. Waitaki is home to another prized commodity in Pinot Noir vineyards too. Limestone. It has so much that the region’s limestone laden hillsides could be more at home in the north of France than in a remote region in New Zealand’s South Island. But there you have it – a fledgling wine region inland from Oamaru.

One of the earliest vineyards was planted by Jim Jerram and his wife, Anne, whose brother, Jeff Sinnott, makes the wines for their Ostler brand. In the middle of 2017, the Jerrams flew me in their neighbour’s small plane to visit the valley and get a bird’s eye view of its plentiful limestone, followed by a tasting of their wines. The trip provided in-depth background and a strong sense of place to bring to a tasting I hosted in Wellington at Regional Wines & Spirits. Jerram flew up to attend and wine producers all supplied their wines free of charge for the tasting, which resulted in sales and increased interest and under-

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standing of this beautiful, rugged and remote region. We tasted four Rieslings and seven Pinot Noirs from six of the 13 producers in the Waitaki Valley - Earth Keepers, John Forrest, Ostler, Pasquale, Q and Valli. This was followed by a line up of Chardonnays, Gewurztraminers and white blends, which time did not allow us to examine in as much detail as the wines in the main tasting.

Conclusions of the tasting The top Rieslings The Rieslings from Waitaki were commanding in their pre-

cision, thanks to their fresh high acidity which was balanced by intense citrus and green fruit flavours, which lingered in each of the wines. The top three Rieslings from my tasting notes were: 2013 Ostler ‘Lakeside Vines’ Waitaki Valley Riesling – youthful from its pale colour to its high acid and freshness; this wine has graet aging potential, is off dry in taste but finishes on a steely crisp note with an almost-dry ending and great concentration. It contains 10 grams per litre of residual sugar and 12.5% ABV. 2016 Valli Waitaki North Otago Riesling – another youthful wine

with super fresh acidity and great succulence, juiciness and a long finish; a keeper with 18 grams per litre of residual sugar and 13% ABV. 2015 Valli Waitaki North Otago Late Harvest Riesling – luscious with 123 grams per litre of residual sugar but great balance, thanks to its high acidity, richly honeyed flavours and textures and its low alcohol of 9% ABV. A stunner. Another keeper. The top Pinot Noirs 2015 Ostler ‘Caroline’s’ Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir - fresh acidity carries this wine along its youthful

path with vibrant red fruit flavours, a full body and long finish. 2010 Ostler ‘Caroline’s’ Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir – moving into earthy tertiary flavours with great complexity and easy to taste why this is regarded as the best Ostler Pinot Noir yet made by winemaker Jeff Sinnott. 2016 Q Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir – floral aromas and dark fruit flavours drive the core taste of this soft, approachable young Pinot Noir, which is light in body with a long finish and drinks well now, but has aging potential of 4-5 years.

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2015 Valli ‘Waitaki Vineyard’ North Otago Pinot Noir – big, complex and firm, this wine has characters of whole bunch stalk and stem notes, which contribute both structure and savouriness to this wine, which has a long finish thanks to its high acidity. The top Pinot of the tasting. 2012 John Forrest ‘Collection’ Waitaki Valley North Otago Pinot Noir – rich red fruity flavours add a real approachability to this wine, which is full bodied with pronounced oak influence adding weight but also intense flavours, which some tasters found too dominant . This is an impressive wine, which drinks well now and can age for 8-9 years. 2010 John Forrest ‘Collection’ Waitaki Valley North Otago Pinot Noir – ripe dark fruit flavours combine with spicy herb aromas and toasty oak, which combine in an earthy, complex and fullbodied wine which drinks well now and can age for another 5-6 years.T

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First competition, and a fourth place Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


here were probably a says he ran a competition in few red French faces Christchurch first to select the following last year’s team members. Open to anyone Le revue du Vin de “who thought they had what it France annual Tasting takes to smell a glass and tell us World Championships. Not only what they think is in that glass” did they not take out the top spot, was eligible to take part. All combut they were relegated to 11th petitors who registered were put position, with Sweden, UK and through similar paces, to what Luxembourg taking the top three would take place at the French places. But what may have been even more of an affront to the kings of wine, was the fact that a country from the bottom of the world also beat them, coming in admirably at fourth. The New Zealand team, consisting of five members plus a coach may have wanted to take out the title, but are more Maybe not winners, but the New Zealand team were still grinners gaining fourth than happy to come in place in the World Tasting Competition. fourth, in just their first From left; Ashley Stewart, Amelia French, Dion Wai, Jennifer Skoda, Cashias Gumbo attempt. and David Napier. The team consisting of Jennifer Skoda of Black Estate Wines, Dion Wai of The held competition. All were given Northern Club, David Napier of 12 wines, six white and six red, Saggio di Vino, Ashley Stewart to taste blind. They had to idenan engineering student at Uni- tify the country of origin, region, versity of Canterbury and New main grape variety, vintage and if Zealand Junior Sommelier of the possible, the producer. Once the final team had been Year Amelia French were coached by the instigator of the team – selected, Gumbo says he pushed Cashias Gumbo from George them to the limit, ensuring they Hotel in Christchurch. tasted up to 48 wines every weekGumbo who is not only a som- end, until they were as ready as melier, but also runs a wine shop they could be to take on the and is a wine judge, first mooted world. the idea of a New Zealand team While he initially expected competing, two years ago. But to have a team made up of somwith finance and sponsorship meliers, Gumbo said, he was required, it was 2017 before the extremely impressed with the idea came to fruition. Gumbo diversity of the team. One was a

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chef, another a student, another a sales rep for a wine company, while two were winners of the junior sommelier of the year and 2016 Senior Sommelier of the year were also included. “We really wanted the gold, sorry we didn’t bring it,” he said after the competition. “But we were just thankful that we were

able to get there and we didn’t come last.” Far from last in fact, given there were 24 teams entered, and New Zealand was placed fourth with 94 points. (Sweden the winner had 115 points, UK who were second had 107 and third place Luxemburg had 100). The annual competition, now into its fifth year, provided some tricky wines for the team, Gumbo said. Particularly the Nebbiolo from Mexico. “That was difficult. It was our first time to taste a wine from Mexico. It was so salty, that we had no idea. Nobody got that wine

right.” Given how far we are, away from the major old world producers, and the difficulty it can be getting a range of wines here in New Zealand, Gumbo said the fourth place was a major coup. But our isolation probably also helped us he said. “I think because we are a wine producing country, we have an opportunity to taste so many different varieties. We have an understanding of how a variety should taste which is a help. Looking at producers in France, they are so limited with their appellation laws, they can’t be diverse. Whereas New Zealand can go to France having tasted the grapes that have expressed themselves so well here. I think we have so much more expressive wine than the French, that helped us.” Having done so well in their first ever competition, Gumbo is keen to do even better in 2018. He is already asking for expressions of interest from potential team members. (nzteam2017@ He also said the opportunity would not have been possible without the generous support from Negotiants NZ, Pegasus Bay Winery, McArthur Ridge Wines and Giesen Brothers who hosted the team at their house and arranged transport for the team while in France. T

DOCUMENTARY WILL FEATURE NZ COACH While wine was the focus of the Tasting World Championships, there was another angle that stirred the interest of everyone taking part. It was the fact that four sommeliers from Zimbabwe, now living in South Africa, were entering the annual competition for the first time. The team had been championed by none other than Jancis Robinson, who helped raise funds for the team to compete, through her site The story of the four men and their journey is now the basis of a documentary by Warwick Ross, the director behind 2013’s Red Obsession. For Cashias Gumbo, the story of the four men is especially poignant. He himself is originally from Zimbabwe, and like his fellow countrymen, moved to South Africa where “he fell into the wine world”. He knows

Zimbabwean Somms. PHOTO: Getty Images

each of the team members, having spent time honing his own and their skills before moving to New Zealand. “All of those people has sat around tasting wines in my living room in South Africa. “I was so proud of them and so happy for them.”

While the Zimbabwe team didn’t reach the heights of the New Zealand team, they didn’t come last. In fact they were in 23rd position, the ignominy of last going to Italy. Given his relationship with all four members, Gumbo said he is also part of the documentary that is due to be released in 2019.



When unlocking the potential of your property depends on accurate, insightful advice, talk to the experts. Valuation & Advisory JOHN DUNCKLEY | +64 21 326 189 TIM GIFFORD | +64 27 460 0371 Sales MIKE LAVEN | +64 21 681 272 HADLEY BROWN | +64 27 442 3539



We say Syrah Joelle Thomson


s New Zealand Syrah heading in the right direction? The question was posed recently at a Syrah tasting held by a new group calling itself We Say Syrah. The group met officially for the first time at a collaborative tasting in Auckland on 31 October 2017 at Caro’s Wines new(ish) store in Ponsonby. The tasting was attended by the winemakers who, arguably, make the best Syrahs in the country and came from Craggy Range, Dry River, Man O’ War, Fromm, Bilancia, Trinity Hill, Greystone, Elephant Hill, Goldie Estate, Villa Maria, Te Awanga Estate, Craft Farm and Ash Ridge. The aim of the tasting was to

get wine industry leaders together for a discussion about New Zealand cool climate Syrah; a muchneeded talk, suggested one of the organisers, Hannah Burns. “Recent facts are showing that New Zealanders are buying more Aussie Shiraz, which is astounding considering the rivalry between the two nations and that we are making our own Syrah,” said Burns. Sales statistics show that 84 percent of the Shiraz/Syrah that is currently purchased in New Zealand comes from Australia and costs less than $20 but that figures are similar in the over $20 category, with Australian Shiraz representing 73 percent of sales. Most New Zealand Syrah is

sold under $20 and in the over $20 category, New Zealand Syrah only represents four percent of sales compared with Pinot Noir’s share of 35 percent of wines sold over $20 in this country. The question posed by the We Say Syrah group was this: What can they do to raise these low sales of Syrah? And why are sales so low, proportionately? Suggested solutions at the discussion included: dropping the price of New Zealand Syrah, promoting regional styles and marketing the wines in a more collaborative fashion. Master of Wine Jane Skilton suggested that the problem was predominantly one of market awareness and perception. She

One of New Zealand’s most famous Syrah producing regions – Hawke’s Bay’s Gimblett Gravels.

suggested that Syrah producers should collaborate closely on raising the profile of their wines in the market. This tallied with others’ suggestions at the tasting that

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marketing and collaboration was key; in the same way that Central Otago wine producers have done so successfully for their Pinot Noirs. The problem of profile was agreed by many who attended the tasting, including wine writers John Saker, yours truly and Masters of Wine Bob Campbell, Emma Jenkins and Jane Skilton. So, how do New Zealand Syrah producers connect with the consumer? It was agreed that it was key to raise the profile of the grape, where it grows and what it tastes like. This could be achieved with marketing events and tastings but also with a targeted public relations campaign, which could be relatively informal but showing the collaboration between producers around the country. Other questions raised by winemakers included technical challenges and issues. These included the use of oak (how much, how long and what type), ripeness of grapes, the use of whole bunches in fermentation – dependent on the vintage, ripeness and overall balance and the use of Viognier. “Viognier in Syrah can become a distraction; especially with bulk

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white wine blended into South Australia’s cheap blends of Shiraz/Viognier and then using the two grape names as a marketing tool. It is a confusing way to market Syrah and is a distraction,” said Trinity Hill and Bilancia winemaker Warren Gibson. “It’s not like a recipe; it works or it doesn’t. Whole bunch is much more important,” he said. The big asset is what’s in the ground, not only in the Gimblett Gravels but also in other areas in Hawke’s Bay, said Master of Wine Bob Campbell. Today, Syrah represents five percent of all red grapes grown in New Zealand and has grown to 440 hectares nationwide; a significant rise from 278 hectares in 2008. The key to unlocking its greatest potential in this country, suggested Campbell, was to find the best places to plant it, preferably on warm vineyards from vines cropped at low yields.T

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Auckland’s new Wine Cave Te s s a N i c h o l s o n


here is no mistaking Joe Wang’s love of wine, New Zealand wine in particular. The sommelier who has worked at some of the most respected restaurants in the country, is now seizing that passion and his knowledge of New Zealand’s high end boutique wines, with a unique venture in Auckland – The Wine Cave. Opened in Newmarket in October, The Wine Cave is offering locals and tourists a wine experience like no other. For Wang, the end goal is to promote the very best of what this country

has to offer, and passing that on to like-minded wine lovers. “In 2013 I was working for Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay as a sommelier and I met many travelers from the US, UK and Europe. They had a real passion for wine and I was blown away that these people who had tasted a lot of expensive wines, were looking for the best of New Zealand Pinot Noir, or the best of New Zealand Bordeaux. That was an opportunity for me, I thought – there needs to be a shop in Auckland for these people.” With the knowledge Wang had attained from working as a

Founder of The Wine Cave – Joe Wang.

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sommelier at places like Sky City Casino, The Northern Club, Bowmans and Cibo, he already had a profound knowledge of New Zealand’s boutique wineries. He also appreciated that many of these wines were not readily available to tourists, unless they were visiting cellar doors. The goal of bringing those wines together in a unique enclosure began to ferment. “I wanted to stay away from the current or traditional wine retailer system,” he says. “If a customer is coming here, whether as a tourist or a local, all they should be doing is paying to taste the wines, talking and

consulting with us, rather than pushing a trolley around looking for wine.” With 435 wines within the store, 315 of them are New Zealand. Those 315 wines represent 158 different boutique wineries and he says the range covers everything from Sparkling to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir to Aromatics, Chardonnay to Bordeaux blends. The Wine Cave has three separate rooms. One the tasting space, complete with television for sports fans, team building exercise or functions. The second is The Vault, an area where the

store’s most premium wines will be kept. This area is only accessible by swipe card and customers, accompanied by staff can peruse and purchase the wines away from the more public tasting room. Then there is a warehouse that also doubles as a function space for larger groups. Wine is not the only liquid refreshment on the menu, with The Wine Cave also offering 60 spirits and a small selection of craft beer. “We know that not everyone in a group is passionate about wine, so we cater for those people as well,” Wang says. While he is keen to ensure the fine wines of New Zealand are targeted to the wine loving tourist and local, Wang says it is not so much about selling bottles . “We want to share the story so hopefully they walk away after tasting many beautiful New Zealand wines and remember this place and the wines themselves. That is my intention.”T

The Wine Cave’s tasting space.



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Husband and wife, Sam and Mandy Weaver established Churton in 1997, on an undulating ridge between Marlborough’s Omaka and Waihopai valleys. The site is one of the highest in the region, sitting at 200 metres above sea level, with northeast slopes that perfectly suit the four varieties the couple have chosen to grow. Established with organics in mind, Churton is now farmed biodynamically, preserving the land for future generations. And those future generations are already playing a significant role in the Churton business. Ben, the eldest is assistant winemaker, working alongside Sam, while Jack has taken on the role of sales. Given Sam’s family have always been involved in farming, and the property and wine label are named after the family farm he grew up on, this Family Vines is very much a case of generational fortitude. Welcome to Sam and Jack’s story.

SAM 61


was always interested in wines growing up in the UK, and while I studied microbiology, winemaking over there wasn’t a good option at the time. So I ended up working in the wine business. My first job when I left university was initially with a company called Berry Brothers and Rudd. I worked in the London wine trade from 1978 to 1988. But in 1988 we decided to come to New Zealand to visit my family, who are New Zealanders and were living in Blenheim. All of my family have been farmers, or involved in the land. My father was a farmer, my identical twin brother is a farmer in France, my elder brother is a vet. So I have these two threads;

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the wine trade and farming. It seemed quite natural to combine the two and I have to say I feel far more comfortable farming in New Zealand than I did being a wine merchant in central London. We bought this property in 1992 as a lifestyle block, which I always say is a fantastic irony! Then we started acquiring other bits of land around us. We established Churton in 1997 from fruit we bought in, but quickly realised we needed to plant our own vineyard if we were going to do what we wanted to do and differentiate. So we started looking for vineyard area and fairly quickly came to the conclusion that this site was the most interesting, and fortunately it was right next door to the house


where we were living. At that stage I had been doing a lot of consultancy work, I had worked for Corbans as their consultant winemaker in Marlborough doing all their Stoneleigh winemaking. I was working with Gillans, Lawson’s Dry Hills, Staete Landt and had gained this overview of Marlborough from all sorts of vineyard perspectives. When we began looking, I wasn’t thinking in terms of conventional styles of vineyard that most New Zealand companies were look-

ing at, which was basically flat stuff that you can easily mechanise. I was thinking in European terms of what makes a good vineyard, and hillsides make a good vineyard. Then you add into it the fact you have air drainage, so we don’t have a frost problem, we have much denser loess clay based soils so the need for water is less and we also have these east facing aspects which again is unusual but conveys some very distinctly different and for me, interesting characteristics.

We now have 22 and a half hectares of vineyard, and within that we have 17 different blocks. In those 17 blocks we probably only have three blocks where the rows are all in the same direction. None of the rows line up, as I fitted the vineyard to the terrain rather than the other way around. And each of those 17 blocks has been named, which helps develop the personality of the land. We started out to make the property biodynamic, planted the

vines according to the biodynamic calendar. For the first five to seven years we were more or less conventional, but in a minimal way. Once we got some maturity into the vines we started converting to organics and then biodynamics. To me the biodynamic hierarchy is working with your biology. It starts with the microbiology, ensuring that everything from the ground up is healthy. Then there is the macrobiology, increasing the diversity on the land. (Chur-

ton has also diversified into livestock, bees, and bush land). Then there is the cosmic biology, working with the cosmic influences. I think of biodynamics as starting with the microbiology up, from the soil, rather than from what some people say is the mystical side, down. We have two sons, Ben is the oldest and is winemaking. He is someone I speak to regularly, given he works for Mt Beautiful and I am their consultant

winemaker. He has worked five vintages for us, and working for someone else currently, is fantastic. Then there is Jack, the youngest who works for us full time. At the moment, he is working on our New Zealand and Australia sales. He has worked vintages for us as well as worked in the vineyard in the past. He has also done vintages in Portugal, Australia, Switzerland and Argentina. Both boys have always been

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quite committed to us, but we have always made it clear that there is an opening if they are interested, but have never pushed them. We said if they were interested, there was an option, but we wanted them to go out and prove themselves first. It is fantastic having them both involved. Board meetings are always fun, the four of us together. Sometimes it can be a problem not talking about business when we are together outside of work, but we make a conscious decision to have distinct meetings where we look



e moved to Churton when I was about nine months old, so that is the only place I remember. I guess I was about six or seven when Mum and Dad started planting the vineyards, and I remember helping Mum put in the ice

at making decisions. Outside of that we concentrate on being just family. Jack is a really lovely open character, very easy going, a good natured sort of bloke. He is the sort of guy who can walk into a bar and start talking to complete strangers. That is something I have never been able to do, and I admire that quality. He has this very easy nature that people seem to be able to talk to, which is ideal for sales. He can pick up the phone and before you know it he has created this amazing relationship

with the person on the other end. And because he has worked in the vineyard and worked in the winery, he has got a lot of substance. He is not coming to it from just a sales perspective. When I visit markets, I know that I probably talk too much and in too much detail, whereas Jack is a little bit of a step back. He doesn’t talk in the technical sense that I do, which means he will get to the nub of the business a lot quicker. We know we are really lucky to have such a succession plan mapped out. And one of the

things I think is fantastic for them is they will move into a business where they will be starting at a much higher level than Mandy and I started at. Their level of knowledge of the fundamentals of how to run a vineyard and how to make wine is far greater than mine was at their age. Plus, they will have a vineyard that is 25 years old, which is a huge bonus. They won’t have a lot of the difficulties that we had in that establishment phase, although we know they will have their own difficulties. The wine industry is a multigenerational business. The quote which I love from Madame Rothschild says it all – The first 100 years are the most difficult for a wine business. We have been lucky in Marlborough, it has been booming for the past 20 years, and a lot of people have a short-term view of it. But in a global sense, 100 years is no time at all. And our children will help to ensure that Churton has a chance of being around when we hit timeframe.T

block sticks to use as post markers or where the vines were to be planted. But I also remember that land before it became a vineyard. Ben and I used to go eeling and we would walk through those paddocks which were full of cows. That is a vivid memory before we began planting out. We always worked the holi-

days out there, probably from the age of 12 to earn some pocket money. Then as we were getting older, we would work the summer holidays, in fact all the holidays for money. It’s fair to say that we were thrown into the wine industry, either by working in the vineyard or at the winery with Dad. There was a phase when I

was 15 or 16 when I just hated the vineyard, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it for about two years. I got fed up with one of the managers at that time, he used to single me out and I found it tough working there. I allowed that to ruin my experience in the vineyard. I guess some of that also involved working alongside the

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Brought to you by Roots, Shoots & Fruits family as well. You can get fed up with working and spending all your time together, whereas if it was another job there would have been closure at the end of the working day. But then I came back to it and found I really enjoyed it. I never had a really clear sense of what I wanted to do while I was at high school, but once I came out I went and studied architecture. I was really into photography and art at school and was really good at maths, so I put two and two together and came up with architecture. But I didn’t really like it, in fact I hated it, so I stopped. Then it was a case of what do I do? Dad suggested I work a vintage here and save some money, then I could go to visit family in the UK and he would see if he could get me a job in a wine shop. So, I did the vintage and ended up vintage hopping for about three years – it just hooked me. I realised just how much I enjoyed the industry. Subconsciously I knew the wine industry was enjoyable, but I didn’t really fully realise how enjoyable until I went and worked in it full time. I thought about becoming a winemaker during those years, but kept delaying going to university. Then in 2012 I went to Roseworthy for one semester, but in the process, I ended up falling in love with my fiancé and moving to Argentina. When we came back to New Zealand I was still thinking win-

emaking and started a biology degree, with the thought that I could do post grad. But my job in Argentina had been sales based and when I came back I began doing some sales for Churton and realised I really liked that side of the things. In terms of the size of Churton, we all need to be good at everything, so we need to be able

it. It does have an advantage having that background, it gives me stories to talk about and stories are very important. We have grown up with Churton, we have been through all the stages with Mum and Dad, obviously not down to the minute detail, but from a young age we have been included and known what is going on. We have an

to do a bit of sales, a bit of winemaking and viticulture – and it is that diversity which I have really enjoyed. For me knowing both the winemaking and viticulture side of the business helps me with the sales. It is being able to have the knowledge of what I am talking about and the passion I guess. I don’t think I am a particularly good salesman, I just think I have a lot of knowledge in what we are selling and I am passionate about

emotional attachment to it and that is making us want to continue and do the best we can. It is weird, because we have never ever been pressured into being in this business, or staying with Churton. It has just happened that we both want to. How would I describe Dad? Well, he’s grumpy – (big laugh). Or at least he seems to come across as grumpy, but I think that is because he is always over

thinking. He is very meticulous and I would say artistic as well. Not in the practical side of painting things or anything like that, but artistic in the way he sees things. He isn’t very good at taking compliments and at times that may come across as arrogant, but it’s good arrogance if you know what I mean. Quite often, Mum, Ben and I would roll our eyes or shake our heads when we had a guest at dinner and they would say; this is a very nice wine, and Dad would reply; of course it is. That’s what I mean, it may seem arrogant, but really it is his passion for what he has helped produce. It can be difficult working with your parents. I find it tough for several reasons. One because it is non-stop, there is no real down time in terms of how our family operates. We very much don’t stop talking about wine or Churton for that matter and sometimes I find that quite tiring. Probably the ironic thing with that, is we tend to be enjoying our family time the most with a bottle of Churton and not thinking about work. I have no regrets, I have had great opportunities because of what Mum and Dad have done. I am really pleased we have been about to be a part of that, and we can all enjoy what they started. It is really cool they have introduced us to this industry, an industry that is fun and diverse.T

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Steyn Vintage Port Neil Hodgson


t isn’t very often someone makes a totally different wine style in New Zealand. Although to be fair, the Port style wine produced by Steyn Vintage Port on the outskirts of Motueka isn’t an unusual style, but it is very unusual to attempt to produce it in New Zealand to the level of authenticity as Adriaan Steyn is. Steyn was an Executive Director and Treasurer of the Mercantile Bank in South Africa and has been the Treasurer to several note-worthy international companies. While his business roles have been foremost in his career, his original qualifications were in medical sciences from the University of Pretoria. His long-time love of wine

lead him to studying at the Cape Wine Academy and then attaining a BSc in Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University. This experience and dedication to learning has driven his commitment to making this Port wine venture as authentic as he possibly can. When he and Sonja decided to make a lifestyle change and follow their wine dreams they looked at many wine regions around the world, extensively researching wine styles, varieties, growing conditions, climate and soils as well as the liveability of each place. It was the Nelson Tasman region they fell in love with. Steyn selected the Nelson region specifically to make aromatic style wines needed to





produce a high-quality spirit for small fermentation temperature the genuine Vintage Port style range to achieve the desired flawine he wanted to produce as vour and colour extraction. If the well as for the growing conditions ferment is too hot he loses many he thought would suit the tradi- of the characters he is looking tional port wine grape, Touriga for. He also can’t use sulphur in Nacional.  the white wine as it reacts with Arriving permanently in Feb- the copper still during distillaruary 2006 they bought a house tion so control of each ferment on 7.5 ha of land and planted under inert gas is critical to the the current two ha vineyard in outcome of the finished product.  2007.  VarieOnce the ties planted Port wine is are the tradifortified, it is tional Touriga left to settle in tank for Nacional, a year, then Chenin Blanc racked into and Pinot Gris the latseasoned barter two for rels to mature distilling into for seven years before brandy to forfiltering and tify the Port wine. bottling.   Steyn Steyn set tled on loses about Brandy made from grapes grown 25% of the Chenin Blanc on the Steyn property. for its ripe wine through acidity, the fact it isn’t too fruit evaporation in the barrel but driven and the resulting neutral doesn’t top the barrels or sulflavours with a beautiful floral phur the product until bottling, nose in the distillate. The Pinot the volatiles in the brandy fill the Gris is distilled for the delicate air space in the barrels with the apricot peach flavours it gives the very good antioxidant and antiend product, brandy. mirocrobial properties of the The brandy is distilled in a spirit protecting the wine. hand-made alembic copper pot Why Port? “Making a Port still imported from Portugal, style wine is technically and with heating supplied by an open academically challenging for flame.  me as well as being satisfying to The distilling process results make. Also, Port can be a super in various compounds; methanol complex wine given all of the is the heads, ethanol and flavour elements incorporated in its compounds are hearts, and the making.”  tails are the propanols with a The current release Steyn Vinsingle batch of 1000 litres taking tage Port wine is from 2010 and 18 hours to go through the still relies on very pretty aromatics with a final yield of 100 litres of from spirit volatiles to enhance ‘hearts’. the beautiful ripe fruit characters Touriga Nacional is a very vig- while later vintages tasted from orous variety, producing lots of barrel have more intense fruit flaside shoots and requires constant vours. I am sure this is a producer work in the vineyard to avoid to watch with interest as some of vines becoming dense, however, these later wines reach maturity Steyn has found the variety ripens and the market. exceptionally well on their site The current release has been when managed well.  awarded a five-star rating by RayIt is also critical to ferment the mond Chan.T Touriga Nacional within a very




t’s the start of a new year and we are very much looking forward to what 2018 will bring for our Global Events calendar. We hope to see some amazing upcoming events and exciting new changes to the events programme, so that we can continue to deliver your brand to the world wide stage. A few highlights for the 2018 events calendar include: Pure Discovery – Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou Pure Discovery 2018 will run from 21 -25 May. These events work to bring a slice of New Zealand to Mainland China. Featuring quality New Zealand wine, food and tourism, Pure Discovery encompasses the whole of New Zealand in one event. The

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format will feature outdoor wine tastings, master classes and food and wine pairings. With the 2017 events being such a success, we hope this year’s Pure Discovery will be even better. For more information, please visit our member’s website, www.nzwine. com/members. Vinexpo – Hong Kong Vinexpo is one of the leading wine events in Asia, with over 50 countries and 17,000 visitors, this event is a must attend. The 3 day event runs from 29 – 31 May 2018 and will include importers, distributors, producers and sommeliers from all over the world. With this year being the 20th anniversary of Vinexpo we expect it to be an outstanding event. There are only 5 spaces

left so please go to www.nzwinemarketing. com to register for this event now. For more information about Vinexpo, please visit ProWein - Germany ProWein is one of the world’s leading international wine fairs. Held from the 18 -20 March 2018, this three day event gathers wine professionals and brands from all over the world. With over 58,000 trade and media expected, we are looking forward to another great year at ProWein. NZ Winegrowers will have our own pavilion, showcasing 35 New Zealand wineries as well as running master classes, tastings and seminars. For more information about ProWein please visit Fendt 200 Vario V/F/P Series 70 –110 hp

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Research into ripening Syrah The Influence of Under-vine Reflector Panels on Bunch-zone Micro-climate and Berry Composition of Vitis vinifera L.Syrah. Jascha Oldham-Selak, a Student Research Project at EIT supervised by Carmo Saunders-Vasconcelos, Chey Dearing and Stewart Field explains.


ew Zealand, has a comparatively cooler climate than many other red wine producing regions of the world. This cooler climate requires greater attention by the viticulturist to achieving optimal levels of heat and sunshine to ensure full maturation of the berries. As a major contributing factor to maturity parameters, the grapevine bunch zone micro-

climate can be directly related to berry composition, development and health. The objective of this student research aimed to enhance the micro- climate of the bunch zone through the installation of reflector panels. The reflector panels were specifically designed to concentrate and increase light exposure towards the bunch zone with a concurrent influence on bunch zone temperature. This subsequent change

in micro-climate may positively influence the development and accumulations of soluble solids, anthocyanins and phenolics in the Syrah winegrape variety. Reflector panels were installed on five standardised, 100% bunch zone leaf plucked, vines (Figure 1) just prior to veraison and compared with five standardised, 100% bunch zone leaf plucked, untreated control vines. The reflector panels were shown to

significantly increase light exposure in the photosynthetically active range (PAR) towards the bunch zone. The reflected PAR light measurements were significantly increased by the Reflector Panel in both ‘full sun’ midday and ‘overcast’ midday environmental conditions (Figure 2). The data also shows there to be a significant increase in PAR reflectance on the ‘western’ bunch surfaces during the midday ‘full sun’ environmental condition for reflector panel vines. However, a consequence of the reflector panels was that the bunch zone ambient temperatures were significantly increased

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Figure 1 - Reflector panels installed underneath vines between irrigation and fruiting wires.

compared to that of the control vines (Figure 3). Chemical analysis of brix, pH, TA, total anthocyanins, total tannins and total phenolics was carried out on berry composite samples at the time of harvest. In this particular study, no significant differences were observed between any compounds analysed. For the phenolic compounds, this was potentially due to the timing of reflector panel

installations being applied at the onset of veraison, theoretically too late in the phenological development stages to be significantly influenced by a significant change in bunch zone micro-climate factors. Regarding the anthocyanin accumulations, an accepted theory to explain why the reflector panel grape berries did not have higher total anthocyanins is likely due to being offset by the increased ambient bunch zone

Figure 2 - Bunch zone light intensity (PAR) at various directions and cloudiness (* statistically significant differences).

temperature. Most literature have reported limited anthocyanin synthesis when temperatures exceed 30˚C (Keller, 2015). In this study, the vines with the reflective panel installations had a total of 174 hours of temperatures above 30°C while control vines had 95 during the measurement period of bunch zone ambient temperatures. From another perspective, the findings from this study have

shown that bunch zone temperatures regularly exceeded 30˚C for control vines which may indicate that 100% bunch zone leaf removal may be adversely lowering the potential colour (anthocyanin) accumulation of Syrah berries in the Gimblett Gravels region. A less dramatic leaf removal leaving some cover to the bunches to limit berry warming may be well worth investigating in future trials to optimise phenolic compositions. The idea of reflector panel installations should not be discarded and could still potentially be a valuable tool to be used by viticulturists of cooler climate winegrowing regions. Especially those with inadequate sunshine hours and growing degree days, or with higher crop loading requirements, so as to achieve optimised grape composition accumulations. T

Figure 3 – Bunch zone ambient temperature dynamics during the study period (* statistically significant differences).

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Among the vines February and March


eak La Nina conditions and above-average ocean temperatures are predicted to continue to persist for the rest of summer as forecasted by NIWA climate scientists. For the main wine growing regions, this means that aboveaverage temperatures are likely to be seen and rainfall is predicted to between normal and above average. Everyone is hoping that last year’s wet weather doesn’t come to visit again, but with the warm ocean temperatures there is a chance for some heavy downpours. The unpredictable nature of the weather reinforces the need

As grape berries ripen they become increasingly susceptible to botrytis infection... to have a solid crop protection strategy in place. As grape berries ripen they become increasingly susceptible to botrytis infection, protective defence compounds degrade, available sugar increases, and the berry skin becomes easier to invade by pathogens. It is vital to ensure botrytis prevention strategies such as leaf plucking, trash removal, bunch thinning, calcium applications and early/mid-season fungicide applications are com-

pleted. Protectant fungicide applications from veraison to harvest is the final piece of the strategy to protect the crop against botrytis. Most protectant fungicides will protect the outside of the bunch against Botrytis for 7-10 days or approximately 25 mm of rainfall. Once the cover has degraded or been washed off, it should be reapplied before the next predicted infection event. Product selection is determined by a number of factors and with

the move toward nil-residue programmes, biological fungicides provide an excellent fit. Serenade Optimum, containing twice the concentration of QST 173 strain of Bacillus subtilis as its predecessor, Serenade Max, is one of the best biological fungicide options available for botrytis control. The active ingredient has a number of novel modes of action: inhibiting attachment of the pathogen by producing a zone of inhibition, preventing pathogen spore germination, and rupturing spore and mycelial cell walls. Serenade Optimum also induces systemic acquired resistance (SAR) to activate the plant’s natural defence system.T

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Heather Battersby


ell known wine stalwart, Heather Battersby, passed away on December 17 last year, after a well-fought battle with cancer. The first woman to be acknowledged by the New Zealand Women in Wine initiative began a life in wine by accident in the 1970’s when she visited a friend in South Australia on a working holiday. Little did she know what her career future would hold, or that it would involve the wine industry for more than 40 years. Aged 22, Heather secured a job at Angle Vale Vineyards north of Adelaide. Leaving when the business relocated to Sydney a couple of years later, she was successful in obtaining a job with Penfolds Wines Australia. Working for the legendary Grange winemaker and Director, Max Schubert, Heather discovered, among other things, old Penfolds reds. When she decided to return to New Zealand, she went to visit Frank Yukich at Penfolds, Henderson, and within 2 weeks she started work for him on her 26th birthday. This is where her life

changed again - she met future husband Paddy who joined the company in March 1980. Vintage parties were quite something in those days – eight weeks later Paddy and Heather were married, much to the surprise of family, friends, and colleagues. After a break of several years to be at home with her young family, Heather was keen to return to work and hoped she could stay in the wine industry, to do something she loved, and locally. Part time at first, Heather went to work for Jim and Rose Delegat at their Henderson winery – it was to be the most rewarding and gratifying position of her career. After 12 years as Jim’s PA, Heather felt the time had come to do something different in her career. She sensed an upcoming shortage of good winery and vineyard workers to support the rapid growth and increased vineyard plantings going mad at the time and had the idea of an online service to connect employers and employees with

jobs – a little ahead of its time. In 2004, Paddy and Heather launched as an employment service to the New Zealand wine industry. The industry and its people supported the venture from day one, and after nearly 13 years of successful operation and service, they sold winejobsonline last year. It was quite an achievement,

launching something completely new in New Zealand for the wine industry - it was her life, her livelihood and passion, and provided a great sense of personal pride to be able to assist with the staffing issues that wineries and vineyards face. Heather was a fierce and loyal supporter of the New Zealand wine industry for 38 years, personally and through business.T

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Avoiding invasive tree roots By Dr Richard Smart, Smart Viticulture, Penzance, Cornwall, and Larry McKenna, Escarpment Vineyards, Martinborough


any vineyards have competition from outside vegetation. This is commonly from native trees or hedges, and sometimes natural wind breaks within the vineyard. While windbreaks have a powerful benefit in windy zones, they can also negatively impact vine growth by competition. Competition may be for light, but most commonly for water and nutrients. This is especially significant in Australia, where the 188W X 120H MM

reach of Eucalyptus roots into a vineyard is amazing, and devigourating effects on vines can be seen for tens of metres. Root competition is also evident where windbreaks are planted in vineyards due to proximity to vines. A simple solution While consulting with Larry McKenna and the Escarpment team there was discussion of root invasion from a nearby shelter belt of Macrocarpa trees, some 10m high and 7m from the vineyard edge. I rolled out to Larry my stand-

ard answer, and one I have used many time in Australia especially. Go hire a “ditch witch” for a day, and dig a narrow trench, 10 cm or so wide, and as deep as you can preferably to an impermeable sub soil. This ditch should be near the edge of the vineyard, leaving a reasonable root volume for the tree so as not to reduce its water supply. The trench will obviously cut the roots growing into the vineyard. To prevent the roots growing back we use a double thickness of plastic sheeting, called “builders

plastic” in some hardware stores. It is around 150 to 250 microns thick, and quite strong. It can often be purchased as a 2m wide sheet folded down the middle on a roll. Push the fold to the bottom of the trench and hold it in place with soil or stones. Lay out the plastic along the length of the trench. You can cut off surplus plastic to the ground surface. And you can put more soil in the trench, to hold up the plastic. That is it, root barrier completed. Depending on the time of the year you install the barrier determines when you may see results. Often there can be an




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immediate growth response in the vines, especially in spring and early summer as the competition is removed. Hopefully you do not see retardation in the offending trees, especially if they are shelter belts. Larry McKenna took the photo below on 30 November, at the end of a record dry spring.

This remarkable photo shows the position of the trench and buried plastic, and the withered grass showing the effect of strong moisture competition from the trees on the right. The trench was installed 18 months ago, and shows that the plastic has prevented regrowth into the vineyard. T

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Dead in the water Mary Shanahan


An artist’s impression of the Ruataniwha Dam - before and after. PHOTO: Isthmus Group

he Ruataniwha dam proposal is dead in the water after a Hawke’s Bay Regional Council vote to move on from the $330m water storage scheme and focus instead on other priorities. The project would have been New Zealand’s largest-ever water storage scheme and some believe it would have opened up more land for grape plantings. The council vote followed last year’s Supreme Court ruling that a land swap needed for the project to proceed was not legal. Following that, the Government flagged its preparedness to legislate around the decision. However the regional council, having spent about $20m on

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planning and resource consents for a scheme aimed at irrigating drought-prone land on the Ruataniwha Plains in Central Hawke’s Bay, was told that this process could take up to two years if it happened at all. Water storage options for the Tukituki catchment in droughtprone Central Hawke’s Bay have been considered for more than 10 years. The regional council looked at 14 potential dam sites before narrowing its focus

allowed the scheme to go ahead. Forest and Bird took the ultimately successful legal challenge over the land swap agreement between DoC and the regional council, which would have seen formerly protected conservation land flooded. The proposed swap was for 147ha of privately owned farmland for which the Smedley farming cadet training school had accepted HBRIC’s conditional offer to purchase.

Water storage options for the Tukituki catchment in drought-prone Central Hawke’s Bay have been considered for more than 10 years. to a proposed site on the upper Makarora River, a tributary of the Tukituki River – the most southerly of three major rivers in Hawke’s Bay. The proposal, for a 93 cubic metre reservoir in the foothills of the Ruahine Range to store water for use in dry summer months, attracted and polarised supporters and objectors and the scheme was a major issue for regional council candidates standing in the 2016 local body elections. The criticism and concern centred on a perceived lack of consultation, the effects of the scheme on the Tukituki River and whether it stacked up financially. Opponents also argued that the dam would have encouraged more intensification of farming – most particularly industrial-scale dairying – in Central Hawke’s Bay and that the regional council, as independent regulators of land use and water use, should not be involved in irrigation schemes. Those opposed included Forest and Bird, the Green Party and Greenpeace. The Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers supported the scheme and the Department of Conservation (DoC) advocated for the land swap that would have

The court battle over the proposed swap of part of the Ruahine Forest Park continued over two years. In July last year, the Supreme Court delivered its finding that the Minister of Conservation had acted illegally in attempting to make 22ha of the park available for the project, which required $80m in ratepayer investment. The scheme would have allowed the conservation estate land to be flooded. Without the land, the scheme was seen as no longer viable. In promoting the scheme, the regional council’s investment arm, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) sought to sign up ‘foundational water users, flagging that those who committed early would pay a lower price for water price for water delivered to their farm gates. HBRIC pointed to a 2016 report projecting more than 43,000ha of irrigated land as an outcome of the scheme which, it claimed, would allow for farming diversification, create new jobs and bring wide-ranging financial, environment and community benefits.T

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Wineries join forces Joelle Thomson


wo well-known Martinborough wineries have combined under one new umbrella brand and launched themselves as Luna Estate. The wineries are Alana Estate and Murdoch James, which are in different locations in the Martinborough township. Alana Estate is near to many of the big name and longest established wineries on Puruatanga Road while Murdoch James is on Dry River Road, south east of the township. The two wineries were bought by Wellington businessman Charlie Zheng, who describes himself as being passionate about the wine industry and the wines it makes. He has gone through a rebranding exercise for both wineries over the last year, which

brings together their vineyard source, but sees a new lease of life for the name of the brand and the styles of the wines, which are being made by Joel Watson. The new name, Luna, was inspired by the lunar cycles of the moon and also his daughter’s name. It’s not just a brand change, however, as the wineries have also gone through a massive refurbishment and, last spring, three new labels were launched to market featuring a collection of nine wines. Zheng and Watson also took the rebranding exercise as an opportunity to change the varietal mix, so they have ripped up the Sauvignon Blanc-dominated vineyards and replanted with 85 percent Pinot Noir and some

Chardonnay. Prior to this, the wineries had an overall reliance of 75 percent on Sauvignon Blanc. The replanting reflects Wat-

son’s believe that Martinborough’s reputation should be cemented as one of the world’s premier Pinot Noir regions. T

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On top of the world


n what surely must be the biggest upset in any wine competition in 2017, New Zealand winemaker Andy Anderson, on entering his first ever wine competition, has beaten wines from the best in the world at London’s prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) to take out two trophies. Anderson was first awarded the world’s best Pinot Noir trophy for his 2012 Takapoto Bannockburn Single Vineyard Pinot Noir and then secured the 2017 New Zealand Producer of the Year trophy. These trophies are usually reserved for the powerhouses of the industry at the glamorous award ceremony held in London, not a winemaker entering his first competition. Anderson was ecstatic about the win. “It means everything to me personally and it takes the Takapoto brand from nowhere to the world stage. The IWSC is hard to win, you are first judged against your countrymen, then against the rest of the world, if it makes it to the trophy tasting, your wine will have been reviewed three times by different tasting panels.” Remarkably, and a testament to the quality, Anderson also won a gold outstanding medal at IWSC for the 2014 vintage of his

Takapoto Pinot Noir. With total production of both Pinot Noirs between 100 and 200 cases, this was an achievement to win New Zealand Producer of the Year. IWSC General Manager Adam Lechmere acknowledged how special it was for Takapoto to win its first year as an IWSC entrant. “This is a very tough field, and to win two major trophies is a massive achievement.” Lechmere adds “It shows how dynamic and interesting New Zealand Pinot Noir is, and we are delighted to have recognised excellence where it’s deserved. More for next year please!” Anderson was one of the first graduates of Lincoln University’s Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology in 1998. He went on to make wine in the Barossa Valley, as well as in Spain. On returning to New Zealand in late 2009, he went on to buy Cambridge Fine Wines and rekindle his friendship with old university mate, Rob Cameron, now of Invivo Wines, who invited Anderson to make with him what was to be Anderson’s first in a series of Central Otago Pinot Noirs at Invivo’s winery.T

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receive many wine gadgets and diligently put each to the test. Here are a couple of recent trials.

Wine in a minute

The Breville So2mmelier (RRP $899.95 or $799 from Harvey Norman) claims to do in a minute what decanting achieves in an hour. That’s a tempting hook if you, like me, are too impulsive and disorganised to decant wine an hour or two before it hits the glass. “The Breville So2mmelier filters the ambient air to remove any impurities (moisture, dust, odours) and isolates oxygen from nitrogen and CO2. It aerates wine with a constant flow of purified and highly concentrated oxygen. This means that any wine will be served with a constant quality no matter when or where it is decanted.” Sounds interesting, so I ticked the box for a test drive and a machine duly arrived at my door. It seemed pretty straightforward but I read the fine print anyway “Appliances can be used by persons with reduced physical, sensory or mental capabilities or lack of experience and knowledge …”. Great, so I can handle it then. The machine was easy to set up and use. Simply pour wine into the carafe so that the level is somewhere between maximum and minimum. Set the length of oxygenation time and press the start button. They even provide a chart to help you choose a suitable length of time but you can set it in decanting hours which convert it to Breville So2mmelier oxygenation

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Breville So2mmelier

minutes. I chose a youthful 2015 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River. Australian Cabernet Sauvignon under five years should be oxygenated for 1.5 mins according to the guide. I also chose a Cabernetdominant Bordeaux blend from Waiheke, 1999 Te Whau The Point, to see how the machine handled a more mature red. The guides suggested 15 seconds for the Australian equivalent (New Zealand didn’t feature on the chart). I started with the Moss Wood. The machine whirred away for 1.5 minutes giving a quiet fart every 5-6 seconds. I poured a glass of oxygenated wine, a glass straight from the bottle and a third glass that had been aerated using a device called “Nuance Wine Finer Aerator” (around $50) that fits in to the neck of a bottle and aerates the wine as it flows into the glass. It’s what I normally use to aerate wine. The Breville So2mmelier certainly softened the moderately astringent wine significantly. While my Nuance Fine Wine Aerator also softened the wine


the Breville So2mmelier had a greater effect. Next I tried the same procedure using a bottle of 1999 Te Whau The Point. Once again the Nuance Wine Finer Aerator measurably softened the wine but the Breville So2mmelier sample was even softer. However the older wine was already agreeably soft and I thought lost a little flavour intensity when aerated and oxygenated. The Breville So2mmelier is an expensive machine that, like the Coravin wine preserver, might have an application in a restaurant or cellar door situation. It certainly created a lot of interest among my family and friends over the Christmas period. They were all amazed at the difference. Everyone preferred the decanted wine.

Coravin wine preserver under review Coravin is a wine preservation system that has been highly praised by such luminaries as Robert Parker jnr and Jancis Robinson MW. I was given a machine to test. It works by driving a fine needle through the cork and pumping

inert argon gas into the bottle. Increased pressure forces wine through the hollow needle into the glass. I conducted several trials. It passed them all with flying colours. In recent months Coravin have released a cap that’s designed for screwcaps. Called the Coravin Screw Cap it has a self-sealing silicone wad and a premium cap liner. The regular Coravin machine punches through the wad and liner which can be re-used up to 50 times. Coravin claim that the Screw Cap will keep wine fresh for up to three months. I tested the Coravin Screw Cap using two bottles of 2010 Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc. After three months the Coravin Screw Cap bottle was clearly oxidised (see photo). The Coravin Screw Cap appeared to have failed. I contacted Coravin to see what their response might be but, apart from the acknowledgement of my email, I had heard nothing after about three weeks so went ahead and reported my finding in a blog on The Real Review. Shortly after the blog was published I received an email from Coravin inventor, chairman and founder, Greg Lambrecht. Lambrecht apologised for his delayed response which was the result of a mix up on Coravin’s part. He wrote, “As you know, our Screw Cap is a relatively new system. While we did an enormous amount of testing including innumerable blind taste tests prior to launch, there is always some failure mode that is only discovered once

the product is released. So, I’m sorry for your oxidized wine.” “Loss of a wonderful wine to oxidation is what I’ve spent the last 19 years working to prevent.”  “I would like to better understand the potential cause of failure.  We’ve done many tests using Coravin Screw Cap with different wines, including a blind tasting series we held across Australia with Negociants in the summer, that were all successful.  I just came back from Austria where 63 professionals including Dr. Josef Schuller, MW blind tasted a screw-cap Sauvignon Blanc from Slovenia that had been Coravin’ed 3 months prior vs. control which was also a clear success.” “However, storage conditions for these wines were quite consistent – a constant temperature somewhere between 10-14 degrees C with the bottles on their sides.  I am therefore

Coravin wine preserver

wondering if this storage is essential for the Screw Cap system to be successful at three months and beyond.” “As you may have guessed, I am both a wine lover and science nut. I hope we have the chance to work together on better understanding the source of this failure.  I will ultimately change our instructions for the Screw Cap system once we are

confident in the solution.” After lengthy discussions by email I agreed to set-up another trial, this time using three bottles in each trial “set” – two control bottles and one under Coravin Screw Cap. The reason I chose to use two control bottles was to determine if there was any variation in the control bottles. One set will be stored horizontally at 14C and another

vertically at 14C. Two other sets will be stored horizontally and vertically in a non-temperaturecontrolled environment (my office) with temperature highs and lows recorded. The experiment will be conducted over a six-week period and a three-month period. The chosen wine is Astrolabe 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough. At Lambrecht’s suggestion each tasting (after six weeks and three months) will be conducted using a six-glass set (to taste four wines plus two duplicates) supervised by Cameron Douglas MS. Lambrecht sent me a video clip in which he explained the procedure watch?v=5Twb8RjBotc The six-week trial will conclude on Wed 31st January and the three-month trial on Wed 21st March. I have a parallel three-month trial that will also conclude on 31st January. Watch this space!T

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arvesting the fruit of the election - What are the new Government’s plans for 2018? A new year is underway and with it draws the end of the new Labour-led government’s first 100 days in office. Politically, the first 100 days is a time for a new administration to get some early runs on the board in order to build political capital and deliver on key election promises. Headline issues that have been enacted so far include the first year tertiary education or training free scheme, increases to paid parental leave and the reallocation of National’s tax

cuts to the Families Income Package. The more substantial and systemic changes come over the next 1000 odd days. Now that the dust has settled from the coalition negotiations and the new Ministers have settled into their offices we have more clarity on what to expect from the new government’s legislative timetable and upcoming first budget. Below we have set out a brief summary of what might be in store as it may affect the wine industry. We will cover key topics throughout the year as further policy detail is released.

Regional Economic Development

Perhaps New Zealand First’s most significant policy gain through its coalition negotiations with the Labour Party was a promise of increased investment into regional New Zealand. Most notably, the Hon. Shane Jones as the new Minister for Regional Economic Development, Infrastructure and Forestry has been given responsibility for the $1billion annual Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund. In addition to funding the Billion Trees Planting Programme and at present unknown ‘significant’ investments in regional rail, this fund is intended to be made available for regions to bid for large-scale

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capital projects. At the end of last year the Minister indicated a few projects were almost ready to be taken to Cabinet for consideration and so an announcement of the first few projects is likely to be sooner rather than later. There is also a commitment in the government’s coalition agreement to relocate government functions into the regions. While no indication has been given yet as to which departments are being considered for relocation, the breakup of the Ministry of Primary Industries back into the ministries for forestry, fisheries and agriculture may be a good place to start. The government has com-

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mitted to undertake an examination of the agricultural debt mediation, receivership fees and charges. It’s not yet clear in what form this examination will be undertaken but New Zealand First’s position on this issue has been clear since Ron Mark introduced a bill in Parliament in 2015 to create a regime which discourages banks from forcing indebted farms into receivership and to use an independent mediation service to seek alternative resolution.

Exporting your products around the world Following some last minute changes and a side-agreement with Australia, the Hon. David Parker as the new Minister of Trade confirmed that the current iteration of the TransPacific Partnership is acceptable to the government resolving an otherwise uncertain position during the 2017 election. If the few remaining technical issues are resolved soon and Canada remains in the fold, this mammoth trade deal may finally be completed this year. Other trade priorities for this government include initiating a free trade deal with the UK akin to the deal between New Zealand and Australia. The Closer Commonwealth Economic Relations trade deal has been a pet priority of Winston Peters since the Brexit vote and is now an agreed term of his coalition agreement with Labour. The free trade agreement with the Russia-BelarusKazakhstan Customs Union which was thrown out following the Crimea Crisis is also included as a top priority for this term of government.

Climate change Climate Change Minister the Hon. James Shaw announced at the end of last year that Cabinet had agreed to commence consultation of the proposed new

Zero Carbon Bill by May this year. The Bill would establish a new entity, the independent Climate Commission and set a series of targets for the country to meet to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Climate Commission will be charged with deciding whether agriculture should be included within the current emissions trading scheme.

Some may speak of range. Others of quality. All speak of

Water supply and quality Specific proposals to introduce a charge on water usage were thrown out during the government’s coalition negotiations. The only remaining new charge for water is a royalty that will be introduced on bottled water. It was also revelled in the briefings to incoming ministers released late last year that the Hon. David Parker as Minister for the Environment has instructed for work to begin to improve incentives on more efficient use of water resources. Irrigation projects currently committed to under the Crown Irrigation programme will be honoured by the Labour-led government under its coalition agreement. At the same time Labour have agreed to wind down any irrigation projects beyond those already committed.

Overseas Investment Overseas Investment reform was a huge focus area of last year’s election. So far all the changes that have been indicated relate solely to residential land. It is not yet clear what the changes to rural and agricultural land will likely be. The topics addressed above are also the subject of regular updates that we post on our website www.kensingtonswan. com. To keep up to date with these and many other topical issues feel free to visit or contact us directly.T

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FMR enters partnership with the Spanish


arlborough-based vineyard and orchard equipment supplier, FMR Group, has entered an exclusive Australasian distribution agreement with Spanish manufacturer, Niubo Agriculture. The move comes on the back of growing demand from FMR customers in New Zealand and Australia for a range of equipment that is on par with the company’s existing lineup in terms of innovation and build quality, but without some of the extra bells and whistles that command a price premium. “The addition of Niubo equipment will complement our existing range and enable us to cover all segments of the market,” says FMR Managing Director, Chris Clifford. “It will also strengthen our offering in some categories with equipment we currently don’t have.” A new range of Niubo sprayers is good news for small to medium size owner operators seeking a versatile and dependable FMR alternative at a lower cost. The Octopus Plus (see picture) is just one example, offering one, two

The Octopus Plus from Niubo Agriculture offers one, two and three row configurations, and multiple tank sizes.

and three row configurations, and multiple tank sizes. In the undervine management category, Niubo completes the FMR package with a whole raft of new equipment, including mechanical weeders, mowers, cane sweepers and pruning mulchers. Chris Clifford sees the new partnership with Niubo Agricul-

ture as a perfect fit between two companies with similar attitudes towards business. “Like FMR, Niubo Agriculture is a family run operation with a strong ethos of working with growers to understand their challenges and equip them with the best vineyard and orchard management tools available.”

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Sustainable humidifier


ne of the country’s leading data centre cooling vendors, STULZ New Zealand, has teamed up with an iconic winery to further support their sustainable practices with the latest cooling technology – an ultrasonic humidifier. Mt Difficulty Winery, in Bannockburn, Central Otago, was designed as a low energy input winery with the entire development being housed in insulated buildings. STULZ New Zealand was brought on board to design a specialised ultrasonic humidifier for the winery’s barrel hall, which is sunk below ground level to enable stable and lower energy inputs. The technology, when combined with an external air heat reclaim system, allows it to use

Inside the underground barrel hall, where the ultrasonic humidifier keeps temperatures stable.

ambient heating and cooling wherever possible, which ensures that the Mt. Difficulty wines are cellared at the ideal temperatures. STULZ New Zealand General Manager, Mark Langford, says: “Sustainability and energy con-

servation are top priorities for STULZ, so we knew we would be able to develop the ideal cooling technology for Mt. Difficulty’s barrel hall. “The ultrasonic humidifier has proven effective in maintaining

Mt. Difficulty’s standards as a low energy input winery, and since its installation in 2012, energy usage has reduced by a landslide.” Winemaker at Mt Difficulty, Matt Dicey, says: “Our policy has always been to maintain energy efficiency and sustainability throughout the winery. By seeking a long-term technology solution that is innovative and ahead of the current practice, we are able to achieve a “gold standard” for humidification. STULZ’s technologically advanced systems use only one percent of energy required compared to an equivalent steam system. It was a no brainer for us.” STULZ New Zealand is celebrating 10 years delivering mission critical cooling solutions after being established in 2007.T

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

FEBRUARY 10 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival Brancott Vineyard – Marlborough


Judging begins for the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards

16 Les Nuits Romantiques – French movie among the vines Clos Henri vineyard, Marlborough. From 7pm


Medals announced Royal Easter Show Wine Awards

24 Dog Point/ Logan Brown Kiwi Picnic Dog Point Vineyard



Fuller’s Waiheke Wine and Food Festival

North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival

Waiheke Island

Glenmark Domain

Framingham Harvest Concert

Wine Heroes industry only exclusive day


Framingham Wines, Marlborough. 6.30pm


Wine Heroes


ASB Showgrounds, Auckland 10 – 3pm

ASB Showgrounds, Auckland – 11 - 5.30pm





The World of Wine Festival, 12 – 6pm

Fine Food New Zealand 2018

AUT’s City Campus Main Foyer, Auckland

ASB Showgrounds, Auckland

JULY/AUGUST July 31-Aug 2: New World Wine Awards Judging Wellington

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UPCOMING NEW ZEALAND WINE GLOBAL EVENTS A service by New Zealand Winegrowers to remind exporters of forthcoming events. Further details are available on the members website (Sell section) or







Melbourne Wine and Food Festival (made in NZ)




18-20 March

Prowein – Dusseldorf




16 April

Made in NZ - San Francisco


16 Feb


19 April

Made in NZ – New York


16 Feb


3 May

Made in NZ - Vancouver




8 May

Made in NZ – Montreal




10 May

Made in NZ - Toronto

24 Nov



21 May

Pure Discovery – Chengdu

2 Feb

16 Feb


23 May

Pure Discovery - Beijing

2 Feb

16 Feb


25 May

Pure Discovery - Shanghai

2 Feb

16 Feb

Hong Kong

29-31 May

Vinexpo – Hong Kong




20 June

NZ Wine Fair – Tokyo





The UK’s most trusted wine competition: The International Wine Challenge

Here at the IWC, we take judging wines very seriously. Wines are tasted by at least 10 expert judges on up to 8 separate occasions to ensure only the best are awarded an IWC award. This meticulous approach to judging ensures that consumers in the UK and Europe can wholeheartedly trust the IWC awards when making a purchase. In fact, in UK trials, IWC awards increased sales of wine by up to 15%.

Enter at Ad.indd 1


Our award winners benefit from exposure to an audience of 1.2 billion in the UK, Europe and beyond. So enter today for just £120+VAT for your chance to generate new business in the profitable UK market. Entries with shipping close 2.3.18 25/01/2017 14:22 NZ WINEGROWER  FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018  //   67





2018 forecast

PRINCIPAL EXPORT MARKETS % of Total in 2018 forecast







Hawkes Bay Central Otago
















Wairarapa / Wellington














National Total

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



Litres (m)


Growth Decline Litres %

Growth Decline FOB %


















































Hong Kong





































Sauvignon Blanc


Pinot Noir


























Chardonnay Pinot Gris





Cabernet Sauv












Cabernet Franc




Sauvignon Gris




All other varieties Total








Regional area producing ha

Auckland/Northland Canterbury Gisborne

Average of Area ha



Number of Vineyards 93







Hawke’s Bay

















Nelson Northland Central Otago Waikato








Wellington / Wairarapa








68   // 


RESEARCH SUPPLEMENT Information and Updates on NZ Winegrowers Research Programmes. Editors: Dr Simon Hooker, General Manager Research and Innovation and Dr Matias Kinzurik, Research Programme Manager

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

LIST OF PROJECTS Quality Wine Styles for Existing and Developing Markets Lighter wine (PGP) University of Auckland and Plant and Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MPI Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) fund. High-throughput genotyping of transposon-induced mutations in vines Lincoln University (C Winefield) Population genomics of the wine spoilage yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis Auckland University (M Goddard) Low alcohol-reduced calorie wines using molecular sponges for sugar removal University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi) Shoot trimming effects on Pinot noir vine leaf area to fruit weight ratio, productivity and fruit composition Lincoln University Assessment of commercially available yeast nutrient products on Sauvignon blanc microvin ferments Kirsten Creasy UC Davis collaboration to determine factors that affect colour in Pinot noir wines when grapes are harvested at lower than target berry soluble solids. Plant and Food Research (C Grose)

Pests and Disease Grapevine Trunk Disease; young vine ecology, diagnostics and preventative treatments New Zealand Viticulture Nursery Association Incorporated (VINA) (N Hoskins) Virus diversity in New Zealand grapevines: sequence, ecology and impact – The Rod Bonfiglioli Scholarship Plant and Food Research (R MacDiarmid - student A Blouin) Optimising management of grapevine trunk diseases for vineyard longevity South Australian Research & Development Institute (M Sosnowski) Developing Powdery Mildew Best Practise in New Zealand Vineyards Lewis Wright Valuation & Consultancy Ltd (T Lupton) Supported by MPI Sustainable Farming Fund Spray protocols to quantify and optimise spray deposits applied to dormant grapevines (trunks, heads, cordons and canes) Plant and Food Research (M Walter) Supported by MPI Sustainable Farming Fund as part of the Powdery Mildew Best Practise project. Powdery Mildew Case Studies Anna Lambourne

Cost Reduction/Increased Profitability Precision Grape Yield Analyser Programme 2016-2021 Lincoln Agritech Limited (A Werner) An automated grape yield estimation system – The Rod Bonfiglioli Scholarship Massey University (M Legg)

Sustainability/Organics Pinot noir wine composition and sensory characteristics as affected by soil type and irrigation in the Waipara region Lincoln University Vineyard Ecosystems Programme University of Auckland and Plant and Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MBIE Sector weather data licence & tools HortPlus (NZ) Ltd. Cost efficient optimisation of weed management in vineyards Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow) Optimisation of irrigation and water savings in Marlborough Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and Merlot Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)



Under, On and In Grapevines: Vineyard Ecosystems (PART II) MacDiarmid R1, Arnold N1, Avila G1, Bell V1, Blouin A1,2, Clothier B1, Cole L1, Cosic J2, Fedrizzi B2, Gentile R1, Giraldo-Perez P2, Goddard M2, Grab F1, Green S1, Greven M1, Jesson L1, Klaere S2, Malone L1, Mason K1, Mundy D1, Sandanayaka M1, Sorensen I1, Raw V1, Taylor T1, van den Dijssel C1, Vanga B1, Wood P1, Woolley B1. 1 2

Plant & Food Research. The University of Auckland.

As we reported in the previous Research Supplement, we have now passed the Year Two milestone of the Vineyard Ecosystems programme, a seven-year research programme developed by New Zealand Winegrowers and co-funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE). The programme investigates what is “Under, On and In Grapevines” to create a new knowledge network that reveals interactions of vineyard practices with the vineyard ecosystem, including vines, groundcover, soil, soil microbial life, invertebrate vine pests (including pathogen vectors) and pathogens over time. The research focuses on 12 white and 12 red cultivar study blocks on commercial vineyards

split equally between Marlborough (Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir) and Hawke’s Bay (Sauvignon blanc and Merlot). Half of the cultivars and blocks in each region are under “Contemporary” and half under “Future” management. “Contemporary” management consists of semi-permanent inter-row groundcover and spraying herbicide to maintain a bare soil under-vine strip. Additionally, synthetic fungicides and pesticides are used to combat fungal diseases and insect pests, and synthetic fertilisers are used to mitigate nutritional deficiencies. “Future” management consists of a semi-permanent groundcover (inter-row and under-vine) comprising a wide range of plant species (no herbicide is used,

Photo: Mahana Estates, supplied by NZW.

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but management may include inter-row and/or under-vine soil cultivation). Naturally occurring products (if required) are, by preference, used to combat fungal diseases and insect pests. In Part 1 of our report, we summarised findings for Research Aim 1.1, “The vineyard as an ecosystem”. Part 2 focuses on Research Aim 1.2, “Relating under-vine management, biota and leafroll virus”, and Research Aim 1.3, “Pathogen management”. Although this article summarises our annual assessments, it should be stressed that the full value of the data collected and analysed in this programme will only be realised over a multi-year timeframe. Annual results may – or may not – be indicative of long-

term trends and correlations.

Research Aim 1.2: “Relating Under-Vine Management, Biota And Leafroll Virus” Research Aim 1.2 brings together several research projects on biota, bugs, and leafroll virus. In this research we are directly asking “How does UNDER-vine management impact what is ON and IN the vine?”

Under and On Grapevines Successful management of leafroll virus currently relies on adopting multiple tactics, including identifying and roguing (removing) virus-infected vines and controlling mealybugs, the

Photo: Tuapri, supplied by NZW

insect vectors that transmit the disease. To complement these approaches, we assess whether a persistent cover of plants in the under-vine zone can attract mealybugs away from the vines. By minimising the extent to which mealybugs interact with the vines it may be possible to reduce the influence of leafroll virus and increase vine longevity. For this research, we are using eight Hawke’s Bay vineyard study blocks planted in mature Merlot vines of which five blocks are managed under the Future regime and three under the Contemporary regime. Based on the results of the work, grower recommendations for groundcover management will be developed. Where are the mealybug – on grapevines and/or on groundcover plants? To better understand mealybug habitat selection, and the extent to which it might alter over time, assessments were undertaken on each of three occasions between October and April in each of 2015/16 and 2016/17. Vaughn Bell and Tara Taylor in Hawke’s Bay (assisted by Victoria Raw with Franzi Grab in Marlborough) used pheromone-baited traps to determine the presence of longtailed and citrophilus mealybugs in all study blocks. Numerically, the citrophilus mealybug dominated in all blocks,

representing greater than 95% of all the mealybugs observed. By also looking early, mid and late season for mealybugs on vine leaves (200 leaves per block, per visit) and selected groundcover plants (50 plants per block, per visit), we sought to determine the vineyard habitat from which male mealybugs caught in the pheromone traps originated. Mealybugs were rarely found on vine leaves or on groundcover plants in November in any block in either growing season. However, from January and into March, numbers of mealybugs typically increased but the numbers found varied widely between blocks. In two Future and two Contemporary blocks, numbers of mealybugs on vine leaves were consistently low in both growing seasons (range: 0-13 mealybugs per 100 leaves inspected). Over the same period, mealybugs were generally found on less than 10% of groundcover plants. By contrast, in another three Future blocks, the March vine inspections yielded many mealybugs (range: 26-106 per 100 leaves inspected), with more than 50% of groundcover plants infested from January. In the remaining Contemporary block, a blowout in the mealybug population in March 2016 (450 per 100 leaves inspected) was largely reversed

12 months later (24 per 100 leaves inspected). Crucially, this block remained a notable exception in this study in that there was a scarcity of groundcover plants and poor plant species richness, with inspections of this habitat revealing very few mealybugs. Which groundcover plants hosted mealybugs? Since this study started, a total of 2,400 groundcover plants, comprising 11 species, were collected from the eight study blocks. Every plant collected was individually inspected for mealybugs. White clover and hawksbeard were the host plants most likely to be found with mealybugs with 41 and 32% of white clover plants and 37 and 35% of hawksbeard for the 2016 and 2017 years, respectively. With mealybugs present on plants throughout each growing season, both white clover and hawksbeard are clearly important vineyard groundcover hosts that are arguably more attractive to mealybugs than the vines themselves. What impact does under-vine management have on groundcover species? Habitat use by mealybugs can be influenced by factors such as herbicide use or soil cultivation. If either practice is implemented in the under-vine or inter-row zones it will destabilise the treated area, thereby reducing its suitability to

mealybugs. To assess the extent to which either zone was affected by management decisions in the eight study blocks, we estimated the groundcover composition. In each block during both growing seasons, a 0.25 m² quadrat was placed in nine pre-determined positions in the inter-row and the same number in the under-vine zone. This process was repeated three times during each growing season, in the same quadrat. In all blocks, bare ground and/ or grass were dominant features in both zones throughout the growing season. Notably, neither habitat can support vineyard mealybugs. Multiple groundcover plant species were recorded but their presence and the frequency of detection varied widely by block and with the time of the growing season. Of the species known to support mealybugs, white clover was commonly found in all the Future blocks, irrespective of the inspection date; it was not present in the Contemporary blocks. Hawksbeard was also commonly detected in all five Future blocks but only in two Contemporary blocks and then, only infrequently.

In Grapevines Does groundcover impact leafroll incidence? If groundcover habitat is available and remains


relatively undisturbed, it could reduce grapevine susceptibility to mealybugs. Any reduction in the vine/vector association will reduce the potential for leafroll virus spread. Hence, in April 2016 and April 2017, virus incidence was also assessed in the eight study blocks. By looking for persistent changes to foliar colour and form, we identified the numbers of virus-infected Merlot vines in each block and plotted their position within the vine row. In six of the eight blocks, annual virus incidence was low (less than 0.5%) in both growing seasons. In the last two blocks, annual virus incidence was higher, ranging from 9.6 to 19.7% in 2016. By 2017, roguing of all the 2016 infected vines in one block saw annual virus incidence reduced to 3.2%, whereas in the other block, the absence of roguing resulted in cumulative infections increasing to 21.3%. While data collection is underway, it will be another one or two growing seasons before we can begin to assess the extent

to which vineyard groundcover might influence leafroll virus. In summary, there is no evidence to date that the numbers of mealybugs found in the Merlot study blocks can be characterised simply on the basis of a Future or Contemporary management system. Where evidence of a potential split based on the management might occur was in relation to plant species present. White clover and hawksbeard, which were frequently found with mealybugs, were universally present in Future study blocks but they were essentially absent in all of the Contemporary blocks.

On Grapevines; Mealybug Biological Control Biological control is a natural process for controlling pests by using other living organisms. In horticulture, pest insects are attacked by another group of insects collectively known as natural enemies or beneficial insects. In New Zealand vine-

yards, the most widespread and the most important insect pests are the citrophilus and longtailed mealybugs. Their natural enemies include predators like ladybirds, together with multiple species of tiny wasps, known as parasitoids. With parasitoids arguably the most important mealybug natural enemies, they are the focus of this study. In this long-term study, we aim to improve our understanding of those parasitoid species likely to be exerting the most influence over vineyard mealybugs. By distributing plastic mesh bags baited with seed potatoes supporting laboratory-reared colonies of either the citrophilus or longtailed mealybugs, we expect to identify parasitoids in differently managed vineyards. So far, more than 880 parasitoids have been recovered. The most commonly found parasitoid species was Coccophagus gurneyi, which was mainly retrieved from citrophilus mealybugs deployed in the Future study blocks. To date, few

Photo: Ruby Bay Vineyard, supplied by NZW.

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parasitoids have emerged from mealybugs deployed in the Contemporary blocks, nor was there much evidence of parasitism of longtailed mealybugs in either the Future or Contemporary vineyards. Understanding the impacts of vineyard management on mealybug parasitoid populations is likely to guide the development of grower guidelines that support mealybug biological control.

Under Grapevines – Grass Grub Grass grubs are insect pests found in some Marlborough vineyards. Damage by adult beetles is primarily confined to feeding on vine foliage in spring, with larval feeding on roots implicated in the decline of young vines. The current synthetic pyrethroid insecticides used are toxic to beneficial insects that preferentially attack other pests, such as mealybugs. Alternative management options that are less toxic to beneficial organisms could be of value to Contemporary and Future vineyard systems. Therefore, we are assessing a biological insecticide, Invade™, for its ability to infect grass grubs with a naturally occurring but relatively rare soil-dwelling bacterium, Serratia entomophila to cause amber disease. This disease causes grass grub larvae to stop feeding within 2 – 3 days and eventually starve, preventing development to the adult stage. Crucially, Invade has the potential to be conveniently delivered to the target areas by way of drip irrigation lines. In conjunction with AgResearch, pre-screening of two Marlborough vineyards has shown that no amber disease was present naturally. Invade was watered onto plots in these vineyards and grass grubs later sampled from the treated areas were found to have been infected with amber disease, while all larvae from untreated areas were uninfected. This

Photo: Ata Rangi, supplied by NZW.

experiment is showing promising results. Further sampling at the end of the 2018 season will demonstrate whether the disease has persisted in the grass grub population

Research Aim 1.3: “Pathogen Management”. In Grapevines The focus of the third research aim is very much “Inside the grapevine”. Dion Mundy, Bex Woolley, Arnaud Blouin, Robin MacDiarmid, Bhanupratap Vanga, and Simon Bulman from PFR are identifying what microbes and viruses are present and which of them are detrimental or beneficial to the vine. The research addresses the overarching question, “What factors correlate with vine health in the presence of detectable pathogen burden?” To address this question, a non-destructive grapevine trunk disease (GTD) assay has been developed by Dion and his team to detect the presence of pathogens using next generation sequencing (NGS). The effectiveness of this method is being continually evaluated against traditional pathogen growth assays in culture plates. Doctoral candidate Arnaud Blouin has developed and optimised a world-leading method to enrich RNA for those molecules encoding viruses. With these new methods in hand, the bacteria, fungi, and viruses inside vines are being identified, regardless of whether the organisms are good or bad for the plant, or whether they can be cultivated in the laboratory. Using these methods we have identified two pathogens that had not previously been viewed as important in grapevines. Phaeomoniella chlamydospora and Cadophora luteo-olivace have previously been recorded in New Zealand but have not been high on the priority for research in our mature trunk-diseased

grapevines. We will be keeping watchful eyes on the correlation of these pathogens with trunk disease expression. We have also identified one potentially beneficial fungus, Aureobasidium pullulans, which lives in the vine and may play a role in ameliorating GTD symptoms. The association of this organism and the health status of grapevines, in the presence of GTD pathogens, will be tracked to determine the strength of any beneficial association. A possibility exists that grapevine rupestris stem pitting virus (GRSPV) is a beneficial virus; with transmission only known to be by graft union, GRSPV has been selected as a common virus infecting grapevines in New Zealand and internationally. While developing the virus detection methodology, it was used as a positive control for the detection of other viruses in grapevines. The health status of individual grapevines infected with GRSPV compared with GRSPV negative plants should provide some information on its benefits to grapevines in New Zealand. The information generated from data gained from “Inside the vines” is being collated in the Disease Risk Register (for patho-

gens) and the Grapevine Microbiome Register (for all microbes). The ultimate aim of RA1.3 is to deliver one or more novel methods to manage terminal diseases of grapevines, such as trunk disease and leafroll virus infection. Already, the project has identified promising organisms that may be useful in disease treatment. We will be observing the performance of vines closely through the Vineyard Longevity Predictive Model to note whether any potentially beneficial organisms do indeed influence plant health in the presence of a pathogen.

Conclusion The focus, scale and duration of the Vineyard Ecosystems programme is, to the best of our knowledge, unique in grape research. Where other research has focused on the interactions between two or three variables, we consider interactions between five variables “Under, On and In Grapevines”: 1 Plant 2 Environment (both geography / weather) 3 Microbiome 4 Management methods 5 Changes over time

Knowledge of the microbial ecosystem “Under, On and In Grapevines” is already being expanded through this programme, creating new insights into “microbial terroir” including pathogens that may cause grapevine diseases or that may alleviate those symptoms if used effectively in the future. By recording the range of organisms that is present, and those risk organisms that are not present, this information strengthens the biosecurity status of New Zealand vineyards. By informing growers involved in the trials about the incidence of trunk diseases and leafroll virus they immediately benefit as they may act to manage or rogue infected vines. Over the multi-year timeframe of the programme, trends are likely to become apparent and correlations between the presence of pathogens and potentially beneficial organisms or management systems, soil properties, and weather may be discerned. Experimental data generated by this research will provide evidence-based solutions to threats to grapevine longevity, which will improve the environmental and economic impacts of grape growing in New Zealand.T



Brettanomyces in New Zealand Asst. Prof. Chris Curtin & Prof. Mat Goddard 15-112 Brettanomyces yeasts, responsible for imparting ‘phenolic, ‘barnyard’ and ‘medicinal’ off-aromas in red wine, are literally being put under the microscope by Prof. Mat Goddard at University of Auckland and Asst. Prof. Chris Curtin at Oregon State University in a New Zealand Winegrowers funded collaboration. The focus of this project is to generate knowledge of whether Brettanomyces isolated from various New Zealand wine regions are similar to one another, and to what extent they differ from strains observed in other countries. Why do we need to know what Brettanomyces strains are present in New Zealand wine regions? Studies in Australia and Europe have shown that some Brettanomyces strains can tolerate 2-3 times higher sulfite concentrations than others, and in Australia ~90% of Brettanomyces isolates belong to a sulfite-tolerant strain group that was encountered in all Australian winemaking regions studied. While effective use of sulfite remains a critical component of any ‘Brett’ control strategy, additional measures may be required to retain control over sulfite-tolerant strain populations. To achieve the aims of the project, Brettanomyces samples were gathered during the past year through partnership with Pacific Rim Oenology Services and Wineworks. In all, 154 confirmed Brettanomyces isolates have been obtained from 9 regions. While winery information was kept strictly anonymous, the sample set was reduced to avoid bias by random selection of a maximum of three samples from each (coded) source winery. The remaining samples are cur-

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Figure 1. Distribution of sulfite-tolerance amongst NZ Brettanomyces isolates across regions

rently undergoing whole-genome sequencing to enable comprehensive identification of New Zealand Brettanomyces strains relative to international databases. Sulfite tolerance of the New Zealand isolates has been assessed using a high-throughput method previously developed by Dr. Curtin during his time at the Australian Wine Research Institute. Using this method, a sulfitetolerant strain can grow at up to 40-45mg/l free SO2 (or 0.80.9mg/l molecular SO2), whereas a sulfite-sensitive strain can grow at up to 10-15mg/l. Preliminary data on sulfite-tolerance observed


for the New Zealand isolates is shown in Figure 1. Overall, 19% of isolates fall into the ‘sensitive’ category (0-15mg/L), and only 15% into the ‘tolerant’ category (4045mg/L), with the remainder being intermediate in terms of sulfite tolerance. This distribution is strikingly different to that observed in Australia, where ~90% of isolates fall into the tolerant category. It remains to be seen whether this distribution is due to the presence of different strains in New Zealand, something that will become clearer upon completion of genome sequencing. Some regions may have higher

proportions of sulfite-tolerant Brettanomyces, however the number of isolates gathered in regions other than Hawke’s Bay and Martinborough are insufficient to enable this comparison to be performed. Winemakers who are willing to contribute anonymous samples should contact Soon Lee at the University of Auckland for more information (email: or Ph: 09 923 1238). Datasets that are representative for each region will enable development of more tailored advice on ‘Brett’ control as we move into the next phase of the project.T


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