NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWER THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE NEW ZEALAND WINE INDUSTRY
$2B or not $2B?
An extraordinary export story
2020 Hindsight The memorable year that was
Alcohol down and interest up
DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 ISSUE 125
Ben Tombs’ winning ways New Zealand’s Young Winemaker of the Year
DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 / ISSUE 125
Issue 125 – December 2020/January 2021
From the Chair
43 The Balance
52 Women in Wine
60 Wine Weather
Not on the Label
Legal Matters with Dentons Kensington Swan
F E AT U R E S 16
$2B or not $2B
New Zealand wine exports in 2020 are “beyond anyone’s best case scenario”, says New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Philip Gregan. With Sauvignon Blanc leading the charge, the industry may hit its $2 billion export target by the end of the year.
24 2020 Hindsight
As this extraordinary year draws to a close, Winegrowers’ regional writers catch up on some of the memorable moments around the country. The overwhelming theme is of perfect weather and beautiful fruit in vintage 2020, played out against the challenges of a pressured Covid-19 harvest.
The Light Stuff
The world’s appetite for wellbeing has never been stronger, as Covid-19 accelerates an already swift momentum, says New Zealand Lighter Wines manager Dr David Jordan, at the conclusion of the seven-year programme.
COVER PHOTO: Tonnellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year Ben Tombs. Pg 46 Photo Vaughan Brookfield
24 31 43
E D I TO R Sophie Preece firstname.lastname@example.org
CO R R E S P O N D ENTS Wellington Wine Country: Joelle Thomson email@example.com Hawkes Bay: Olly Styles firstname.lastname@example.org Marlborough: Tessa Nicholson email@example.com
Personalities of the year
Central Otago: Jean Grierson firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophie Preece EDITOR
Canterbury: Jo Burzynska email@example.com
A DV E R T I SI N G Upper North Island: Stephen Pollard firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 021 963 166 Central North Island: Ted Darley email@example.com Ph: 021 832 505 Lower North Island: Ron Mackay Ph: 021 453 914 South Island: Kaye Sutherland firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 021 221 1994
C I R C U L AT I O N & SU B S C R I P T I O NS Jodi Blair email@example.com Ph: 09 303 3527, ext 0 Fax: 09 302 2969 Mobile: 027 700 2371 New Zealand Winegrowers PO Box 90 276, Auckland Mail Centre, New Zealand
P U B L I SH I N G & 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: David Ferguson, Rebecca Williams
THE DECEMBER edition of New Zealand Winegrower typically runs a feature on the Personality of
the Year, recognising an individual’s outstanding contribution to the industry. But, as everyone is well aware, 2020 anything but typical. In 2020, Covid-19 whipped the rug from under our feet in the midst of harvest, and the wine industry kept its balance. It was a year where global lockdowns butchered our on-premise sales, but retail grew by dizzying proportions. In 2020, the world’s wine producers watched sales shrink and stall, while New Zealand’s Making wines that exports surged, with the three months from the world loves July to October recording sales 19 percent higher more than ever. than the year before (page 16). It was a year where we feared for smaller operators - so vital to the rich ecosystem of our industry - but found them resilient, innovative and determined, connecting more than ever with their customers, and helping rekindle hospitality where they could. This year the entire industry has shown itself to be nimble, dynamic and innovative, says New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Philip Gregan in our 2020 Hindsight feature (page 24). “It’s been a hallmark of the industry over many, many years, and we’ve seen it again over the past 12 months.” So there’s no Personality of the Year for 2020, but rather a recognition of an extraordinary industry, and its thousands of remarkable personalities, making wines that the world loves more than ever.
Published by Rural News Group Ltd under authority of New Zealand Winegrowers 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 Inc. or its constituent organisations. Published every second month. One free copy is mailed to every member of the New Zealand Winegrowers Inc, 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.
Neil is a food and beverage columnist for the Nelson Mail and Stuff with a particular passion for wine, something he has been writing about since 2000. He also owns and manages the food and beverage website toptastes.co.nz. In this edition Neil looks back at Nelson’s 2020.
In this edition Jean talks to Hayden Johnston about his ‘accidental’ introduction to wine, the reputation he’s built for Tarras Vineyards and the opening of his new venue The Canyon.
Tessa has written stories about almost every aspect of New Zealand’s wine industry, as a onetime grower, longtime wine writer and former editor of this magazine. This month she talks to Ruby Andrews about turning great science into a great read.
Bob Campbell, MW, is a leading wine specialist, author and educator, who has managed to kill four computers with spilt wine. Read his tips on how to save your technology from unexpected vinous attacks.
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NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
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From the Chair
From the Chair CLIVE JONES
I WAS honoured and delighted
All have served New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) either periodically or continuously over the last decade or so, and all have contributed enormously. While it was a shame to lose all that experience at once, it also created opportunity. The fact that we had 12 candidates stand for the five positions available indicates a growing interest in “As New Zealanders, industry governance and this is welcomed. we know we are As a new board, stronger when we we held our annual strategic day in work together.” October to discuss issues currently time this article is published, the facing the industry. Although outcome of the by-election on it is difficult to look too far the levy side will also be known, ahead with so much current and we will have an additional uncertainty, there is always new voice at the table. I plenty of work to get on with. would like to acknowledge the Our new board members were retiring board members, John asked to bring their thoughts, Clarke, Dominic Pecchenino, and those of the members, to Peter Holley, James Dicey and the table, and they contributed Patrick Materman, who saw positively to the discussion. the transition of the board Key issues identified included from grower/winery category labour, research funding, representation to the new sustainability, diversity of our Levy/Member class format wine offering and engagement (the last recommendation to with members and regions. be completed from the 2011 These will now be prioritised PWC review). and incorporated into the work to be re-elected to the New Zealand Winegrowers board in the recent member class election. I was further honoured to be elected to the position of Chair at our October board meeting. At that meeting, we also welcomed four new board members to the board. By the
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
plan for the next year so that each can be examined in more depth. Clearly, labour for the current growing season and harvest has to be an immediate priority, and it was already at the top of the list. We also recognised the widening gap between those wine companies with an existing route to the commercial retail markets and those who are more reliant on the on-premise sector and international visitors. This divergence seems to have accelerated as a consequence of a Covid-19 driven change in consumer behaviour, shifting consumption to the home environment. The different needs of these two different business models have become more apparent – particularly in the marketing space. Stronger than expected sales post the Covid-19 lockdown have enabled us to restart our technology project. This significant investment will see a much-needed upgrade to WiSE, GrapeLink, the member portal and nzwinemarketing. com. While already identified as a priority, this project looked like becoming a victim
of Covid-19 when lockdown hit, so it has been great to get it back on the to do list sooner than we originally thought. It is important that board members understand issues faced by individuals or regions collectively, so that any decisions made are done so with the best knowledge base. So please engage with board members when you get the opportunity and ensure your regional association hears your voice as well. We will not be able to solve all the issues faced by individuals, but awareness and understanding will help shape our overall strategy and priorities. We will all need to remain nimble and adaptable over the next year or so as the world settles down from political upheaval and a global pandemic. Keep talking to your industry friends and colleagues and look to support each other. As New Zealanders, we know we are stronger when we work together. Best wishes for the current growing season. Hopefully the weather will be kind through to vintage 2021, and we will get the opportunity to enjoy the harvest next year without being in lockdown.
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Wetland work with Wineries out West WINERIES OUT West is working
to help save the once abundant and now elusive Matuku, or Australasian bittern, as well as the wetlands they live in. The WestAuckland collective has created a curated wine pack from the member wineries - Westbrook, Coopers Creek, Soljans, Babich, The Hunting Lodge, and Kumeu River - and pledge $6 from every mixed box sold to be donated to Matuku Link, the not-for-profit charitable trust behind a 37 hectare bush and wetland area that’s home to endangered native species like its namesake. Babich Wines Chief Executive David Babich says it is important that the group give back to the environment they built such a rich heritage on. “Our families have been making wine in WestAuckland for over a hundred years. While we each individually do our bit to give back, it is wonderful that as a group we can band together and support this often-overlooked cause and collectively protect the ecology our families grew up on.”
Keeping wine cool A NEW commercial cellaring operation in Auckland is a “wine-
lover’s ultimate high tech dream shed”, says its founder Reece Warren. Covid-19 proved a hurdle to finalising The Wine Storage Room, with “a forest of galvanised poles ready and waiting for final fit-outs”, says Reece. But the bespoke Eden Terrace facility is now is action, with high tech temperature and humidity control to keep win at between 60 and 70 percent humidity, under stringent security measures. Reece says clients have already spilled over from sister business The Wine Auction Room, established in 2018, but the target market is wider than individual collectors and consortiums. A winery in Wanaka, for example, could use it to store product locally, in order to easily top up restaurants that run out, he says. Meanwhile, data collected by The Wine Auction Room shows that lockdown did not keep a cork on sales of extraordinary wines, with a 97 percent sell-through rate in both April and June live auctions. winestorageroom.co.nz
Marlborough Wine Show THE LEEFIELD Station Pinot Noir 2019 won Wine of the Show at
the Marlborough Wine Show, sponsored by QuayConnect. Chief Judge Ben Glover described the Pinot as “an exceptional wine, full of bright fruits, really vibrant palate, and lovely length”, calling it indicative of some “quite stunning” 2019 examples. “These would be some of the very best Pinots to come out of Marlborough.” He noted that the 2020 Sauvignon Blancs were also “exceptional”. The Wine Marlborough Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Saint Clair founders Judy and Neal Ibbotson (pictured) who Wine Marlborough General Manager Marcus Pickens described as tireless promoters of Marlborough wine. “They have always placed Marlborough first and Saint Clair second on their international sales trips, and with their attention to quality have helped cement the region’s reputation both domestically and internationally.” Saint Clair Family Estate won four trophies, including the Coterie Wine of Provenance for its Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020, and the Marlborough Museum Legacy Award for three vintages of the Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay.
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Clearview Estate chief winemaker Matt Kirby with co-owners Tim Turvey and Helma van den Berg
Clearview HAWKE’S BAY’S Clearview Estate won Champion Wine of Show at
the New Zealand International Wine Show, with the Clearview Beachhead Chardonnay 2019. James and Annie Millton - pioneers in the production of high quality organically produced wines - were the 2020 recipients of the Sir George Fistonich Medal, as “outstanding legends of New Zealand wine”. Nick Picone of Villa Maria won Winemaker of the Year at the show.
Hawke’s Bay A&P THE V ILL A Maria Reser ve
Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2019 was named Champion Wine of the Show at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards, marking the third consecutive year Chardonnay has won the accolade. More than 360 wines were tasted by a team of 10 judges with Chardonnay being the largest category of wine being judged in this year’s competition. Head Judge Ant Mckenzie says three years of “stellar vintages” were clearly evident throughout the judging process”. Alwyn Corban (pictured), the fourth generation of his family to make wine
Gleaming Zephyr Gewürztraminer MARLBOROUGH WINE
in New Zealand, entered the Hawke’s Bay Wine Growers Hall of Fame, in recognition of his leadership of the New Zealand wine industry and being “a key driving force behind promoting the region’s wine”.
COWA Change THE CENTRAL Otago Winegrowers Association has appointed
Glenn Schuitman as General Manager to oversee its new direction, following recent restructuring. Glenn recently returned to New Zealand from China, where he developed a multi awardwinning retail, events and hospitality brand, POP-UP BEIJING. He was previously Global Communications Manager for Montana Wines, and has a background in leadership, marketing, communications and brand development.
A-Z NEW ZEALAND Winegrowers (NZW) has created an A to Z of New
Zealand wine video highlighting the wine industry’s secrets to success. This ‘listicle’ style format of content is popular among media and consumers, as an easy-to-digest way of presenting information, and is shareable across platforms, says Juliana Foster from the NZW marketing team. “We’ve already seen promising results, including New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Tourism New Zealand sharing the video amongst their audiences.” Check it out at nzwine.com/en/media/story/a-to-z-of-nz-wine/ and contact Juliana with ideas for upcoming listicles - Juliana.Foster@nzwine.com
company Z ephy r Wines won Supreme Champion Wine of Show at the New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition, with the Zephyr’s 2019 Gewürztraminer. Winemaker Ben Glover says the varietal is a labour of love for the Zephyr Wines team. “For a Gewürztraminer to come through the judging process and outshine the usual suspects of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris and come out on top is a phenomenal result for any wine competition.” Earlier in the year, Zephyr’s ‘Mark I’ Organic Rose 2019 was also named Champion Rose at the 2020 NZ Organic Wine Awards. Ben says the year ahead is looking even healthier for the family-owned company and its wines as it moves to organics, with much of the 2020 vintage to be certified organic. “We’re passionate about keeping things simple throughout the growing and winemaking process, and letting the fruit do its job.”
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in Horticulture Production is a Level 6 NZQA-accredited course available online and nationwide through Fruition Horticulture. The fees-free two-year programme has been designed to develop the skills and knowledge of people employed in the industry so they can contribute at a senior technical or managerial level. Enrolments for the 2021 intake are being taken now. Fruition Horticulture managing director Sandy Scarrow (pictured) says the horticulture industry’s growth means businesses require more people in management and technical roles to lead their teams and support growers to become more successful in their orchards and vineyards. “This programme is aimed at people who already have several years of industry experience and who are highly motivated to advance their careers and take advantage of management opportunities as they arise.” fruition.ac.nz
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 9
Upcoming Events TO HAVE
Pop-up Cellar Door Hawke’s Bay Wine’s pop-up cellar door has been extended through to February, with 30 wineries presenting their wines as part of a regional tasting. Taste wines not usually available via cellar doors from Thursday to Sunday, at select hours.
Now until 7 Feb hawkesbaywine.co.nz
EVENTS ADDED TO OUR CALENDAR CONTACT SOPHIE@SOPHIEPREECE.CO.NZ
North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival The coolest little wine festival is packed with good things grown and made in North Canterbury, including spectacular wine. Feast and dance at this free-range family festival under the oaks at Glenmark Domain.
7 March ncwineandfood.co.nz
Whitehaven GrapeRide South Island Wine & Food Festival A great way to start the summer festive season, with more than 40 leading wineries from Central Otago, Canterbury, Waipara, Nelson and Marlborough gathering at Christchurch’s Hagley Park, along with a selection of gourmet food producers and top local restaurants.
5 December winefestival.co.nz
Southern Pinot Workshop Register now for the Pinot Workshop, which has long been instrumental in improving viticultural and winemaking practices for Pinot Noir in New Zealand. The 2021 event in Hanmer Springs marks 30 years of this collegial gathering, and will kick off with a Grand Cru Burgundy tasting.
21-24 January pinotworkshop.com
Bridge Pa Wine Festival Enjoy multiple wineries and a raft of wine experiences at the seventh annual Bridge Pa Wine Festival in Hawke’s Bay. All wineries will be connected by hop on/hop off buses throughout the day, and wineries will have tasting, gourmet food, and live music on offer.
23 January bridgepatriangle.nz
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
The Whitehaven GrapeRide takes in Marlborough’s most beautiful landscapes, from the vine-clad Wairau Valley to the winding roads of Queen Charlotte Drive, surrounded by the waterways of the Marlborough Sounds and hillsides of native bush. The 2021 event is in the April school holidays and includes an event for kids.
24 April graperide.co.nz
New festival Ripe for success Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas will host a presentation at Wanaka’s newest wine and food festival, Ripe. The event – to be held over Otago Anniversary weekend at Corbridge Estate - has been designed to attract Kiwis to Wanaka, and celebrate the Central Otago viticulture industry and local culinary scene. Wanaka local and Otago Event Planning owner Nathan White says an event that celebrates the taste of Central Otago has long been wanted for the area, so he spent lockdown
making plans. “Ripe is about the passion and energy for the best wine and food of our region and our country – backed by a deep respect, appreciation and knowledge for the industry,” he says. Cameron will engage the audience with a “fun but educational” session on wine tasting before joining the guests tasting a selection of wines, he has curated from the festival vendors, says Nathan. Festival-goers will be able to sample wines from some of the best vineyards in the region including Maude,
Amisfield, Máori Point, Mishas Vineyard, Akarua, Cloudy Bay, Quartz Reef, Nanny Goat, Burn Cottage, Valli, Domaine Thomson, Black Peak, Aitkens Folly, Mount Michael, Aurum, Coal Pit and Paddons Paddock as well as enjoying beers from B’effect and Rhyme & Reason, plus spirits from Rifters and Cardrona Distillery. On the food front, guests will be spoilt for choice, and will be joined by celebrity chef Nadia Lim, while entertainment includes the Jordan Luck Band. “Setting up Ripe was always about celebrating the passion
and energy we have in the unique Central Otago region for the best wine and food,” says Nathan. “We are thrilled to be able to showcase so many wonderful producers, their connection to the land, their knowledge and passion for the product.” Ticket sales have been going strong, he adds. “To have such a surge of interest from the public so quickly is exciting – we are going to put on an amazing event.”
21 March ripewanaka.nz
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 11
The Marketing Place
Organic Growth New Zealand Organic Wine Week SOPHIE PREECE Organic Wine Week at Sherwood
ORGANIC WINE Week is about
“exciting, engaging and educating” people about New Zealand’s extraordinary organic wine, says Organic Winegrowers New Zealand Chair Clive Dougall. “I love that it’s become an integral part of our members’ calendars, and a must-do week for some of New Zealand’s top restaurants, bars and wine shops.” Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (OWNZ) drove the first two years of the event, pairing wine companies with restaurants for example, but this year asked members to build on the successes of the past. The organisation has created the “platform and framework” for the week to continue its momentum, driven by wine companies, hospitality and consumers. “And I think it’s been really
successful this year,” says Clive. “It’s not something we can measure, but the feeling out there is good.” The list of Organic Wine Week events is deliciously long, including a Mana event at Rockferry, and the likes of Arbour restaurant in Marlborough and Arden Bar & Kitchen in Nelson working with organic producers. In Queenstown, Sherwood rolled out its Organic Wine Festival for the third year running, and Hayley Scott, General Manager of Marketing and Operations, says it was more successful than ever. “With Covid-19, I think people have really taken a look at what they are consuming.” Sherwood - which only has organic and natural wines on its list - ran the festival under Alert Level 2, so kept
numbers to 80 to ensure social distancing, “and it sold out really quickly,” says Hayley. “The winemakers said everyone here was really engaged and interested.” New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) helped drive Organic Wine Week this year, with the objective of increasing awareness of organic wine, educating customers, and supporting organic producers. European Marketing Manager Chris Stroud says the calendar of events had a slightly different look to previous years, especially in international markets, due to Covid-19 restrictions. “We introduced a number of online events and tastings to make virtual contact with customers and organic wine lovers across New Zealand and internationally.”
The final session of NZW’s Wine Diaries webinar series saw Master of Wine Stephen Wong lead a session titled “dispel the myths and embrace the future of organic wine”. Meanwhile, on Instagram Live, Jamie Goode conducted a series of chats on his IGTV with New Zealand organic wineries, with all videos receiving more than 1,000 views each. Jamie also produced separate tasting videos. T he res ulting “ buzz ” on social media enabled restaurants, retailers and consumers alike to all join the celebration and promote organic wine, says NZW General Manager of Marketing Charlotte Read. For a highlights reel of the activities, please visit the OWNZ Website organicwinenz.com .
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NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
The Marketing Place
The Marketing Place
Taking NZ wine to the world: Bringing the world to NZ wine
WE PARTNERED with SommCon in the US last
NEW ZEALAND’S reputation has never been higher internationally and we
have a unique time-bound opportunity to promote the outstanding Food and Beverage (F&B) New Zealand produces while our borders are closed to the world. We are really excited to have been involved in the development of the Government’s Made with Care campaign, which will help amplify our premium New Zealand wine story and extend its reach internationally. The Made with Care theme works so well with our industry’s core focus on sustainability, valuing our people and looking after our land for future generations. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise are investing $3 million over the next six to eight months in a digital campaign targeting discerning consumers in China, Australia, USA, Japan and UK, identified by Tourism New Zealand, to drive awareness, preference and demand for our F&B products. The campaign launched in October and New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) was front and centre, making the Breakfast news on launch day. It’s simple to be a part of the campaign – go to nzwine.com to read more.
month and were part of their virtual Summit event. This event, which usually takes place in San Diego, California and Washington DC, and draws some of the top influential on-premise trade, was moved online and consisted of a week-long series of webinars and tastings for the trade community. The focus of our webinar was based on soil, and titled ‘New Zealand Wine: It all Begins with the Soil’. Cameron Douglas MS moderated the session, which featured three viticulturists and discussed how some of the youngest soils on earth produce such high quality, diverse and sustainably produced wines. Discussion topics also included regenerative agriculture, terroir and soiled undies! Well over 500 people registered for the SommCon Summit, with numbers still growing.
Charlotte Read is NZW General Manager Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org
Femmes Du Vin
WE WERE delighted to partner with Femmes du Vin, a not-for-profit grass roots
women’s organisation based in Quebec, which promotes women in the wine industry. Our partnership allowed us to participate in their first ever virtual Harvest Seminar Series. Our session was a tremendous success, with more than 100 Canadian trade tuning in from across the country. ‘New Zealand Wine - Made with Care for our Future Generations’ included a panel of women leaders in the New Zealand wine industry, interviewed by climate change specialist Michelle Bouffard. Rachel Taulelei of Kono, Alice Rule of 3sixty2, Karen Titulaer of Villa Maria and NZW’s Charlotte Read were involved in the 90-minute event, which generated some compelling discussions on what it means to be sustainable in New Zealand and the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. With sustainability a key focus at NZW, and sustainability initiatives evolving around the globe, we felt it more important than ever to share this message and to encourage the trade to embrace what’s next.
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 13
The Marketing Place
The Social Place
Polly Hammond’s guide to connecting
DID YOU ever have one of those friends who
only calls when they have a crisis or need a lift? It can make you feel undervalued and unappreciated. That’s how customers feel when we communicate sporadically or only when we have something to sell. They turn off, unsub, unfollow. Which is a shame, because email marketing has produced the highest returns on marketing spend for over ten years, and 2020 has only strengthened those numbers. As we head into summer and a New Year, if there is one change you can make to improve resilience and increase customer loyalty, it’s this: adopt a consistent, customer-first email schedule, with a focus on relevant, value-added content. Here are some guidelines to get you started:
Send from a real person Any good email service allows you to stipulate the “Sent From” and “Reply To” email addresses, and these make a big difference to open rates. Unless you are sending from a huge industrial brand, “Jane from Gotham Winery” is a good way to go. Show your subject line love Aim for five words or less, and Don’t Capitalise Every Word. These are conversations, not dissertations. If you use Mailchimp, customize your Preview Text to grab your reader’s attention and prime them for the email. • Emojis work, but not too many! One emoji at the very start of your Subject is perfect to draw the eye and increase open rates. • Numbers rock, too! Don’t be afraid to open with a numeral. • Welcome them to your list like you’d welcome them to your home. Every subscriber deserves a little recognition, and your welcome email is when you start to build rapport and trust. Introduce yourself, tell them what to expect and how often you expect to be chatting to them. This paves the way to higher open rates.
To personalise or not to personalise, that is the question Stats show that personalisation in the subject line increases open rates by 26 percent, BUT statistics also tell us that subscription forms with only email address inputs (no name input) get higher subscription rates. If you collect information from multiple sources, such as a POS or ecommerce ordering system, then absolutely personalise. If you only rely upon a sign up form, then skip the personalisation. FYI, the 5forests team debates about this amongst ourselves. Be animated! Yes, video, GIFs and animations are for emails, too. Instead of images, is there any chance of getting something moving in your emails? Research tells us that adding video to your email improves your click-through-rate by 200 percent to 300 percent. That’s huge!
Puh-lease check that your emails work on mobile. Most email services have built in responsive templates and previews. Don’t overlook them!
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Length One question I often hear is “how long should an email be?” Hmmm, the proper answer is “just long enough” – don’t be so brief that you leave out the good parts, but don’t make it a Peter Jackson film. If you are sending a sales email focused on getting the reader to make a purchase, aim for 150-200 words in this breakdown: • Headline: What’s the offer? • Body copy: Why does it matter to your reader? • Clear Call-To-Action: What one thing do you want them to do next? Don’t muddy the water with too many requests. Just like in fr iendship, regular communication builds trust, knowledge, and intimacy. Consistent emails allow us to share the whole story of our brand, not just the pitches. They give us an opportunity to provide value and demonstrate our loyalty to the reader. And they keep the line of communication open, encouraging the reader to communicate with us and start a conversation. So grab your calendar, make a plan, and stick to it! Polly is the founder and Managing Director of 5Forests. To learn more go to 5forests.com
The Marketing Place
5Forests Founder Polly Hammond in the social place SOPHIE PREECE THERE’S A good yarn behind
5Forests, and it’s far more literal than most. In 1999, Polly Hammond moved from Hollywood, LA, to Sunnynook, North Shore - 24 years old, six months married and looking for a change of pace. “It could not have been more of a shock,” says the digital guru, with her background in international relations and behavioural economics. Polly was self-employed from day one, with no support system and no safety net. “I learned digital because it was the only way for us to be able to grow our businesses and pay the bills.” She layered those skills with her behavioural economics background, to create “digital-first strategies” that appealed to the real reasons that consumers become brand loyal. The combination enabled her to build and sell several profitable businesses, including an online yarn store she concedes was
somewhat audacious. “Who the hell imports wool into New Zealand and does it well enough to sell the business for a profit?” Polly and her husband Keith have long been passionate about wine, and one day started discussing ‘where to’ for her business, and ‘where to’ for the many artisan wine companies they loved in New Zealand, ill equipped for the digital age. “So many things happen on Sundays when you drink Rosé,” laughs Polly of the company’s genesis. 5Forests was established five years ago to provide digital marketing and strategy for independent wine producers. Polly considered it something of a retirement plan, intended to pay for the couple to travel to Europe once a year. “We had been really, really busy when my kids were growing up, and had always been selfemployed.” But when she met with
her first customer, and saw for their first live feed. an alarmingly lean business Polly says wine is an extraorplan, she realised 5Forests dinary field to work in, with a had to start at the foundations, product that partners some of “with good strategy and better life’s most beautiful moments. customer insights”. Now, she’s deeply “So many things embedded in the happen on Sundays w i n e i n d u s t r y, from New Zealand when you drink Rosé.” to California, and insists her clients build She wants to see companies rigorous digital strategies embrace the notion that “digiwithin well-informed business tal done right can make the plans. customers more human, not As well as dealing with a less, and foster a higher level surge of business during Covid- of empathy in our marketing 19, Polly used the lockdown to efforts”. The wine industry is launch Real Business of Wine not about juice or digital or (realbizwine.com) with wine email, she says. “We are about commentator Robert Joseph, being an experience in somewelcoming a crowded audience one’s life.”.
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The Focus Covid in 2020
$2B or not $2B?
Extraordinary exports. Pg 17
Vibrant at Valli
Unexpected successes. Pg 19
Milestone Series Seifried Estate. Pg 22
A memorable year. Pg 24 Photo by Peter Burge
$2b or not $2b New Zealand’s extraordinary export story SOPHIE PREECE IF YOU’RE partial to a glass
half full, then the story of New Zealand wine in a global pandemic is certainly one to savour. Exports from July to October are up 19 percent on the same period last year, and New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Chief Executive Philip Gregan is increasingly confident the industry will hit its $2 billion export target by the end of the year. “We anticipate it will be very, very close.” It’s not what the industry expected in March, when Covid19 saw populations around the world go into lockdown, New Zealand’s borders close, and vintage progress nervously under stringent Alert Level 4 restrictions. Back then, NZW revised its budgets, assuming a 10 percent reduction in wine sales from March to January 2021, or a 25 percent reduction under a worst case scenario. Nationwide, many wine company accountants were doing the same thing, sharpening pencils, adjusting bottom lines and assuming grim days ahead. “We had to plan for the worst case at that time,” says
Philip. “And nobody would have suggested then that in the July to October period, our exports would be up 20 percent on last year.” In fact, if someone had stood up in the meeting and said ‘we’ll boost our wine sales’, they’d probably have been told to move on, he says. But that’s what happened, with surging demand and shortening supply seeing new vintage wines shipped earlier than ever before. In October, 90 percent of the Rosé and Pinot Gris shipped from New Zealand was from the 2020 vintage, while for Sauvignon Blanc, that share lifted to 94 percent. Between May and October, export shipments for latest vintage Sauvignon Blanc were 50 percent higher than at the same time last year. The success of New Zealand wine is unique in these extraordinary times, says Villa Maria’s Chief Global Sales and Marketing Officer Matt Deller, MW, talking of two “very strong supplier trends” at play around the world. “One is buy local… The second trend, and the only other recurring national trend, is buy New Zealand,” he says.
“We are not just riding the wave of this surge in global demand, because invariably in most countries that surge in demand has been hyper focussed on local wines. But New Zealand is the one exception.” There’s also a certain something about Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Matt says. “Where there’s a whole lot of uncertainty, people are looking for certainty where they can find it. People overseas know that Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is going to deliver a predictably excellent wine experience.” R ab obank ’s Q4 W ine Quarterly report, released late October, says New Zealand’s wine export growth is bucking a global trend, with lower volume and value export sales among many of the world’s major wine-exporting countries. “The pandemic has created massive challenges for the wine industry, mainly due to the difficulties facing the on-premise channel,” says RaboResearch wine analyst Hayden Higgins. However, New Zealand producers have benefitted from increased
home wine consumption, driving strong retail demand in key markets. Philip notes that it is a tougher time for boutique companies without access to grocery (see page 19) “but they are not just sitting there and saying it’s tough”, he says. “What they are doing is responding dynamically; seeking other ways to get into the market.” Meanwhile, the latest data from Statistics New Zealand shows the domestic hospitality sector is rebounding, and in October, credit card spending in restaurants, cafes and on takeaways was up 8.8 percent compared with October 2019, with the second highest monthly spend in more than 20 years.
Bucking the trends In the 12 months to September 2020, Villa Maria shipped 13 percent more wine than budgeted for before the pandemic hit. “We ended up over-delivering on the budget and massively over-delivering on the Covid forecasts,” says Matt, talking of growth driven
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largely by the UK, Ireland, Canada, Russia and Australian markets. That success is unprecedented and unexpected, he says. “Across a team that has experienced all sort of crises and recessions over the years, this was a new one on us. I guess what we were not prepared for was that massive surge in grocery demand and e-commerce demand globally.” He puts the buy New Zealand trend down to “New Zealand sentiment and the Jacinda effect”, as well as the pandemic fuelling “mission buying” when it comes to wine. People don’t linger at the shelves, browsing unknown brands, but instead get in and out fast, clasping a wine they know. “In any time of crisis there’s a desire for safety or a feeling of familiarity or reliability,” Matt says. “For Villa Maria, years and years of delivering exceptional quality at all price points has really paid off in our key markets.” Sauvignon Blanc isn’t the only variety doing well, he notes. “Everything has grown, but Sauvignon Blanc has grown
more.” The industry is already seeing a drop in the “depth and frequency” of promotions, and in 2021 Villa Maria will slightly lift its price in the UK for its Private Bin wines, “to realise what we call fair value”, he says. “We know that we are underpriced right now.” The UK market is also seeing premiumisation, with a strong interest in higher tiers of wines. That’s partly about a ‘treat yourself ’ mentality around “affordable luxury”, which Villa Maria saw at play in the last recession as well, he says. But it is also because people accustomed to paying $50 for a wine at a restaurant may choose to pay $30 for a wine at a supermarket, he adds. While that’s benefitting retail channels, Villa Maria is eager to see on-premise bounce back. “It’s a really important channel for wine in general,” he says. “So many people do get into wine in wine bars and restaurants and hotels, and there are so many great people in the hospitality industry globally that have great affection for Villa Maria and we for them. We care about
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
them and hope that they can continue doing what they love.”
The Sauvignon Saviour Cloudy Bay is also seeing steady growth in its key markets, with sales up on last year, as retail growth more than makes up for the stall in on-premise, says Technical Director Jim White. They also have more wine to sell, thanks to an “exceptionally good harvest”, he adds. “We took a few deep breaths back in January, knowing we had our 2019s to bottle, trying to work out what was happening with the world.” But they didn’t foresee the strong upswing in demand. “I think collectively everyone has been surprised by the buoyancy, particularly of Sauvignon Blanc, in the marketplace.” Jim puts the growth down to a combination of factors, including New Zealand’s Covid status, a “great vintage”, and the high quality and good value of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in the grocery channel. “I think people do tend to return to the things they trust and brands they know in a time of crisis.” Cloudy Bay’s Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pelor us
sparkling wine haven’t fared as well in all markets, because they’re more dependent on on-premise, says Jim. “Losing essentially three months of sales of that on trade wine is harder to make up for… The big question is ‘what will happen to the on-premise now?’” M a r l b o ro u g h o r g a n i c producer Dog Point Vineyards has always tried to strike a balance between on trade and retail, says General Manager Matt Sutherland. W hen Covid hit they had no idea what to expect, but assumed it would impact adversely on sales. But they are “cautiously optimistic”, having fared better than they predicted. “Though with a new wave of lockdowns and Christmas approaching - the busiest time of the year in market - sales could be unpredictable.” It remains an environment “where you have to be flexible and willing to change plans every day,” he says. “I think like most we hope for the best and plan for the worst.” Dog Point has found that, in general, smaller countries that were able to lock down their populations “easier and earlier” have bounced back
Vibrant at Valli
“GOING INTO lockdown we were all thinking that we wouldn’t have jobs,” says Valli’s owner and winemaker Grant Taylor. But 10 months on, the “exact opposite” has been true, with Central Otago bustling with visitors and vitality, and Valli’s sales burgeoning there and beyond, he says. “At the moment I believe the whole industry is doing very, very well.” Valli sells more wine through Kinross – a cellar door for five Central Otago wine labels – than it does through the whole of the North Island, and since lockdown those sales are up 35 percent on the same period last year, as domestic tourists flock to the region and locals invest at home rather than abroad, says Grant. Meanwhile their international direct to consumer sales are up 44 percent and total website sales are up a whopping 92 percent. He notes that some months have done better or worse than others (“April
was dead but it was our biggest September ever”) but the “large picture” is resoundingly positive. “It’s almost not leaving us with enough wine to export.” He believes the unexpected Covid-boost is a “pretty common story” for Central Otago producers with strong direct to consumer channels. “We all got smart sending out newsletters.” Central Otago has also had a taste of the “peaceful shoulder season” they enjoyed years ago, and Grant expects the region to be “inundated” with visitors from the likes of Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill this summer. Meanwhile, Valli has received calls from markets they’ve seldom or never heard from in the past, including Canada, Taiwan and China, which he puts down to brand New Zealand, and the boost it has received thanks to the Covid response. “Covid all around the world made people take stock of
where they are at and even who they buy from.” Grant says kudos must go to New Zealand Winegrowers, for working with the Government to ensure that harvest could go ahead, deemed an essential service. “Without overseas tourism, the export dollars to be earned from the 2020 vintage will be more important than ever to the country.” Peregrine Wines Chief Executive Fraser McLachlan had some pretty “dire” predictions when New Zealand went into lockdown, with the wine brand highly dependent on on-premise channels. However, Peregrine’s exports have rebounded to 80 percent of pre-Covid levels and are steadily increasing, while “fantastic demand” on the domestic market has picked up any slack. “We have pivoted a wee bit and focussed on where we have interest,” he says. That includes cellar door and
direct to consumer sales, as well as a booming hospitality trade in New Zealand, with a “surge” in new placements for Peregrine, as well as existing customers. “The New Zealand market has been really strong,” Fraser says. Meanwhile, there are valuable learnings through this period that will be part of business as usual when borders open. One of them is giving fewer people a better experience at the cellar door, with “better conversion to sales”, says Fraser. In fact, one of the things that preoccupies him now is how he’ll keep visitor numbers low enough to maintain that position when borders open, a problem he’d never have considered when they closed. He says one of the most “enjoyable” experiences of the past 10 months has been taking a hard look at the company’s processes and structure, in preparation for lean times that never arrived. “Some of these will be very positive changes.”
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 19
the quickest, including New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. But the biggest surprise has been the amount of new inquiries from new markets, Matt says. “The level of interest is there and, regardless of the environment, people are engaging and looking for opportunities.” It is pleasing to see Sauvignon Blanc performing so well, as an approachable variety with a strong reputation, he says. “When it is left up to the individual to buy what they want - without any advice or suggestions, be that a sommelier or wine merchant - they gravitate to what they know and trust,” he says. “I think for me it has reaffirmed the strength of the New Zealand brand and the quality of wine coming from across the country, in particular Sauvignon Blanc.” And he warns that the region needs to take care with that golden goose, ensuring a judicious amount of bulk wine sold abroad. “There is a place for bulk wine, but we just need to stop celebrating it.” New Zealand can take pride in the fact people love Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and in particular Marlborough, he
says. “So why would we want to put ourselves in a position where we risk that reputation?” Dog Point is more heavily reliant on its distributors and their teams than ever, and the “really good operators have shone through in these tough times”, Matt says. Despite the better than predicted sales, there are plenty of challenges. “Budgets and allocations become impossible as the situation changes daily. Flexibility and communication is paramount more than ever,” he says, admitting he is now constantly on the phone. Shipping timeframes and stock control is tough to navigate, he adds. “There are lots of delays and there is no consistency from day to day, so it is hard to know whether distributors should be stocking up or stocking down.” Indev in Group C hie f Executive Duncan McFarlane says Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc demand has been stretching beyond supply for some time, and Covid-19 accelerated that imbalance. “Putting Covid to one side, we were getting to critical inventory levels.” He says the company didn’t know what to expect when
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Covid put the country in lockdown, “but we planned for the worst”. They devised vintage scenarios for different levels of disruption, including falling revenue and the potential shutdown of harvest. “Our focus was navigating our way safely and successfully through harvest, while keeping in very close contact with our customers.” T hey assumed it was “more likely than not” that there would be disruption to demand, having already seen a stall in the on-premise space, says Duncan. “We knew that the primary channels we operate in would still be open – which is retail - but we didn’t anticipate the spike in demand that we ended up seeing.” When that spike revealed itself, Indevin swiftly moved inventory already in market and got extra wine on the water. “We were fortunate because we planned on, and had been working on, a pretty decent increase in supply for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for vintage 2020,” he says. Instead of using that in new markets, as originally planned, they met demand from existing customers, topping it up with the purchase of additional wine. S a u v i g n o n ’s d e m a n d trajectory is a great news story, but while all producers and exporters would be keen to increase price, it’s vital that the companies correctly read the “elasticity”, in order to safeguard demand, he says. The average price has already been pushed up, as lower priced products disappear from shelves, “and the whole tide rises”, he says. The greater challenge is to increase the headline price. “We’ll be trying as hard as any other business to increase value, but my own opinion is first and foremost we have to ensure that we can sell our wine… We also don’t
know what the impact will be in our core markets when the economic impact of the pandemic actually bites.” Tim Lightbourne, Co-founder at Invivo & Co, says the past six months have been the biggest since their 2008 launch. “Our brands are growing in all of our focus export markets and we export 80 percent of our wines, so this has been a major driver,” he says. The increase is driven largely by demand from the UK, Ireland, USA and Canada. “Sales of Graham Norton and Invivo X, Sarah Jessica Parker wines in the UK and Ireland alone have increased by 260 percent from April to September 2020,” he says. “With more people drinking at home, our retail partners are seeing an increase in demand which has offset the loss in on-premise business.” But he says they’re looking forward to the on-premise bouncing back, “as this is an important channel for our business and we’re supporting our partners where best we can”. Philip Gregan says the export outcome for New Zealand wine is “beyond anyone’s best case scenario”. And the longer the change in consumer behaviours persist, the greater the chance that they become embedded for the long term, he adds. “That is providing more certainty about the future.”
Still taking the world by storm THE GROWTH of New Zealand’s wine
In 2020, 34 years after those somewhat startling Sauvignon successes, Covid-19 seems to have given the variety another lease of life, says Jane. “It’s really come into its own,” she says, speaking of people “romping” through Marlborough Sauvignon in London and New York. That’s a far cry from her expectations when New Zealand went into lockdown, and Hunter’s reviewed the outlook for its wines in foreign markets, where they’re seldom found in supermarkets. The places they sold to, via small private wine stores and niche markets, “emptied out” in lockdowns, and Hunter’s budgets looked “pretty dismal,” Jane says. “But thankfully it didn’t go that way.” Instead, markets have swung the other
industry is “staggering”, says one of the country’s first exporters of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. “It’s just amazing and basically based on one variety,” says Jane Hunter, who recalls being warned in the 1980s that Marlborough’s Sauvignon success would wane. “Even in the past 10 years, you’d sometimes think ‘that must be the end of it’. But it just keeps going.” In 1986 Jane’s late husband Ernie Hunter caught the world’s attention with a Marlborough Sauvignon, winning the top award at the Sunday Times Wine Festival in London. Hunter’s won again in 1987, the year Ernie died in a car accident, and in 1988, with Jane then at the helm.
direction, and Hunter’s has worked to help their distributors adapt. That’s worked a treat, and Hunter’s is now down to the bare bones of its 2020 Sauvignon stocks, and urging clients to “eke it out” until the next vintage, says Jane. And that’s they way of it for many in Marlborough, she adds. “You can’t find a drop of (Sauvignon Blanc) in the valley.”
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Labour of Love
The Seifried family
As part of her Milestone series, looking at the export history of New Zealand wine, Sarah Adams looks at the tireless determination behind Nelson’s Seifried Estate. SEIFRIED ESTATE was estab-
land in the Moutere Valley for a vineyard, before the Marlborough wine region had been established. In 1973 they planted their hand-grafted vines, and by 1976 they had their first harvest. They made five distinctive varietal wines that vintage – Riesling, Sylvaner, Chardonnay, MüllerThurgau and Refosco. “Hermann and Wine sales were entirely Agnes have created through the tiny cellar a business that door at the front of the winery and via mail slowly and steadily order to friends who had became profitable.” heard about the wines. By 1980, the business Agnes was born on a Southland was quickly growing, and the sheep farm and was fresh out of family had too. There were now teacher’s college. She was teach- three small children - Heidi, ing at a secondary school in Nel- Christopher, and Anna - playing son when they met each other at in the vineyard and the winery Mt Robert Ski Field. while their parents worked. At the time, Nelson was wellOver nearly 50 years, known for its hops, tobacco Seifried has evolved into a and apples, and Hermann successful business through recognised this was a potential ‘a labour of love’. With location to plant vines. Agnes determination and hard work, and Hermann married at the Hermann and Agnes have end of 1971 and purchased created a business that slowly lished by Hermann and Agnes Seifried when they planted their first vineyard in Upper Moutere in 1973. Hermann grew up on an apple orchard in Austria and studied winemaking at Weinsberg in Germany. He moved to New Zealand in 1971 to take up an apple winemaking job.
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Hermann and Agnes Seifried’s inaugural vintage in 1976
and steadily became profitable. Today, all three Seifried “children” are involved in the business and their passion has been passed on to the next generation. Youngest daughter Anna says, “there is something very rewarding when you know your team have put their heart and soul in to grow and make a product which we are proud to put our name on”. Much of their business success can be attributed to the children deciding to join the family business after going
out on their own and studying. “Our growth over the past 20 or so years has been a lot do with the family ‘coming home’ to join the business, adding confidence to what Mum and Dad started, and working to ‘take it to the next level’,” says Anna. Chris studied winemaking and now oversees the winery operations from fruit receival to bottle. He is also involved with export customers, particularly in the UK and Europe. Heidi is a dentist, but also studied viticulture and oenology, and
joined the family business in 2004 to oversee all traceability and auditing programmes, as well as managing the winery laboratory. Anna studied wine marketing at Adelaide University and in 2003 moved home to take up the role of Sales and Marketing Manager. Each family member has a specific role to play in their 24 different markets, which have been strongly supported by spending time in market. Various family members travel each year to attend trade fairs, wine tastings and other promotional events in an endeavour to support valued agents and build Seifried brands. “Working face-toface to present and taste our wines and tell our story either at trade events or consumer tastings has been a huge part of our growth over the years,” says Anna. The arrival of Covid-19 made a big impact on the way
the Seifried business operates, with international travel off the cards, she says. “Each and every market we work with is important, and what we’ve learnt during this pandemic is the necessity of having a mix of retail, online and on-trade customers in various markets.” The strong relationships they have nurtured with customers are now paying off, as they switch to Zoom meetings and social media communication. They have one staff member based in the United Kingdom, who continues to be their eyes and ears in Europe. “Marie, our UK/Europe Market Manager has continued to work through lockdown from home… to support our distributing partners to get through these very trying times,” says Anna. Navigating through this new normal, some parts of the business are doing well, she says. “Obviously online has been doing well
Agnes and Hermann grafting vines in 1973
lately, but in markets where on-trade is reopening again, things are going well as diners desperate for a night out hit restaurants and bars again.” W hile Anna thinks New Zealand’s isolated location, ‘tucked away at the bottom of the world’, means we can be easily overlooked in the wine world, she has advice for those looking to strengthen their exports: “Make (intelligent) noise whenever you have the
opportunity. New Zealand businesses can experiment and adapt wine varietals, styles and vineyard practises in a way many other countries can’t, she adds. “We don’t have the history of Europe, but we have the selfbelief, innovation and freedom to make world-class wine.” This story is part of the New Zealand Winegrowers’ Milestone series, which can be found at nzwine.com .
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NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 23
2020 Hindsight Looking back at an extraordinary year NEW ZEALAND’S wine indus-
tr y has met Covid-2020 with “dynamic, innovative responses”, says New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Philip Gregan. That’s typical of a sector that’s always been quick to adapt and react to challenges. “It’s been a hallmark of the industry over many, many years, and we’ve seen it again over the past 12 months,” he says. On 23 March, wine operations were categorised as essential businesses by the New Zealand Government, allowing industry to continue its harvest through Alert Levels 3 and 4, contingent on strict criteria. Countless employees were sent home, and rigorous measures
The wine that results will, in my opinion, be quite remarkable, reflecting the challenges and difficulties we have faced this year. were put in place in vineyards, transport, accommodation and wineries around the country. The industry was exemplary in its response, says Philip, noting that Ministry for Primary Industries inspectors were watching carefully in every region, and reported excellent compliance. In general terms, New Zealand wine has come out of 2020 “very well”, he says, with a nod to the successful harvest, thriving exports, buoyant domestic sales and reports of standout wines from the 2020 vintage. “That’s not to say there aren’t challenges – there are,” says Philip. “But in general terms you’d have to say we had a very
good vintage - all the grapes were taken in and industry sales have, in the face of all that uncertainty, performed much better than everyone was thinking back in March and April.” As this extraordinary year draws to a close, Winegrowers’ regional writers caught up on some memorable moments around the country.
Central Otago JO BURZYNSKA
After one of the most challenging Central Otago vintages in memory, a plague of locusts was the next thing viticulturist James Dicey expected. Frosts,
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
heavy rain, wind, and a particularly cool summer had struck the region before the Covid19 lockdown hit at the start of harvest. However, instead of another setback of biblical proportions, Central Otago’s winegrowers were bestowed a more clement end to the season, resulting in promising wines. The early and late frosts had caused little damage. However, a combination of a wet and cold spring, and continual wind throughout the season that made crop spraying difficult, meant powdery mildew was a challenge, says James, of viticultural service company Grape Vision. Rain and cold temperatures during the key flowering and fruit set periods led to lower yields and Chicken for Pinot Noir, while whites were not as badly affected, he says.
Estimates of how much yields were down in 2020 range from 28 percent across the region, to as much as 55 percent in Alexandra. A protracted cold period during ripening saw an extended veraison among some blocks, and slow ripening, James notes. “Harvest occurred under mostly yellow canopies over a long period.” Nevertheless, the fruit condition has been superb, he says, with highly flavoured berries and the lowest ever amount of botrytis. “The wine that results will, in my opinion, be quite remarkable, reflecting the challenges and difficulties we have faced this year.” Pip Battley, Senior Winemaker at Central Otago contract winery VinPro, says fruit quality was hard to assess, with high acids, high sugars, good
Marlborough SOPHIE PREECE
flavours, and normal to high malics. “It was an interesting year for acid levels, with both red and white wines naturally higher in acid. Red wines are looking really pretty, with good weight and great potential. The whites and Rosés surprisingly are quite good and, overall, quite elegant.” She says staffing was a challenge that required them to think on their feet. Staff were delayed by quarantine or prevented from working, while the teams functioned as two completely distinct “bubbles” with separate working areas, hours, accommodation and travel, while permanent staff isolated in separate workspaces. “Fortunately, fruit intake this year was lower than normal, due to slower ripening in the vineyard and slower harvesting due to the Covid protocols with the picking teams,” says Pip. “We were therefore able to manage well with our two small teams.” James says everything but botrytis was thrown at the industry. “For example, the night before the Covid lockdown, we got busloads of Vanuatuans we had to brief about the bubbles and find new ways of working literally overnight.
We had to try to deliver a template to individuals in a complex bureaucratic environment, reacting instantly as new information come along. But there were no cases of Covid in the wine industry, and we delivered a crop we can be proud of.”
North Canterbury JO BURZYNSKA
“2020 was a year with both challenges and some of the best fruit we have seen,” reflects Greystone Winemaker Dom Maxwell. “It’s fair to say most in the local industry view the 2020 season as one of the best for a long time. Integrity of skins, purity of flavour and stable acidity, meant a great balance for both reds and whites.” An initial challenge came in the form of early frosts. However, these were easily fought, and the spring progressed well with good shoot growth and flowering due to settled weather, says Dom. Summer hail also hit parts of North Canterbury to varying degrees. “As the season progressed the weather was largely fine and settled and picking began up
to two weeks earlier than average in some vineyards, with the fruit in pristine condition,” he says. A brief cold spell halfway through harvest stalled the final ripening of some later blocks. However, the subsequent weather remained fine and dry, resulting in clean fruit and low disease pressure, permitting fruit to be picked at the
Marlborough’s vintage will be remembered for winery bubbles, layers of precaution and near perfect climatic conditions, says Cloudy Bay Technical Director Jim White. “Mother Nature stepped aside and let us get on with what was a challenging harvest for a lot of reasons that none of us had ever imagined would transpire.” Marlborough delivered classic conditions over a “dampish” growing season, with lots of sunshine and a “pretty spectacular postChristmas”, says Jim, talking of warm conditions – “but not hot”, cool nights and a “lovely long ripening period”. Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, it was hard to fault anything in the vineyard, he says. “Across the board, fruit was pretty spectacular.” Covid slowed down the handpick of 1,000 tonnes, adding some additional cost,
“It’s fair to say most in the local industry view the 2020 season as one of the best for a long time.” optimum time for wine quality. The lockdown came at a time when much of the hand picking of varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir had been completed, while later varieties were still to come in. The challenges of the Covid restrictions posed logistical and organisational challenges for harvest. However, these were well handled in the region, due to strong communication between its wineries, says Dom. “Worker safety and flow of information was crucial to keep teams onboard and working well.”
but most of the extra Covid costs were in the winery, with accommodation, cleaning and PPE gear, with Cloudy Bay’s face masks alone costing more than $20,000. Overseas vintage workers unable to return home were retained in the winery after vintage, and many of the summer Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workers stayed on to do winter pruning, which was “a huge win for our region and we have to thank them a lot for that”, Jim says. “They sacrificed a lot.” Marlborough was hit by a severe frost in early October,
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 25
Cloudy Bay picking before lockdown restrictions. Photo Richard Briggs
but Cloudy Bay and others “threw the kitchen sink” at protecting crops, says Jim. It was a remarkable event with isolated pockets of cold and limited damage, mostly to Chardonnay, he says. “We were very, very lucky as a region that Sauvignon wasn’t a week more advanced… It was the coldest morning I think I have seen in my 10 years here.” The 2020/2021 growing season is running ahead, and Marlborough is set for another early harvest, says Jim. Nine of Cloudy Bay’s 2020 international vintage workers now have visas to enable them to undertake summer vineyard work, and by the beginning of December they will have AIP visas to enable them to work in the winery for vintage 2021. “For us they are gold because they have a vintage under their belt.” Dog Point Viticulturist Nigel Sowman says 2020 was a vintage of two halves for the company, with most of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay handpicked by a full crew before Covid-19 changed the
playing field, and they shot down to a team of six in the vineyard, all in their own bubble. “If you didn’t panic; if you weighed up your options and proceeded calmly, then you could make the most of an extremely good harvest,” he says. “One of the best we’ve had.”
Nelson NEIL HODGSON
The 2020 wine grape harvest in the wider Nelson region has been hailed as one of the best for many years. The long, beautiful autumn meant wineries were able to bring in fruit in premium condition over an extended period of time, with much smaller vineyard and winery crews. General weather conditions from flowering to harvest created a few small issues, with flowering a few days later than typical and some vineyards reporting a slightly reduced fruit set, while severe drought conditions impacted on berry size. While the quality of the
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
fruit harvested was outstanding, the volume of juice was down between about 2 and 10 percent, depending on variety and vineyard location. In the Upper Moutere district, a dry, windy spring led into severe drought conditions through summer, with only a fraction of the usual rainfall leading up to vintage. However, the Moutere clay soils handled the dry weather reasonably well. Similar conditions were experienced on the Waimea Plains, where free-draining riverbed soils meant more irrigation was required on some vineyards. In the Kina coastal area, Blackenbrook Vineyards Coowner and Winemaker Daniel Schwarzenbach says the season was “exceptional”, with near ideal weather conditions from bud burst to harvest. “Some of the wines almost made themselves - for wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc we didn’t do anything in the winery, we just needed a good ferment to turn great, clean fruit into nice wine.”
Martinborough JOELLE THOMSON
Hot, dry and intense, says Martinborough winemaker Martin Bell, when talking about the lead-up to vintage 2020. “Fortunately, the year was saved by
a little bit of timely rain just prior to harvest, which began on 7 March,” says Martin, who took over the winemaking helm at Julicher Vineyard in 2018. The vineyard benefitted from the hot, dry summer that characterised the entire Wairarapa region this year, but Martin says careful handling of grapes was important, particularly for Pinot Noir. “We treated our grapes to very gentle handling this year, due to the intense dry weather, which gave us lots of colour and fast ripening, so we didn’t want to over-work those characters.” The vintage was picked by six people rather than the usual 15, due to Covid-19. “There were a few jumps for joy when we found out that the wine industry was labelled as essential service,” says Martin, adding that he had forewarned his wife to expect not to see him again during vintage, if it hadn’t have been. Under those conditions, he would have camped on site to try and get through the picking without breaking his family bubble. Like others in the region, Martin says the vintage came in two halves - the grapes picked before Alert Level 4 lockdown and those picked during lockdown. Overall, vintage 2020 is looking “extremely good in terms of quality and style of the wines”.
Boundary lines are indicative only
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Hawke’s Bay OLIVER STYLES
There are hints that 2020 will out-pace its predecessor. “We all got a bit seduced by 2019,” says Clearview’s Matt Kirby (pictured). “But 2020 was the real deal.” The near perfect season “probably one of those vintages you don’t come across very often in a lifetime” – means
that 2020 will be the expression of each winery’s ethos as much as of the vintage, he says. For Warren Gibson at Trinity Hill and Bilancia, both 2019 and 2020 saw good levels of rainfall early on in spring, and while the mid and tail of the growing season was hot and dry, it wasn’t humid. The North Island had a very good vintage, with no issues through budburst or flowering, says Warren “No
dramas through to harvest.” Indeed, if the tough picking decisions made before and during lockdown were forced on some wineries, Mother Nature could not have set things up better. “It was a much easier season than 2019,” says Dan Brennan of Decibel Wines, pointing out that things were so warm in 2019 that between the decision to pick and the actual pick a couple of days later, the grapes would have “shot up 1.5 brix in two days”. There was none of that in 2020, he says. “You could pick whenever you wanted.” For Cameron Price, Villa Maria Vineyard Manager for the Keltern and Gimblett Gravels sites, the problem was one of logistics. With ripening progressing across all varieties, it was a matter of bringing it in. “You just had to keep pinching yourself – there were blue sky days every day,” he says.
“Realistically, you just had to pick it or it would have gone beyond what you wanted.” Both Dan and Warren agree that 2020 would have been easier on the small producers. “You could self-manage, and you were able to do it in your own little bubble,” says Warren. And Covid meant “no distractions”, says Dan. “You were out on your own - no admin, no bosses - you could concentrate on making good wine”.
Gisborne OLIVER STYLES
After budburst in mid-September, Gisborne’s early season got off to a remarkably settled start. James Millton of Millton Vineyards (pictured page 29) says summer was warm and late December early January was quite hot, “yet with cooling sea breezes in the afternoons”. Disease pressure was low, although “the challenge of powdery mil-
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Northland/ Auckland/ Waiheke OLIVER STYLES
dew requires vigilance”, he says. In a year that otherwise would have had people talking about global warming (James reports picking 11 days earlier than in 2019) Gisborne’s precocious harvest was a relative boon, sparing many a picking decision from being forced by the logistical considerations of running smaller teams and operating in bubbles during lockdown. Matawhero’s last pick was two days after the country
went into lockdown. “We had our earliest harvest ever for Matawhero, beginning on 21 February with our Pinot Noir for Rosé,” says owner Kirsten Searle. “All the fruit was picked on flavour, with the whites showing intense varietal character, with good natural alcohol level, and the reds great colour and ripe tannins. To me it will be the best all-round vintage for Matawhero since we took over the vineyard and winery in 2008.”
If 2019 was one of the outstanding vintages of the last two or three decades, “2020 was even better”, says Michael Brajkovich MW. That’s echoed by David Hoskins at Heron’s Flight, who says “the resulting wine has a concentration we have never seen in 30 years”. Warren Gibson, who consults to The Landing in Bay of Islands, says the 2019 and 2020 vintages are probably some of their best years ever. More superlatives came from Pat Newton, Winemaker at Mudbrick on Waiheke, who doubts he’s seen a better vintage on Waiheke Island, or anywhere in the world he’s worked. “All of the fruit was in pristine condition; I didn’t see
any rot the entire vintage. The resulting wines are extremely concentrated. The reds are incredibly dark with great texture and plush, ripe tannins. The whites are concentrated but have a nice crisp acidity to them.” It’s not often that all varieties “perform across the board in one vintage”, he adds. However, the season varied depending on location, says Pat. “The early part of January was unseasonably cool, but also dry. By the end of January and all through February, Waiheke had periods of intense heat, which enabled veraison to go through very quickly. Autumn was extremely settled and very dry - not normal for Waiheke.” There is a tinge of regret that they didn’t take stock at the time, says David. “I doubt we shall ever see such an alignment again… We’re expecting a beautiful, rare wine.”
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 29
The Science Lighter wines The lowdown on low alc. Pg 31
Forrest Estate’s lighter legacy. Pg 33
Constellation Going big on low alcohol. Pg 35
BRI open day
Exploring the research winery. Pg 36
NZSVO thinks pink. Pg 38
Climate change and vine physiology. Pg 41
The Light Stuff Perfect timing for Lighter Wines programme SOPHIE PREECE THE WORLD’S appetite for well-
being has never been stronger, as Covid-19 accelerates an already swift momentum, says New Zealand Lighter Wines Manager Dr David Jordan. “The shift to moderating alcohol consumption is very real and much more rapid than we had anticipated.” T he recently released New Zealand Lighter Wines Research Summar y, published at the conclusion of the seven-year programme, notes that participating wine companies are “strategically well positioned” to satisfy a growing segment of the wine and beverage market. “Based on
purchasing patterns evident during the early period of shopping in a world affected by Covid-19, consumer trends can be expected to adhere to (and build on) the same health and wellness focus – including the desire to moderate alcohol consumption,” it says. The $17 million programme – the largest in New Zealand wine’s history – began in March 2014, with $8.13m from MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership and $8.84m of industry contributions from both levy funding and cash and in-kind support from 18 participating wine companies. In the seven years since, it has involved
research into market access, sensory perception, vineyard and winery manipulations, and the transfer of learnings to industry, all the while growing the category of New Zealand Lighter Wine. The programme’s Marketing Manager, Richard Lee, says there were $31.4m in sales of lighter wines in New Zealand in the year ending May 2020, accounting for around 3 percent of total wine sales. That’s a 14 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past seven years, compared to a 4 percent CAGR across the varietals the category competes with, such as Sauvignon
Blanc, Pinot Gris and Rosé. “It’s really a very strong category story, especially given lighter wine growth has been totally incremental,” says Richard, explaining that within those three varieties, 5 to 7 percent of the offering in New Zealand is now lighter. David says when the Lighter Wines programme began, there was a “general sense” of a growing pool of consumers mindful of their alcohol consumption and concerned about their wellbeing. Forrest Estate had seen that first-hand, with burgeoning interest in its Doctors’ range (see sidebox), but while lighter alcohol wines showed
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opportunity, there was “no momentum”, David says. However, the programme’s progress has coincided with a massive shift in the market, wound up in wellness ‘megatrends’ that have seen the new generation of drinkers consume less than their parents, while 20 to 30 percent of this age group abstain altogether. Covid-19 has “amplified” those changes, including people’s loyalty to core products, their sense of wellbeing and their approach to alcohol consumption, David says. Lighter wines are a necessary innovation for the wine industry, as new products from craft gin to fruit fusions and from mocktails to seltzers - crowd the shelves and “distract” the new generation of consumers, who are looking to options other than wine, he says. “They are coming in with a lower alcohol consumption profile and also a greater diversity of products that satisfy their thirst.” Wine companies ignore that movement at their peril, David adds. “As wine producers we need to be very aware of what’s happening, and what’s competing for share of throat… We need to be very mindful of what is approaching us and how quickly it’s moving too.” The Lighter Wines programme is the latest step in New Zealand wine’s willingness to progress change, says David.
“Lighter Wines, like the Screwcap Initiative, is a key step in New Zealand’s ongoing path of innovation and presenting as a modern wine producing nation.” Steve Penno, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Director Investment Programme, says the Lighter Wines programme is reinforcing New Zealand’s reputation as being consumer focused and an innovator in the global wine industry. “The strength of collaboration and co-innovation within New Zealand’s wine industry has the potential to position it as number one in the world for premium lighter wines.”
Lighter, low and no The lighter wines category has moved fast over the past seven years, says Richard, who took aim at the market in 2015. “When I first started, and was talking to retailers around the world, it was almost an arm twist. Now they are convinced; they know there’s a category and it’s a conversation about which products to choose in order to satisfy that growing demand.” According to the 2020 Lighter Wines Research Summary, roughly 20 percent of premium wine drinkers in New Zealand have bought lighter wine and plan to buy again soon, while another 38
percent have not yet bought, but remain open to purchase, indicating strong future growth prospects On the export front, New Zealand lighter wines have an estimated total value of $8.8m, which is 57 percent up on the year before– but off a “much smaller base” than the domestic market, the report says. A recent survey of the grantor wineries shows that there is a further increase of 70 percent in volume of lighter wine destined for the export markets from the 2020 vintage. In key export markets, lighter wine sales are beginning to accelerate, but typically account for less than 1 percent
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Leading Light SOPHIE PREECE
NEW ZE A L A ND’S Lighter Wines category owes a lot to Dr John Forrest’s stubborn streak. The Marlboroughbased founder of Forrest Estate was on a South Island sales trip 14 years ago, when he noticed a keen interest in the 8.5 percent alcohol content of his first ever Doctors’ Riesling. Recognising a shift in attitudes, he returned home and informed his wife Brigid (the other doctor in the Doctors) that lighter alcohol Sauvignon Blanc would make them rich. The response was a look of “incredulity”, he says. “’Another bright idea John?’ I think she said.” John’s character traits of determination, risk taking, innovative thinking and determined stubbornness came to good use as he set to the task of lowering alcohol without losing quality. The scientist wanted a Sauvignon Blanc with all the texture, flavour and balance people expected of a full alcohol wine, but sitting at 9 to 9.5 percent alcohol. After two years of disappointing trials in the winery, remov-
ing alcohol through chemical means, he moved to the vineyard instead. Picking fruit at 17 brix resulted in wines with an unsatisfying mouthfeel, so he went back to the drawing board, before also rejecting Sauvignon Blanc from unripe grapes. Then John pondered the plant physiology in the 60 days from veraison to harvest, when the vine grows sugar and flavour while dropping acid and developing phenolic ripeness. “I knew I had it in the first year of the plucking trials, just by tasting the grapes as they ripened,” he says. “They still had flavour but lower sugar.” The next year he had enough to make a small batch of wine, “and the moment I tasted those experiments, I thought ‘aha we’re onto something’”. After seven years of trials by his vineyard and winery team, and a Government grant that allowed Plant & Food Research scientist Mike Trought to assess the vine physiology at play, John found a way to slow the accumulation of sugar in the vines by trimming “alpha” leaves
while leaving less productive older leaves. The result is a longer hang time, so the vines get the late season diurnal fluctuations, so key to Marlborough wine, but don’t develop as much sugar as their unplucked neighbours. It’s not as simple as it sounds, and developing the system took time. But by 2012 John was satisfied by the quality of the wines, and with the cost of producing them. He wasn’t the only one, because the 2012 Doctors’ Sauvignon Blanc was awarded a gold medal, proving the wines could stand against their full strength counterparts. That year Forrest exported to the UK, and received a slow introduction to the market. Then a Waitrose buyer read a wine review, contacted John for a sample and ordered 10,000 cases, says John. “I think I had made 5,000.” Forrest Estate certainly walks the talk of lighter wine, with half its production in the category, including a Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Rosè and Riesling. They’re award-winning wines that
have earned respect from the wine intelligentsia, including Jancis Robinson MW, who this year wrote that the Forrest Estate’s Doctors’ range was “a beacon of vinosity in an increasingly abstemious world”. Thinking bigger than Forrest, John shared his research findings with the Lighter Wines programme, seeing potential for New Zealand’s wine industry to be the worldleading name in naturally produced premium lower alcohol wine. John was a founding member of New Zealand’s Screwcap Initiative, which worked to ensure that every wine under cap met expectation, so that one bad wine didn’t sink them all. Sharing the Lighter Wine information was done for the same reason, he says. Sixteen years after a sales trip piqued his interest, he says it’s been an extraordinary journey, that’s challenged him as a scientist, grower, businessman and wine lover. “I’m not resting and have great excitement about the potential about even lower alcohol wine that’s still premium.”
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 33
of all wine sales. However, consumer surveys indicate that around 40 to 50 percent of premium wine drinkers in New Zealand’s key export markets are predisposed to the purchase of lighter wines. “This willingness to purchase has been trending upwards since the programme first began commissioning market research in 2014,” says the report. Richard says in more recent years, three segments have emerged within the lighter wine category, with naturally lighter wines in the 8 to 10 percent ABV range, low alcohol at 5.5 to 7 percent, and then alcohol free “for the abstinence crowd”. The no alcohol is still a “niche within a niche” but is growing fast, moving from zero to 10 percent of all lighter wines sold in the domestic market over the last 12 months, says Richard.
Proof is in the tasting One of the biggest issues the programme had to tackle early on was a negative perception of lighter alcohol wines, created by the first wines made by international producers, some of which had been described by international wine reviewers as “akin to nail polish remover”, says David. “At an early tasting of international examples, one person on the programme declared the wines to be heinously hideous,” he says, admitting his own impression was of a “very underwhelming” category. Richard was adamant from day one that the quality of wines from the New Zealand programme had to be assured before tastings were taken to consumers, says David. “If there was even a slight disappointment in the wine quality, the (negative perceptions) would be reinforced very quicky. We also had to have confidence that the grantors or participating wineries had the ability to scale up in order to be successful.”
Getting to that point required time and research in the vineyards and wineries, working on “naturally lighter” techniques first developed by Dr John Forrest of Forrest Estate. The programme also trialed reverse osmosis, spinning cone technology, native yeasts, and fermentation vessels, as well as a raft of other trials in the vineyard. David says the work reaped excellent results, borne out by the 108 wine awards earned domestically, and 11 internationally, by lighter wines, not including the 2020 award season. Two of the wine companies in the programme say staff shown the past two vintages of lighter Sauvignon Blanc, alongside their standard counterparts, deemed the lower alcohol version the best of the vintage, says David. “I never would have believed that would be possible, back in 2014.” Meanwhile, esteemed wine writers and reviewers are acknowledging the quality of New Zealand’s lighter wines. Last year Bob Campbell, MW, wrote that low alcohol wines have “improved dramatically” since the programme began. “Five years ago, I regarded low
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
alcohol wines as a curiosity. Now I see them as a welcome and viable extension to the New Zealand wine list.” With quality assured, the programme went to market, and has engaged in tastings with around 50,000 consumers in key markets such as Australia and Canada. Around 80 percent of those engaged accepted a sample and of those the conversion rate was around 14 to 16 percent (and as high as 25 percent in Canada) which is well up on the standard 8 to 10 percent typical of wine tastings, says Richard. The tastings are key to combatting a perception that low alcohol equals low quality, because the “proof is in the tasting” he says. “The fact that we have sustainable sales now shows the wines are delivering on expectation.” The programme’s success is down to the global shift in attitudes and the progress made in quality and quantity. But it’s also thanks to a collaborative approach and “single minded message” around the category, says Richard. “The hallmark of this programme - and I think it’s unique in the world - is that you have 18 companies, includ-
ing winemakers, viticulturists and marketers, all recognising that if we work together we have a greater chance of growing that category faster for the benefit of all.” With the research programme now finished, the Lighter Wines group is keen to keep up the momentum and is exploring the opportunity to continue work in key markets with exporting grantees, David says. “We are fostering that opportunity.” It takes time to build a new category, and Lighter Wines is “a decade-long play”, says Richard. “People forget, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was not an overnight success, but decades in the making”. New Zealand Lighter Wine has made a great start, accumulated valuable intellectual property and nurtured a market already thirsty for innovative alternatives to full strength wine. “We have a competitive advantage and a head start. The goal has always been to dominate the lower alcohol wine category, like New Zealand dominates the Sauvignon Blanc segment,” he says, “and we don’t see any reason why we can’t achieve that”.
Light on their feet SOPHIE PREECE
“BETTERMENT IS here to stay,” says Constellation’s Asia-Pacific Vice President of Commercial Development Rowan Dean. In the past six months, Constellation’s New Zealand arm has released seven new lower or ‘zero’ alcohol wines, adding to the 15 lighter wines they already had on the market. It’s about “doubling down on betterment”, says Rowan. “People are more conscious about health, and ultimately what we do by offering multilayers is offer more people more choices.” That burst of growth is largely down to Constellation finding a “sweet spot” in the 7
percent alcohol space, where Rowan sees the most market excitement. “If you go back three or four years the only options you had for wines that were lower alcohol and tasted good was by doing it naturally in the vineyard,” he says. By picking early and the right treatment you could get down to 9 percent, and Constellation was one of the companies working to refine those techniques, he adds. “Now we are making fantastic tasting naturally lighter wines at the 9 percent mark.” However, he sees a lot more enthusiasm and potential for lower alcohol wines, between 5 and 7 percent, with
big gains in wellness while retaining the sense of wineness. New spinning cone column technology - introduced to New Zealand late last year - is allowing Constellation to play well in that space. The winemakers use the cone to remove the alcohol and then blend the zero alcohol wine back with the removed aromas and volatile flavours, before balancing it out with a portion of the original wine, says Rowan. They toyed with lower levels, but the 7 percent retains the flavour and mouthfeel carried on the alcohol, he says. “That’s where we see optimal taste versus benefit balance.”
Seeing the potential, the company has hit the category with a “portfolio approach”, including 22 offerings of lighter, lower and no alcohol wines via existing and new brands, including two tiers of Selaks, Kim Crawford’s Illuminate, and the company’s new State of Light. Pre Covid there was already a big consumer trend towards wellness, and the pandemic has heightened that, says Rowan. “We talk about Covid not creating new trends, but accelerating existing trends,” he says. “And post-Covid, people will be looking for healthier and sustainable choices more than ever.”
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 35
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Smell the Rosés Workshop delves into pink possibilities SOPHIE PREECE
NEW ZEALAND’S wine industry
has only “scratched the surface” of Rosé’s possibilities, says Wither Hills Winemaker Patricia Miranda-Taylor. “That’s why it’s so important to do trials so we can know what we can achieve.” Patricia was one of the speakers at November’s New Zealand Society for Viticulture and Oenology (NZSVO) Rosé Workshop in Marlborough, fittingly titled Smell the Rosés. And smell them they did, with 95 industry members from around the country hearing about new happenings in vineyards, wineries, markets
and research labs, while tasting Rosés from New Zealand and beyond. NZSVO Executive Officer Stephanie McIntyre says the event sold out faster than anticipated, partly because the world has such a thirst for Rosé, and also because this was one of the first industry events to be held since Covid-19 first shook the country. “Obviously everyone is keen to get back into that industry share, which I think is critical to the success of New Zealand’s wine industry.” Clive Weston of Negociants spoke to the workshop about
the global Rosé market, including “what makes Rosé so hot right now”. Clive says with a multitude of styles across a spread of price points, Rosé is set to continue its stellar rise. New Zealand wine export statistics from the past five years show it has overtaken Chardonnay in terms of exports sales “and is just a fraction behind Pinot Gris”. That growth in numbers made the workshop topic an easy call, says NZSVO President Jeff Sinnott. “It is obvious that this thing is taking off, whether you like it or not.” The rise of
Rosé has been “truly consumer driven” says Jeff. “Generally speaking, it’s not really a winemaker’s wine… That’s what makes it so exciting because it’s so customer-centric.” And in a world where wine is competing with beer and other beverages, companies need to listen to the consumer. “That’s probably the next generation’s challenge - to keep this as the beverage of choice.” Wielding a squat 750ml bottle of Round Theory Rosé – certified vegan, in a lightweight bottle, with double its carbon emissions offset – Jeff notes
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that in the Rosé category, what’s outside the bottle is as important as what it contains. “They are both equally critical,” he explains, noting that the workshop touched on consumer and market perception, “not just straight up winemaking”. That includes adapting to “modern concerns”, Jeff says. “It’s really about figuring out who they are, where they are and what they like, and what they are prepared to pay for it.” Round Theory is one of Constellation’s Rosé range. Another is “State of Light” which includes a zero alcohol option, with alcohol removed using the Spinning Cone technology introduced to New Zealand late last year. Its 7 percent Rosé also utilises that technology, but is blended back with a portion of the original wine. Selaks Head Winemaker Brett Fullerton spoke to the workshop about the importance
of Rosé to the company, with the Kim Crawford Rosé the largest wine blend made at Constellation’s Hawke’s Bay winery. That wine is the second priority for Kim Crawford in the US, after Sauvignon Blanc, he added. It may always be the bridesmaid, but “we have seen huge growth for Rosé for our parent company”. Brett talked of the product development behind Selaks’ three new Rosé wines, in a session on “finding your value proposition”. Speaking of the zero alcohol and lighter alcohol options, as well as the standard alcohol Round Theory, with its multitude of social licence features, he explained the need for a total package. In a sea of pink, he told the audience they need to think about what will make a consumer pick up their wine. The event included three international speakers, via Zoom, with Glen and Kirsten
Creasy, from Sabrosia in France, on a French take on styling Rosé – including the colour of Provençal Rosé, and a viticultural perspective on characterising critical points in Rosé production. Jiaming Wang from Labstat in Canada spoke of the chemical and sensory profiles of Rosé, and looked at opportunities to meet Rosé expectations in the China market. Bragato Research Institute Research Winery Manager Tanya R utan, who has conducted a Rosé trial at the winery and co-hosted one of the tasting panels at the event, says in the past Rosé was something winemakers made on the side with grapes they had no use for. “Now they’re seeking out some of their best fruit for the wines.” Tanya compares Rosé to Chardonnay, because the winemaker can show their personality through the diversity of styles. “And the
market loves it.” Innovations in Rosé production were a key aspect of the workshop, with a series of presentations on trials into fermentation options, whole berry inclusion and nutrients. They included Patricia’s presentation on trials into the impact of antioxidant Glutastar in comparison to OptiMum White in Pinot Noir Rosé, and work on the impact of Stimula white nutrients to improve aroma and flavour of low alcohol Rosé. Patricia says the various Rosé trials are fascinating, because consumers are driving the category. “There are so many different styles on the table and people don’t all know yet exactly what they know or they like. In New Zealand we have just scratched the surface of what we can do and what we can achieve.” NZSVO members can access the presentations at nzsvo.org.nz .
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Helping after wildfires HILL L A BOR ATOR IES is
providing support to the US wine industry by testing samples from grape growers and wineries in the wake of west coast wildfires. The New Zealand company has been subcontracted by ETS Laboratories - the largest independent wine lab in the US - to test samples from American growers potentially impacted by the fires across millions of acres in California, Oregon, and Washington, which are the main grape growing regions in the country. Only a fraction of the affected area is planted in wine grapes, and every location is different, says ETS Chief Executive and owner Gordon Burns. “Smoke exposure may be transitory and as little as
none at all. Any fire impacts will certainly not be to the entire vintage in any of the affected winegrowing regions,” he says. “It is far too early for anyone to speculate as to the extent of impact in areas where smoke was persistent.” However, in “an abundance of caution”, many growers and wineries are requesting smoke impact testing in grapes and wine, he says. Hill Labs has a long-standing collaborative relationship with ETS Laboratories, and received significant numbers of subcontracted samples from them over recent weeks. Dr Jonno Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Hill Laboratories, says it feels good to support an industry in such dire need. “Our thoughts are with those
individuals and businesses in California, Oregon, and Washington who have been impacted by the devastating fires.” He says the Hill team “worked well with the team at ETS, as both companies have high quality standards and very experienced scientists working with stateof-the-art technology”.
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Jo n n o s ay s t h e E T S team have worked through substantial challenges as the September Glass wildfire in Northern California impacted their laboratory operations in the Napa Valley, as well as their homes, “and it is fortunate that we were in a position to be able to offer them our support”.
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Jess with cuttings on a heat block at Goldie Estate
CLIMATE CHANGE is likely to
community could bring out comimpact on the regionally distinct pounds which are favourable as microbial communities in New opposed to negative ones.” Zealand vineyards and wineries, Jess did her post-graduate says PhD student Jess Ryder. diploma and Research MasBut it’s possible the subsequent ter’s on Phytophthora agathimpacts on vine physiology and idicida, which is the soil-borne wine characteristics will be posi- pathogen behind kauri dieback tive, she adds. “We’ve shown disease. Three years ago, the that these yeasts directly impact Auckland-based ecologist took the flavour and smell and tex- up a role assisting Dr Sarah Alchemy III-IV_HD PRINT.pdf 1 2020/11/16 Knight, 14:23:38 ture ofAOthe wine…so it could whose research has be that a shift in this microbial highlighted the unique signa-
Jess’s PhD - The impact of increasing temperatures caused by climate change on microbes, vines, and wines in New Zealand - is supervised by Sarah Knight (University of Auckland), Amber Parker (Lincoln University) and Gavin Lear (University of Auckland). tures of microbial communities on vineyards around the country. Jess says she “loved every minute of the work”, which married her passion for plants and microbes with the opportunity to better discover New Zealand’s wine industry, via its vines and people, as well as through the lab. So, when Sarah and Dr Amber Parker - from Lincoln University - started discussing a project looking at the impact of climate change on those microbial communities, she was eager to be involved. Under climate change models for New Zealand’s wine growing regions, average temperatures are predicted to rise by 0.5-1.5C by 2040. By 2020, it’s predicted there will be 10 to
20 more “hot days” per month, with temperatures over 25C, from November to April. Jess’s PhD is looking at how different vineyard microbial populations will respond to those changes, and the potential impact on wine characteristics. “By understanding how microbial communities and plant phenotypes change in response to increased temperatures, adaptation strategies can be developed to offset any unwanted consequences to New Zealand’s regional wine styles,” she says. Jess’s PhD scholarship is supported by the Bragato Research Institute (BRI) with additional costs supplemented by the University of Auckland and Lincoln University. .
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The People The Balance
Hayden Johnston. Pg 43
Ben Tombs at Peregrine. Pg 46
2020 Young Vit
Rhys Hall at Indevin. Pg 48
Anthony Barnes & WineWorks. Pg 50
Women in Wine Ruby Andrews. Pg 52
Rylee Adams at Accolade. Pg 54
A legend passes Frank Yukich. Pg 56 The Canyon at Tarras Vineyard
The Balance Using setbacks to open doors JEAN GRIERSON HAYDEN JOHNSTON’S journey
in the wine industry began 18 years ago, literally by accident. The founder and owner of Tarras Vineyards was hit by a car while out running in London, where he was spearheading a project for a multi-national insurance group. He’d recently run the New York Marathon, had cycled a thousand miles around Europe, and was enjoying his career, but after eight days in St Thomas’ Hospital Hayden re t u r ne d to h o m e to w n Dunedin to recuperate, prioritising his health over work. “Coming back, I quickly appreciated how beautiful it was here,” he says.
Drawn to Central Otago, Hayden found himself signing up for two properties on the same day. “I couldn’t say no to either.” One was a cherry orchard near Clyde, which he sold after Covid-19 hit, to help finance The Canyon - a beautiful new venue on the home vineyard. The other piece of land was high on the terraces of the old goldfields at Bendigo, where Hayden planted grapes in 2002, founding Tarras Vineyards. The wines found international acclaim when The Canyon Pinot Noir 2009 took out championship trophies at the International Wine Challenge and the Decanter Asia Wine
Awards. The Canyon Pinot trade,” says Hayden. “There Noir has more recently been was a big dump of snow and described by Michael Cooper as the warehouse collapsed… it one of New Zealand’s classics. spelled the end of our business The following winter Hayden overnight.” headed back to the UK to set up a wine importing “They loved their and distribution land and our family business for origins have been Tarras Vineyards and other New the inspiration for Zealand wines Kuru Kuru wines.” in London and Dublin. But that came to an abrupt end around 10 years ago, The experience encouraged when the Global Financial him to return to Central, where Crisis hit restaurants and Hayden cherishes a legacy of smaller distributors. “The real farming organically, passed clincher was in the Christmas down to him through his Māori
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heritage. In 1836 his ancestor, Captain James Joss, purchased a parcel of land on the remote northern peninsula of Stewart Island, and later married and grew vegetables with Hayden’s fourth great grandmother Kuru Kuru, of Ngāi Tahu, who had grown up on Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait. At the time the low windswept island now uninhabited - boasted a population of around 200
Ngāi Tahu people and was one of the few places in southern New Zealand where Te Tiriti of Waitangi was signed in 1840. “Our grandfather Poppa spoke fondly of having a Māori princess as his grandmother,” Hayden says. “They loved their land and our family origins have been the inspiration for Kuru Kuru wines. Each bottle of Kuru Kuru proudly displays a portrayal
of her moko kauae, the mark carved on her chin, signalling her respected position in Māori society.” The brand was originally one Hayden used in the UK but it now has a home at The Canyon, where a giant portrait inspired by Kuru Kuru, by renowned Māori artist Greg McDonald, has pride of place. Hayden is a founding member of Māori winemakers’ collective, TUKU,
which is united by a common ethos to winemaking, business and life. Kaitiaki whenua, care and guardianship of the land, is an important guiding principle, says Hayden, who embraced organics early on and plans to leave the soils in better condition than when he started. “We’re not owners of the land, we’re just passing through.”
Hayden Johnston and Winemaker Antony Worch
The Canyon at Tarras Vineyards THERE’S A silver lining to the
delayed opening of The Canyon at Tarras Vineyards this summer, with a new partnership formed with Wanaka-based catering company Morsel, to open a restaurant at the venue. “It’s a unique opportunity that wouldn’t have existed if Covid-19 hadn’t come along,” says Tarras Vineyards owner Hayden Johnston. The Canyon - a hidden gem in Central Otago’s Bendigo Hills - is a credit to Hayden’s knack for finding solutions and passion for recycling. The building came from the Highlands Motorsport Park near Cromwell, and was known as “The Nose”, because it formerly had a giant-sized nose
identifying the wine aroma room of its previous life. It was about to be demolished when Hayden visited one day in 2016. “I had been trying to sell them my wine, and when I went to do a follow-up the barman told me he was out of a job. That’s when I came up with the idea that I could buy the building and move it.” Which is what he did, “lock, stock and barrel” - a feat that required road closures as it crossed the Cromwell Bridge and headed north towards Tarras and up the steep incline to its new home. The building features a curved roof and much of the original pergola, and blends perfectly into its new setting, perched above
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
a canyon with a backdrop of kānuka-clad hillside, along with landscaping that includes 1,000 natives. It has consented capacity for 385 for weddings, gatherings, small concerts and conferences, and also has a small theatre that seats 70. Future plans include adding accommodation, and planting a further 7 hectares of grapes
to add to the 3.5ha Tarras Vineyard established in 2002. A public opening of The Canyon at Tarras Vineyards, postponed from September, will now be held in January. The restaurant will initially be open for lunches from noon to 4pm over the summer, with a view to extending the hours as demand increases. thecanyon.nz.
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Ben Tombs New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year SOPHIE PREECE
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BEN TOMBS grew up surrounded
by Marlborough vines, but says his career in wine began “purely by luck”. After finishing high school and planning a ‘gap’ year
before university, Ben saw an ad in the local paper for a vintage cellar hand role at Wither Hills. The seduction of wine was swift, and vague plans for a commerce
degree were soon overtaken by the excitement of vintage, where everything seemed “so foreign and so interesting”, he says. “You learned something
new every day.” Ten years later, Ben is Assistant Winemaker at Peregrine Wines, the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young
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“Everyone is really passionate about their job and their place and really willing to share their knowledge.” Winemaker of the Year, and the first Central Otago winemaker to win the competition. And he’s still excited by the “journey”, with an industry so innovative that there’s always something to “stumble upon and learn”. Back in his first Marlborough vintage, Ben connected with the blend of science and creativity in winemaking, and revelled in meeting people from all around the world. After two years with Wither Hills he went to Hawke’s Bay to do a Bachelor of Viticulture and Wine Science at The Eastern Institute of Technology and, while completing his degree, received the Bragato Exchange scholarship, taking him to Italy for six weeks immersed in the wine industry. It was his first time abroad and “an amazing opportunity”, says Ben. “After that I decided I wanted to see more of the world.” So that’s just what he did, stacking up 12 vintages in New Zealand, France, Australia and the US, before settling in Gibbston in 2017. He’s smitten with the beautiful valley, “surrounded by crazy mountain ranges” and an abundance of “accessible adventure”. Central Otago’s long summer days enable lingering hikes in the hills, he says. “The sun doesn’t go down until 10 o’clock, so there’s ample time to enjoy a wine by the lake and then tramp out.” But the “biggest drawcard – what keeps me here - is how collaborative the industry is”, he adds. “It’s a really cool community – everyone is really passionate about their job and their place and really willing to share their knowledge.”
He loves the small size and the quality focus of the area’s w i n e i n d u s t r y, s a y i n g conversations are about how to make the wine better, rather than how to make more. “There’s a multitude of wineries down here that are real stewards of the land… It’s great to be a part of that.” Ben has won the regional final of the Young Winemaker competition three years running, but was unable to go to the nationals last year, as he was on the Burgundy Exchange. “It’s been such a long journey,” and “super challenging”, says Ben. “It really pushes you to get the most out of yourself, pulls you out of your comfort zone and highlights your weaknesses.” Ben and the other national finalists - Ben McNab from Matahiwi in Wairarapa and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough – had a packed day at the competition, including a laboratory module, writing an essay on creating a small parcel of Chardonnay for vintage 2022, and a CAPEX paper on the pros and cons of replacing a humidifier in a barrel hall, as well as an interview, wine judging, and a speech at the awards dinner about why their winegrowing region is the best to visit this summer. B en, who is halfway through Lincoln University’s Master of Business - Global Management and Marketing says the challenges don’t stop with the win, and Peregrine’s Winemaker Nadine Cross and Chief Executive Fraser McLachlan are always pushing him to grow. “They are a big part of my journey.”
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NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 47
2020 Corteva New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year SOPHIE PREECE GROWING GREAT grapevines is
He’s currently looking down the barrel of a summer and harvest with half the usual labour force. Bankhouse staff are supported by a crew of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workers from the Pacific Islands, but has just 25 of its “It’s also pretty 60 this season, due to inspiring that all the border closures. “And we don’t know if we previous winners are going to lose them.” are still in wine and The company has been recruiting more Kiwis are leaders in the and working closely industry.” with the Ministry for Social Development (MSD), finding good and business strategies, as well people through Work and as the challenge of managing Income’s Mana in Mahi scheme people across a myriad of roles, and other apprenticeship and “no two seasons are the programmes, he says. same”, says Indevin’s Bankhouse Rhys is a perfect example Estate Assistant Manager Rhys t o t h o s e l o o k i n g f o r Hall, who took the title for opportunities, having joined Marlborough at the national Indevin as a casual tractor competition in October. driver, and worked his way up a complex business, says New Zealand’s 2020 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year. Throw in seasonal vagaries, plant physiology, technical advances
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to his current role. “If you are keen to take on responsibility, and keen to learn and push yourself, there’s definitely a career path here,” he says. “It is an industry that needs people.” Rhys studied horticulture at Massey University in Palmerston North, during which he worked internships in cropping, viticulture and apples. Viticulture fascinated him, and on completing his degree, Rhys moved to Blenheim to become a
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“viticulture champion” at the Farmlands store. When he decided to move on to a hands-on job, Rhys applied for work as a tractor driver at Bankhouse. “Then I asked to stay on as a permanent vineyard worker and did some supervision of RSE workers, a bit of irrigation and some management of a team of casual tractor drivers.” He then spent a year and a half as a viticulture technician, before becoming Assistant Manager
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a little more than a year ago. He’s looking forward to upcoming developments at the 600 hectare Bankhouse, with another 900ha to be planted at the Waihopai Valley vineyard over the next five years. “That will be an exciting expansion,” says the viticulturist, who loves working on such a large scale, knowing that a single frost, for example, can impact on one corner of the vineyard in a completely different way
to another. In past frosts they’ve recorded 4C at one side of Bankhouse, while at the other, 4km away, it was down at -0.5C. “You have to manage the individual blocks, but also think about how it fits into the big picture, which is interesting,” says Rhys. The frost risks were fresh in his mind as he went into the national young viticulturist competition, held at Ata Rangi Vineyards in the Wairarapa just
a week after Marlborough was beset by a series of frost events. His boss tried to keep him well away from the sleepless nights of frost fighting, but the alarms still came through. “It was pretty hard to keep focussed on the competition,” he admits. Going forward, Rhys wants to keep one foot in vineyard operations and the other in the technical side of the business, “so I can have an eye on each”, he says. “My aim is to be a well-
rounded manager.” The young viticulturist competitions have been a great opportunity to push himself out of his comfort zone, and gain contacts and confidence. And he found inspiration in meeting the past winners of the national event, who have gone on to do “some pretty amazing things”, he says. “It’s also pretty inspiring that all the previous winners are still in wine and are leaders in the industry.”
Fifteen years of Young Vits COMPETING IN the New Zea-
land Young Viticulturist of the Year competition is all about escaping your comfort zone, says the first ever winner. Marcus Wickham (far right in photo) took the title at the inaugural competition in 2006, and says entering put him on a pathway to success. “As soon as you enter you start to study, but a lot of it you cannot learn by reading a book,” he says. “You have to get out and talk to people – people you wouldn’t normally go out and
talk to.” That helped him more than the eventual result, he says, urging people to enter the competition for what they can learn and the contacts they can make. “And if you are lucky enough to get a placing or win it, all the better.” Marcus and 13 other Young Viticulturist winners gathered in Martinborough in early October, to celebrate 15 years of the competition as the 2020 finals progressed. The celebration brought together alumni, sponsors
and wine industry members from around the country. “After a very challenging year, it seemed extra special to be able to gather, reminisce and look forward,” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers and National Coordinator of the competition. “With these big thinking, ambitious young leaders now in senior roles, it seems the future is in great hands.” She says the celebration
conference was entitled ‘Investing in the future’, recognising sponsors who have supported the competition over the years, and reminding young people in the industry to invest in themselves. The winners since 2006 are Marcus, Emma Taylor, Simon Bishell, Caine Thompson, Stuart Dudley, Nick Paulin, Braden Crosby, Matt Fox, Paul Robinson, Caleb Dennis, Cameron Price, Tim Adams, Annabel Bulk, Simon Gourley and the 2020 winner, Rhys Hall.
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 49
Sustainability measures have become part of the WineWorks culture, says Anthony Barnes, in a series celebrating Sustainability Guardians. SOPHIE PREECE MAKING SUSTAINABILITY sim-
ple has been key to the success of WineWorks’ plummeting waste-line. “It really is about changing the way people think and building a habit,” says the company’s Project Manager, Anthony Barnes. “You have to make it easy for people to do the right thing.” The Marlborough-based wine bottling and warehousing company has doubled its case numbers since 2015, but reduced its waste to landfill by nearly 10 percent over the same period. Ninety percent of its waste, by volume, is now captured for reuse or recycling, and suppliers are increasingly vetted for sustainable products and packaging, says Anthony, who is far from satisfied by their success. “I am not happy with the level we are at,” he says. “If one piece goes into the landfill skip that doesn’t need to, I will pick it up and give everyone a rark up for it.”
WineWorks has now signed up with Toitū Envirocare, and has undertaken an initial first audit under the scheme’s carbonreduce programme. They have “some fairly lofty goals” planned, says Anthony. “We are certainly not taking an easydoes-it approach.” The company plans to be carbon neutral by 2030, and he expects it to be zero waste in the same timeframe. Anthony and his wife Beth left Auckland’s “rat race” in 2008 to move to Marlborough, where he had first lived 14 years earlier, straight out of high school and learning his logistics trade while serving in the Air Force at Woodbourne. In the eight years between leaving Blenheim and returning to become WineWorks’ Warehouse and Distribution Manager, the expansion of New Zealand’s wine industry had been “pretty staggering” he says. “It wasn’t quite the
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
wild west, but it was certainly a very young wine industry in dynamic phases of growth, for good or for bad.” The industry was scrambling to keep up with expansion, but in the years since, he has witnessed it move from that “youthful” position to being an established sector, with a lot of experience, skill and understanding in the ranks. That’s come with a change of mindset, he says, noting that a decade ago people would be employed for a logistics roles because they could tell a Sauvignon from a Chardonnay grape, rather than the professional knowledge they really needed. Now there’s a similar evolution happening around sustainability, in wine and other industries, as they better understand the opportunities to work in a more efficient and environmentally conscious way, Anthony says. “It’s exciting to think that we will be past those
growing pains soon.” In 2012, Anthony became Supply Chain Development Manager at WineWorks, then moved into the Project Manager role, focussing on infrastructure development, while looking after the company’s sustainability programmes, a l o n g s i d e W i n e Wo r k s ’ Auckland-based Operations Improvement Manager Gowan Robertson, “as well as the wider team”. He’s seen a maturing outlook in the wine industry on many levels, including logistics, over the past 10 years, “and I believe that is what we now need to see happen around sustainability”. A more sustainable focus is simply part of the company culture now, says WineWorks Director Tim Nowell-Usticke, a member of the New Zealand Winegrowers’ Board. “It is not an addition to what we do. It is how we do things.” Building habits starts with
getting the basics right, says says, noting that with a few products and packaging they Anthony. If somebody has to skips of cardboard each day, receive, including energy effiwalk across the room to a recy- sending it to landfill would be ciency. WineWorks’ forklifts, cling bin, while a rubbish bin “diabolical”. for example, come from faciliis right next to them, “whatThe focus from here on is to ties that are zero waste to landever is in their hand will go to reduce what is coming in, he fill. “Diving deeper into that is landfill”, he says. With that in says. “We look at something our focus now,” Anthony says. mind, WineWorks has built and think, ‘how is it pack- “We have not done it as well as better opportunities for suc- aged?’” The company’s purchas- we could have and should have. cess, from the offices to the ing requirements are moving to This is the next step of how we bottling line. “It’s all about insisting on recyclable packag- can improve ourselves.” making sure the systems and ing, and also look into the enviWineWorks is also part of procedures are in place… And ronmental practices behind the (“and champions”) the Sustainmaking it easy with things like colour coding,” he says. All byproducts or waste products that can be recycled or reused are, including paper, glass, plastic, Make it easy - colour code bins and make them accessible wood, polystyrene, aluminium, wherever there is waste. and steel. “Whatever is in the Reduce the load - minimise the waste coming in the door. facility that we don’t want, we Share your expectations – let suppliers know your bottom line. are getting 90 percent of it, Change your culture - get the whole team involved. plus, into a recycling channel.” Give it a crack - you don’t need to be an expert… Tonnes of plastic are sent …but call on expertise when you need to. away each month to be reproShop around - don’t stick with the same people who have cessed, pallets are sent back to been emptying your bins for 20 years just because they the likes of Chandler Glass for have been emptying your bins for 20 years. VIN SKU_HD PRINT.pdf 1 2020/11/16 reuse,AOand cardboard is also 14:50:20Find good partners who share your goals and vision. sent to reprocessors, Anthony
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ability Guardians programme run by Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand (SWNZ), through which industry members collaborate to tackle environmental challenges and opportunities. Anthony says wine companies they work with have varying levels of interest in WineWorks’ sustainability initiatives, with some keen to do a deep dive to analyse accreditation and data, while others just desire an overview. “But wherever it can add value to the industry, by sharing insights into successful initiatives, it does,” says Anthony. “We want to help our customers to succeed too… If there’s a piece of knowledge we have, then we’ll share it with them.” And when it comes to the people of WineWorks, he hopes these days they don’t even need to think before doing the right thing for the environment. “It’s just the way we do things.”
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NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 51
Women in Wine Ruby Andrew knows the write stuff TESSA NICHOLSON
WHEN THE New Zealand wine
industry wants to translate technical data and scientific language into plain English, they tend to call on Ruby Andrew. Having written nearly 35 research and scientific fact sheets and four books, the communications expert has helped thousands of growers, v i n e ya rd m a n a g e rs a n d winemakers to understand
“I have never heard back from industry members that a fact sheet was too simple.”
research results and improve industry practices. Despite having a background in feature writing and editing magazines that dealt with business in her home country of Canada, Ruby has managed to cross the divide to scientific writing apparently seamlessly. “Although moving from the business world to the research of the wine industry might seem a long leap, it was at an accounting magazine that I first learned how to craft technical pieces that were easily understood by non-specialists,” she says.
Transferring technical speak into layman’s terms can be straightforward, but it can also be “like hitting your head against a brick wall”, she says. “Sometimes researchers have resisted how simple or plain I want a message to be. But I have never heard back from industry members that a fact sheet was too simple – if anything, some people would prefer them to be shorter still.” Ruby’s link to the wine industry goes back to the late 1990s, when she met New Zealand wine scientist Dr Rod Bonfiglioli in Canada. Rod was renowned in New Zealand for his scientific wine research and was often referred to as Dr Rod. “Rod ’s idea of a holiday was to work in some lab overseas, every year. He worked in my best friend’s laboratory on Vancouver Island, which is how we met.” After years of a longdistance friendship with Rod that turned into a romance, Ruby moved to New Zealand in 2001, where he had just taken on a full-time role at Riversun Nursery and Linnaeus Laboratory as their director of vine health. It wasn’t long before Ruby’s writing skills were utilised by Riversun, to help get the word out about their importation of
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Ruby, Annie (top) and Alf
new varieties. When Rod died in 2009, Ruby took on the communications role of his last project, one he had initiated and sought funding for, on Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 elimination. Despite the many other programmes she would work on over the next decade, Ruby still considers this one of the most important she has been involved in. “I think, and the industry would possibly agree, that the virus elimination project was the star,” she says. “Because it reached industry on so many different levels. I am confident it has made a lasting difference. And of course, it is very, very dear to my heart because that was Rod’s area of expertise.” In 2013, Simon Hooker, who was then the Research Manager for New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), employed Ruby to
break down and communicate the results from research programmes that could be of use to the industry. That has included communications on some of NZW’s largest initiatives, such as the Lighter Wines and Vineyard Ecosystems programmes. She has also co-authored books on managing botrytis and frost control in New Zealand vineyards. As for the future, Ruby admits she has been rethinking that of late. “I had assumed a year or two ago that my best-by date was coming up fairly shortly. But now I am not sure. I think there is always going to be a space for the written word. It may be on an app instead of in a magazine, but the same craft will be involved – creating easy messages for the industry to understand.”
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Apprentice scheme grows new shoots SOPHIE PREECE WHEN RYLEE Adams drove a
gondola in the 2020 vintage, she was more interested in the cadence of the motor than the surrounding vines. Hearing her on the RT warning of a maintenance issue was music to the vineyard manager’s ears, says Accolade’s National Viticulturist Tracy Taylor. “That kind of stuff is gold.” Now Rylee, 18, is an apprentice at Accolade’s Woolshed Vineyard in the Wairau Valley, indulging her passion for large machinery while learning about everything from trunk disease to fluorescence counts. She learns a lot on the job, under the guidance of vineyard manager Nev Gane, who’s worked his own way up in the company, after helping plant the block 19 years ago. “I started off as a butcher and started here pretty much at the bottom,” he says. “I learned a lot from the people I was employed by,” he adds, having seen the vineyard cycle from “whoa to go”, from planting to
dieback counts. Rylee’s vineyard work helps her gain credits in the Primary ITO course linked to the apprenticeship, and she also has classroom time with Training Advisor James Crockett (see sidebox). Tracy says the apprenticeship, partly funded under t h e G o v e r n m e n t ’s n e w Apprenticeship Boost, is about career progression. As Rylee gains qualifications and experience, she’ll get more
responsibility and better pay, says Tracy. “This industry is desperate for vineyard workers, operators and managers. There are plenty of older people but not so many of the younger ones coming through.” She says a job advert for a tractor driver is not inspiring for young people wanting to build a career. “I think young people have a higher expectation, and
Apprenticeship Boost APPRENTICESHIP BOOST is a payment to help employers keep
and take on new apprentices, administered by Work and Income as part of the Covid-19 recovery. Primary ITO Training Advisor James Crockett says in Marlborough the payment is being used by people coming into the wine industry, as well as those already employed in vines who want to gain qualifications while they work. “It gives people a really good base and introduction to the industry,” says James, adding that some go on to do degree-level study, or to specialise in a certain area. “It sets them up really well for that.” James says the boost is making people more aware that the training options are available. “It’s putting apprenticeships in the spotlight again.” firstname.lastname@example.org
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NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
so they should.” Training up a young person has had unexpected benefits, including in a new app-based irrigation system. “Within half an hour Rylee had the zones turned on and off and had downloaded the app,” Tracy says. “Us old fellas struggle to turn the computer on,” agrees Nev. Rylee grew up in Hanmer Springs and boarded at Nelson College for Girls, before coming to Marlborough to train as an auto mechanic, having always wanted to work with heavy machinery. But she’s welcomed the chance to learn about the vineyard, and Nev is enjoying passing on his knowledge. “There are a lot of people who go into the vineyards now and go in one direction,” he says. I’m really looking forward to bringing Rylee through, so in the end she’ll know the whole process.”
Industry welcomes cellar ops programme THE EASTERN Institute of
Technology’s School of Viticulture and Wine Science kicks off its new Certificate in Cellar Operations (Level 3) on 18 January. The intensive onesemester fees-free programme is tailored to school leavers or career changers, to provide students with skills needed for their first vintage. After a six-week introductory period the students will engage in a commercial (and paid) vintage in collaboration with a Hawke’s Bay winery. Head of the school, Sue Blackmore, says the programme is a great way for students to get workready and start a career in the wine industry, while also building valuable connections.
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FrankYukich One man’s extraordinary influence SARAH ADAMS IN 1973, Frank Yukich sparked
day night, says Frank’s son Fabian. “In those early days for the wine industry, it was a social thing.” The area was known to be “quite bohemian”, with more than its fair share of artists, photographers. It was also home to a community of Croatians, many of whom were in wine. In 1961 Frank and Mate set up Montana Wines Limited, and by 1973 the Titirangi winery was “huge”, with a million gallons of storage and a bottling line running 24 hours a day. As a boy, Fabian would watch his father building big five-year plans with a spreadsheet, a pen“For those of cil and an adding us who were machine. Once the numbers were down, with him in the Frank set to work whirlwind days of fearlessly, no matter how “brazen” the the 1970s, he was plan, says Fabian. an unforgettably In the early 1970s, Frank put a deposit dynamic genius.” 1,600ha of farm– Terry Dunleavy on land on Marlborough’s Wairau Plains, In 1944, I Yukich and Sons on the advice of DSIR scientist, sold its first wine. Frank was and later Montana viticultur12 when he left primary school ist, Wayne Thomas. Wayne had and went to work on the family investigated Marlborough as farm with his father and older a viable winegrowing region brother Mate. He wasn’t given and recommended it due to a choice about leaving school, the climate, sunshine hours, so he started correspondence and soils. Frank purchased school, which he continued at the land secretly, “paying the nights for six years to improve deposit with his own money,” himself. says Fabian. “He took a masBy the late 1950s there sive risk.” was a wine shop under the By that time Montana house of Frank and his wife Wines had taken on outside Elsie, the sister of Villa Maria investors to fund expansion, founder George Fistonich. and when Frank told the board West Auckland was dry back what he had done, they inithen and crowds would flock tially refused to support the in for their ‘samples’ on a Fri- move. “If they hadn’t changed the modern wine industry in Marlborough when he went against the grain and bought up farmland for vineyards. His decision ignited one of New Zealand’s most famous wine regions and awoke the world to New Zealand wine. Frank, who died recently, aged 89, grew up with wine in his blood. He was the son of Ivan and Mandica Yukich, who purchased land in Oratia in the Waitakere Ranges to establish a vineyard, just two years after they immigrated to New Zealand from Dalmatia.
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
their minds, he would be been bankrupted there and then,” says Fabian On 24 August 1973, in front of a crowd of local media, politicians and business leaders, the modern Marlborough wine industry was born. At the time, Frank made the statement that “wines from here will become world-famous” – and indeed they have, receiving many prestig ious awards and accolades around the world.
Frank brought together a place and variety that combined to produce one of the great global wine styles. It was a decision that forever changed New Zealand wines’ place in the world. Read this full story at nzwine. com/en/media/our-people/frankyukich/
Frank with spreadsheets and business plans
From Left: Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Frank Yukich, Rob Muldoon and Mate Yukich in the early 1970s at the Montana Titirangi Winery
Wines from here will become world-famous TERRY DUNLEAVY M O R E T H A N a ny o t h e r
single person, Frank Yukich changed our sector to the internationally respected force it is today. I owe a special debt to Frank, who brought me into the sector in 1971 as National Sales Manager for Montana Wines Ltd. I believe he was the single greatest influence in changing our wine sector from producing mainly fortified wines, average table wines made from hybrid grapes, and sparklers - mainly carbonated - to what we have today; a world-renowned wine country famous for its varietal light wines from classical vinifera varieties and bottle fermented sparklings that compare well with Champagne. Frank was a prime example of what I have come to term
simple single-mindedness. In Frank’s case that was building Montana Wines Ltd into not just the largest winemaking enterprise in New Zealand, but leading the sector into the international export market. Among Frank’s special talents was a quick eye for products that would appeal to drinkers, and equal speed in backing his own judgement to launch those new products into the market. The success of Australia’s Barossa Pearl white sparkler led to him producing Montana Pearl, which became a big seller. Then in 1971, Devon Hern, of New Zealand Wines & Spirits Ltd, returned from a trip to California with news of a new sparkling red style called Cold Duck. Within a month,
Frank had Montana Cold Duck on the domestic market. By 1972, with me as recipient of phoned monthly orders from our South Island master distributor in Christchurch, there would be orders of 50 cases of this, 100 cases of that. But for Cold Duck there were orders per 1000-case container. Another of Frank’s talents was his love of numbers. In those days before electronic calculators, it was not unusual for him to be found with two lever-operated adding machines, checking case movements and sales revenue to reassure himself that the company was meeting its growth targets. He was willing to listen to anyone with an idea that might benefit Montana in
particular, or the wine sector in general. He was fond of saying, “if two of us always agree on everything, one of us is superfluous and I’m not about to resign”. Overriding all these talents was an awesome confidence in his ability to realise his own high expectations and to enthuse those of us around to pursue opportunity and achievement. The Montana of that time not only became the sector’s leader in production and sales terms, but was an innovator also. For those of us who were with him in the whirlwind days of the 1970s, he was an unforgettably dynamic genius. Terry Dunleavy (MBE) was inaugural CEO of the Wine Institute of New Zealand.
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NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 57
Tales of a Vigneron
by Barry Johns
MR GRUMPY - How to kill a computer I HAVE killed four computers
by drenching them with wine. I taste wine at my desk, typing my notes directly into a laptop. I killed the first computer with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The second computer died after being doused with a generous amount of Malbec. I purchased a remote keyboard and mouse and put my laptop on a stand. Problem solved, or so I thought. The next computer died when a frisky bottle of sparkling wine shot half its contents over the remote keyboard and into the arms of my laptop. My fourth computer met a similar fate. When opening fizz, I now point it toward a rubbish bin. One computer was able to be fixed by replacing the keyboard (it was still under warranty). I have learned to react quickly when wine meets electronics: • Unplug the computer. • Remove battery from laptop. • Hold the laptop keyboard facing down above a sink and squirt water up into it. It is not the liquid that does the harm, it is the residue that is left when the wine dries out. Vintage port is apparently more harmful to computers than Prosecco.
BARRY JOHNS was a successful lawyer in
French wines made simple WANT TO make sense of French wines? UK-based
Kiwi, James Flewellen, has developed a compact and highly informative system of infographic wine guides that will make your journey toward vinous enlightenment somewhat easier. James developed the system while studying for his Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) exams. Infographic wine guides are an essential purchase for all WSET students, but they are also a very practical help in “cracking the code” to help you quickly make sense of every French wine region. The guides can be purchased region by region as an ‘Introduction’ wine guide for beginners or as a ’Complete’ wine guide for anyone who already has a basic knowledge of the various regions and the wines they produce. jamesflewellen.com
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Christchurch when he got bitten by the wine bug. Tales of a Vigneron is a fascinating account of a bicycle tour through the wine regions of France, purchase of land in Waipara, planting a vineyard, launching his Fiddler’s Green wine brand and subsequent struggle to survive in a competitive, over-supplied market. It’s a gripping roller coaster ride that should be compulsory reading for everyone contemplating embarking on a similar journey. Barry is a hard-working and intelligent man who had the support of his equally hard-working family. He left little to chance, conducting rigorous research before each stage of his vineyard development. “Our personal experience is a timely reminder that success and longevity are not preordained, that life is inherently unfair. The wine industry brings out the passion and competitiveness in people like no other can. There are a range of significant risks and these add to the tension and emotion of being a winegrower.” Tales of a Vigneron is available on Amazon as an eBook edition and will be released as a paperback in mid-November when copies can be purchased at retail for $38 or direct from Barry on firstname.lastname@example.org for $25 plus postage.
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Wine Weather A warm and sometimes wet end to spring JAMES MORRISON
IT WAS like someone flicked the
switch and the cold nights faded away into memory from late October across New Zealand. A much warmer northerly airmass that is consistent with a La Niña pattern has brought
a milder end to spring. After such a challenging start to the growing season in many regions, November brought some relief from frost. The heavy rain event that lashed Hawke’s Bay did bring a timely
reminder though of what a La Niña season is capable of. The La Niña stereotype is endless days of northeast conditions, cloud, and high humidity to the east from Gisborne to Canterbur y.
Tropical cyclones passing by from time to time bring heavy rain and strong easterly gales, while the west coast, from Taranaki to Fiordland, basks in a warm and sunny summer. The reality is that a
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classic La Niña is quite rare. For the weather to produce the type of summer mentioned above we would need several other factors to play a part in creating these conditions. The Southern Oscillation Index is currently moving into a positive phase, which means that an increase in northeast conditions over New Zealand is likely. This is expected to last for several months and through until at least April 2021. Sea temperatures are below average from South America, working westwards across the equator, and yet another sign of the La Niña pattern. The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) may play a part in how prevalent these northeast conditions are over the next few months. This phase of our climate system is the movement of the strong belt of westerly winds that circle Antarctica. These winds can
contract towards the pole, resulting in fewer west to southwest changes over New Zealand. Alternatively, they can push further northwards and help to feed long periods of westerly conditions. Currently the SAM index is in a weak positive phase, which indicates the potential for increased westerly conditions. If predictions of another polar vortex are correct then this will continue to be the case through summer. The result could be the mixing of some very warm and very cool air and, with the summer sun providing the energy, there is a risk of increased heavy rain events for the next few months. The distribution of rain this summer is likely to be quite uneven both in location and timing. It is possible for eastern regions to see dry and even drought conditions for a time under a La Niña.
The outlook for December and January Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay Mean temperatures are likely to remain above average, driven mainly by warmer than average night time minimums. Daytime temperatures are likely to be near normal. The number of dry 30C days with northwest winds may be reduced, but they are still likely to occur from time to time. Long term rainfall patterns are showing near average rainfall. Any heavy rain events may push average above normal - this is more likely about Gisborne if any tropical disturbance passes nearby. Mean humidity may be higher than average also. Marlborough/North Canterbury Again, mean temperatures are likely to be above average in
the upper and central part of the South Island. Inland valleys that are sheltered from sea breezes may become very hot at times. Coastal areas should see a smaller range in temperature but still warmer than the long term average. Rainfall is likely to be near average through summer. There is an increased risk of a heavy rain event to push rainfall totals above average but long periods of dry conditions are also likely.
Central Otago Mean temperatures are likely to be above average with some very hot conditions possible under a light northeast flow. Rainfall totals may still be close to average and this is in part to occasional southerly changes mixing with warm northerly airstreams from time to time. The risk of thunderstorms may increase as a result. James Morrison runs Weatherstation Frost Forecasting Ltd -weatherstation.net.nz
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Benchmarking 2020 Profits up and outlook ‘cautiously optimistic’ SOPHIE PREECE
MARLBOROUGH GRAPE growers
enjoyed a leap in yields and profits for the 2020 season, despite the complications of a Covid-19 harvest. The 2020 Marlborough Vineyard Benchmarking report, which uses a 30-hectare vineyard
model, indicates profits of $11,910 per hectare before tax, which is up 37 percent on 2019 and a 16 percent increase on the average profit from 2015 to 2019. “ T he combination of the very dry weather right
through harvest and low disease pressure, coupled with adequate irrigation for most vineyards, led to good yields of excellent quality fruit,” says the report, which was commissioned by New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) and the
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and undertaken by Fruition Horticulture. The model yield was 13.8 tonnes per hectare, up 10 percent on 2019 and 6 percent on the 2015 to 2019 average, while Sauvignon Blanc yield
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Increases over the past five years have mainly been driven by increased wage rates, with the minimum wage increasing 20 percent between 2015 and 2019. was 14.9 tonnes per hectare, 6 percent up on 2019, says the report. “The earlier flowering varieties Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay rebounded after a poor year in 2019, up between 30 and 80 percent in comparison with 2019 due to greatly improved weather conditions for flowering and pollination.” Grape prices rose as well, with Sauvignon Blanc up 3 percent to $1,905 per tonne, which is 6 percent higher than the 2015 to 2019 average, says the report. “Prices edged higher due to increased sales and high demand for grapes.” Across all varieties, the model average grape price was $2,020 per tonne, up 4 percent on 2020 and 7 percent up on the five years previous. Working expenses in the last year increased 2 percent on 2019, costing the model vineyard $12,455 per hectare, up 15 percent on the 2015 to 2019 average. Increases over the past five years have mainly been driven by increased wage rates, with the minimum wage increasing 20 percent between 2015 and 2019, while growers report a consequent increase in other wage rates, says the report. “Pest and disease control costs have also been increasing although fungicide inputs were able to be reduced in 2019/20 due to the very favourable, dr y weather conditions.” Marlborough growers continued to invest in capital items during the season, including dams, tractors, machinery and utility vehicles, the report finds. “Some of
the machinery purchased is specifically to reduce labour expenses such as three-row sprayers, mechanical pruners and vine strippers.” The vineyard model for 2020 is based on production, income and expenditure information gleaned from 48 participating vineyards, with 12 in the Awatere Valley and 36 in the Wairau Valley, representing small, medium and large producers. Sauvignon Blanc is the dominant grape variety in the model, accounting for 80 percent of the producing area, followed by Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. As well as collecting data, the report’s authors talked to growers about their outlook, and found they were “cautiously optimistic” regarding the year ahead, with forecasts of a slightly lower crop in 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a “significant influence” on morale, with half the group “very uncertain” about their businesses due to the pandemic’s potential effect on the wine supply-demand balance, labour availability and expenses. “Most of the rest were more positive, and with a good result in 2020 they still perceive a good future,” the report says. The authors say most surveyed growers were budgeting similar prices to 2020, and many were hoping for an increase to reflect climbing expenses. “Underlying industry confidence however is still positive underpinned by strong demand for Sauvignon Blanc.”
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Emerging risk: Fall armyworm is on our doorstep SOPHIE BADLAND SPODOPTER A FRUGIPERDA,
other wise known as the highly invasive plant pest fall armyworm, arrived in northern Australia early this year and has spread rapidly around the country since. Native to the tropical and subtropical regions of north and central America, it has invaded more than 60 other countries, none of which have managed to successfully eradicate it. Fall armyworm larvae feed voraciously on more than 350 known host plant species, with a preference for cotton, maize, sugarcane, sorghum, wheat and rice, as well as several fruits and vegetables such as sweet potato and melon. Grapes are recorded as a host, however there is little information available about damage to grapevines. New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) urges members to be on the lookout for this pest in the vineyard; it is not yet known to be in New Zealand, but is almost certain to arrive in the near future in light of its rapid spread throughout Australia. While unlikely to be able to fly across the Tasman, fall army worm is most likely to arrive in New Zealand via import of infested plant material, other contaminated commodities or as a hitchhiker on aircraft.
Lifecycle and what to look for Fall armyworm eggs are laid in masses of 150 to 200 eggs. They are pale yellow when first laid and darken to a light brown prior to hatching. Eggs are laid on leaf surfaces in layers and generally hatch within two to three days.
After hatching, the larvae pass through five or six larval instars, reaching a maximum length of about 4.5cm. They are light green to dark brown in colour, with stripes running along the length of the body and dark heads. Pupation usually occurs in the soil, but also sometimes in host plant reproductive structures, such as corn ears. If the soil is hard larvae may also web leaf debris together to form a cocoon on the surface. Pupation takes from eight to 30 days, dependent on temperature. Pupae are brown and shiny, and up to 2cm long. Adult moths are estimated to live seven to 21 days, with females able to lay eggs from about the third day after emergence. Adult armyworm moths have a wingspan of about 3.8cm and body length is approximately 1.7cm. Males are slightly smaller than females. Wing colouring is mottled greys and browns, with males having triangular white spots at the tips and near the centre of their wings. Adults are
Fall armyworm moth. Image credit: Lyle Buss, University of Florida, Bugwood.org
highly mobile and can fly up to 100km at night, assisting the rapid spread. The larval stage of fall armyworm causes the most significant crop damage when feeding. Larvae are active during summer and into early autumn and will feed on shoots, stems, leaves and fruit. Grapevines are not thought to be preferred hosts, however, in the absence of other primary food sources feeding on grapevines and fruit may occur.
Impacts in other countries Since 2016, fall armyworm has spread to Africa, India,
If you suspect you see a fall armyworm, remember to Catch it, Snap it (take a photo) and Report it to the Biosecurity New Zealand hotline on 0800 80 99 66, and get in touch with the New Zealand Winegrowers biosecurity team; Sophie on 027 700 4142 or Jim on 027 644 8010 or email email@example.com.
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
China and Southeast Asia and impacted many industries, attacking crops by feeding on fruit, reproductive structures, new shoots and growing points, skeletonising leaves and creating large holes by boring through kernels and cobs. In places where it has established undetected or population levels have been allowed to build up, whole crops of maize and rice have been destroyed almost overnight; badly infested fields look as though they have been struck by a severe hailstorm. Chemical control is recommended as a last resort due to the pest’s ability to very quickly develop resistance to insecticides. Integrated c u l t u ra l , c h e m i c a l a n d biological control programmes are recommended to avoid resistance development.
Detection in Australia The first detection of fall armyworm in Australia was on the Torres Strait islands of Saibai and Erub in January this year. Within a month it had spread into other areas of Queensland, and by March was in the Northern Territory and Kununurra in Western
CLIMATE IMPACT ON PLANT NUTRITION Yearly rainfall in 2019 was (50-79%) below normal across Northland, Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough. 2019 was the 4th-warmest year on NIWA records for New Zealand since beginning in 1909.
Fall armyworm egg mass on leaf surface. Image credit: David Jones, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Last year’s dry season, compounded with this dry Spring has meant limited nutritional uptake from the soil which is showing up now in larger than usual deficiencies in Magnesium, Calcium, trace minerals and even Nitrogen. Growers need to ensure they are not relying on soil nutrition, but also applying foliar products that are highly bio-available, where less is needed for greater impact. It is important to recall that deficiencies in one year can impact two seasons, so deficiencies should be addressed as soon as possible to ensure fruit quality remains high. What to apply For growers who still have time to take tissue samples preflower, precise application of only those minerals required based on the analysis will often allow reallocation of funds to areas of need. We see that growers apply Zinc and Boron every season whether they are required or not and yet overlook minerals such as Manganese that positively impact against pathogens. For growers who have not taken a tissue test, a multi-mineral booster is recommended (such as Biomin Booster V) to ensure that plants have a little of all trace minerals plus Magnesium and yeast assimilable Nitrogen. Other Minerals such as Biomin Boron, or Biomin Magnesium can be added to overcome severe deficiencies.
Fall armyworm larva. Image credit: Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Australia. In September/ October it was found in northern New South Wales, and most recently it has been detected in Dubbo, Breeza and Maitland. The Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests has agreed that it is not technically feasible to eradicate fall armyworm in Australia. Vinehealth Australia have issued a biosecurity alert to Australian winegrowers, to ensure they are aware of this pest and to encourage reporting of any fall armyworm found in vineyards. New Zealand Winegrowers is also in regular contact with Wine Australia
and will keep members updated if there are reports of armyworm damage to Australian vineyards.
What to do if you suspect you find one Northern areas of New Zealand are the highest risk regions for the establishment of fall armyworm – regions where temperatures fall below 9° and frosts occur are likely to be too cold, although seasonal migration can occur into cooler areas. Any crop damage is most likely to be observed during the summer and early autumn months, when larvae are feeding.
For those growers whose crops are now past flowering and at cell division stage, look to use a bio-available product like Biomin Calcium. The significance of quality mineral nutrition is not to be overlooked, playing a pivotal role in response mechanisms against pathogens such as Botrytis cinerea and Erysiphe necator (Powdery Mildew). New generation plant-based Nitrogen Without rain, Nitrogen levels drop significantly affecting YANs in wine. For growers requiring a high quality, high analysis, organic, plant-based, foliar Nitrogen, consider the new product release, Biomin N. Electrolytes for human dehydration, and for plants too! During dry seasons plants are under considerable stress, try adding a plant electrolyte as found in our Fulvic Acid product, Mobilizer. For personalised advice on your nutrition requirements contact Molly Callaghan from Roots, Shoots & Fruits directly on: W W W. R D 2 . C O . N Z | R S F @ R D 2 . C O . N Z | 0 9 3 7 2 9 1 5 5
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Not on the Label - Legal matters with Dentons Kensington Swan
Post-election debrief - how quickly will Labour do away with the ‘legislative cockroach’? MARIJA BATISTICH, PARTNER, AND LOUISE TREVENA-DOWNING, ASSOCIATE, OF DENTONS KENSINGTON SWAN
UNLESS YOU have been living
under a rock, you will have seen the Labour Party take with some ease the majority of seats in Parliament, able to govern on its own but also with a “Cooperation Agreement” with the Green Party. This means changes for the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). More recently, the RMA has been more colloquially referred to in the news as a ‘legislative cockroach’, having survived through over a decade of political consensus that it needed drastic reform or repeal. One of the key reasons touted for its repeal is that the RMA simply does not go far enough to protect the environment.
Late last year, the Government commissioned an independent review of the RMA, resulting in a specialist report, commonly referred to as “the Randerson Report” (for further information, refer to the article Legal Matters – Is this farewell to the Resource Management Act in Winegrower, October/ November 2020 issue). The Randerson Report recommended the RMA to be repealed, and replaced with two new key pieces of legislation: • A Natural and Built Environments Act to focus on enhancing the quality of the environment including recognition of Te Mana o te Taiao - the importance of maintaining the health of our natural resources,
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
such as air, water and soil, and their capacity to sustain life. Significant changes to processes are recommended, including replacing the more than 100 council plans around New Zealand with a single combined plan for each region, so 14 plans in total; and • A Strategic Planning Act to set long-term strategic goals and facilitate decisionmaking across the resource management system. Strategic planning means providing more certainty for development within each region, with little wriggle room. The Randerson Report also recommended legislation to deal specifically with managed retreat from areas affected by climate change.
T he new Government has fully committed to implementing the R anderson Report’s core recommendations. It aims to introduce and pass the three pieces of legislation noted above before the next election.
Key areas of change to watch out for Climate change In its first term, Labour passed the ‘historic’ Zero Carbon Act. Labour has committed to taking further steps on Climate Change, including passing new legislation on managed retreat, as above. In addition, it has promised to deliver the following: • Achieving 100 percent
Not on the Label - Legal matters with Dentons Kensington Swan
There are concerns amongst commentators and the public that Labour’s commitments on climate change will not go far enough. renewable energy by 2030; • Phasing out coal-fired boilers and replacing them with electric alternatives; • Incentivising low emission vehicles; • Increasing investment in public transport to enable decarbonising public transport buses by 2035, and requiring only zero carbon bus purchases by 2025; • Supporting integrated farm planning and Increasing funding for agricultural climate change research programmes; and • Action on food waste. There are concerns amongst commentators and the public that Labour’s commitments on climate change will not go far enough. Interestingly, not only has Labour entered into Cooperation Agreement with the Greens, but has now appointed Greens Co-leader James Shaw as Climate Change Minister. Consequently, we expect to see a greater focus from the Government on climate change. We will have to wait and see how this plays out beyond some of the rhetoric to date. Urban development Labour’s resource management policies aim to remove barriers to the supply of land and infrastructure for housing. The new National Policy Statement on Urban Development directs councils to free up their planning rules and enable more homes to be built. Under the new Government, there is no longer a Minister of Urban Development (this was
previously Phil Twyford). This portfolio has been replaced by new (expanded) housing portfolios. Water reform Before re-election, Labour prop o s e d a n at ionw ide reform of the Three Waters (drinking, wastewater and stormwater) service delivery arrangements. Instead of delivery of water services being the responsibility of local councils, Labour proposes to set up nationwide water authorities. It now clearly has a mandate to continue with this proposal given that it has secured a second term in Government – so watch this space. Environmental safeguards and iwi consultation There appears to be a tension between Labour wanting to implement fast track legislation to get things going quickly, versus the Greens, who oppose fast tracking due to a lack of environmental and climate safeguards, and the need for more comprehensive stakeholder and iwi consultation. As above, Labour has the majority but given the Cooperation Agreement with the Greens, it will be interesting to see if the tensions rise above the surface. As the new Cabinet is just getting its feet under the table, we will keep you updated as the environmental agenda pro g resses , par ticularly the proposed repeal of the “legislative cockroach.”
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 67
On your Behalf
Advocacy on matters of vital importance to the industry.
The new Privacy Act 2020: what you need to know WINEGROWERS HOLD various kinds of personal information, such
as mailing lists, staff records and photographs – and all of these are covered by the Privacy Act. The new Act came into force on 1 December. It overhauls the 1993 Act, which was created when the internet was a thing of the future, and phones were just for making calls. While much of the law is the same, it has been updated to reflect the vast changes in technology and to give the Privacy Commissioner additional powers.
What’s changed in the new law? Notifiable privacy breaches: Privacy breaches that have caused (or are likely to cause) serious harm must be notified to the Privacy Commissioner as soon as practicable. There is an online tool at privacy.org.nz to help you decide whether you need to notify. Compliance notices: The Commissioner can issue compliance notices requiring businesses to do something (or stop doing something) in order to comply with the Act. These notices can be published, so they come with both legal and reputational risk. Enforceable access directions: The Commissioner can direct businesses to provide individuals with access to their personal information. Disclosing information overseas: Personal information should only be sent overseas if it will be subject to equivalent privacy protections (these could be set out in a contract, for example, and there are templates online you can use). New criminal offences: There are new criminal offences (eg, for failing to notify the Commissioner). The maximum penalty is a $10,000 fine.
Top tips Stop and assess: Check your current setup and update as needed. Consider what information you have, where you store it, how you use it and where it goes. Talk to your staff to make sure you have the full picture. Consider the ‘life cycle’ of each type of personal information (see diagram on facing page).
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Consent is important: It’s much easier to comply with the Act if an individual has given their express consent for how their information will be used. When collecting information from individuals, consider how you might want to use/disclose that information later – while you can get consent for something else later on, it is easiest to obtain consent at the time of collection. Don’t forget photos: Photos and videos may also contain personal information – it’s not just about documents. If images are publicly available (eg, by people posting them publicly online), you can re-share them easily, but consider how you will obtain consent to use images or video that you have created through your business. Will you do this verbally? By signage at an event? In the terms and conditions when people register to attend?
Consider how you will obtain consent to use images or video that you have created through your business. Covid-19 and privacy: New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) has specific guidance on managing contact tracing and privacy at nzwine.com/en/covid19/practical-advice. If you collect contact tracing information, you can generally only use it for contact tracing purposes. If you would like to sign people up to your mailing list, then you must ask them separately – do not just add them to your list. If your staff now work from home (or do so more frequently), consider how they will keep information secure (eg, password protected devices, locked filing cabinets). Use technology to your advantage: Design your systems to help reduce the risk of a breach. For example, some businesses use SharePoint or similar software to reduce the risk of something going wrong with information sharing (eg, by sharing links to information that will only work for the intended recipient).
Contracts: Consider privacy in your contracts. For those you disclose information to, make sure they are required to tell you about breaches, so that you can notify the Commissioner if required. If disclosing information overseas, you can also use contracts to ensure the information is appropriately protected.
Life cycle of personal information Some questions to consider:
Staff information: Businesses hold detailed records about their staff. This information may be particularly personal, as it will often include financial information (eg, bank account numbers for payroll) or health information. Ensure these records are well secured and only accessible by appropriate personnel. More materials are available at privacy.org.nz or contact Sarah Wilson, NZW Senior Legal Counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org
STORAGE/ SECURITY ACCESS BY INDIVIDUAL (if requested) USE/ DISCLOSURE
25 25 years
Emily Hope Photo Richard Briggs
How is it collected? Who is it from? What does the provider know about how the information will be dealt with? Where is it stored? Who can access it? What security measures are used? (eg. passwords)
What will the information be used for? Who will it be disclosed to? What is the basis for use/ disclosure? (eg. consent) How to ensure information is up to date? When will information be deleted? How long will information be kept for? (consider any legal requirements)
1994 – 2019
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17/11/19 4:20 pm NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 69
Visit the Vines From cellar doors, vineyard restaurants, bike trails to boutique accommodation… we are inviting consumers to do something new in a New Zealand wine region. New Zealand Wine is running a digital advertising campaign, get involved by using #visitthevines and #nzwine.
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11/11/20 3:29 PM
Target mealy bugs and sooty mould
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• No adverse effects on wine quality
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For more information contact your local TSR or Nufarm Territory Manager or visit us at nufarm.co.nz
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25/11/20 5:00 PM
Nuts and Bolts
Mark Daniel’s updates on Machinery and Technology
Smart Sprayer CL A IMED TO be some of the most revolut ionar y spray technology to enter the Australasian market, the BA Smart Sprayer powered by Smar t-Appl, provides viticulturists and horticulturists with reduced chemical use, economical spray application and advanced crop mapping. The density-based spray system utilises LIDAR sensor technology to detect the specific architecture of the canopy, which in turn creates a digital representation of the crop characteristics, including height, width, spacing and the density of each plant it passes. This digital information is then converted into a signal to each independently controlled spray nozzle for instant application
USDA research has confirmed that LIDAR sensor technology can result in the following savings: • Up to 73 percent reduction of spray consumption. • Up to 87 percent reduction in spray loss beyond tree canopies. • Up to 87 percent less airborne drift. • Up to 93 percent reduction in spray loss on the ground. • As effective or better crop protection. and adjustment of spray where required, thereby reducing chemical use and achieving considerable cost savings. Researched, developed and field-tested at the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture over the past decade, the BA Smart Sprayer has been proven to reduce spray inputs and spray loss beyond canopies, says John Dixon, Operations Manager at BA
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Pumps and Sprayers. “The system is proving effective in reducing up to 87 percent of airborne drift, delivering both environmental and economic sustainability.” The level of precision that the system can achieve has significant longterm benefits for vineyards by way of seasonal growth data, healthier plants, greater overall yields and cleaner, safer groundwater, he says.
The system also lends itself to retrofitting to existing air blast spray equipment, using an Android tablet for display to enable easy application. The sensor technology works in tandem with GPS to determine ground speed and field position, allowing growers to gauge spray coverage and gather valuable data about their vines. There is also the flexibility to revert to manual spraying applications if conditions require this approach. BA Pumps and Sprayers, formerly known as Bertolini Australasia, will be conducting a series of demonstration events throughout New Zealand to introduce the technology to Kiwi growers. basmartspray.co.nz
Ted on Tour A NEW and improved version of Naïo Technologies’ autonomous weeding robot, Ted, has been revealed prior to a tour of French vineyards. Working with longstanding development partners Maison Hennessy and Bernard Magrez, the technological and mechanical improvements are the result of feedback provided by around 20 winegrowers who have used Ted for the past three years, resulting in a new version, now ready for mass production. The unique robot features a centrally-mounted parallelogram lifting system that can use two tools simultaneously,
mounted to a multi-purpose pole. With its robust frame and a bigger electrical motor, the 900kg unit can operate at speeds of up to 4km/h for up to eight hours before recharging is necessary. Its light weight means that it reduces compaction typically seen with conventional tractors, while also having excellent “climbing” capacity in sloping vineyards. The new design features modular arches, meaning the machine can easily be configured to suit individual vineyard types, such as narrow or high vines layouts.
REX SET TO GO ITALIAN TRACTOR manufacturer Landini, well-known for its specialised tractors in the vineyard and orchard sectors, has announced a new addition to its range the Rex 4 Electra. Claiming benefits such as 10 percent fuel savings, a 15 percent tighter turning circle and greater stability during transport operations, the Electra also features an electrically powered front axle assembly. Innovation Director for the Argo Group, Giovanni Esposito, suggests that electrification of smaller tractors is very much a realistic option, unlike larger higher horsepower prime movers that will require very large and heavy battery modules. The 110hp Rex 4 Electra sees the conventional four-cylinder turbo diesel mated to a generator module. While full
Much of the concept and design of the platform were thought out while maximising the machine’s safety features, which now means Ted
technical details are currently being kept under wraps, it is understood that the setup includes a generator, electric wheel
slows down as it approaches an obstacle, and halts the unit immediately if an obstacle is touched. naio-technologies.com
motors and a battery and brake energy recovery function. argotractors.com
WALKWAYS & DESIGN • PROCESS & SERVICE PIPING • WINERY SERVICES
Carl Butler • +64 27 807 0533 • www.stainlesssystems.co.nz
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 73
FOR STATISTICS QUERIES CONTACT EMILY AT EMILY.TUNNICLIFFE@NZWINE.COM
Key Performance Indicators
SEPT JUN 2020
Keep an eye on how New Zealand wine is performing both domestically and internationally.
Total Value of Exports
Growth Markets fob value
$387.5m 4% $134.7m 8% $59.9m 23% $25.3m 24% $26.0m 6% $15.3m 16%
Packaged Wine Export
Bulk Wine Export
Bulk white wine price
Domestic Sales, Volume
All figures are for the 12 months to the date specified, figures are in $NZD unless otherwise specified
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
11/11/20 4:23 PM
Research Supplement A regular feature to inform industry people about research projects being undertaken for their benefit. Newly approved projects (when available) are briefly summarised and longer reports will describe what has been achieved so far. When completed, each project will be reported in full detail with references, on nzwine.com
Research Supplement Information and updates on Bragato Research Institute research programmes. Editors Dr Matias Kinzurk and Will Kerner, Research Programme Managers
CONTRACTED RESEARCH 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. Breaking the qualityproductivity seesaw in wine grape production (Pinot Noir Programme) University of Auckland, Plant and Food Research and Lincoln University (Various) jointly funded by NZW and MBIE Exploring the chemical space in Vineyard Ecosystems (VE) Programme juices and wines University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi) Prevention of quercetin instability in bottled wine Villa Maria Wines Limited (E Taylor) The effect of winemaking decisions on polysaccharide content in wine University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi) Understanding green character in Pinot Noir wine Lincoln University (A Borssato)
Pests and Disease Optimising management of grapevine trunk diseases for vineyard longevity South Australian Research & Development Institute (M Sosnowski) Improving remedial surgery practices for control of grapevine trunk disease to increase vineyard longevity Linnaeus (E van Zijll de Jong) Impact of grapevine trunk fungi in hot water treated planting materials on young vine health Linnaeus (E van Zijll de Jong) Improving the outcomes of mealybug insecticide use in vineyards Plant and Food Research (V Bell) Investigation into the relative abundance and species of mealy bug parasitoids in Gisborne vineyards Plant and Food Research (V Bell) Harlequin ladybird in vineyards: monitoring a potentially invasive insect Plant and Food Research (V Bell)
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)
Viticultural treatments for improving Syrah quality Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow) A comparison of physical means to reduce rot versus chemical means in New Zealand vineyards Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)
Electronic Spray Deposition Sensors (ESDS) Lincoln Agritech (Scott Post)
Potential applications of nanotechnology for wine growing in New Zealand University of Auckland (M Kah)
Vineyard Ecosystems Programme University of Auckland and Plant and Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MBIE
Climate case study – Managing hail damaged vineyards
Optimisation of irrigation and water savings in Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and Merlot Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)
Microbial community and vine responses to increasing temperatures in the New Zealand context University of Auckland (S Knight)
Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)
Future-proofing the wine sector with innovation: evaluation of ground cover, amenity & native plants as potential reservoirs of pathogens of grapevines Plant and Food Research (V Bell)
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BRAGATO RESEARCH INSTITUTE PINOT NOIR PROGRAMME
Investigating and profiling the polysaccharides in New Zealand Pinot Noir wines Hayden Jones-Moore, Dr Rebecca Jelley and Associate Professor Bruno Fedrizzi – University of Auckland
A RESEARCH FOCUS OF THE WINE INDUSTRY is to improve wine quality by enhancing wines to meet the consumers’ evergrowing demands and desires. Differences in winemaking practises have been implemented over the years to create variations in stylistic design, characteristics and sensory properties (such as taste, smell and texture) of the final wine, which are often crafted and shaped by winegrowers to fit the desires of their consumer base. Such variations include processing
techniques (such as dry ice addition, grape skin freezing or whole bunch fermentation), chemical additives, enzyme additions and yeast strains. Polysaccharides, the complex sugars in wine, are an area of emerging importance among oenologists due to research suggesting their influence on the quality and sensory properties of the finished wine. Polysaccharides are large structures containing repeating units of simple sugars (such as glucose, fructose and galactose). They are introduced into
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
Polysaccharides, the complex sugars in wine, are an area of emerging importance among oenologists due to research suggesting their influence on the quality and sensory properties of the finished wine.
Other Polysaccharides from Botrytis cinerea Polysaccharides from Bacteria
Rhamnogalacturonans (RG) Type I Type II (RG-I) (RG-II)
Arabinogalactan Proteins (AGP)
Polysaccharides rich in Arabinose & Galactose (PRAG)
Type I (AG-I)
Type II (AG-II)
Figure 1. The polysaccharides of wine categorised by their respective origins. The most abundant are AGP, MP, RG-II and RG-I.
wine from grape tissue (pulp and skin) or from yeast cells during maceration, fermentation and ageing processes. Polysaccharides are present in wine at concentrations between 0–2 g L-1, depending on the variety, vintage, climate, processing techniques and stage of the winemaking process. Red wines tend to have higher concentrations of polysaccharides than white wines. Much research over the last 30 years has been dedicated to the identification, characterisation and categorisation of polysaccharides, and this has been summarised in Figure 1. Research to date has had very little to no focus on Pinot Noir grapes or wine, thus the Pinot Noir Research Project led by New Zealand Winegrowers is pioneering investigations into characterising and quantifying the
Polysaccharides, the complex sugars in wine, are an area of emerging importance among oenologists due to research suggesting their influence on the quality and sensory properties of the finished wine. polysaccharide profile (the types and sizes present) of New Zealand Pinot Noir wines. This research will provide an understanding into how these complicated macromolecules impact the quality and sensory properties of the wine.
The method for the quantification and identification of polysaccharides has been implemented at the University of Padua (Italy) and can be achieved using a technique known as size exclusion chromatography (SEC). This method will be implemented in New Zealand. SEC separates the polysaccharides in wine samples based on their size/molecular weights (MW). The polysaccharides are passed through a tube (column) packed with micro-channels or pockets of a particular size. As the polysaccharides travel through the column, they can become trapped and take longer to pass through depending on their size. The time taken for the molecules to pass through the column is known as the retention time (Figure 2.).
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Modern theory proposes that and 2 tannins, a class of polyphenol compounds responsible for giving the wine “body”, texture and “mouthfeel” create the Rhamnogalacturonans astringent (RG) character ofTypeaIIwine. Type I
The smaller the size (molecular theory proposes that tannins, a weight) of the particle, the longer class of polyphenol compounds the retention time as these particles responsible for giving the wine spend more time trapped in inside the Zealand “body”, texturenoir and “mouthfeel” Polysaccharides New Pinot wines figures 1 column and thus can be separated create the astringent character of from other polysaccharides. Using a wine. This is achieved through standards of known molecular weights interactions with your salivary and concentrations of polysaccharides proteins that decrease the overall (pullulan and dextran), polysaccharides lubrication within the mouth. within wine samples can be identified However, certain polysaccharides by comparing the results of the within wines have shown potential unknown samples with results of the in terms of modulating astringency known polysaccharides molecular Mannoproteinsperception through altering tannin (MP) weights (the standards). interactions with your salivary proteins. Homogalacturonans B-Glucans Therefore, an understanding of(HG) these (GL) Evidence suggests that interactions, the factors that influence Chitin polysaccharides facilitate important them, and their potential implications Yeast-Derived Grape-Derived interactions with other components is crucial so that enologists and Polysaccharides Polysaccharides of wine, with implications involving the wine industry could utilise this crucial wine quality attributes phenomenon to their benefit. including astringency, haze and sediment formation, foaming Overall, understanding the factors properties, and aroma volatility. that influence the polysaccharide Arabinans profile and their modification(A) within Other Astringency, a key sensory quality wine could assist winemakers with the Polysaccharides of red wines is defined as a drying, creation of wine Polysaccharides from of a particular style Polysaccharides Botrytis cinerea in Arabinose puckering and shrinking of the oral or even improve quality,rich elaborating cavity, often identified as a “chalky” their selection and range & toGalactose meet the (PRAG) sensation by the consumer. consumer desires. Polysaccharides from Modern Bacteria
Arabinogalactans (AG) Arabinogalactan Proteins (AGP) Type I (AG-I)
Type II (AG-II)
Figure 2. A simplistic depiction of the principals of SEC. Polysaccharides pass through a column packed with a material containing many channels/pores. Large molecules (blue) cannot enter these channels, thus pass through the column faster than smaller molecules (red). Separation occurs on the basis of size (molecular weight).
Figure 1. The polysaccharides of wine categorised by their respective origins. The most abundant are AGP, MP, RG-II and RG-I.
Time Figure 2. A simplistic depiction of the principals of SEC. Polysaccharides pass through a column packed with a material containing many channels/pores. Large molecules (blue) cannot enter these channels, thus pass through the column faster than smaller molecules (red). Separation occurs on the basis of size (molecular weight). 78 //
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
An evaluation of groundcover and indigenous plants as potential reservoirs of pathogens of grapevines Vaughn Bell, Kar Mun Chooi, Robin MacDiarmid The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited. THIS POPULAR ARTICLE SUMMARISES AN INAUGURAL RESEARCH PROJECT funded by the Bragato Research Institute. The 2-year project – “Future-proofing the wine sector with innovation: evaluation of groundcover and indigenous plants as potential reservoirs of pathogens of grapevines” – has recently concluded. The final annual report was submitted to the Bragato Research Institute in August 2020. The full report can be found on the New Zealand Winegrowers Members’ website.
visually identifying and roguing (removing) all virus-infected vines annually, and continued monitoring of mealybugs that, when feeding, transmit the virus to healthy vines.
Why the need for this research?
Where implemented and where good mealybug control was sustained, the adoption of this integrated (multitactic) response significantly reduced the influence of leafroll virus. However, given the need for continuous improvement and for sustainable practices, there must be consideration for adopting new ideas and new ways of responding to the disease.
Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 (leafroll virus) is the most widespread viral pathogen present in New Zealand’s vineyards. It is also one of the world’s most destructive pathogens of grapevines. When a vine is infected with leafroll virus, berry soluble solids, acidity, ripening, and colour development (in red cultivars) are all negatively affected. Yield too is adversely altered. Therefore, because of its economic importance, leafroll virus is a research priority for New Zealand Winegrowers.
Underpinning this seemingly long-lasting association was an assumption that decoupling mealybugs from grapevines would reduce the risk of leafroll virus spreading to healthy vines.
The development and implementation of a proactive response to this disease was one of several goals of the Virus Elimination project (2009 – 2015). From that research several recommendations emerged for every vineyard owner to adopt in order to contain leafroll virus spread or to prevent its introduction altogether. Among the recommendations was planting vines sourced from nurseries accredited to the Grafted Grapevine Standard;
Recently, an expansion to the integrated approach was proposed to include the provision of a permanent, species-rich groundcover plant community, where mealybugs would colonise some of those species in preference to grapevine. Among the preferred species were clovers, and white clover in particular. The results of multi-year surveys
of groundcover plants and the colonisation of mealybugs on these plants in commercial vineyards, was recently described in the New Zealand Winegrower magazine (August/ September 2020, page 78). Across the vineyards visited, 40 – 50% of the white clover sampled was colonised by mealybugs. Importantly, this mealybug/clover association was stable throughout the growing season, with no observed mealybug migration to grapevines. Underpinning this seemingly longlasting association was an assumption that decoupling mealybugs from grapevines would reduce the risk of leafroll virus spreading to healthy vines. Reinforcing that assumption was the widely held view that only Vitis species were susceptible to leafroll virus infection. However, that view altered when research in the USA found the vine mealybug (a species not present in New Zealand) transmitted the virus to a nonVitis host plant, namely Nicotiana benthamiana (Prator et al. 2017). This result had particular resonance in New Zealand because of the white clover/ mealybug research that was already underway. Moreover, recent research found that non-Vitis plants growing in and around vineyards can be reservoirs for other pathogens. A notable example was Grapevine Pinot gris virus that was detected in at least two herbaceous plant species (Gualandri et al. 2017). Thus, with leafroll virus transmission to a non-Vitis host plant having been confirmed (albeit under laboratory conditions), it was now
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 79
critical to determine whether clover too could host leafroll virus. Evidence supporting a clover-virus link would inevitably mean re-evaluating whether clover could separate mealybugs from grapevines whilst reducing the risk of leafroll virus spread. Hence, our recently concluded study had two main objectives. Objective 1: To determine if the citrophilus mealybug could transmit leafroll virus from donor grapevines to five clover cultivars, using N. benthamiana as the positive control. The aims were: 1. To test if selected clover species/ cultivars were alternative host plants for leafroll virus. 2. To determine the period of time over which citrophilus mealybug feeding on selected clovers was no longer carrying leafroll virus. Objective 2: To test vineyard groundcover and native plant species as potential hosts for a wide
range of grapevine pathogens. The aims were: 1. To begin to understand what pathogens may be present in plants found in and around New Zealand commercial vineyards. 2. If pathogens were detected in any of these plants, there would be a need to understand what influence and any potential implications they might have on future vineyard management.
What did we do? The methods adopted and the materials used in the research for both objectives were described in detail in the final annual report submitted in August 2020. However, for this article, we have summarised the main methods. Objective 1: In the first year of this study, leafroll virus-infected citrophilus mealybugs were reared on a leafroll-virusinfected grapevine so that they would
Above: Mealybug 80 //
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
acquire the disease-causing virus. The mealybugs were then exposed to five clover cultivars: Karridale subterranean clover, Tripoli white clover, Strawberry clover, Crimson clover, and Grasslands Huia white clover. We compared the success of mealybug virus transmission in the clover cultivars with the positive control plant, N. benthamiana. In the second year of this study, the focus narrowed to include just Crimson clover and Grasslands Huia white clover, with an emphasis on a greater number of biological replicates for each (40 to 80 plants). Again, the clovers were exposed to leafroll viruscarrying citrophilus mealybugs. We compared the success of mealybug virus transmission in the clover cultivars with the positive control plant, N. benthamiana. In both years all available N. benthamiana and clover plants were tested for leafroll virus by
in Marlborough. A selection of groundcover plants was collected from every vineyard. A range of indigenous plant species growing within the Marlborough vineyard boundaries was also collected. The plants (or plant material) were collected in June 2018 (winter) and February 2019 (summer). In each vineyard, the groundcover plants were collected from two zones. Zone 1 was located within the vineyard; Zone 2 was on the edge of the same vineyard. The two zones were separated by c. 40 m. Up to 10 individual plants per groundcover species per zone were sampled at each time point per vineyard. In addition, samples from six and seven indigenous plant species were collected in 2018 and 2019, respectively. In the laboratory, the prepared plant samples from each vineyard were processed to enrich for their virus contents then analysed using a non-targeted approach of highthroughput sequencing (HTS) and bioinformatics. For each study vineyard, samples were separated by plant species and by zone.
the serological technique (double antibody sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (DAS-ELISA)) and/or reverse transcriptionquantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Testing was undertaken 3 months post-challenge by mealybug feeding. In the second year, we sought to understand how long leafroll virus was retained within citrophilus mealybugs, which were tested for leafroll virus at various times. Citrophilus mealybug egg masses with emerging crawlers were loaded onto an excised virus donor grapevine leaf so they could feed and, in so doing, acquire the virus. After 6 days virus acquisition, segments
of the mealybug-laden donor leaves were moved onto the recipient plants so that the virus-carrying mealybugs could self-transfer to recipient clover plants or N. benthamiana. At that time, a subset of mealybugs was harvested and tested individually by RT-qPCR to determine what percentage were carrying the virus. Mealybugs remained on each non-Vitis host, with harvesting and testing of subsets of mealybugs at specified times thereafter (i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20, and 40 days). Objective 2: Collection of plant material was undertaken in three commercial vineyards situated in Hawke’s Bay, and a fourth commercial vineyard
What did we discover and what do the findings mean for the sector? From this complex study there were many results generated from both research objectives. The details are described fully in the abovementioned report submitted in August 2020. However, for this article, we list the most important findings of this pioneering research. • In a world first, we confirmed the citrophilus mealybug could successfully transmit leafroll virus to N. benthamiana, a non-Vitis host plant. • At no point during the study was leafroll virus detected definitively in clover test plants exposed to virus-infected citrophilus mealybugs known to have acquired the virus
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 // 81
after feeding on leafroll virusinfected Vitis. This result was despite thousands of virus-infected citrophilus mealybugs having been exposed to dozens of clover test plants within specifically designed glasshouse trials and timeframes consistently shown to have been sufficient for this mealybug to have acquired and transmitted the leafroll virus to N. benthamiana. • This research demonstrated that leafroll virus was, over a period of up to 20 days, progressively lost from citrophilus mealybugs after feeding on this non-Vitis plant species. • Analysis of virus content by HTS of 26 different groundcover and indigenous plant species collected in and around four commercial vineyards revealed 13 viral families associated with these plants. This identification included eight new-toscience virus species and other new viruses identified to the family level. In addition, one virus was new to New Zealand and identified in a novel host, therefore this also constituted a new host record for the virus. • Based on the genome information of these new viruses, none of them are highly similar to the known grapevine pathogens. Therefore, with our current knowledge, we suggest that the new viruses identified pose no immediate risk to the grapevine. • Importantly, no leafroll virus was identified in any of the groundcover plants, including white clover, or among the surrounding indigenous plants sampled. Based on the results of this study, we conclude that of the clover plants tested, it is highly unlikely they can host leafroll virus in the vineyard environment. Thus, for vineyard owners variously affected by leafroll virus, our findings strongly suggest a diverse groundcover plant community cannot support this pathogen, and that any citrophilus mealybug
resident on those groundcover plants are incapable of either acquiring or transmitting the pathogen to the grapevine. We propose that the provision of a species-rich groundcover that includes Grasslands Huia white clover remains a potentially useful addition to an integrated response to leafroll virus and to the mealybugs that spread it. Additionally, the wine industry now has a viral reservoir baseline that can be referred to in future if circumstances were to change and as more research in New Zealand (and internationally) begins to answer the many presently unresolved questions regarding grapevine viral disease epidemiology and management.
Evidence supporting a clover-virus link would inevitably mean re-evaluating whether clover could separate mealybugs from grapevines whilst reducing the risk of leafroll virus spread.
A positive result, as observed for Nicotiana benthamiana, a solanaceaous plant indigenous to Australia, would identify any specific plant species that should be excluded from that species-rich groundcover within New Zealand vineyards. • Determine the virus(es) present in the grapevines that surrounded the groundcover plant sampling zones in both HTS surveys. This research would determine if any new Vitisvirus associations exist and give further confidence that a speciesrich groundcover or indigenous plantings near vineyards do not pose a risk to grapevine production. Should such a threat be identified it could be described and managed appropriately. • Perform targeted virus transmission with the newly discovered viruses to infect grapevines under controlled laboratory conditions. This will extend our understanding of the potential risks of these viruses to winegrape production.
Industry focused next steps?
In closing, this sector-funded project has provided much-needed information on leafroll virus management and begins to describe the ecology of a more species-rich vineyard environment, which we note with interest is an emerging trend attracting a lot of attention within the New Zealand wine sector.
Unsurprisingly, various questions have arisen from this innovative research project. With an industry focus, we believe the next steps could include: • Extend targeted virus transmission experiments with leafroll virus using mealybugs to challenge other groundcover plants that are both common and persistent in vineyards and that support mealybugs. Negative results, as found for clover species in this study, would continue to support the recommendation to plant and/or maintain a species-rich groundcover within vineyards.
Acknowledgements The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited contributors to the science underpinning this project included Arnaud Blouin, Dan Cohen, Vicky Davis, Rebecca Gough, Samantha Hansen, Dan Jones, Victoria Raw, Roshni Rohra, Mano Sandanayaka, Tara Taylor, Gardette Valmonte. Also acknowledged with thanks are Richard Hunter; Dr Cecilia Prator and Prof. Rodrigo Almeida, UC Berkeley, California, USA; Bruce Clark, Kiwi Seed Co., (Marl.) Limited, Blenheim, and the four study vineyard owners and staff.
NZ WINEGROWER DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021
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