NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWER THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE NEW ZEALAND WINE INDUSTRY
Lightening wineâ€™s footprint
Preparing for harvest 2021
Success in Succession
New generations in family owned wine companies FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 ISSUE 126
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 / ISSUE 126
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Issue 126 – February/March 2021
From the CEO
38 Women in Wine
52 Wine Weather
56 Not on the Label
Employment laws with Dentons Kensington Swan
58 Advocacy Matters
Brexit and wine
F E AT U R E S 16
Success in Succession
Family-owned wine companies around the country are tapping into the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm of a new generation coming to the helm. For all the similarities of their stories, including the shared ethos of layers of generations, there are a myriad of differences, as each company navigates its own way through the challenges of succession.
29 Cutting Carbon
Grape growing is a relatively low producer of emissions compared to a range of New Zealand’s primary sector land uses, according to a new report from a Toitū Envirocare. A second Toitū report offers a “roadmap” to New Zealand’s wine industry, with guidance on reducing emissions.
46 Vintage Views
As we head into vintage 2021, winemakers and viticulturists from New Zealand’s wine regions discuss the challenges of the season, the harvest ahead, and the learnings from 2020.
COVER PHOTO: Astrolabe’s Arabella Waghorn picking in the 2020 harvest. Photo by Finn Scott-Kelly
22 30 38
E D I TO R Sophie Preece firstname.lastname@example.org
CO R R E SP 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 S I 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 & S U 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
PUBLISHING & P R E - P R E SS Rural News Group PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 Ph: 09 307 0399 Location: Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Publisher: Brian Hight Managing Editor: Adam Fricker Production: David Ferguson, Rebecca Williams
TO WELCOME in a new year, this edition is welcoming in a new generation, with a theme of family
succession. Wine companies around the country are navigating generational change, as their founders look to lean back on their roles, or second generation growers make plans for the third to follow through. It’s been on the cards for a while, of course, but the past year has provided impetus for some, with New Zealand looking better than ever. And with Covid changing the way wine does business, the new generation has perhaps never looked better either, swooping in with social media savvy, Millennial empathy and the energy to leap Covid’s myriad complications. If there was ever a time to have a younger hand at the wheel, this is probably it. The stories of succession are as diverse as the companies canvassed, with a multitude of threads influencing how and when and why succession happens. Some seem elegantly simple, like the lunchtime conversation that saw Rosie Finn take over from her mother at Neudorf. Others are far more complicated, including generations of custodians at Rippon, where succession is tied up to the family’s connection to the land. But common to them all is a shared ethos, ensuring legacies are protected while fresh ideas are promoted. Another common thread is a complex understanding of the hard grind that drives each and every company, with plenty of sweat and stress behind wine’s glamorous façade. Many of the returning generations bring new skills, earned through careers around the world, says Arabella Waghorn from Marlborough’s Astrolabe. “You get a really high level of skill that the wine industry might otherwise have struggled to attract.” This edition also includes the first in a new Postcards series, with letters from wine folk abroad in these extraordinary times, where many winemakers and viticulturists are working in lengthy lockdown situations, making great wine in the strangest of days.
CONTRIBUTORS 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.
Jo is a wine writer, sound artist, and curator, who has just finished a PhD thesis on the multisensory experience of drinking wine, which included the effect of sound on the perception of wine characters. In this edition, Jo delves into her doctorate.
Bob Campbell, MW, is a leading wine specialist, author and educator. In this edition’s Bob’s Blog he gets to the bottom of the bubbles in his champagne flutes, assesses the best serving order for wine tasting, and checks out some predictions for wine in 2021.
James is a partner with Dentons Kensington Swan’s employment and workplace health & safety team based in Auckland, with extensive experience working in both the UK and New Zealand. In this edition he looks at changes wine companies can expect in the year ahead.
Sarah Wilson is Senior Legal Counsel at New Zealand Winegrowers. With Brexit now “officially done”, Sarah explains that “while there will be some changes, many requirements will remain unchanged for New Zealand wine exporters for the foreseeable future”.
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NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
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From the CEO Philip Gregan
From the CEO Being Prepared PHILIP GREGAN
FIRST, AND most importantly, Happy New Year to everyone involved in the New Zealand wine industry. As always, everyone will be approaching the year with a sense of anticipation about what lies ahead, with the prospect of a new vintage only a matter of weeks away. Hopefully it is weeks of warm, dry weather, with some nice cool nights thrown in as autumn progresses, so that a high-quality harvest is delivered into the waiting, and increasingly empty, winery tanks and barrels. Consumers of our wines will be very happy if that is the outcome. Looking back over the past 12 months there can be no doubt that 2020 was the year that Covid-19 prompted a massive rethink as to how industry businesses go about all of the many and varied tasks they undertake – from planting and pruning vines, through to getting products into the hands of the final consumer. In hindsight, the growers and wineries survived the year remarkably well because they responded dynamically to the changing environment in which they were operating. As 2021 begins, it is clear, despite the progress made in the past year, that there are still significant
Covid-19 generated risks in the industry’s business environment. New Covid mutations are creating headlines around the world, as they lead to ever greater demands being placed on already overworked national health systems as case numbers soar. In markets such as the UK, Europe and the USA, lockdowns of varying degrees are in place or are being proposed. In New Zealand, strict border controls remain in place as the Government remains determined to ensure there is no community transmission within the country; the long-promised bubble with Australia seems no closer to becoming a reality. These and the many other restrictions in place in New Zealand and elsewhere affect how growers and wineries can go about conducting their day to day business. Whether it is a shortage of labour or the inability to support products in-market, the old normal has certainly not reappeared, and does not look like it will anytime soon. Clearly, a major risk for the industry is the re-emergence of community transmission in New Zealand, and with it renewed
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
restrictions here. At time operating plans from vintage of writing, we have just 2020 and have a look at how seen the emergence of you safely and successfully the Northland case, after managed your way through New Zealand had been the V20 lockdown. The more than two months positive this time around without any community is that every grower and transmission. With the new winery will have learned a Covid strains reportedly lot of lessons from the 2020 having a transmission rate experience and will have the up to 70 percent higher than earlier variants, an outbreak in New Zealand would likely generate With vintage just a a very strong matter of weeks response from the Government, which away, it would be would be desperate a good idea to dust to get matters under control as soon as off your operating possible. Hopefully, plans from the Northland case is vintage 2020. not the spark for that strong response. Depending on outbreak severity, that could lead to regional or national benefit of that knowledge lockdowns, and we know when thinking about how from last year what that they would operate in 2021 would mean for growers, should a lockdown situation wineries, retailers and the arise once again. hospitality trade. While From a New Zealand this is not a prospect that Winegrowers’ perspective, anyone wants, it is certainly we have certainly been a scenario that every grower reviewing the steps we took and winery should be in 2020. We will be planning planning for - just in case. for the worst, but hoping for With vintage just a matter the best, in 2021. of weeks away, it would be Best wishes for safe and a good idea to dust off your successful vintage.
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Festive Care NE A R LY
children in the Wa i r a r a p a a n d Hawke’s Bay received a jam packed Santa sack this Christmas, thanks to the Craggy Range Children’s Christmas Foundation. Craggy R ange General Manager Aaron Drummond says this year’s sacks were stuffed with sleeping bags, as well as the usual balls, books and pencil cases. The camping theme was set after a few of the charities they work with explained that winter in the two regions could get cold, and some of the kids lacked the right bedding. In the Wairarapa, other wineries charged in to help with the packing, with Ata Rangi, Dry River and Palliser all involved in the occasion. Craggy Range staff also packed sacks in lieu of a Christmas party this year, with a barbeque, beers and the opportunity to do something special for their communities. Aaron says the foundation works with local businesses and other partners, then gathers the gifts up in its warehouses. Once the sacks are packed they go to the charities involved to be distributed. Those charities are “the real heroes in the programme” he says. “They are working tirelessly all year.” And all the glory goes to the big bearded guy. “The whole idea is that the child wakes up on Christmas day and there’s a feeling that Santa came down their street.”
Carrick Winery CARRICK WINERY and Vineyard has been bought by Tony and Alison
Cleland, who have built a large dairy business in Southland, as well as a specialist farm management investment company, FarmRight. The Clelands plan to live onsite and will work alongside the existing team, to take the business to the next level, promoting Carrick’s onsite accommodation, utilise opportunities around the new cycle trail and host events at the winery.
Wine Collective Direct NEW ZEALAND wine producers are tapping into an innovate new
online wine marketplace to sell premium wine direct to overseas consumers. Wine Collective Direct provides Direct to International Consumer (DTiC) sales to support local wine producers in achieving profitability in historically difficult premium and ultra-premium market segments, says founder Grant Rimmer. “We’re delighted to be announcing this exciting development for the New Zealand wine industry at a critical time.” Grant says Covid-19 has impacted on producers who invested heavily in wine tourism to reach high-end international consumers “with a thirst for rare and limited production wines”. In 2019, New Zealand Winegrowers reported that 776,599 international wine tourists visited New Zealand and spent $3.26 billion. “On the cusp of what was set to be a record year for wine tourism, including a massive boost from the America’s Cup, New Zealand producers are now also heavily exposed by the void of international visitors,” says Grant. New Zealand wine producers are invited to register to the DTiC marketplace before it begins rolling out to international consumers, with an initial market launch in Australia and Hong Kong at the end of March. Grant says Wine Collective Direct will help wine companies achieve high-return retail export sales within premium and ultra-premium market segments. “Acting collectively, we are stronger, and will go further globally together.” winecollective.direct
Virtually Everywhere NEW ZEALAND wine has been in the lime-
light around the world, with the inaugural – and virtual – New Zealand Wine Week. New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) has adapted to global lockdowns by offering online wine experiences across the USA, UK, Ireland and Canada, including tastings, discussions and activities from 8 February. “These events explore our New Zealand wine story, showcasing our premium, sustainable, and diverse wines, with the opportunity to participate in live
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
discussions with leading wine voices from around the world,” says Charlotte Read, NZW’s General Manager Marketing. “In these challenging times we are delighted to be able to work together across our key northern hemisphere markets to bring a wide range of valuable intel and insight from renowned speakers. We aim to shine a light on many aspects of New Zealand wine during this week and show that even though we can’t physically be together, we can raise the profile and celebrate New
Dr Jamie Goode will interview Wilco Lam from Dry River
Zealand wine with our trade and media audiences.” nzwine.com/nzwineweek
Seizing seltzer NEW ZEALAND wine companies are meeting the Millennial
moderation market with new seltzer brands. “More and more consumers are seeking lighter drinking choices, but rather than simply creating another ‘me too’ product it was hugely important for us to craft something beyond the status quo,” says Villa Maria’s Head of Marketing and Communications, Sarah Szegota. The LF Wine Seltzers, from the company’s Leftfield brand, have been positioned as the drink for those who want some balance with their beverage, she says, citing high consumer demand for natural, low-sugar and low-calorie drinks that still have a 4 to 6 percent ABV. Sarah says Villa Maria’s focus remains with its wine brands, but innovation is key to staying competitive. “As the market evolves it’s important that we evolve with it.” Meanwhile, Giesen Group has launched fruit wine seltzer TINK, made at the company’s Marlborough winery, using a process of fermenting wine and natural fruit juice together. Giesen Group Marketing Manager Angela Flynn says TINK’s development began when looking at overseas market trends. “We kept a close eye on the growth of the seltzer category in the US and Australia and we had a sense that 2020/2021 would be the ‘summer of seltzer’ in New Zealand. All the signs are there that it will be.”
SJP and FEED ACTRESS SARAH Jessica Parker and her Kiwi Invivo X, SJP winery
business partners, Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron, have pledged to fund more than 330,000 school meals for children around the world, in partnership with charitable FEED Projects. FEED is a lifestyle brand working towards ending global childhood hunger, by helping to provide school meals with every purchase. The brand’s foundation will partner with Invivo X, SJP to directly fund school meal programmes through FEED’s nonprofit partners. Sarah, who is co-founder of Invivo X, SJP, says hunger is not defined by gender, race or education “and has soared across the globe exponentially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is especially heartbreaking so many children are affected”. Tim says the partnership is hugely important for Invivo “and gives our winery an opportunity to give back in a positive way to those communities that are in need”.
Marlborough’s Summer Feast THE CANCELLATION of the 2021 Marlborough Wine & Food Festival has helped seed a swathe of boutique events across the region. Wine Marlborough announced the cancellation last year, explaining that the 2021 harvest would follow hard on the heel of the iconic February celebration, and bringing 8,000 people to gather on a vineyard site was too risky for the industry and economy. But it was “a fantastic time to visit Marlborough’s cellar doors and get an extraordinary insight into what
makes this region’s wines amazing”, said Marlborough Winegrowers Chair Tom Trolove at the time. There’ll be plenty of that going on, thanks to the enthusiasm of Feast Marlborough, a charitable trust that helps serve up the stories of Marlborough’s food and beverage producers. They were given funding by the Marlborough District Council to work with venues, producers and event organisers to develop events over the summer season. The result is Sunday sessions at Framingham and For-
rest Estate, a New Cheese Festival at Clos Henri and Vinyl in the Vines at Lawson’s Dry Hills, to name just a few. marlboroughnz.com/events/
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 9
Upcoming Events TO HAVE EVENTS ADDED
NZ Rosé Day
TO OUR CALENDAR CONTACT
New Zealand’s sixth Rosé Day is set to colour beaches, backyards and social feeds pink as wine lovers revel in Rosé picnics around the country.
5 February sipnzwine.com
An Evening with Méthode Marlborough Celebrate Méthode Marlborough Day in the company of 12 innovative and premium sparkling wine producers. The ‘Progressive Evening’ includes three locations and a showcase of the best of Marlborough’s fizz business.
North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival
There’ll be feasting and dancing galore at this free-range family festival under the oaks at Glenmark Domain. Foodies will be well fed and wine lovers well satisfied, with eight local producers as well as a craft brewer. Music includes Beacon Bloom, along with Caleb Isaacs & The Mighty Mighty’s.
7 March ncwineandfood.co.nz
Whitehaven GrapeRide 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
RIPE in Wánaka
RIPE - the Wánaka Wine & Food Festival - a great line up of food, beer and wine, along with celebrity chef Nadia Lim, Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas and Kiwi favourites the Jordan Luck Band. The celebration of Central Otago falls on Otago Anniversary weekend and will be held at Corbridge Estate.
The countdown is on for International Sauvignon Blanc Day, when New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc fans from around the world join an online celebration.
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
Go You! WINE INDUSTRY wellbeing is at the forefront of a series of workshops being rolled out across the country. The Go You! workshops are geared towards boosting morale and resilience after the challenges of 2020, says New Zealand Winegrowers Leadership and Communities Manager Nicky Grandorge, who’s talked to groups around the country eager for a morale boost after the rigours of Covid-19. “Everyone is a little bit shell shocked, and still not sure about the future.” The workshop will roll out in the South Island wine regions before vintage, and in the North Island after the rush is over. “The ones before vintage will touch on vintage wellbeing as well,” she says. There’ll also be information on how people can access help if they feel under pressure, or recognise concerning behaviours in others. “People have had a lot to manage – with both work
and personal challenges,” Nicky says. “I think everybody has been affected in some way, whether that’s financial concerns or managers trying to find labour, or people unable to see their families abroad.” Inspirational speaker Fiona Fenwick, author of ‘Stand Out and Step Up’, will run the presentations alongside Nicky. They will reference resources from the Mental Health Foundation, and also reveal their own stories, says Nicky. “We want to enable people feel to upbeat and motivated and also to encourage them
MarlboroughNZ to look out for each other and look after themselves.” Fiona says people face challenges in
When + Where • Nelson, 24 February, 3.30pm at Harvest Kitchen • Marlborough, 25 February, 4pm at Wither Hills • North Canterbury, 26 February, 2.30pm at Waipara Hills • Central Otago, Cromwell, 1 March, 3.30pm at Domaine Thomson • Central Otago, Alexandra, 2 March, 4pm. Location to be confirmed
any given year, “but 2020 has been quite particular in the fact that we are all living through a global pandemic …that’s given many of us a whole other layer to manage”. They want members to be empowered by the workshops, with a “high energy discussion” to help them reset for another busy year, says Fiona. “So they walk away thinking ‘we’ve really got this’.” nzwine.com/goyouworkshops
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 11
The Marketing Place
Made with Care NEW ZEALAND’S Made with
on a paid media programme, funded by NZTE. In early December, a New Zealandspecific food and wine content hub was launched on the Food & Wine website, geared up for special occasions over the holiday season. “Covid-19 has changed the way people gather and celebrate in the US, and indeed worldwide,” says Charlotte. “This hub has helped put New Zealand wine in the “It’s helping amplify spotlight, and raised our premium New awareness of how our producers look after Zealand wine story.” our people and places for future generations.” The partnership will pre ference and demand reach six million targeted for New Zealand food and USA consumers, to increase beverage products while awareness and build demand borders are closed, says for New Zealand wine, she Charlotte. “It’s helping amplify says. our premium New Zealand December also saw the wine story and extend its release of the Made with Care reach internationally.” Holiday Gift Guide in Canada, New Zealand Winegrowers developed by NZW, NZTE (NZW) has been working and Toronto Life, a monthly closely with New Zealand Canadian magazine about Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) entertainment, politics and in the United States, along life in Toronto. It included with Food & Wine Magazine, 32 New Zealand products Care campaign is capitalising on the ‘homebody economy’ in the United States, says New Zealand Winegrowers General Manager Marketing Charlotte Read. T he Made w ith C are campaign – a New Zealand Government initiative – was designed to grow awareness,
Photo: Paul Sutherland Photography
for sale directly through the Toronto Life website, which has a digital reach of more than a million Canadians, says Charlotte. “It was not only about building awareness
and driving preference for New Zealand products, but resulted in direct sales of the products involved, keeping New Zealand top of mind throughout the holiday season.”
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NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
The Marketing Place
The Marketing Place
Taking NZ wine to the world: Bringing the world to NZ wine
WELCOME 2021. It couldn’t come soon enough, and what a fabulous summer we have been rewarded with – perfect for visiting a local cellar door as Kiwis ‘do something new’. An impressive number of people have been participating in our Visit the Vine scan and win competition, and our international activity is about to kick off. With the exception of Asia, our initiatives are still confined to the virtual world, but it’s a medium we’re getting the knack of, allowing us to collaborate on New Zealand Wine Week, taking place in the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States and Canada. New Zealand Wine Week offers an array of initiatives to spark fresh conversation on New Zealand wine. We also continue to work closely with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) on the Made with Care campaign, which will continue to run for the first half of the year, and I have been delighted to observe how many New Zealand wineries have used the assets. Providing relevant market intel and insights from our export markets remains a core focus for the year ahead. Read on for the latest…. Charlotte Read is New Zealand Winegrowers’ General Manager of Marketing
AS CHINA’S recovery continues to gather pace, we are planning full steam ahead for the ‘Pure Discovery’ Roadshows in May. These events will reach trade professionals and wine lovers in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai, and will feature masterclasses that will be live streamed to our education partners across China, helping us to broaden our reach outside the Tier-1 cities. Contact our events teams for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
Intel and Insights PROVIDING RELEVANT market information to help guide our members’ business decisions remains a key focus in 2021. We have just released on our website a report written by Asia-based wine consultancy Nimbility, looking at the impact of Covid-19 across a range of wine distribution channels in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. The report is available to members in the Market Reports section of nzwine.com and Nimbility will talk through the report via webinar on 3 March, allowing members to pose questions. A further two reports will be released in the first half of 2021.
Sommit Reunion WITH OUR inbound visit programme currently on hold, we have been unable to welcome what would have been our eighth cohort of international ‘Sommiteers.’ Instead, we launched an online “Sommit Reunion” Photo Richard Briggs to re-engage with this valuable community in a cost-effective way. Hosted on Instagram, “attendees” were encouraged to post a memory of Sommit and tag one of their fellow Sommiteers. Samples were sent to alumni, putting New Zealand wine in the hands of many of the top sommeliers from our key markets, and on the Instagram feeds of their consumers and peers. To date, the reunion posts have reached over 40,000 consumer and hospitality followers of our Sommiteers. #sommitreunion.
Speaking of NZ…. WE ARE seeing excellent results from a renewed focus on generating content via the Global PR Programme. Although unable to host international guests, we are still seeing a lot of past Visit Programme guest results coming through, as journalists have excellent first-hand content to draw on. Reach: 77,185,981 Reach is the number of people likely to be exposed to the article. Equivalent Advertising Value: $1.6 million *Results as of January 2021. To see what the world is saying about New Zealand wine, visit nzwine.com/members/marketing
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 13
The Marketing Place
The Social Place
5Forests’ guide to connecting
Protecting your digital assets We are all immortal now… which means any digital assets you or your company creates could exist for all time – or they could be lost in an instant. What would you do if your marketing manager left the company and took all the social media account passwords with her? Or how would you feel if your family’s images were used to sell products you hate? In an age where followers, likes and images have a real market value, having a plan to protect your digital assets is crucial. And yet hardly anybody does it. Do an audit Before you can protect your digital assets, you need to know what they are. These include your social media accounts, brand images, photographs, and company website and domain. They may include bank and email passwords. As a first step, do an audit of what you have and what you need to protect. Next, you need to know what belongs to you and
“Your data is immortal. Keep it that way.” what doesn’t. In general, anything that is tangible – money in a bank account, photographs in a file or funds in PayPal – are things you own. You can pass these on, if you can prove ownership. Be aware, however, that in many jurisdictions, will executors cannot access your legal assets, unless you give them explicit permission to do so, via a will or other document. Even then, the process may take time if they don’t have the passwords – which can be devastating if your business or heirs need bank account access. You must have backup systems in place so that control of the accounts can pass seamlessly from one person to another. One tip is to change
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
passwords regularly, and keep the current passwords somewhere safe – as in, an actual safe, or other place where they can be accessed in an emergency. Also be aware that information held with social media accounts, free email accounts and other online services are not your property and it will be impossible to access without passwords. Make sure that more than one person has access to the passwords, so that a disgruntled employee can’t disable your accounts. Social media accounts like Gmail and Facebook also let you nominate a “legacy” contact. Sign up for this service, just in case. And make sure that more than one person knows how to maintain and update your website. This is the face of your business, with plenty of valuable information about your history and your wines. Protect this information.
Your face is your fortune Imagine this: you think of yourself as a humble vigneron, crafting the best wines you know how. But future wine consumers may think of you as a guru, whose image
they trust. That means your image is one that future wine companies would like to exploit – maybe by plastering it all over the kinds of wine that you, personally, would hate. So how do you protect your image? The most important way is to document the images for which you or your company owns the copyright, and then pass this copyright on to someone. Leave clear instructions about what can and cannot be done with family or company images.
Finally, create a disaster plan What steps will you take to recover your assets in the event of a fire, earthquake or other disaster? Doing this is simple. Just back up everything important and store it off-site. Create a weekly routine, where you make a copy of everything, put it on an external hard drive, and then place that hard drive somewhere safe. It’s a simple thing to do, yet one that will protect your business from almost any disaster, whether it’s death, natural disaster or problems with employees. Your data is immortal. Keep it that way. 5forests.com
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The Focus Succession Stories
Land custodians. Pg 18
Dog Point Family ties. Pg 20
Fresh approach. Pg 22
Coming up Rosie. Pg 23
Namesakes come home. Pg 24 Arabella and Libby Waghorn. Photo by Finn Scott-Kelly
Success in Succession Family owned wine companies around the country are tapping into the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm of a new generation coming to the helm. For all the similarities of their stories, including the shared ethos of layers of generations, there are a myriad of differences, as each company navigates its own way through the challenges of succession. Astrolabe
SOPHIE PREECE AR ABELL A WAGHORN once
felt awkward about joining the family business in Marlborough, suspecting people would consider her a “spoilt brat”. But the past six years have taught her the rich quality of Astrolabe’s family fabric, with shared values, inherent trust, and extreme commitment woven into everything they do. “We are really embracing that now,” she says. “If I was a marketer working at another company, you’d go in and focus on the project and making a big impact really quickly. But you might not be thinking about the future,” says Astrolabe’s Brand Manager, who is also apprentice to her father Simon Waghorn, the winemaker who founded Astrolabe in 1996, along with her mother Jane. Instead,
Arabella and her sister Libby, who took over as General Manager last year, consider the long-term legacy of their parents’ company, from the next harvest, to the wines being aged, to the sustainability of the land and labels. T hey ’re less likely to “jump into new trends”, but also willing to present new ideas, because there’s a common understanding of the company’s DNA and how it will be impacted by business decisions. “It makes it easy in a lot of ways,” says Arabella. “We can pick up where each other left off.” And her fear that people might find a family business “tiresome or boring” has proven entirely unfounded, with customers and partners tr usting the brand and product, because they know the people behind Astrolabe
are fundamentally invested, really high level of skill that the she says. wine industry might otherwise A rab ell a , a desig ner, have struggled to attract.” and Libby, a lawyer, are not And the industr y is trained in winemaking, and increasingly attractive to that she notes that many of the new generation, laden with new generation returning to Marlborough family wine companies are “You get a really in the same boat. high level of skill that They’ve grown up the wine industry immersed in the wine industry (literally for might otherwise have Libby and Arabella, struggled to attract.” who plunged Pinot in their swimsuits as children) and know a great deal about the business of winegrowing. skills and talent - “especially But they’ve also picked this year”, she says. Beyond up valuable skills through Covid-19, the sustainability education and careers – often and ethical initiatives of the in a global setting – and are New Zealand wine industry now bringing those learnings are making their mark, and and connections back to the “Marlborough is suddenly very region, Arabella says. “You get a appealing”.
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SOPHIE PREECE PULL THE thread of family suc-
cession at Rippon, and you’ll find yourself at Wānaka Station in 1912, with its new owner Percy Sargood. Follow it even further, to 1895, and you’ll find the enterprising Dunedin merchant at a seminar given by viticulturist Romeo Bragato, perhaps seeding the idea of wine in the arid climes of Central Otago. When Percy died in the 1940s, death duties looked set to scupper succession of the 18,000 hectare high country station, until his daughter Billie turned up at the auction and bought a 1200ha slice of the land, cascading down to the shores of the lake, in the shadow of the Southern Alps. Her son Rolfe grew up there, probably hearing his grandfather talk of Bragato’s predictions for viticulture in the region, says Nick Mills - Rolfe’s son, Percy’s great grandson, Rippon’s Winemaker and one of the multitude of descendants intrinsically linked to this land.
Whether it was because he’d heard stories of Bragato, because of time spent it Portugal’s Douro Valley after World War II, or simply because there was always wine on the table when he grew up, but somehow Rolfe and his wife Lois decided to establish Rippon in 1975, growing grapes and goats where most thought there should be sheep. Amidst the high country farmers, Rolfe “looked like a weirdo in the town”, says Nick, drawing a picture of the 50-yearold man and his “beautiful 20-something-year-old wife” – him the dreamer and her the driver behind Rippon. Nick and his sisters worked on the vineyard in their school holidays, “planting out this very unproven idea”, while living in a rammed earth house, essentially forged from Rippon, he says. “You get this sense of roots growing out the bottom of your feet. People talk about a weight on our shoulders trying to hold onto the farm, but it doesn’t feel like weight. It feels like your feet are stuck to the ground. You are tied
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
to it. It’s a scary and beautiful thing.” Billie (“a lover of hosting people and driving fast cars”) married twice, as did Rolfe, whose eldest children are the same age as Lois. That means the threads tied to Rippon are myriad. “We’ve got a pretty complicated, divaricating family tree, so keeping everyone connected and engaged is super important,” says Nick. Rolfe died in 2000, and Lois continued to build the business they’d founded. Five family members from Nick’s generation currently work on the 60ha farm, which includes a small herd of cattle, vineyards, habitat restoration areas, land leased to an equestrian business and a hay paddock. The challenge is to ensure that the many family members who don’t live or work here, including the next generation, can also have a connection back to the land and sense of belonging and care, says Nick. As a step to meet that challenge, the family has begun work on a template for a “fam-
ily constitution”, which aims to be a “non-legal, paper version of the bonds a family has to each other,” recording family identity and values, the trust and land ownership structures, and information on how the business and land interact, says Nick. The constitution is to provide parameters for who sits at the table when decisions are to be made, and will ideally help with conversations around the land and its purpose, he says. “By which the family - once it starts to feel comfortable – will hopefully be able to write their own future.” Meanwhile, there ’s a kānuka grove at the edge of Lake Wānaka - on Billie’s Block - where Rippon’s new generation put up tents, plant trees and dig in their own roots. It’s about building belonging to the land, says Nick. “To try and get everyone to have the same sense of connectivity as the people who grew up here do… Our kids’ placentas are planted under the trees here and so can their kids’ be. This is their heritage and where they are from.”
Family Planning A long game is a good game in succession SOPHIE PREECE
SUCCESSION IS one of the
biggest challenges faced by family businesses, including those in wine, says WK Business Advisor Hamish Morrow. “Often, starting the conversation is the hardest aspect.” The most successful plans the Marlborough firm has been involved with are those actioned over a number of years, with a long process that allows the current owner to mentor and coach the new generation, transfer key relationships and ease back into parts of the business they want to continue their involvement with, Hamish says. “Where it has been done well, it has assured the sustainability of the business, energised the up and coming owners and employees and lets the retiring owner have a well-planned and measured exit on their terms.” Succession allows family
companies to preserve and enhance a “hard-earned legacy”, he adds. “There are some phenomenal achievements continuing to be made by family wine companies. By undertaking a considered and measured approach to succession, the likelihood of a positive transition is increased.” W h e n f ra m i n g u p a succession plan, WK often uses a 20-year template, so the current owner and incoming next generation can “map out
where they want to be in 20, 10 and five years”, says Hamish. “Comparing and aligning the two 20-year plans provides good insight as to the respective positions, where the gaps in the plan will be, as well assist aligning the parties towards common goals,” he says. “It also provides timeframes to work towards which are important to a successful transition.” Bringing in an outside facilitator with skills in succession planning can make all the difference, by helping
• Succession conversations may be awkward but are essential - nobody lives forever. • Aim for a smooth transition over time, rather than any sudden moves. • Put timeframes on the plan and make sure it’s implemented. • Call on an independent facilitator to assist with planning and implementation.
to provide a framework and providing an independent perspective to the process, he says. “They will also be able to assist with implementation of the plan.” One of the hardest thing is for the current owner to let go, adds Hamish. “They have often worked their life building up the business; it has been their baby and given them purpose.” It can therefore be unrealistic for the next generation to expect them to go “cold turkey”, he says. “It is very important that they have a continued purpose to get their teeth into.” Often, exiting owners will get into other business ventures, non-executive or charity roles soon after the handover, says Hamish. “It’s in their DNA and there is only so much fishing, golfing, travel and hanging with the grandkids they can do.”
WILLIAM CROSSE | MEDIATION • DISPUTE RESOLUTION • SUCCESSION PLANNING
• Professional Member Australasian Resolution Institute • NZW Independent Expert for grape supply disputes • 33 years experience in wine industry • Full confidentiality assured Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Mobile: 021 365773
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 19
Kirsty, Matt and Anna Sutherland. Photo Jim Tannock
Dog Point Giving up the driver’s seat
learned when Ivan worked as a rural valuer and farm manageBRENDA WEBB ment consultant. “My advice THERE WAS never any pressure to others would be, ‘don’t hesnor expectation the Suther- itate to seek outside advice’,” land children would join par- he says. “It’s also important to ents Ivan and Margaret in Dog respect and treat your children Point Vineyards. But after time as equals and not try to identify overseas, Kirsty, Anna and Matt an heir apparent. You’ve got to all returned to Marlborough to be fair, but also the children have to have the desire and be enthusiastic about the business.” “My advice to others Ivan and Margaret regard themselves as would be, don’t fortunate to have built hesitate to seek a brand and business outside advice.” that can support the entire family, as well as the other valued staff. Both view it as a passtake up roles in the business. ing of leadership roles to others “We really have had to pinch who understand the business ourselves they are back here and and can continue it. “It’s imporit’s working so well,” says Ivan. tant to have a holistic approach Having all three involved and a thorough understandhas made succession planning ing of the culture of the busieasier, but the senior Suther- ness – particularly the organic lands thought it through thor- side of it,” says Ivan. “We are oughly, thanks partly to lesson lucky that the children grew up
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
knowing and understanding it.” Their global experience in other jobs was invaluable, says Ivan. Anna studied chemistry and chemical engineering before working in project management in London, then returned to Marlborough, undertaking the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology viticulture course. Kirsty has an industrial design degree and has been part of the company since its inception, developing the Dog Point label while working for Fisher & Paykel. Matt gained viticulture and oenolog y and commerce degrees from Lincoln University, followed by seven years of domestic and international marketing experience. When James Healy – who was involved with the Dog Point label from the early days – reduced his time input and moved to Nelson (see facing page) it was timely for the children to take over senior management roles, says Ivan.
“I’ve always regarded the wine industry as having well defined job architecture and being an innovative and creative industry, which suits the next generation.” Keeping business and personal lives separate is key and the Sutherlands are strict about having regular board, staff and management meetings so they don’t need to bring business up at home. The younger generation bring vitality and a fresh approach and Ivan says his children are doing a fantastic job in the driving seat, allowing him and Margaret to become passengers. “We’ve worked long and hard at developing the business and there is no substitute for hard work – we weren’t scared of it and neither are our children,” he says. “Part of succession planning is allowing them to take on the responsibility and make the decisions while we stay in the background.”
Ready and Abel
Of their four children, Sophie is the only one with the WENDY AND James Healy have fermentation bug, says James, turned succession somewhat on chuffed that she and Mark, a its head, retiring from a wine qualified winemaker, are maklife in Marlborough to join their ing their own way in the wine daughter’s business in Nelson. world. “Wendy and I are very Sophie and Mark McGill estab- much in the background of this lished Abel Cider in 2015, draw- thing,” he adds. “No one wants ing on childhoods immersed in to see old people - they want the wine industry – her father a to see young people - so we are winemaker and his a viticultur- very happy.” ist – to ferment to their hearts’ Sophie says the choice of content. Chardonnay was in no small When James – with his part down to James’ hallowed four decade legacy in Marlbor- reputation with the variety, ough’s wine industry – began bringing extraordinary experto ease back from his role at tise to the Chardonnay side Dog Point Vineyards, he and of Abel. “Mark jokes that he Wendy moved to Tasman and has the best cellar hand ever,” invested in Abel. Now the com- she laughs. Add to that Nelpany has vineyards in the clay son’s ability to grow beautiful soils of Upper Moutere, and a Chardonnay, and it’s a lovely Chardonnay to complement its match, she adds, talking of a Abel Méthode Cider. “It’s just team effort behind the style awesome land,” says James of and winemaking. “Conceptuthe 30 hectare block, partly ally it is shared, and it is aweAO Alchemypartly I-II_CMYK_HD PRINT.pdf 1 2020/11/16 apple orchard, vineyard, some14:22:54 having dad there with his on gentle north facing slopes. experience.” SOPHIE PREECE
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Ben, Mandy, Sam and Jack Weaver
BRENDA WEBB SAM AND Mandy Weaver always
hoped their sons Jack and Ben would join them at Churton. “We put the opportunity in front of the boys and let them know - if they were interested and showed a commitment then there were openings,” says Sam, from their hillside Waihopai Valley farm.
“I was aware I was beginning to get tired and grumpy.”
After finishing university, Ben did vintages at organic wineries in California, the Rhone Valley and Canterbury, while Jack developed his sales
skills in Argentina and did vintages in Portugal, Switzerland and Australia. “It was an evolution really,” says Sam. “It was absolutely essential they travelled and built up experience, and it was just fortunate that the timing worked for them to come back home when the gaps opened up.” Work ing and play ing together presents challenges and the family guards against social events turning into business meetings, Sam says. “We are all aware of the stresses and strains – it’s not all plain sailing.” Parents need to realise the next generation doesn’t necessarily do it the same as the last, he adds. “The key for us has been giving them the confidence to go ahead and if they make a mistake then making sure we catch
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
it before a disaster.” Ben and Jack grew up on the family farm, where organic grapes are grown alongside cattle, under an ethos of farming delicately, with a focus on biodiversity and biodynamics. They saw the passion their parents had for the land and the satisfaction they derived from producing handcrafted quality wines. Their return to New Zealand around five years ago came at an opportune time. “I was aware I was beginning to get tired and grumpy.” says Sam. “It’s fantastic seeing the development that is going on from the younger generation – young people are looking for authenticity and that’s played quite well for us with the boys on board.” The glamour of the wine industry has played its part in the succession, he adds, admitting they might not have
readily returned to a pig farm. From Jack’s perspective, having a multifaceted industry was a drawcard, and he loves that he can be enjoying wine dinners in Wellington one day and on a tractor in the vineyard the next. The brothers bring fresh enthusiasm, energy and ideas, says Jack. “Our business has certainly seen changes in the last few years, which is a direct result of the second generation including the introduction of our Natural State wines, which helped introduce Churton to a lot of new drinkers.” Churton’s success resonates from a common passion, he adds. “Navigating a business where all key positions are from the same family provides difficulties, but they are heavily outweighed by the positives we all bring individually and, more important, collectively.”
New generation at Neudorf SOPHIE PREECE
NEUDOR F ’S SUCCESSION
planning happened over a single lunch break, or an entire lifetime, depending on how you look at it. Judy and Tim Finn hadn’t expected their daughter Rosie to join the Nelson vineyard and winery they founded in 1978, knowing she’d follow her own dreams. And when she left her vineyard home for a design degree in Wellington, then bought a one way ticket to London, Rosie certainly wasn’t planning a return to the family business. “Before I left, I said I would never be in the wine industry.” That changed when she worked with Mel Brown at New Zealand Cellar in London, and got a new perspective on the wine world she’d grown up in. “I felt like I found my place and what I was good at
Rosie and Judy Finn
and what l loved… And I had the opportunity to continue to do it in New Zealand, at Neudorf.” When she joined the family business, Judy realised the skills Rosie had picked up through her studies and work were “extraordinarily useful”, especially when married with her deep understanding of the business. Her confidence
in Rosie’s abilities was so strong that one lunchtime conversation saw Judy decide to step back so that Rosie could step forward. “It became pretty obvious that Rosie’s skills are better than mine… I think we were lucky and I hope we continue to be lucky.” W hile the change was sudden, the process was “very organic”, with Judy and Tim
living on the property, and on hand to help Rosie as she works alongside General Manager Todd Stevens. “It’s the world’s greatest handover in terms of a support system,” says Rosie with a laugh. “I think I am very fortunate.” Judy notes that while the industry is seen as glamorous, it is “bloody hard work”, and They are using our po Rosie grew up knowing the reality. She says handing on the reins requires generosity, a view of the big picture, and confidence that the next generation actually wants the change. It’s also vital to accept progress, and recognise the new skills needed in the modern world. Meanwhile, Rosie considers herself privileged to have grown up with no pressure to take over the business. “It’s all come from my own are many benefits that owners like a desire to be There part of the ● FENCEPRO has a modular build system so you can adapt your pos industry and ●that’s really Proven to give trouble free operation year after year, even in the important.” ● FENCEPRO Post drivers have incredible resale value - they are very
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BRENDA WEBB AND Dave Macdonald admit it was a romantic whim to name Bladen for their children Blair and Deni. “I loved that the French passed their vineyards down through the generations and thought it would be an amazing thing to do for our children,” says Christine, 23 years after forging the wine brand. “When they were toddlers, we thought they would be malleable enough that we could make them come into the business and naturally succeed us,” says Dave. “As they grew up, we soon realised they weren’t going to be controlled by us and we were happy to let them follow their dreams as we did.” But after studying and forging careers, Blair and Deni are back on the vineyard, with Blair responsible from vineyard to bottle, and Deni from bottle to glass. While neither has specific viticultural or winemaking training, both have done vintages at other wineries, and helped out at Bladen in holidays. Having CHRISTINE
grown up immersed in the industry, they’ve absorbed wine expertise, says Dave. “They’ve been around this their whole lives.” Having younger people in the business is a positive way to keep it moving forward, Christine says. “They have great ideas and keep it fresh.” She particularly credits the younger generation’s networks within the industry and their wonderfully “vibrant” social media skills. And dealing with a family employee can be easier than dealing with a stranger, says Dave. “At the end of the discussion you can say, ‘remember we still love you’. You can’t do that with an employee.” T he wine industr y is appealing to the younger generation, because of its varied opportunities and the lifestyle offered, he adds. “This is not a bad business for succession – if you plan and take advice then it can work really well.” Their success has been in respecting each other ’s strengths and weaknesses and allowing individuals to shine,
says Dave. “There are many different waka on the river and we all paddle at different speeds. It’s not a race - it’s
about enjoying the ride,” he says. “It would just be nice if we were going downstream all the time.”
Hunter’s Wines SUCCESSION PLANS are all very good and
well, but it’s important that people are the “right fit” when it comes to taking on responsibilities, says Jane Hunter. “Just because they are family doesn’t mean they are the right people for the job,” says Hunter’s Wines’ Managing Director. “And if they aren’t, that becomes a problem that needs to be resolved sooner than later.” Before thinking about succession, Jane made it clear to her two nephews - James and Edward Macdonald - that they needed to set off and discover the opportunities available to them, “before deciding whether or not they really did see themselves wanting to be in the family business for the long haul”. Fortunately for her, when they came back to the iconic Marlborough wine company, they had different skills and
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
Jane with her nephews Edward and James and their father Peter Macdonald.
interests, smoothing the transition. “One has a passion for the vineyards and winemaking,” she says of James, now Senior Winemaker. Meanwhile, Edward, Assistant General Manager, “has a passion for spreadsheets, analytics, and accounting”. There are challenges in family succes-
sion, but the benefits include knowing there is continual support, total commitment and loyalty, and a desire to make the best of the opportunities presented, she says. “Family can have more open discussions - agreement and disagreement -than an employer and employee.” But it’s not always easy, Jane adds. “For a smooth transition, I think it is a gradual handing over of responsibility as you can see the time is right and the individual is comfortable to take on more and be able to adjust to the additional responsibility.” The wine business is diverse and coming to grips with everything – “interspersed with the odd, unexpected event such as Covid-19 to deal with” - can take time, she says. “Mentoring rather than instructing is important to allow freedom to try new ideas.”
SOPHIE PREECE “WE HAVE an expression that
unless you have dirt under your fingernails, you’ll never know how to grow a vine,” says James Millton from his eponymous Gisborne vineyard. And Sam and Monique Millton certainly got more than dirty hands when working in the vines and winery as children, taking on the ethos of organic and biodynamic winegrowing, and their parents’ passion for artisanal wine. These days Monique is growing her own natural wine in Australia’s Adelaide Hills, while Sam has worked the past seven vintages at Millton Vineyards and runs his own wine bar and deli in Gisborne, where organic and biodynamic natural wines share space with vinyl playlists. Both children bring new ideas to Millton, working within a common philosophy while evolving
Annie, James and Sam Millton
styles and practices. James and Annie say the passing on of Millton Vineyards is happening organically, with the broad strokes determined by their children’s life decisions, while the finer details are being worked through with an accountant. James also credits a global network – the Renaissance des Appellations biodynamic wine
group – for easing succession for its members. Sam has visited several family-owned operations, returning with new enthusiasm for the business, along with evolved ideas, such as gentle macerations, soft extraction, reduced additives and a stylistic change for Millton’s Riesling. Generational change is one of the rhythms of the wine
industry, which James sees as having 30 year shifts. Good succession preserves what has been established, but also recognises that there may be some “weird and wacky ideas” mooted, some of which will help the business model remain viable into the future, he says. “Your mind has to be like a parachute – if it’s not open you’ll fall.”
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 25
Michelle and Andy Peter
him lining us up at the kitchen table and telling us how it would NOT A day goes by that Awa- work.” tere Valley grape grower Andy John worked tirelessly to Peter doesn’t think fondly of his develop profitable Marlborfather, who firmly believed in ough farmland from rough country, including Alton Downs in the Awatere, where “Grapes made the Andy and Michelle bucket big enough now live, and Cape Campbell, which for it all to work.” Rob and Sally Peter farm. “They weren’t a challenge to him succession. John Peter had seen – he couldn’t afford good land previous generations lose land so had to go with rough,” says and was determined to make Andy. up for that. “He spent his whole Naturally, Andy and his life wanting to settle his three wife Michelle were always sons onto farms. I remember going to try and do the same BRENDA WEBB
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
for their three children, and grapes allowed it to happen. “It was always our dream,” says Michelle. “But we never thought it could work with sheep and beef.” Angus was the first to come home, after spending 10 years away working, and today runs the sheep and beef operation. “He’s got a vision, has intensified, does it differently and is making more money than we ever did from it,” says Andy. “I try and keep out of his hair. My dad was never a guy who said ‘I told you so’ – he just quietly sowed the seeds and stood back.” As viticulture took hold in the Awatere the Peters realised
their long-held dream of the property supporting the family was a reality. “The whole idea of our business was to make it a scale operation and we worked bloody hard to do that,” says Andy. Last year, David took over the running of one of the vineyard blocks and is working towards his first harvest, while daughter Ashley has returned from the UK and bought a vineyard in the Lower Dashwood thanks to the help of her parents. Her Irish husband Chris works on the Peters’ vineyard, doing machinery work that was previously outsourced. “Grapes made the bucket big enough for it all to work,” says Andy.
Before leaf removal
By Chris Henry, Henry Manufacturing Ltd
After leaf removal
The viticultural method of growing the Sauvignon Blanc vine is unique, producing the high-quality flavour characteristics that Marlborough is renowned for. But it comes with its own particular issues...
The vine is heavily cropped, irrigated up to harvest and grown on highly fertile soils, normally on a 3 or 4 cane VSP trellis – the ‘Sumo Wrestler’ of vines. The leaf layers create an almost impenetrable barrier to achieve good spray deposition onto bunches – critical for contact materials. The shading creates conditions for the early development of Grape Powdery Mildew – leading to crop rejection and secondary diseases such as Botrytis (slip skin) and Sour Rots. The industry currently depends on synthetic chemistry to allow it to grow this way. This is our third season of research trials in this area
And once again I’m fortunate to be working with Mike Trought, Mark Allen, Jason Flowerday and others. Last season, we studied the effects of early shoot thinning practices. This season we: • Compared 4 cane VSP vs Scott Henry (splitting the canopy) • Undertook ‘ultra early’ removal of basal leaves on both trellis systems • Assessed early mechanical leaf removal. Results: 4 cane VSP vs Scott Henry
Visually, the Scott Henry method provides considerably improved bunch exposure, and a much less congested canopy when compared to VSP and, in my opinion, would allow contact fungicides to be effective. Scott Henry certainly requires a higher level of management and cost, but the advantages for cropping, disease control
(reliable harvest) and plant health make commercial sense. Delegat are commended for their Scott Henry expertise and practice. Ultra early basal leaf removal
This failed to produce any additional bunch exposure after flowering on either trellis system, hence further research was not undertaken.
Mostly whole leaves removed
Early mechanical leaf removal
Is another way of exposing bunches during the critical period for fungicide applications. Late last year I attended a demonstration of an older style (drum roller) Pellenc leaf removal machine which did an excellent job mid flowering; it was gentle on the vine, no inflorescences were damaged, a good level of leaves were removed (including around the head), excellent bunch exposure was created, but remaining leaves provided filtered light. Partial cover returned in two weeks, complete cover in three. If I had not seen it myself, I would have been sceptical. A week later, I attended a demonstration of four different leaf removal machines on 4 cane VSP. None were gentle enough or performed well enough for use at this early growth stage. However, I believe the older style Pellenc machine is a good commercial option, and once the vine has grown more, any of the other machines will provide sufficient bunch exposure for contact fungicides, while allowing enough leaf cover to produce the flavour profiles required for ‘classic’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
No damage to remaining leaves and inflorescences Next season we will validate the early leaf removal in a trial setting. Any Marlborough grower is invited to participate as part of research.
Call Chris Henry on 027 294 1490 email firstname.lastname@example.org www.henrymanufacturing.co.nz
The Science ToitĂş report
Reducing emissions. Pg 29
Sonic influences. Pg 30
Professor Charles Eason. Pg 32
Undervine weedmat study. Pg 34 Yealands Estate
Cutting Carbon New “roadmap” to emissions reductions SOPHIE PREECE
GOVERNANCE IS key to driving
down greenhouse gas emissions across the life cycle of a wine product. That’s one of the findings of a Toitū Envirocare report commissioned by New Zealand Winegrowers to give members guidance on how to reduce emissions. “The report provides a roadmap for where we need to go, but it is decisions around the governance table that determine when we set off,” says New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) General Manager Sustainability Dr Edwin Massey. Last year the NZW board committed to the industry becoming net carbon-zero ahead of the Government’s 2050 deadline, and the report provides “some first steps” members can take in their vineyards and wineries to manage and reduce emissions, says Edwin. It looks at packaging , freight, electricity, transport fuels, and fertilizer and vineyard activities as five key elements, viewing them through the lens of scope 1 (direct company emissions), scope 2 (indirect emissions from purchased energ y) and scope 3 (upstream and downstream emissions). It also explains the concept of the dual “primary levers” required in any reduction project, with the activity level the first lever, such as kilometres travelled in a tractor, and emissions intensity the second lever, tackled in that example with a more efficient tractor and lower emission fuel source.
Edwin says the Toitū report shows it is not too hard to achieve reduction, “if you take it step by step”, with a “targeted approach”. He says consciousness around carbon emissions and reduction programmes is changing very quickly. “I think it is really becoming part of the everyday discourse of our industry.” A second Toitū report, also commissioned by NZW, provides an assessment of land use greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the wine sector in New Zealand. It says grape growing is a relatively low producer of emissions compared to a range of New Zealand’s primary sector land uses. “Forest growth is the most effective way to remove carbon, but the per hectare emission from growing grapes is comparable to cropping or kiwifruit and noticeably lower than sheep/beef and dairy,” the report says. That’s good news for wine, says Edwin.
“While there is much work to help to reduce New Zealand’s do, the wine industry is in a emissions overall.” bit of a sweet spot, in that it’s However, the organisation relatively low emissions in a found there was limited data relatively high value industry.” from New Zealand viticulture, GHG emission metrics despite the key metrics from vineyard operations were recorded by Sustainable estimated to be 3,000 kgCO2e Winegrowing New Zealand per hectare or 270 kgCO2e per “While there is much tonne of grapes, which equates work to do, the wine to 0.07 kgCO2e industry is in a bit of a per export dollar. That is sweet spot, in that it’s “far lower” than relatively low emissions the emissions in a relatively high value per export dollar revenue industry.” earned by dairy, says the report. “Land use change is expected (SWNZ). “The lack of data to become a part of New collected on GHG emissions Zealand’s transition pathway within the New Zealand to a low emissions economy wine industry makes the – a move to planting grapes planning needed to achieve in those areas suitable for the 2050 zero-emissions target quality wine production impossible,” says the report. and currently used for more This was a key part of the emissions intensive land could rationale to include a dedicated climate change section with the SWNZ questionnaire, Edwin says. “If you can’t measure it (GHG emissions) – you can’t manage it”. Scope 1 - Direct emissions from sources that are owned A major focus of the or controlled by the organisation such as company owned SWNZ team in 2021 will be tractor, purchasing the fuel, and combusting the fuel which to engage members with the creates emissions. new questionnaire. This will Scope 2 - Indirect emissions from purchased electricity include key industry events heat or steam. The company has significant control over like Grape Days and also the amount of consumption, but the emissions occur at dedicated workshops and the generation site. online content, says Edwin. Scope 3 - All other indirect emissions are those that occur “The very first questions is ‘are as a consequence of the activities of the organisation, but you part of a certified carbon at sources owned or controlled by another company. For accounting programme?’” example, a contractor using their own tractor. To read the full reports go to nzwine.com/members/sustainability/ guides/climate-change/
Scope – the spectrum of emissions
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 29
Sensory Science The multisensory experience of wine JO BURZYNSKA IMAGINE A wine as a piece of
down its acid, muted its fruit, and the whole thing’s become discordant. This rogue producer is the environment the wine is consumed in, whose often complex multisensory conditions have the power to remix a wine in the perception of its “When a wine is drinkers. drunk with music Such a radical transformation of perceived as a match, a wine in this analmy studies and those ogy may be a more extreme example. of others have shown However, in recent it’s often liked more.” years, research has increasingly demonstrated that the peraudience. However, after ception of aromas, flavours release a bootleg remix enters and textures of food and the market. Some heavy-handed drink can be affected by the music producer has gone and environments in which they turned up its tannins, dialled are consumed. What appears recorded music. Its maker has endeavoured to put out a well-balanced composition, envisaging this harmony will be what’s experienced by its
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
to be behind many of these sometimes surprising sensory shifts is the phenomenon of crossmodal correspondences, widely shared associations that exist between different sensory features. Studies have just started to focus on wine, investigating the influence of other modalities beyond taste and smell – conventionally considered as shaping flavour – on the experience of wine. Colours have been found to alter the judgment of flavours. Sounds have also emerged as capable of modulating the perception of wine characters, with the earliest studies of this sensory combination demonstrating a high level of agreement in the match between certain wines and specific pieces of music.
In my own recent doctoral research, I sought to tease out what sonic properties might be influencing the associations indicated in these initial wine studies and those I’d also noted. I set up a series of empirical studies with groups of people of varying expertise in wine and music, to examine the influence of a variety of sounds, musical features and compositions on ratings of a number of wine characters. A robust ass o ci ation between high pitch and acidity was something already highlighted in studies outside wine. I replicated this for wine using a piece of music I designed to modulate perceptions between sweetness and sourness in an off-dry Riesling. The wine was rated
“Being an expert taster doesn’t mean you’re immune to crossmodal influence.” as significantly crisper - and least liked - during the high pitched “sour” section of the music than when tasted in silence. It’s a correspondence echoed in wine language, an area I also investigated in my research, where crossmodal metaphors abound - shrill acidity is something many would understand. Mouthfe el characters emerged as the most mutable under the influence of sound. In a study conducted with the University of Oxford’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, I discovered that a low frequency pure tone significantly increased the perception of body in a Pinot Noir. In another study, I found that timbre – the distinctive tonal quality of a sound that sets one sound apart from another – affected ratings of wine texture. In both studies, aromas were also heightened. Being an expert taster doesn’t mean you’re immune to crossmodal influence. In my studies, participants with wine expertise appeared just as susceptible as those with lower wine engagement. In fact, in a small pilot study undertaken with members of the Circle of Wine Writers, a UK-based association of professional wine critics, there was an average two-point difference between participant scores out of 20 given to the same wine when tasted in silence and with four different pieces of music. The highest average marks were awarded when the wine was tasted with the music with which it had been judged best matched. Emotions are involved. When a wine is drunk with
music perceived as a match, my studies and those of others have shown it’s often liked more. The emotion of arousal – a continuum of intensity from calming to exciting affectivity – might also have a role in crossmodal relationships. In one of my studies, the most significant sensor y correspondences emerged between the piece of music and the wine whose characters were both rated the most arousing. Aesthetic emotions generated by wine can also be expanded. These are emotions felt during aesthetic experience, such as perceiving beauty, which are more often associated with encounters with art and music than wine. I demonstrated how a piece of music I had created to sensorially harmonise with a wine – using the wine and sound character mapping system I have developed – encouraged deeper and wider aesthetic engagement with that wine. As wine is rarely drunk in silence, there are many applications for the knowledge emerging from this nascent field of research. We should certainly be wary of playing music during professional tastings. But when wine is consumed for enjoyment, appropriate sonic accompaniments can be used to guide drinkers into heightened sensor y, emotional and aesthetic engagement. Where there’s the possibility of tuning the drinking environment, a sensitive remaster can be made to bring out the best in a wine. This research was supported t h ro u g h a n A u s t ra l i a n Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
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Bragato Research Institute Board THE FORMER Chief Executive
of Nelson’s Cawthron Institute has joined the Bragato Research Institute Board of Directors. Professor Charles Eason retired from his Cawthron role late last year, and says he is looking forward to taking up the role with the Bragato Research Institute (BRI). “I am passionate about supporting the growth of research and development, and progressing that through to practical industry solutions for the wine industry.” Board Chair Mark Gilbert says Charles brings an “outstanding” record of leadership of science-based organisations, “and we look forward to his
input to progress the practical research aspirations of the institute”. The Government’s Regional Research Institute (RRI) policy, through which the BRI was established, was based on the success of Cawthron, says Mark. “So it is appropriate that Professor Eason continues that legacy here.” Charles, who holds a PhD (Pharmacology and Toxicology) from the University of Surrey, joined Cawthron in 2003 as a Board Director, and was Chief Executive from 2012 to 2020. His science background includes senior research and management positions overseas and in New Zealand,
including with multinational companies, a Crown Research Institute, a university and a manufacturing business. As a Lincoln University professor, he is the Director of the Centre for Wildlife Management and Conservation, and associated with research aimed at better protecting endangered native species. In 2019, Charles was appointed as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for his services to science and wildlife conservation. He is also a Companion of the Royal Society Te Apārangi and was awarded their Thomson Medal in 2017
for outstanding leadership in his research career and for his achievements as head of the Cawthron Institute. At the time, the medal selection committee said Charles’ ability to link scientific innovation with commercial experience had a global impact in the areas of chemical toxicity, pest control, food safety, aquaculture, drug development, and environmental protection. As a leader at Cawthron, they noted his skill in developing and consolid ating staff capabilities, infrastructure, and financial viability.
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management experience across at Zespri, leading programmes BRI as Research Programme a broad range of horticultural that included pest management Manager. He will be working crops from lucerne to mangoes, for market access, new growing with the institute’s research avocados to kiwifruit. systems, and digital counting partners to manage two of In 2015, David moved to technologies. Following this, the industry’s key research New Zealand and spent four David started a research and pro grammes – Vineyard years in the innovation team development consulting Ecosystems, examining how vineyard management practices can enhance biodiversity a n d i m p ro v e g ra p e v i n e THE BRI’S research winery undertook more than 65 trial performance, and a programme ferments for commercial customers during the challenging looking at Pinot Noir quality 2020 vintage, says Business Development Manager Augusta and productivity. van Wijk. She says the new facility provides independent, David completed a PhD in commercial-level trials, designed in collaboration with cusplant genetics and breeding at tomers. “These are run under scientifically rigorous conditions the University of Queensland. in BRI’s world-class facility, allowing wineries to get on with He then followed his passion their main job of bringing in harvest.” For more information for growing fr uit crops Augusta at firstname.lastname@example.org and developed physiology AO Alchemy III-IV_HD PRINT.pdf 1 2020/11/16 contact 14:23:38 and research programme
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Weedmat a suitable undervine management option in stony soils STEWART FIELD
Black and white weedmat installed to the undervine during dormancy, August 2015.
A RECENT study supports the
use of weedmat for undervine weed suppression in stony soils. Production of wines with equivalent yield and quality to those produced with the use of herbicide weed control can be obtained with weedmat. This is the main finding from a field experiment completed on Malbec grapevines in the Gimblett gravels subregion in Hawke’s Bay, which will be published in the May 2021 issue of the Journal of Food Chemistry, but is currently available online. The use of herbicide in the undervine area is the common practice in New Zealand vineyards. However, weed resistance and the increased international pressure to reduce glyphosate use has increased the interest in finding suitable alternatives. At present, the main alternatives to herbicide are undervine cultivation or mow ing. However, these treatments are more costly and are proven to
reduce vine vigour/yield and thus change the quality of the wine produced. Weedmat, to suppress weed growth, is used to great success in many other horticultural industries. Consequently, the aim of this study was to examine the effect of two weedmat colours – white and black - on vine growth and the volatile composition and the sensory profiles of Malbec wines. The three-year trial was located on a very stony soil in
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
the Gimblett gravels in Hawke’s Bay. Black or white weedmat was applied to the undervine during dormancy of 2015 (Figure 1), with wines of each treatment being made from the 2017 and 2018 vintages. Both white and black weedmat had the desired affect, with
no undervine weeds being observed throughout the three seasons of data collection. Furthermore, apart from an increased awareness during inter-row operations, no management changes were required and no damage to the weedmat was ever observed.
Read the full report, authored by Ken Olejar, Stewart Field, Richard Smart, Carm Vasconcelos, Petra King and Karen Ball, at at doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.128474
Weedmat was found to not impact the grape yield, bunch number, or bunch weight compared to the conventional undervine herbicide treatment in any of the three seasons. The wine sensory analysis showed no statistical differences between the aromatic or tactile attributes. Plots of the average responses (Figure 2) show that in 2017 there is a trend of the black weedmat having altered levels compared to the control and white weedmat, whose response were more similar. In the 2018 vintage, this trend of altered response to attributes is not detected in the descriptive sensory analysis results. While the sensory panel was not able to distinguish differences in the perceived attributes within a vintage, differences in these attributes between vintages highlight the inter-vintage variability and the lack of impact by treatment.
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growers suggests that weedmat cannot suppress the weeds in high water holding capacity and fertile soils, where weed growth pressure is high. This suggests that undervine cultivation is the favoured option if herbicide is not used. However, undervine cultivation is proven to reduce vine yields (see main story), a possible negative to growers. Furthermore, numerous research studies report the negative impact that cultivation has on the organic matter and health of the soil microbiology. Thus, a new weedmat trial has been established this current season, in the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) vineyard in Blenheim, to evaluate weedmat in these high vigour
The sensory results are further supported by the analysis of 45 aromatic chemicals found in wine. In the 2017 vintage there are 35 statistical differences between
soils. The use of mussel shells as a natural form of mulch will also be investigated. These two treatments will be compared against undervine cultivation. This project has been funded by an NMIT Research Trust grant, with in-kind collaboration with Bragato Research Institute and technical support from Plant & Food Research. Vine growth parameters and wine quality will be assessed over this multi-year trial. Already, a number of vine growth parameters measured in the weedmat and mussel shell mulch are showing positive differences compared to undervine cultivation treatment. Furthermore, an additional NMIT funding grant will investigate the soil microbiological health in more detail.
the treatment wines, however, there are only three statistical differences in the aromatic chemical profiles of the 2018 treatment wines. Additionally, the concentrations of
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the statistically different compounds in the 2018 vintage were all below their perception thresholds, therefore furthering support for the lack of impact.
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NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 35
The People The Balance Borough. Pg 37
Women in Wine Misha Wilkinson. Pg 38
Kurt Simcic. Pg 42
Predictions for 2021. Pg 44
Preparing for harvest. Pg 45 MarlboroughNZ
United Borough Good wines from a vinous village SOPHIE PREECE CREATED BY the community
and sold for a charity, Borough brings new meaning to ‘good’ wine. The Marlborough wine label was launched late last year, thanks to donations and sponsorship that saw it grown, made, branded, bottled, capped, labelled and marketed for free, as a vinous village sought to help the Graeme Dingle Foundation in Marlborough. The concept is the brainchild of Geoff Matthews - National Operations Director for Lion’s wine business and a board member for the foundation, which runs resilience and empowerment programmes in most of the region’s schools. “The Graeme Dingle Foundation offers programmes like Kiwi Can for primary school kids and Career Navigator for students who are about to leave school,” says Geoff. “These programmes really help kids grow and navigate through what can often be difficult and challenging times in their lives.” B o ro u g h i s o p e ra t e d through a new company -
Socially Good Enterprises – which donates all profits to the foundation, with an expectation of $200,000 to $250,000 in its first year, and more as the concept and support base grows. That’s an extraordinary boon, says Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough Regional Manager Kelvin Watt, describing the nearly $900,000 a year required to meet the demand from schools in the region, with nearly 60 percent of that from fundraising and sponsorship. “We know our programmes make a difference for our young people, and our community,” he says. “With sustainable funding streams like this, it means we’ll be around to continue helping our young people for many
years to come… Thank you doesn’t begin to cover it.” John Flanagan is one of the growers who donated fruit for the 2020 vintage, and has already put his hand up to support “such a good cause” this year. His children have experienced the Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes, including the Stars mentoring now at Marlborough Girls’ College. And his wife Sal is a teacher, with experience of the positive outcomes of the foundation across the region. WineWorks – a founding sponsor of the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough – jumped in to help too, donating bottling, warehousing and distribution of the wine. P l ant Man a ger Damien
Capturing Marlborough BOROUGH’S LABEL photograph (including the facing page image of Geoff Matthews fishing on the jetty at Little Ngakuta Bay) is from Jim Tannock, who sought to capture some of Marlborough’s best kept secrets, from a surfer at the Awatere River mouth, to walkers in the Wither Hills. Jim’s eight images of quintessential Marlborough locations grace Borough bottles.
Gillman says the company is “extremely proud” to be part of a collaborative industry effort to make a difference within the community. “This is a cause that many of our team can relate to, with some of our own staff and their children seeing the positive effects of the programme”, he says. Geoff says interest has boomed since the label’s l a u n c h , w i t h s t ra n g e r s stopping him in the street to ask how they can help. With yield expectations down for the 2021 harvest, the next big task is to create a contract that enables growers tied to a wine company to portion off some of their crop for Borough. “The challenge will be in convincing the wine companies to release the fruit,” he adds. Last year’s supply situation made fruit relatively easy to source. “This year it is a different situation and I am interested now to see what happens there.” boroughwine.co.nz dinglefoundation.org.nz/ marlborough
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Women in Wine Misha Wilkinson on hitting the high notes SOPHIE PREECE
Misha and Andy Wilkinson
MISHA WILKINSON grew up
with the Australian Opera, sitting in her mother’s dressing room, or poised at the edge of the curtain as Gloria McDonall performed. The young girl aspired to being a ballerina instead, training from the age of 3 through to 16, when she grew too tall for her ambitions. She nonetheless stayed close to the curtain, and Misha’s continued love of all things centre stage is reflected in the wines of Misha’s Vineyard in Central Otago, where The Starlet (Sauvignon Blanc) and the Soloist (Pinot Rosé) share the spotlight with the Cantata and Verismo Pinot Noirs. Their first ever wine, released as a trial a year before the 2009 launch of Misha’s Vineyard, was named The Audition, while the first official release was The High
Note Pinot Noir, named for Gloria, who died the year the vineyard was planted. Having outgrown ballet, Misha opted for a degree i n t he at re s t ud ie s a nd musicology, interrupted by a period dancing for the opera and earning a scholarship to study at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She chose instead to complete her degree, which brought her full circle to the Sydney Opera House, where she worked in marketing. From there Misha moved to London to work for the Royal Opera House, marrying a love of the arts with a flair for telling stories that capture the market. That same flair drew her to the technolog y sector back in Australia, working for IBM, where she met her future husband Andy. From
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
there they went to Singapore, working for Intel while enhancing their palates and bolstering their wine cellar. “We were both crazy about wine… We spent every holiday in wine regions,” says Misha. The couple had done a Master of Marketing Management together in 1995, and soon after started talking about needing more in life than money. So they devised a vineyard venture that would satisfy their desire for a business and their passion for wine. In 1999 the couple moved to Auckland, where they built up a cellar of Central Otago and Wairarapa Pinot Noir, while also growing enthusiasm for their project. After 18 months they returned to Singapore for jobs to pay for their vineyard dream, while
crafting a comprehensive marketing and business plan. Before they looked at where they wanted land, they crunched the numbers to ascertain how many hectares and varieties they needed for a sustainable operation. They also created a strategy that played to their strengths, focussing on luxury hotels and restaurants in the Asian markets they were familiar with. By the end of 2003, they’d decided on Central Otago for its Pinot Noir prestige, knowing the lighter bodied red was a sweet match for their market. But they also wanted to draw on New Zealand’s reputation for Sauvignon Blanc, their own passion for Riesling, and to have Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer in their stable, says Misha.
Underlining all their decisions was the need for an estate portfolio – a whopping 11 wines in total - to complement a multi-course wine-matched meal. The couple spent four days in New Zealand every five or six weeks, looking for a site that was small enough to be boutique, but large enough to warrant its own winemaker, vineyard manager and equipment. After two years they found a hillside landscape of “rocks and rabbits”, with thre e nor thwest fac ing terraces leading down to Lake Dunstan, and put their stake in the ground. It was only after they’d bought the land that they found remnants of gold mining, and gleaned knowledge about the Chinese miners who had worked Central Otago’s goldfields in the 19th century. Given their intended market, the history
was “serendipitous” says Misha, who was delighted to then realise they were on State Highway 8, 8 kilometres from the nearest town of Cromwell, and on land originally known as Sheep Run 238, when it was part of the old Morven Hills Station. The number eight is considered lucky in Chinese culture and it seemed another auspicious sign, says Misha. At their ground breaking ceremony, the couple placed a Chinese coin beneath the first eight vines, which are named The Lucky 8. “We said we are returning the old gold to the land to bring the new gold - Pinot Noir,” says Misha. “I wanted to acknowledge the Chinese miners who had worked and perished on this land.” The goldmining heritage of the land is referenced in their brand stories and in the historically inspired story of Ah Foo, a fictional character
devised by Andy to represent “His job was to make Central Otago’s money faster than I Chinese goldminers. could get it out of the They also built bank account - I won.” a recreation of a gold miner’s hut on a high point of the vineyard, using not, and invested time and estate schist to evoke the era money into finding the help in which the rugged land was they needed. Viticulturist part of a rich gold run, says Robin Dicey came on as a Misha. “It’s produced gold and consultant to help establish fine Pinot Noir.” the vineyard, and Misha Misha had left her job ‘jokingly’ announced they in Singapore in 2004, while needed to hook New Zealand’s Andy stayed on to keep the best winemaker. Three years bank balance up. “He said after they planted, Olly ‘okay darling, you go and Masters left Ata Rangi to establish the vineyard and join Misha’s Vineyard, and when we start making money the company had the perfect I will come over’. His job was package, she says. to make money faster than I Misha started “wooing” could get it out of the bank New Zealand wine distribution account,” she says. “I won.” company Negociants New As much as they knew Zealand a full two years before where their skills were, they Misha’s Vineyard had wine in also knew where they were the bottle, and was signed up
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by the time the wines were launched at the end of 2009, in the midst of the global financial crisis (GFC). Having premium distributors in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore was the boost they needed to survive that hit, “because success begets success”, she says. And all along – through the planning, establishment, GFC and now a global pandemic – their own marketing talents have been a vital string to the bow, Misha says, noting that good grape growing and great winemaking are not enough on their own. “We have seen so many small wineries fail, because they don’t have the three skill sets.” I t wa s the ir love o f marketing that resulted in Olly making 100 cases of The Audition in 2007, a year before commercial production. “We used those bottles of Pinot to learn a little bit about the
market,” Misha says. They made appointments, gifted the wine and, “tongue firmly in cheek”, asked for “a leading role” on future wine lists, she says. “Every person we gave a bottle to became part of our journey.” When The High Note
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
was produced, as a tribute to Misha’s mum, they decided the musical and theatrical names would be part of the company’s signature, along with the legend of the Chinese miners. Both threads are gold when
it comes to visiting customers or welcoming visitors to the Cromwell cellar door, established in 2017. “It leads to natural stories and people discover a little bit more about the brand,” says Misha. “It’s that discovery.” Two decades after hatching a plan, Misha counts herself lucky to work alongside her husband, which they “do with ease” and to have a lifestyle that lets her “drink and talk about wine every day”, indulging in the marketing she loves. “I love the fact that we are here in Central Otago and that we sell wine to the markets we wanted to, and are in some of the most selective hotels and restaurants in the world.” It’s not always easy being boutique, she says. “But I am happy to come to work every day of my life.” Late last year Misha was elected to the New Zealand Winegrowers board
Mike Weersing Life at the cultivatable limits JO BURZYNSKA WITH THE passing of Mike
Weersing, the New Zealand wine industry lost a great pioneer of its modern era. From the 24 years the Californian-born winegrower spent in Aotearoa, he will be remembered as one of the country’s true champions of terroir, a courageous explorer of how this could be most clearly transmitted, and the maker of meaningful wines. Time spent working across Europe, where he studied oenology and viticulture in Burgundy, impressed on Mike the crucial influence of soil on the character and quality of wine. Working for some respected names in Burgundy, Alsace and Mosel, as well as the New World, Mike arrived in New Zealand in 1996 and joined Neudorf. Following a quest over many years to find the ideal terroir for his own vineyard, he discovered the combination of clay-limestone scarp slopes and marginal climate he was seeking in viticultural terra incognita of Waikari. It was there in 2000, with his partner and winegrowing collaborator Claudia Elze, that he established Pyramid Valley. Committed to faithfully
discover, record, and transmit the ‘place-voice’ of this terroir, Mike became a local pioneer of many approaches now more widely adopted within the industry. This included establishing biodynamically managed vineyards from inception, extended skin contact for white wines, no additives bar minimal sulphur at bottling if required, and using neutral clay amphorae. This, along with meticulous practices in the vineyard and winemaking, such as pied de cuve and hand de-stemming, enabled Mike to achieve his aim to make wines where the voice of the place speaks louder than the grape. Mike died in his sleep of natural causes at home in Mount Lyford, Canterbury on 12 November 2020, aged 55. His legacy lives on in the inspiration he radiated to fellow winegrowers, the knowledge he generously shared with all, and the quiet hand that guided the distinctive voice of the exquisite wines that have tragically outlived him. A celebration of Mike’s life in wine will be held at Pyramid Valley’s Waikari estate on 27 February at 11am. memorialtomike.squarespace.com
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 41
Viticulturist Kurt Simcic kicks off our letters from abroad
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Kia Ora NZ, Happy new year from The Okanagan Valley in Canada WE WERE planning to be home for a visit
this month, combining the Pinot Noir New Zealand conference with a family holiday. Alas, bloody Covid. Instead, we watch New Zealand with pride and a little bit of envy. Since 19 November we have not been allowed to socialise with anyone outside our immediate household, including no visitors and no gatherings. For the moment at least, the ski hill remains open - otherwise we might be going a little crazy. Luckily, what I do is considered essential business, so my work continues, with restrictions and limitations. I am very grateful, as around us there are job losses, unwell family members and sadly death. We are getting used to wearing our mask, sanitising and attending meetings via Teams, Zoom and Webex. A great vintage for us ended in November and although yields were down across the valley due to last year’s harsh winter and an unusual cool and wet spring, the quality was exceptional. All of my vineyards became certified organic for
the 2020 vintage, with three of the four wineries I work with producing organic wine. I am informed the final winery will also begin producing organically next vintage. This milestone is something I am super proud of, being my main objective in coming to Canada and a culmination of nearly four years’ work. I still have a couple of tonnes of Riesling hanging out in the snow, as temperatures have not dropped enough to harvest ice wine. We need to get to -8C before we can pick, which I’m sure will happen any day now. It has been a mild winter so far with only four to five snowfalls here in the city proper and temperatures ranging from 5C to -5C. Despite the warmer weather, the vineyards are still under snow and our teams are busy pruning, whilst I find myself bogged down with the fun stuff like budgeting and planning. Every day I make it a priority to get into the vineyards and walk the land. I check on the animals, including our worm farms, which have been moved inside and under
heat. I ensure the chickens haven’t been eaten and their coop remains secure, and I catch up on the coyote situation, after quite a growth in their population over summer. I bought a Kangal Shepherd dog, Deo, to establish territory and chase the packs off. Coyote aggression has spiked with hunger over winter and is an evolving situation to monitor. One of my favourite daily tasks is visiting “the girls” - three highland cows Tui, Fern and Milo, to give them hay - a welcome break from computer screens. Soon it will be spring and our season will start with a bang. One of our first tasks is getting our teams here from Mexico, with the added challenge of Covid-19 testing and two weeks of quarantine before they begin. I have been saddened by the passing of two colleagues in the New Zealand wine industry – Mike Weersing and Pete Franks, both of whom I was lucky enough to know and will miss. I hope this ‘postcard’ finds you all well and enjoying the summer. Best regards, Kurt
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“The surge in online retail usage will continue”
Wine serving order
THE GENERAL convention for serving order
Predictions for 2021 M AR K ET R ESEARCH organisation
Wine Intelligence looks into the future each year and makes quite specific predictions. They have scored a high hit rate in the past. Here are their five predictions for 2021. 1. Wine volumes will decline and spend per bottle will rise – though this may be largely due to rising alcohol taxes. Taxes on alcohol are a popular way for governments to re-charge the coffers drained by Covid-19. I would add that Australian wine producers will be seeking alternative markets after China, their biggest market, placed restrictive taxes on Australian wine. New Zealand is an obvious target. 2. Alternative packaging formats will make serious inroads into the traditional glass bottle market. Bag-in-box and cans have a smaller carbon footprint than bottles, which could become a victim of measures to battle climate change.
3. Wineries will forge more meaningful and lasting direct relationships with their consumer bases, but wine tourism will take a long time to recover. The pandemic has motivated producers to ramp up their online sales to good effect. The momentum is expected to continue, albeit at a slower pace. Cellar door visitors will continue to be depleted until borders are opened. 4. The surge in online retail usage will continue, and investment and growing competition will reshape the online channel and enhance delivery speed. Consumers have been encouraged to make purchases online. That is likely to continue as deliveries become faster and more efficient. 5. The wine seltzer market will take off. Hard seltzer has tripled in the US over the past two years and is expected to continue.
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
is dry before sweet, ordinary before fine, and young before old. Dry before sweet is a no-brainer. A dry wine is seriously disadvantaged when it follows a sweet wine which can make it taste tart or even bitter. For that reason, I prefer the United States convention of serving a cheese course and accompanying wine before the dessert course, rather than the British habit of serving them round the other way. Wine competitions historically served sparkling wine classes first, then light dry whites such as Sauvignon Blanc next, followed by full-bodied whites such as Chardonnay, then lighter reds and bigger reds, finishing with dessert wines and fortified wines. Mercifully, most now follow a white class with a red class then a white class to give the judges a break from acidity and astringency. When given the option of serving order at a vertical tasting of the same red wine over several vintages, I normally swim against the stream, opting for old before young on the basis that older wines tend to be more delicate and subtle flavours are sometimes lost when preceded by a big, boisterous and youthful version of the same wine. Ordinary before fine makes perfect sense, at least from a hedonistic point of view. It is always best to finish on a high note.
IT WOULD BE STINK IF THESE GOT INTO NEW ZEALAND
Fizz facts OUR ANNUAL Christmas Eve party put pressure on my modest
stock of champagne flutes. I have about 30 champagne flutes of all different shapes and sizes. Six or seven glasses are identical while the rest are orphans. As guests arrived, I poured them each a glass of fizz until someone asked, “why is my wife’s glass bubbling away while mine appears to be flat?” We checked out the 10 or so glasses that had been poured and discovered a significant variation in the bubble population in each glass. Some looked almost flat while others were merrily fizzing away. All of the wines were the same - in fact, all had been poured from a single magnum of Bollinger. Next day I consulted The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson and found the answer under the heading “Fizziness”. The pressure in a standard bottle of champagne is about six atmospheres. When the bottle is opened the pressure inside is reduced to ambient pressure of around one atmosphere and the wine is said to be supersaturated with carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is lost by individual molecules diffusing to the surface and by bubbles forming on nucleation sites, which are flaws on the glass, dirt on the glass or impurities floating in the wine. Carbon dioxide molecules diffuse into minute gas pockets in the nucleation sites, forming a bubble. When the bubble gets big and buoyant enough it breaks away and heads toward the surface. As each bubble breaks away, another forms, leading to the characteristic “bead of pearls”. The bubbles are many different sizes because each nucleation site is different and because each site is a different distance from the surface. Bubble diameters grow by different amounts as they rise. That explains why each glass had a different bubble profile. Some had been gathering dust for longer that others (well, I did give them a quick wipe) and each glass had a different number of flaws. The loss of carbon dioxide is slow, which is why an opened bottle of fizz keeps fizzing for many hours. The author pointed out that bubbles in old bottles of sparkling wine are smaller and slower (lazier) than more youthful wines. That’s because the bottle has lost pressure over the years and therefore the supersaturation is less. Simple really.
The brown marmorated stink bug is a pest that infests homes, ruins gardens, stinks when crushed, and is almost impossible to get rid of. It could also destroy our fruit and vegetable industries. It’s not in New Zealand yet, and we want to keep it that way. So if you see one, don’t kill it. Catch it, take a photo, and call us on 0800 80 99 66.
Look for black & white banding on the antennae
For more information (including how to identify the bug) visit biosecurity.govt.nz/stinkbug
Look for black & white banding on the sides of the abdomen
Stink Bugs not shown actual size. (Actual size approx. 1.7cm long)
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 45
Vintage Views As the 2021 harvest approaches, we seek insights from New Zealand’s wine regions on the season and labour challenges, as well as learnings from 2020. Northern Districts Peter Jones, Chair of Northern Winegrowers What will vintage 2020 be remembered for? Two key points from vintage ‘20 – it was the best vintage seen in Northland for 20 years, with perfect growing conditions all through the season, culminating in high quality fruit from all around the region. The other is obviously Covid and the lockdown, although the majority of the fruit was already in the wineries before the lockdown restrictions came into place. How has this season progressed? This season is shaping up to be another excellent one, with the predicted La Niña conditions not eventuating. Low rainfall and hot days have been the story of the summer so far. Frost and hail are not a consideration up here. Flowering was even and crop loads are looking about average. How have you prepared for the 2021 vintage? Labour-wise, we normally have a large pool of international backpackers who we can call on, and so the border closures mean we have had to focus more on locals, although there are a small number of internationals still around. The smaller size of our wineries and vineyards mean that we can identify labour resources early and work with them. There’s not much we can do about Covid, other than be prepared to reintroduce the systems we put in place 12 months ago if necessary.
Man O’ War
Gisborne James Millton of Millton Vineyards What are the biggest learnings from the past year? The importance of a good strong team and watching out for each other. A social connection and mindfulness is required. Work and Income and other employment agency systems seem so out of touch with the current demand for a sustainable workforce, both economically and socially, which is overloading the requirements of a small winegrowing operation. On another note is the direction for eliminating the use of the glyphosate and therefore needing to find an alternative for undervine weed management.
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
How has this season progressed? Budburst was eight days early, in early September, and several nights of frost caused a concern. There has been a great increase in new plantings - Sauvignon Blanc in particular - which may slow the advance of apples and kiwifruit in this region. Our maritime climate has been enhanced by cooling sea breezes in the afternoons, but flowering conditions (10 days early) were quite hot and saw norwest winds. There has been good vegetation growth on our dry farmed vineyards and little rain, although quite humid conditions have put pressure on powdery mildew control, with some growers closing up their spray programmes to a seven day interval. Crop loading is looking adequate, with some companies lifting the ceiling of yield constraints. At the time of writing (21 January) veraison is advancing, Pinot Noir is colouring up and early Chardonnay blocks further inland are already getting attacked by the birds. The gas bangers started going off at sometimes ungodly hours of the early morning about seven days ago, and we think harvest will be 10 days early. How have you prepared for the 2021 vintage? Many vineyards are machine harvesting and this trend will increase as our usual cluster of international interns are not coming. Several growers are now providing vineyard accommodation for pickers – and then for pruning. As the months become more chilly, we have more people wishing to come to our mild and pleasant climate. Wine styles demanded by consumers are becoming more diverse, and the virtual portals for wine tastings are saving a lot of time and money, and giving us more time in the vineyards.
Hawke’s Bay Tony Smith, Babich Wines Hawke’s Bay Viticultural Manager How has this season progressed? The season started warm and dry, and budburst threatened to come early with swollen buds in Chardonnay mid-August. Aside from the dozen or so mornings with windmills running off and on, there were seven events that needed water frost protection -
mostly dawn dips. So, no frost damage gave us a good start. The weather over flowering wasn’t ideal - in a nutshell it was wet and cold for white flowering, and wet and warm for reds. Aside from the possible latent botrytis infections, the weather over flowering may have caused a very slight decrease in Merlot only. All other varieties have set well. With the total rainfall for November being 160-odd millimetres, and then a dry December, canopies pushed along well. That put some pressure on labour availability, as the pressure point usually comes in January for Babich Wines. How are labour challenges being met? The approach Babich Wines Hawke’s Bay has had towards seasonal labour for many years is now helping us through this difficult time with labour shortages. We use a core crew that is spread between apples and grapes, so there is an ebb and flow between the two. These are good solid people who know what they are doing and, as with most things in life, it all comes back to relationships. With the advancements in machine picking producing such clean picks, with berries intact (variety dependant of course), our reliance on labour for picking is much reduced and predominantly focussed on Chardonnay. That said, the upcoming harvest combination of both apples and grapes is no doubt going to put a huge strain on both industries. What are growers hoping for in coming weeks? Although the weather experts are predicting a warm but wet end, I’m really hoping to be sampling in my summer boots and not gumboots this harvest. Keep this under your hat until postharvest - if it stays dry until we have it all in tank, V21 could set the bar even higher that V20. If it gets wet… I didn’t say a thing!
Gordon Russell, Esk Valley Winemaker What will vintage 2020 be remember for? It was the most memorable vintage of my career for a variety of reasons. As luck would have it, it was the earliest vintage since 1989 which meant when we faced lockdown we had already harvested a large percentage of our crop. This made the new conditions of harvest easier than they would have been otherwise. The wines also are, and will be, memorable. After a record-breaking period of warm and dry weather, the crop was in perfect condition and unlike many ‘great harvests’, both whites and reds excelled. Lastly, having to spend the month of lockdown living on site was a unique experience. What’s been the biggest learning over the past year? Zoom. Who would have thought we could conduct tastings online? How have you prepared for the 2021 vintage? With the unavailability of foreign winemakers for harvest we are having to invest in training new entrants to the industry. This is obviously adding cost and complexity. We will also have to be very selective on which of our vineyards we hand harvest, given availability of labour. Luckily, Villa Maria has invested heavily in Pellanc Selectiv harvesters which continue to prove their worth, providing us with machine harvested fruit of a quality once unimaginable.
Wairarapa Larry McKenna, Escarpment Vineyard Director What are the biggest learnings from the past year? That the world and our part in it can change in a heartbeat. After more than 40 vintages I felt we had experienced most things, but having to change so much so quickly in the middle of vintage
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definitely required some new skills. Flexibility and delegation was and is the key attribute. How has this season progressed? So far the Wairarapa is sitting in an ideal spot, as of 15 January. Martinborough is about 100mm up on average rainfall with 78 degree days, over average temperatures. Less wind over the past weeks has also helped reduce evapotranspiration so the vineyards are looking superb. Crop loads will only be average at best, with some poorer flowering in December than hoped for. With veraison only weeks away, it’s all go for the vineyard crews. How have you prepared for the 2021 vintage? After last year we are hoping that the worst of the learning curve is complete. The only real concern at the moment is labour for hand harvesting. Plan B is to be able to receive machine harvested fruit which seems to be in hand for most people. We are fortunate, having both of last year’s winery interns back again this year.
What are growers hoping for in upcoming weeks? In the lead-up to harvest, growers will primarily be hoping that there is no spread of Covid-19 into the community, and that we are free to manage our harvest and winery operations without the difficulties we experienced in 2020. We’d also be happy to see the rainfall in the mountains to keep the Wairau River levels up, and warm sunny days. There are some reasonable signs that the vintage could be early this season, but we don’t want it to be too early. We really like a bit of hang time to help with flavour development and to get the acid levels in balance. So we’re not asking for too much at all, really.
Marlborough John Flanagan, Viticulturist at Cloudy Bay How has this season progressed? The season to date has been very much a mixed bag. The early budburst for some varieties meant dealing with some heavy frost events, which caused a bit of damage to Chardonnay and some of the earlier Sauvignon Blanc. Our concerns about the drier than normal winter were alleviated with some very consistent rain events in spring, but the associated cold weather spells have impacted flowering across all of the varietals, and we’re expecting lower crop levels this year. That being said, the disease pressure is lower this growing season, and there is a real possibility of another high quality vintage, perhaps even higher than the exceptional vintage we saw in 2020. We haven’t seen too many days where the temperature has hit 30C, but that has meant the vines aren’t shutting down during the day and things seem to be moving along very nicely. How are labour challenges being met? The labour challenges have been met through excellent collaboration between the contractors, industry bodies, and Government. The anticipated shortfall through winter and into the summer work season never really materialised, thanks to this cooperative approach and willingness by all parties to find solutions. There’s also been a considerable sacrifice made by a large number of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workers, who have stayed on in New Zealand and learnt new skills, where necessary. They’ve once again demonstrated how important they are to our industry, and their contribution cannot be taken for granted.
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
Spring Timlin, Matua New Zealand Winemaker What will vintage 2020 be remembered for? It was the vintage of adaptability. News and health information changed daily and subsequently so did our HSE guidance, production plans and ways of working. Every day we adapted to something new. Our team were asked to work in ways they never have, in situations where family and friends were often far away, under uncertain visa and immigration conditions, all while navigating flour, toilet paper and soap shortages. Despite this, the New Zealand wine industry and its people are incredibly resilient, and 2020 was a cracker for good weather and fantastic quality wines.
“There have been some really beneficial changes to come out of Covid for the wine industry and its workers.” What’s been the biggest learning over the past year? Simplification. We already thought we were quite efficient and uncomplicated, but 2020 taught us to push this even further, be more creative, and think of easier and better ways to do what we’ve always done. We’ve further embraced the paperless cellar note function of vintrace and are finding more ways for team members (even winemakers) to work from home. Industry wide I’ve noticed there is more compassion for each other, coupled with an increased focus on wellbeing and a better understanding of flexible working. There have been some really beneficial changes to come out of Covid for the wine industry and its workers. How have you prepared for the 2021 vintage? We retained a few extra vintage cellarhands and a winemaker throughout the year to ensure we had depth of experience and
knowledge for the coming vintage. We’re also fortunate to have a large number of returning cellarhands, and we’re incredibly grateful for their skillset and prior knowledge of our ways of working. Additionally, we are simplifying our paperwork, rehashing our intake flow and learning to better utilise our systems.
Nelson Chris Seifried, Winemaker at Seifried Estate What will Vintage 2020 be remembered for? 2020 will be remembered as a stunning vintage. What should have been the easiest harvest, with wonderful fruit and super weather was turned on its head with Covid - new systems, protocols and social distancing around the business. We are grateful that we were able to continue with the harvest, but many of our vintage staff decided to return home to Austria, France and Germany on repatriation flights which made for a hectic time for the already stretched winery crew. How has this season progressed? This year we had our most significant frost impact in mid-October with two vineyards suffering the most significant frost damage we have seen in more than 45 years of grape growing in Nelson. Varieties hardest hit were Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and we expect yields on the vineyards to be significantly reduced - possibly only 50 percent of ‘normal’ on several blocks. Nelson had a wet and slow flowering period, which will result in low yields for V21 - across all varieties but most impacted were Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir. Bunch numbers are about normal, but very loose and a lot of variable sized berries – ‘hen and chicken’, as we say.
Hail in the Motueka and Brightwater areas of Nelson on Boxing Day afternoon has left a mark, with significant damage to the top of the grapevine canopy, and yields will certainly be impacted - a significant reduction on an already light crop. This all makes for a very challenging growing season ahead in several blocks. How have you prepared for the 2021 vintage? Staffing for the harvest is a concern so we are employing more Kiwis over summer in the vineyard and hoping to bring some into the winery for the crush. We do have concerns about the winter pruning which will be difficult without our wonderful RSE team from the Solomon Islands, which we have worked with for 10 years. The reduction in RSE numbers being allowed into New Zealand is a major concern for us, but we are looking at other options, including the use of mechanical pruning where possible.
Jean Luc Dufour
North Canterbury Jean-Luc Dufour, Vineyard Manager for Accolade Wines How has this season progressed? We had an early start to spring in early September, with early varieties on some of the lighter soils in Waipara. There were two major frost events in October and some of the coldest temperatures I can remember recorded after budburst. Fortunately, the air was very dry, which limited potential damage to some extent. However, parts of the region suffered significant damage. Again, a cold snap at the end of November upset flower set, making for a generally light crop, apart from Riesling. We have been under disease pressure with continued moisture which is very atypical of the Waipara region. Now, we are still waiting for summer to really arrive. EU Wine export approved
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How are labour challenges being met? Generally, labour has been met with more local labour instead of the backpackers. Up until now we have been able to fulfil our requirements - I believe this will be more of a challenge starting from the harvest and pruning season. What are growers hoping for in upcoming weeks? Waiting for the norwester pattern of hot, dry weather.
Central Otago James Dicey, Viticulturist at Grape Vision How has this season progressed? We are slightly early and yields are looking good - the 115mm of rain we had over three days in mid-January was during the key cell division time and will increase berry sizes. Pinot had set okay (whites are good) so this will mean we should hit yield targets this year. There were some niggles with frost and a dry spell before the rainfall, but all within normal extremes we experience in Central Otago. There is some disease pressure but most appear to be vigilant and have it under control. Rosie Menzies How are labour challenges being met? Labour is the single biggest challenge - there seem to be enough people about due to our joint publicity with fruit growers. With Rosie Menzies, Winemaker at Carrick cherries being so badly affected a lot of people have come free - the What will vintage 2020 be remember for? great unknown is how many will stick around for bunch thin- Cohesion in the face of adversity - among the industry as a whole, ning, net application and harvest. The RSE situation continues within the Central Otago wine community, but also within busito evolve very slowly - hopefully some highly trained staff get nesses. Personally, I could not have made it successfully through in but I am not holding my breath. The level of experience and that period without the positivity and cohesive attitude of our skill they bring would be a real shot in the arm compared to the team. In addition, the fruit quality was excellent, with fine willing but untrained staff we are currently working with. weather during harvest, enabling picking decisions to be made What will growers be hoping for in the lead-up to harvest? based on ideal ripeness, rather than rain or disease pressure. RSE workers in and backpackers and Kiwis sticking around. The wines from 2020 are the light in amongst the darkness we Warm settled weather with no more major rain events. A long felt during that time. and slow harvest so we are not under the pump to get the fruit What’s been the biggest learning over the past year? in - there is only so much fruit machine harvesters can get to That nothing is guaranteed, that change is inevitable and to sucon our hill slopes. ceed you must adapt and move with the change. How have you prepared for the 2021 vintage? Certainly, we will be spending time on additional planning this year, to look at worst case scenarios and how best to deal with that “The wines from 2020 are the if it arises. However, we are lucky that this time we will have the light in amongst the darkness protocols and experience already, and the knowledge that we can adapt and change if we need to. There have been concerns around we felt during that time.” finding labour, but so far we have prevailed, although it remains unclear whether we will have enough pickers come harvest.
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Martinborough vineyards set for significant growth JOELLE THOMSON
M A RT I NBOROUGH ’S W I NE
industry is known for its small size and big profile, but three of its best-known wineries have significant expansion plans. The developments on Te Muna Road, Martinborough, will boost the region’s plantings f ro m t h e c u r re n t 1 0 3 9 hectares of New Zealand’s total 39,935ha of producing vineyard. Craggy Range Vineyards is doubling its vineyard holdings from 93ha to nearly 200ha, says Marketing Manager David Peabody. “The big focus has been on taking the best of our existing vineyards both from a knowledge and material standpoint and using this to plant the new blocks. An excellent example of this is massale selection. We took the best cuttings from our Abel block (Pinot Noir, Block 19) and used these cuttings as the
basis for the new plantings.” The expansion is also an opportunity to kick off the winer y ’s native planting programme, he says. “Last year we planted more than 23,000 natives. When the programme is complete, it will cover close to 100ha... While there are many benefits to planting native trees, we believe this will dramatically improve our vineyard’s monoculture, heightening native yeast levels and reducing pest pressure from the increase in native birds.” Also on Te Muna Road, The Escarpment Vineyard has just completed the purchase of Cobblestone Vineyard, adjacent to its existing land. This will add 4ha of mature Pinot Noir vines, which they have previously managed and taked fruit from. The Escarpment Vineyard
is now owned by Torbreck Vintners from South Australia, with its new growth plan to be headed up by winery founder Larr y McKenna. He has always used grapes from single vineyards that he regards highly elsewhere in Martinborough, but growth nearer to the winery will add substantially to its holdings. A ne w w iner y, o ff ices , laboratory and hospitality centre is all scheduled to begin construction in February, unless held up by the consent process. The new winery will be capable of fermenting up to 300 tonnes of Pinot Noir as well as white wine, and is scheduled to be operational for the 2022 vintage. The third winer y with expansion plans is Julicher Estate, which was bought by the Butterworth family in November 2019, and will
grow from 13.9ha to a new total of 24.2ha of vines. While retaining the Julicher name, its wines will be rebranded under the Butterworth banner. At the time of purchase, it was planted with 13.9ha of grapes, and 2ha of fallow blocks have since been replanted with Abel, Clone 5 and Mendoza Chardonnay. The team has also removed a block of olive trees from behind the winery, in order to plant 1.3ha of Chardonnay. Further expansion includes an extra 8ha of Pinot Noir on land that the Butterworths bought next door, which will see an increase in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling, says Butter worth Estate General Manager Nick Hewitt. “Graduated planting will start in this new block from 2022 and we will start to harvest the fruit in 2023 and 2024.”
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 51
Wine Weather An unsettled summer so far JAMES MORRISON
AN UNUSUAL and unsettled
summer has been the theme for many of the growing regions across New Zealand. La Niña conditions traditionally bring increased humidity and rainfall and this has been the case at times, but not in the areas most likely to receive the rain. Many
parts of the South Island have seen temperatures consistently run below average and there has even been the occasional threat of frost in December and January. Further north, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne have fared better since the heavy rains of November 2020 and mean tempera-
tures have been close to normal through summer so far. Rainfall totals have been near or a little below average. Central Otago has seen arguably the most diverse weather this summer with snow to the ranges, frost, thunderstorms and heavy rain from midDecember onwards. One factor
for this has been the unusually stormy Southern Ocean that has pushed up cold southerly outbreaks from time to time. What has been going on? Our seasonal climate is made up of a number of factors that combine to give our day to day weather. La Niña is one of the
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main drivers this season and we have seen a reduction in the number of warm, northwest winds across the South Island and lower North Island. The Southern Annular Mode is still showing positive conditions. This means that the belt of strong westerlies that race around Antarctica remain further south and have a reduced effect on New Zealand. We have seen cool southerly changes from time to time and these have been unusually frequent and cold. The risk of these cold changes is likely to reduce as high pressure moves into the south. Mean temperatures have been close to average but given the last few warm summers it does feel like conditions are much cooler than what we have recently experienced. This will be in part to a reduction in the number of 30C days across the country and especially in the east. Sea surface temperatures are above average around New
Zealand and conditions are likely to push above average for the next few months. The threat of a tropical cyclone affecting New Zealand is highest during March and April and this is likely to be the case again this year. So far we have seen little in the way of tropical cyclone development but the risk of a cyclone forming and moving south to our shores remains above average in 2021.
The outlook for February and March: Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay Summer and early autumn are likely to see an increase in the risk of a heavy rain event affecting the east coast and this is likely to be an above average risk. Conditions have been relatively dry so far, but the latest long term data is showing a tendency for an increase in northeast winds.
At best we are likely to have an increase in cloud and lower day time maximum temperatures as well as above average night-time minimums as we move into March. Worst case scenario would be a heavy rain event from a system borne out of the tropics at some point. Humidity levels are likely to increase from mid-February onwards.
Marlborough/North Canterbury Mean temperatures are likely to remain near or a little above average through into early autumn. There will be occasional warm northwest winds but the prevailing conditions are likely to be northeast winds along the coast and pushing inland. There is likely to be an increase in humidity and rainfall totals have a higher than normal chance of remaining above average while sunshine totals may run below aver-
age for the next two to three months.
Central Otago Mean temperatures are likely to return to normal and even push above average through into mid-autumn. Long term modelling is showing an increase in high pressure over the lower South Island. This should result in more settled conditions although there is still an increased risk of cloud and rain in the far east. The number of 30C days should increase in February. Rainfall totals should fall back to near normal levels but, as with the North Island, any tropical lows that move south have the potential to disrupt and bring extreme weather events to the deep south. Overall we are more positive that conditions will improve. James Morrison runs Weatherstation Frost Forecasting Ltd – weatherstation.net.nz
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Project leader Jessica Vereijssen from Plant & Food Research putting out an insect sticky trap. Photo Mette Nielsen.
Gaining knowledge about likely Xylella fastidiosa vectors in New Zealand JIM HERDMAN SEVEN VINEYARDS, in Hawke’s
Bay and Canterbury, are taking part in a new biosecurity research project examining the presence of potential insect vectors of Xylella fastidiosa, the bacterium which causes Pierce’s disease of grapevines, in vineyards and the adjoining
natural vegetation. Xylella fastidiosa (X. fastidiosa) is transmitted by obligate xylem-feeding (i.e, only feeding on xylem) insects which spread the bacterium by uptaking it when feeding on an infected host plant, and pass it on to the next plant. Insects such
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
as sharpshooter leafhoppers and spittlebugs are known to be vectors overseas. One key insect vector in grapevine is the glassy-winged sharpshooter, which is not present in New Zealand. This insect is also on the New Zealand Winegrower’s (NZW) most unwanted list.
Spittlebugs are present in New Zealand, and the status of cicadas as vectors of X. fastidiosa needs more research. The research project will advance the understanding of endemic and native insect vectors in New Zealand that could potentially transmit X.
fastidiosa. In New Zealand, only spittlebugs and cicadas are obligate xylem feeders, reducing the number of insect species to focus on in this project. The project aims to deliver new knowledge on the distribution of potential endemic insect vectors of X. fastidiosa, as well as their host plants, seasonality, and movement between the native and productive estate, using vineyards (Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay), summerfruit (Otago) and citrus orchards (Kerikeri) as case studies. The project team may also undertake gut content analysis of xylem feeders to determine what plants they have been feeding on, and tracking of adult cicadas in the native estate to establish any patterns in their movement. The information obtained through the research will be incorporated into the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Department of Conservation (DOC) risk assessments and industry response plans for an incursion of X. fastidiosa. This will have short and long-term benefits for New Zealand’s biosecurity system, informing where to concentrate early detection surveillance efforts, and where it might be necessary to manage imports of certain plant species for a more efficient response to a potential X. fastidiosa incursion.
Field work Field trial work started in November. Three NZW members - Pegasus Bay, Ataahua Vineyard, and Fancrest Estate - are taking part in the Canterbury region, and four in Hawke’s Bay: Black Barn Vineyards, Waiana Estate, Pernod Ricard and Te Mata Estate. Invertebrate sampling on these vineyards will be undertaken by staff from Plant & Food Research (PFR) and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.
Adult spittlebug on a plant in the Waipara. Photo Jim Herdman.
Sampling in the field consists of sweep netting, beat sampling, and the use of sticky traps and intercept traps. Any insects collected during the netting and beat sampling process are put in plastic zip-lock bags. In the laboratory, spittlebugs and cicadas are separated from the other insects, individually placed in ethanol and identified to family, genus, and species level where possible, or sent for identification by the MPI Plant Health and Environment Laboratory. Some of the spittlebugs and cicadas are used to develop molecular identification techniques for these insects. Sticky traps and intercept traps are send to the laboratory at PFR Lincoln, where spittlebugs and cicadas caught are counted. The scientists will use the data from field and laboratory experiments for modelling spread of the spittlebugs and cicadas in different landscapes. Using scenarios the project team hopes to understand the risk profiles for these landscapes and inform MPI, DOC and horticultural industries. The Xylella insect vector project is being led by Jessica Vereijssen of PFR, as part of the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) science collaboration (b3nz.org. nz). Working within co-innova-
tion principles, other partici- treat the disease. pants include NZW, Manaaki All Vitis vinifera varieties Whenua – Landcare Research, are susceptible to Pierce’s DOC, MPI, the Xylella Action disease, but they vary in lonGroup, Citrus NZ, Summer- gevity and productivity after fruit NZ, Kiwifruit Vine Health, infection. Grape varieties such and New Zealand Plant Producers Pierce’s disease is fatal Incorporated. to grapevines, killing Discussions are mature vines in a period also being held with leaders in of one to three years the PFR’s Growafter infection. ing FuturesTM research programme to explore synergistic as Sauvignon Blanc and Charwork and sharing of inverte- donnay are very susceptible to brate samples. the disease, with a short time between infection and death. Xylella fastidiosa Varieties such as Cabernet Sau– a Most Unwanted vignon are less susceptible. plant pathogen As well as grapevines, X. Pierce’s disease is a disease of fastidiosa has at least 370 grapevines that is not present known host plants, several of in New Zealand but could be which are economically and imported through infected culturally important in New plant material. The disease is Zealand. Consequently, New caused by the bacterium X. Zealand has strong biosecurity fastidiosa, which multiplies in measures in place, seeking the grapevine’s xylem vessels, to prevent the entry of X. clogging them and preventing fastidiosa into the country. the plant from transporting water from roots to canopy. For more information This results in stunting, dieabout Xylella fastidiosa, back, and eventual death. Pierce’s disease or the Pierce’s disease is fatal to grapeB3 project, get in touch vines, killing mature vines in with the NZW a period of one to three years biosecurity team on after infection. Once vines are firstname.lastname@example.org. infected, there is no way to
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 55
Not on the Label - Legal matters with Dentons Kensington Swan
2021: Continuing change for employers JAMES WARREN, PARTNER AT DENTONS KENSINGTON SWAN
A T UMULT UOUS 2020 for
employers, struck with Covidrelated impacts and uncertainties, was perhaps capped by the unprecedented formation of an absolute majority Labour Government, certainly in terms of the potential for future
employment law reform. This confirms that a range of previously debated reforms will now proceed. At their most basic, legal changes include increasing the statutory minimum for paid sick leave from five to 10
INDUSTRY NEWS PROFILES
days and increasing the minimum wage to $20 per hour. However, the Government has signalled a general intention to increase the rights of vulnerable employees and contractors, and the array of new legislation will undoubtedly
LATEST RESEARCH REGIONAL UPDATES
affect winegrowers. Fair Pay Agreements The much heralded compulsory “Fair Pay Agreements” will first be targeted at specific groups such as security guards, grocery workers and cleaners, albeit only after a 12-month
MARKETING UPDATES ARCHIVES
www.nzwinegrower.co.nz 56 //
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
HIGHLY SPECIALIZED IN PRODUCING INDUSTRY HIGHLY DESIGN PROFIT. LEADING
Not on the Label - Legal matters with Dentons Kensington Swan
consultation period. However, ultimately they may extend to a wide range of lower paid employees and workers, including those on vineyards. They will establish minimum pay and benefits across the entire industry, much like an award system, and may therefore have a huge impact on competition and the labour market generally. Dependent Contractors Individuals who are engaged as contractors, but who actually have little other choice than to work for a single company on the terms it sets, are a specific Government focus. They may be reclassified as employees, or otherwise receive special statutory rights. This type of reform will match recent case law, which confirms that the Employment Court will be skeptical of written agreements stating that individuals are contractors when the reality of the relationship is one of employment, particularly when vulnerable workers are involved. Holidays Act The Holidays Act has been under review since 2018, with the intention of simplifying and therefore also increasing compliance. The indication is that a new statute will be prepared to replace the old 2003 legislation. While employers would undoubtedly welcome such reform, it will almost certainly mean further significant changes for payroll and holiday management. For those dealing with seasonal workers the hope (and the intention) is that it will provide much greater flexibility. In the meantime, employers should bear in mind a recent legal decision which confirms that incentive or bonus schemes which offer employees payment in recognition of their performance will be treated as contractual ‘gross earnings’ for holiday pay purposes, and
therefore increase the value of holiday pay, even if the level of any bonus is discretionary. Covid risks remain Those employers managing large groups of seasonal staff, perhaps particularly those being offered accommodation, will need to be especially aware of their health and safety obligations to employees in light of the continuing Covid pandemic. Employers should remain prepared for operating at each Alert Level. There also remain risks of claims arising out of the approach taken during previous lockdowns. A recent Employment Court case confirmed that essential services employees who were not working during the lockdown would not be entitled to the minimum wage. However, that could be appealed, and uncertainty remains as to whether employees who could not work at all during the lockdown might nonetheless have a claim to their wages. The other continuing impact of Covid is the restriction on overseas seasonal workers. Only 2000 workers have been accepted under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme for the horticulture and viticulture season between January and March 2021, subject to strict conditions. There remains huge uncertainty as to what ability there will be to recruit staff in the future. Outlook The Government is undoubtedly cognizant of the risk of shell-shock should it implement too much change immediately following the significant Covid impacts which employers have suffered. However, reform is very firmly on the agenda and wise employers may already be considering the resources they will need to manage a legal framework which is being re-balanced towards employees.
IN PRODUCING PROFIT.
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p: +64 7 573 8132 www.agtek.co.nz NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 57 Landini is a trademark of Argo Tractors S.p.A.
On your Behalf
Advocacy on matters of vital importance to the industry.
Brexit: what happens now? SARAH WILSON
AS OF 1 January 2021, Brexit is now officially ‘done’. While the
United Kingdom (UK) technically left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, there was a transition period in which the status quo was largely maintained. Negotiations for a free trade agreement between the EU and UK took place throughout 2020, with a deal eventually being reached on Christmas Eve and signed on 30 December. The deal has been agreed in principle and applies provisionally for now, but still requires final signoff from the EU side. If a deal was not reached, this would have likely meant significant disruption to trade between the EU and the UK. Instead, the agreed deal allows for trade to continue reasonably freely. There are some new restrictions in place which reflect that the UK has now left the single market and the customs union. The new customs rules have led to some headaches in the early days (such as customs officers confiscating ham and cheese sandwiches from British lorry drivers). There are also special rules for Northern Ireland, which is treated as part of the EU rather than as part of the UK in some ways.
What about New Zealand wine? While there will be some changes, many requirements will remain unchanged for New Zealand wine exporters for the foreseeable future. Products already in market: Products placed on the market in the EU or the UK before 31 December 2020 should be able to remain in circulation without any modifications (eg, without any changes to labelling), until they reach their final customer. However, businesses should be prepared to prove to authorities when and how the product was placed on the market if requested. Logistics: From 1 January 2021, businesses importing New Zealand wines into the UK or the EU will be subject to additional requirements if exporting wine between the two markets. We recommend that winegrowers keep in regular contact with their importer, to ensure that they have all information required. For example, businesses in the UK will need to apply for a ‘pro forma VI-1’ form to accompany consignments to the EU, which acts almost as a ‘cover sheet’ for the original VI-1 issued in New Zealand.
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
• Labelling: For bottled wine, the approach likely to give you the most flexibility at the lowest risk would be using an EU importer address (or a Northern Ireland importer address) on the label. This should meet importer labelling requirements in all of the EU, Great Britain and Northern Ireland until 30 September 2022. More detail about all of the above is available at nzwine.com
What happens next? New Zealand is engaged in ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement with each of the EU and the UK. An agreement with either party has the potential to unlock significant benefits for New Zealand wine exports to these markets. Negotiations with the EU were formally launched in 2018. Nine rounds have been conducted to date, with another expected in the first quarter of 2021. UK negotiations were launched in 2020, once the UK officially left the EU. Two rounds of negotiations with the UK have been held already, with the third beginning on 26 January 2021. Sarah Wilson is Senior Legal Counsel at NZW.
More information NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWERS (NZW) will keep members informed with any updates. The latest information is always available on the NZW member website – our dedicated Brexit page is available from the Advocacy page nzwine.com/members/advocacy/ From their next editions (due out February/March 2021), our Labelling Guide and Winemaking Practices Guide will refer to the EU separately from the UK. If you have any queries about Brexit and its impact on New Zealand wine, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
NZ Rosé Day Refreshing and sophisticated, New Zealand Rosé is the drink of summer! We celebrated NZ Rosé Day on February 5th and kicked-off the long weekend in style.
A glass of chilled Rosé is always a great way to spend a Friday afternoon in New Zealand’s beautiful backyard. Here are some of our favourite New Zealand Rosé summer snaps. #nzroseday
POSTS O N # N ZWI N E ON I N STAG R A M
P OSTS ON #N ZR OSE DAY A N D CO U N T I N G ! @WINESBYJSTRELOU
Don’t forget to use #nzwine or tag @nzwinegrowers for your chance to be featured.
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 59
14/01/21 9:39 AM
Nuts and Bolts
Mark Daniel’s updates on Machinery and Technology
Maschio Tigre has a fierce bite
W ITH THE gradual rise in
utilising a 10mm walled rotor of 195mm diameter that in turn carries four rows of 1.2kg flails. Arranged in a helical pattern around the rotor, the layout is Extensive guarding said to reduce power consumption, create at the front and rear a progressive cutting ensures that flying action and reduce debris is always kept machine noise. Up front the to a minimum. machine features a heavy duty, three-point linkage frame that can heavy duty mulchers, aimed at be easily offset using a clever capitalising on that extra power. roller system to the main body. The Maschio Tigre, available For those looking to stay on in 1.7 or 1.8-metre working the tractor seat or make more widths, can deal with residues frequent lateral adjustments, of up to 12cm in diameter, a hydraulic offset option is horsepower of tractors used in vineyards, Power Farming New Zealand has introduced a duo of
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
also available. The main body of the machine uses a replaceable double-skinned construction, said to resist damage from larger debris as it passes over the rotor. Within the rear-hood area, a twin row of adjustable counter blades ensures all materials are chopped to a fine consistency, ensuring rapid decomposition after mulching. An additional, optional front rake can be fitted to ensure all material is pulled from the ground and into the rotor’s path. Extensive guarding at the front and rear ensures that flying debris is always kept to a minimum. Working to complement
the three-point linkage, a rear mounted, 200mm diameter roller maintains a constant cutting height, while benefitting from the use of triple-labyrinth seals on its axle for an extended service life. Rated for tractors producing up to 140hp, the driveline sees a centrally mounted main gearbox that feeds power laterally to a five-belt driveline to the main rotor shaft. This layout allows the belt system to absorb shock loads when oversized or immoveable debris is encountered, while also offering the ability to deliver rotor speeds of up to 2100rpm. powerfarming.co.nz
Carrarospray ITALIAN SPECIALISTS Carrarospray, distrib-
uted in New Zealand by Hamilton-based Ag Attachments, manufactures air blast and low volume sprayers for viticulture, horticulture and specialised agricultural applications. Founded in 1961, production sees linkage mounted machines from 200 to 635 litres and trailed from 645 to 2150l capacity. Both formats feature a heavyduty galvanised frame or chassis, with the mounted units using tanks constructed from reinforced fibreglass for weight reduction, while the trailed units see tanks rotationally moulded from polythene with wall thickness of 10 to 12mm, to deal with the increased weight and torsional forces.
BRIEFS: FIELDMASTER XHD VINEYARD MOWER THE LATEST Extra Heavy-Duty (XHD) mower series from Pukekohe-based manufacturer Fieldmaster is said to be able to deal with the toughest conditions any vineyard can deliver. Inherent strength and durability are created by a twin, lami-
Both ranges can be specified with single or twin-sped gearboxes (standard on trailed machines), along with high quality Comet, multi-vane pumps and Arag spray controllers that meet exacting EU regulations. A newly developed range of axial distribution fans, featuring fibreglass blades, are said to deliver higher volumes of air, with a reduced horsepower requirement. Mounted machines are offered with a choice of 600, 700 or 800mm diameter fans, depending on the volumes of air flow required, combined with a single or twin nozzle set-up, mounted in stainless steel holders. Final delivery to the crop is achieved via adjustable top wings, confignated 8mm thick deck skin that is supported in an over-dimensioned frame. The cutting element is fitted with axe flails as standard, but can be optioned with a further choice of triple-stack mulching or ‘gold tip’ blades. A heavy-duty European gearbox, driveline and cam-clutch protect against overload or blocking with foreign
ured to allow an even distribution and good canopy penetration. The trailed machine range features 12 double nozzles as standard, along with wash and rinse tanks and a height and track adjustable axle to suit all conditions agattach.co.nz objects. Up front, twin, solid stubby rollers work in conjunction with a rear mega roller to control cutting height and prevent scalping on uneven ground. Optional equipment includes front and rear wheel assemblies in lieu of the standard rollers, side blanking plates to direct debris rearwards and a heavy duty mulching kit.
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FOR STATISTICS QUERIES CONTACT EMILY AT EMILY.TUNNICLIFFE@NZWINE.COM
Key Performance Indicators
NOV JUN 2020
Keep an eye on how New Zealand wine is performing both domestically and internationally.
Total Value of Exports
Growth Markets fob value
$384.7m 7% $133.0m 2% $60.6m 11% $26.3m 11% $27.0m 2% $15.6m 26%
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 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
NZWine KPIs_JPEG_PRINT_ongoing_2020.indd 9
14/01/21 9:53 AM
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. CHURTON
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 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) Harlequin ladybird in vineyards: monitoring a potentially invasive insect. Plant and Food Research V Bell)
Cost Reduction/ Increased Profitability Precision Grape Yield Analyser Programme 20162021 Lincoln Agritech Limited (A Werner)
Electronic Spray Deposition Sensors (ESDS) Lincoln Agritech (Scott Post)
Sustainability/Organics Vineyard Ecosystems Programme University of Auckland and Plant and Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MBIE Optimisation of irrigation and water savings in Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and Merlot Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow) 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)
Potential applications of nanotechnology for wine growing in New Zealand University of Auckland (M Kah) Understanding the global market potential for the adoption of Regenerative Agriculture (RA) in New Zealand. Beef and Lamb NZ
Climate Change Climate case study – Managing hail damaged vineyards Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson) Microbial community and vine responses to increasing temperatures in the New Zealand context University of Auckland (S Knight)
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)
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 63
VINEYARD ECOSYSTEMS PROGRAMME
Pulling the strings that influence grapevine yield – a Bayesian Network modelling approach Beatrix Jones and Innocenter Amima, University of Auckland HOW DO THE COMPLEX environmental factors in a vineyard affect its health and productivity? This question underpins the Vineyard Ecosystems (VE) Programme, managed by Bragato Research Institute with co-funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE). This article explains some of the computer modelling used to help answer this question. An analogy for this model might be a puppet on strings. We hope to understand not just which individual strings move a puppet’s hand or head, but how they can work together to make the puppet dance. The environmental factors that affect the health and productivity outcomes result from our
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
management methods, the climate and our vineyard’s makeup, which involves factors above, in, on and under the vines. With data collected over five years from 24 vineyards in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough, we have used a computer modelling system to understand the string of consequences for different events. The modelling approach is called a Bayesian Network. The “network” idea means each variable can directly affect multiple other variables, and these in turn will have further effects. Thus, a variable measured early in the season might directly impact two variables measured mid-season, and have an indirect effect on five variables measured at harvest. The Bayesian Network
might be considered a virtual puppet, and output from the model reveals which series of strings need to be pulled to create the dance: a healthy, productive vineyard. The vineyards in the study provide information for 122 variables – many of which are themselves summaries of more complex information, like the elemental composition of the soil. Measurements were taken at various times throughout the growing season, producing summaries of the weather (temperature, evaporation and rainfall), the chemical composition of soil, yield and yield components, groundcover in the undervine and inter-row areas and the incidence of diseases such as powdery mildew, botrytis, the presence of grapevine
Figure 1: Yield in kg/m for 24 Vineyard Ecosystems vineyard bocks in two regions (Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough) for three varieties (Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir), from 2015/16 to 2018/19. (Note: kg/m measurements – as opposed to t/ha – are preferred in this instance because they take row and vine spacing into account.)
trunk disease symptoms and grapevine leafroll virus. One of the unique aspects of the VE Programme is that the organisms within the soil were also measured at three times each season. The variables also include information on the application of fungicides, insecticides and herbicides (with differentiation
between synthetic sprays and “soft” sprays such as elemental sulphur). Figure 1 shows the substantial variation in yield (kg/m) from the 24 study blocks between 2015/16 to 2018/19. There were 12 blocks in each region: six Merlot and six Sauvignon Blanc blocks in
Hawke’s Bay, and six Pinot Noir and six Sauvignon Blanc blocks in Marlborough. For each variety, three blocks were identified as having a “Contemporary” management system where synthetic herbicide was used to control undervine weeds, and three were identified as having a “Future” management system where no
Figure 2: Direct and indirect (top row) influences on yield.
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 // 65
synthetic herbicide was applied and where undervine mechanical weed control took place instead. The Bayesian Network was implemented to understand whether management choices affected yield, and, if so, what intermediate variables are involved. The first three years of data were used to learn the network, and the fourth year was used to check whether the network produced plausible predictions. So now we have identified which strings we think are linked to the limbs of the puppet and we can pull them a few times to check that we have identified these correctly, or not. The complete network inferred is too large to show in this article – our puppet is highly strung! However, variables directly influencing yield, and influences that are one further step removed, are shown in Figure 2. We identified some things that are unsurprising: the variety of grapes grown and the weather (rain, evaporation and temperature) affect yield. There are also some intriguing
connections identified. For instance, a particular profile of bacterial organisms is associated with yield, and this profile is in turn influenced by the use of synthetic insecticides. This is a new string to investigate further, while some strings we identified are already strongly supported by vineyard science. The quality of our model – the virtual dance – is summarised by its correspondence with what really happens in the vineyards. Figure 3 shows the relationship between the actual 2019 yield, and values predicted using the Bayesian Network and data observed earlier in the 2018-19 season. The diagonal line represents a perfect match; the vertical lines indicate our prediction windows, so whenever these overlap the diagonal, the yield was in our predicted range. In many cases, the “best guess” for a vineyard deviates substantially from the actual yield but the model has indicated a large window of uncertainty. Our puppet is walking but not dancing.
Yield is obviously just one aspect of vineyard production, and we are also examining the network around other key outcomes like brix, and incidence of botrytis, trunk disease and leafroll virus. Particular attention is also being paid to relationships involving the soil organisms, to evaluate how these influence and reflect vineyard health. We hope that in the future the network and associated database will be used as a starting point from which to build a detailed understanding of the interplay between management decisions, sustainability and vineyard productivity. By the end of the programme, this puppet will be ready to take to the dance floor.
Acknowledgements This article summarises findings from research commissioned by Bragato Research Institute (BRI) for the Vineyard Ecosystems Programme, co-funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Figure 3: Actual and predicted yield for 2018-19. The diagonal line indicates where points would lie if the predicted and actual yield matched perfectly. Vertical bars represent the uncertainty of the forecast produced by the model.
NZ WINEGROWER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021
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Pick of the bunch
When it comes to protecting your grape crop from disease, insects or weeds, Nufarm is the pick of the bunch. All products have a long track record of success in New Zealand and are proven to have no effect on wine fermentation or sensory characteristics.
For more information talk to your Nufarm Territory Manager or visit nufarm.co.nz
®ChampION++ is a registered trademark of Nufarm Americas Limited. ®SeQuence and ®Digger are registered trademarks of Nufarm Australia Ltd. ®Botector is a registered trademark of Erber Aktiengesellschaft (IR-1008746). ®Prolectus is a registered trademark of Sumitomo Chemical Co, Japan. ®Grandevo is a registered trademark of Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. ®Chateau is a Registered by Sumitomo Chemical Australia Pty Ltd.
205055 Nufarm NZ Wine Grower Advert FP V2.indd 1
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New Zealand Winegrower February 2021/March 2021