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NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWER THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE NEW ZEALAND WINE INDUSTRY

Vintage Update

A picking précis

Herbicide resistance A growing problem

Virtually here

AI in our vineyards

APRIL/MAY 2021 ISSUE 127

The Cover Story Planting the seed of vineyard biodiversity

APRIL/MAY 2021 / ISSUE 127


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Contents

Issue 127 – April/May 2021

REGULARS 4

Editorial

Sophie Preece

6

From the CEO

Philip Gregan

38 Good Wine

27seconds

44 Women in Wine

Sophie Parker-Thomson

52

Wine Weather

James Morrison

58 Biosecurity Matters

Jim Herdman

60 Not on the Label

Health and Safety with Dentons Kensington Swan

62 Advocacy Matters

Advertising and promoting alcohol

F E AT U R E S 18

The Cover Story

Organic winegrowers have long sung the praises of cover crops beneath the vines, building biodiversity, attracting beneficial insects and nurturing the soils that grow the grapes. But crops of buckwheat and phacelia have escaped organic boundaries, with ‘conventional’ growers now delighting in diverse vineyard plantings.

18

32 Herbicide Resistance

A survey of herbicide resistant weeds in Marlborough vineyards has revealed “terrible” results. The survey is part of a four-pronged, pan-sector research project into improved weed control and vegetation management.

30

36 Science Extension

Modern extension programmes recognise the importance of a twoway transfer of knowledge between scientists and primary producers, says a new report into the best ways of getting science into the field.

COVER PHOTO Kurt Robinson at Rimapere, with an abundant cover crop. Photo Jim Tannock. Go to page 30

40 42

44


E D I TO R Sophie Preece sophie@sophiepreece.co.nz

CO R R E SP O N D E NTS Wellington Wine Country: Joelle Thomson mailme@joellethomson.com Hawkes Bay: Olly Styles oliverstyles@hotmail.com Marlborough: Tessa Nicholson tessa.nicholson@me.com Central Otago: Jean Grierson jean.grierson@nzsouth.co.nz

Closing the Distance Sophie Preece EDITOR

Canterbury: Jo Burzynska jo@joburzynska.com

A DV E R T I S I N G Upper North Island: Stephen Pollard stephenp@ruralnews.co.nz Ph: 021 963 166 Central North Island: Lisa Wise lisaw@ruralnews.co.nz Ph: 027 369 9218 Lower North Island: Ron Mackay Ph: 021 453 914 South Island: Kaye Sutherland kayes@ruralnews.co.nz Ph: 021 221 1994

C I R C U L AT I O N & SUBSCRIPTIONS Jodi Blair jodi.blair@nzwine.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

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.

ISSN 1174-5223

THERE’S NOTHING quite like a country-freezing, industry-shaking, harvest-threatening pandemic to make a ‘normal’ vintage feel pretty good. So, while yields are low around the country, labour shortages and Covid precautions have driven up winery costs, and pruning looks set to be seriously short on staff, some of the people I spoke to during the 2021 vintage were happily humming along, relieved to not be reliving 2020. “This year we can pick exactly when we want to, in terms of capturing the essence of Marlborough at its best – it’s a delight,” says Jules Taylor, comparing the 2021 “banter in the field” to last year’s “panicked” harvest. “The mood is so different to last year.” But despite the lack of a lockdown, 2021’s light crop loads will bring a new set of challenges to wine companies around the country, as the export demand that ramped up through the pandemic, is buttoned off by shortages of fruit. A year on from the Covid-19 harvest, events are starting to creep back into the calendar, albeit prepared to postpone or cancel should alert levels change. Included among them is Grape Days, which was moved to webinar format in 2020, in just one of the industry’s many can-do pivots. Digital was just dandy, but getting industry together in a room to talk about how science is at play in the vines – or could be - is undoubtedly better. Science in the field is a key aspect of this month’s focus feature, as ecosystem services are allowed to stretch their muscles in vineyards with abundant cover crops between their rows. “Waking up” to the power of nature’s services has “got to be a good thing”, says Plant & Food Research Senior Scientist, Vaughn Bell. “Greater species richness and abundance will increase the potential for biological control.”

CONTRIBUTORS

Stephanie McIntyre

Bob Campbell

James Morrison

Sarah Wilson

A certified sommelier and communications expert obsessed with food and wine, Stephanie McIntyre loves talking to people with a similar passion. In this edition she sits down with new Master of Wine Sophie Parker-Thomson.

Bob Campbell, MW, is a leading wine specialist, author and educator. In this edition’s Bob’s Blog he delves into field blends – “wines that, in music terms, are representative of a symphony rather than a solo performance”.

Technology provides just part of the picture when looking at climate forecasting for New Zealand vineyards, says James Morrison of Weatherstation Frost Forecasting.

Sarah Wilson is Senior Legal Counsel at New Zealand Winegrowers. In this edition she outlines the new Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code, including the rule that anyone under 18 cannot be shown in alcohol advertising.

Go to page 44

Go to page 50

Go to page 52

Go to page 62

The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only, and is not intended to address specific circumstances of any particular individual, entity or situation. This publication is not a definitive source, may not be up to date and is not a substitute for legal advice. New Zealand Winegrowers Inc and Rural News Group Ltd disclaim liability for any loss, error or damage resulting from use of/ reliance on this publication.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021


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From the CEO Philip Gregan

From the CEO Labour shortage set to bite PHILIP GREGAN

COVID-19 HAS changed the world as we know it. But perhaps we are about to experience one of the biggest impacts on our industry so far – the shortage of labour for pruning in winter 2021. To date the industry has managed its way through the various labour issues of the past 12 months. Last year, when lockdown hit, we were in an incredibly privileged position to be allowed to pick the grapes, and most vintage workers were already in the country. The fact that more than 400,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested, and no Covid-19 clusters developed in our industry, testifies to how our industry fully embraced the challenges to work safely during harvest. Throughout the industry we heard countless stories of winegrowers overcoming adverse and stressful conditions to complete a stellar vintage. Then vineyards, with the support of labour contractors, managed their way through pruning by extending the period of pruning, and utilising the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and other international workers already in the country. More recently through spring and summer, again the industry has managed to get the key tasks done through a

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combination of attracting more New Zealanders into roles, and utilising those overseas workers still in New Zealand, albeit with costs of labour rising quite sharply. However, the labour supply outlook for coming months is problematic. Other primary industry sectors are already being hit hard, with apple growers the most prominent, and there is a consistent message from all primary industry sectors of labour shortages, particularly for skilled workers. Despite an extra 2,000 RSE workers being brought into New Zealand, the current assessment is that the horticulture and wine sectors will be anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 workers short in the coming months. Our sector’s share of that number is up to 2,000 workers. That is going to put at risk the ability of our industry to get all our vineyards in all of our regions pruned in time for spring. We have been aware for some time that labour supply was going to be a major issue going into pruning this year. As a result, we have been working hard to get the scale of the issue recognised by Government and we, along with other primary sector colleagues, have pushed hard for some solutions to the issue. Getting the extra

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

2,000 RSE workers into the country has helped, as have the various attraction campaigns that the Government has supported, and training programmes we have in development with Primary ITO. However, we know more is needed, given that unemployment in Marlborough, for example, sits at just 2.4 percent. In recent months we have pushed for further visa flexibility and extensions, and an extension to MIQ facilities. We have floated private provision of quarantine facilities. Along with all the other horticulture sectors we have pushed for Pacific bubbles – unfortunately, progress is painfully slow. Alongside our horticulture and contractor partners we have been having fortnightly meetings with the Minister of Immigration, Kris Faafoi, to keep him appraised of developments in our various sectors. We jointly wrote to the Prime Minister requesting the development of a Pacific bubble for Covidvaccinated RSE workers, and I recently addressed this issue directly to the Prime Minister in a meeting with other farm leaders. The reality we are now facing is the likelihood of a

significant labour shortage for pruning this winter. The impact of the labour shortage is already being seen by growers and wineries with a significant increase in labour costs. Costs aside, the labour shortage will not impact evenly across the industry. Some regions have a much larger domestic labour supply, while others are more heavily reliant on RSE and other foreign workers. It is those regions which are likely to feel the biggest impact from the ongoing closure of the New Zealand border. Vineyard and wineries need to plan very carefully for their 2021 pruning season. If you use contractors to do your pruning, that will mean talking to them sooner rather than later. Given the pressures on the industry, we anticipate that in some regions pruning will commence almost as soon as vintage has finished. So, the start of the pruning season is just a matter of weeks away. We will continue to advocate for visa flexibility and increased numbers of RSE workers with the government. But for them to make a difference this year, decisions are needed now.


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News Briefs

Lawson’s goes carbon zero Trinity Hill Trinity Hill has been bought by a group of private investors. Mitch Plaw, Director and one of the new Trinity Hill owners, says the iconic Hawke’s Bay wine company, founded in 1993, has an “an amazing product and team, and a passionate community of valued customers”, and the group is excited to bring it back to a majority New Zealand ownership. “We see significant opportunity in Trinity Hill and look forward to being part of its growth and development in the future.”

Sparkling Service LAWSON’S DRY Hills has achieved carbon zero status. The Marlborough wine company received accreditation from Toitū, having met the requirements of ISO14064, which specifies the principles and requirements for quantifying and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals, and includes requirements for the design, development, management, reporting and verification of an organisation’s GHG inventory. General Manager and shareholder Sion Barnsley says the company achieved the ISO14001 environmental management system in 2011 and becoming carbon zero was a natural progression. “We have always considered sustainability in our decision-making across the business and to attain carbon zero status is an achievement we are very proud of.” He says the small team has strongly supported the vision “and everyone has contributed to this important milestone”. Group Marketing Manager Belinda Jackson says sustainability is becoming increasingly important for those making purchasing decisions, “So we’re delighted that our environmental credentials add further value to those enjoying our wines”.

A YOUNG Hawke’s Bay winemaker is setting up New Zealand’s first mobile Méthode Traditionelle bottling service, after being awarded a $50,000 ASB Backing Business Grant. Jascha OldhamSelak’s (pictured) idea was inspired by his travels to Champagne, where he noticed many smaller producers benefitting from a premium bottling service that which came to them. Jascha specialises in making sparkling wine and says the capital injection will allow the addition of an Italian made GAI bottling machine for triage, where the wine, yeast and sugar are bottled. “This will be a great improvement for consistency and efficiency relative to the manual hand bottling process used previously,” says Jascha. Entrepreneurs from across the country were invited to apply for one of four $50,000 grants to help them bring an innovative idea to life, either within their business or launching a new business. ASB executive general manager for Business Banking Tim Deane says the grants were aimed at inspiring businesses to keep adapting and innovating so they could come through Covid-19 on a firm footing. “We’ve heard from some incredible companies doing some truly amazing things, particularly during Covid.”

New Wine Qualifications THE NEW ZEALAND School of Food and Wine has launched two new NZQA qualifications that Director Celia Hay (pictured) says will “transform” education about wine and beverages in New Zealand. “The focus is on building knowledge of New Zealand and international wine regions through tasting and research and at the same time consider how successful regions manage their tourism and food and wine experiences,” she says. “There is much to learn from understanding what

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

makes a wine region successful and famous as a destination to visit. We see this knowledge as being important and extremely helpful to build our own New Zealand wine destinations and enhance their visitor experience.” The qualifications – New Zealand Certificate in Professional Wine Knowledge Level 5 and the New Zealand Diploma of Wine Management Level 6 will also look at the business side of running wineries and restaurants and graduates will develop confidence to use digital

marketing applications, and understand promotional and sales platforms and techniques. The courses are available as full or part time programme with some remote learning options for people living outside of Auckland. They embed the WSET Level 2 and 3 Award in Wine and the WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits. foodandwine.co.nz


News Briefs

Gin. Meet Wine.

Gladstone

Pinot Noir Workshop TASTING TWO excellent vintages in barrel and bottle was proof of the pudding – or rather Pinot - for attendees of this year’s Southern Pinot Noir Workshop. Viticulturists and winemakers gathered in Hanmer in late January, for four days concentrated on a variety they love, with tastings, assessments and commentary. Organiser Lynnette Hudson says the workshop, which celebrated its 30th event this year, is focussed on information sharing amongst the country’s top Pinot producers, with the goal of constantly honing New Zealand viticulture and winemaking techniques in order to improve Pinot Noir across the board. As well as a formal blind tasting and critical analysis of the 2020 samples, which were “looking awesome”, the group also assessed bottled Pinot Noirs from 2019, which was an “amazing vintage”, says Lynnette. She says the impact of the workshop has been “exponential”, with an extraordinary impact on the quality of New Zealand Pinot Noir New Zealand Winegrowers General Manager Marketing Charlotte Read says she was privileged to attend the workshop and calls it an “incredible example of industry collaboration and camaraderie”. Lynnette puts an incredible amount of work into it and “sets the scene so well for how New Zealand Pinot Noir fits on the world stage”, she says.

A GOLDEN Bay distillery has married two of the world’s wonders to create the first New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc gin. Dancing Sands Commercial Director and Partner Peter Rawling says the premium gin carries the famous qualities of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, with “it’s bursting passionfruit, lime, and green apple flavours, though the underlying complexity of the gin still shines.” The distillery used vacuum distillation to preserve the original wine flavours and taste then infused it with their Dancing Sands Dry Gin. “Our initial consumer testing showed it appealed to both gin and Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, and that’s a big audience,” says Peter. “My wife is not a gin fan, but she loves Sauvignon Blanc, and she loves her “Savvy Cocktail” as she calls it. dancingsands.com

Méthode Marlborough MÉTHODE MARLBOROUGH launched its inaugural Méthode Marlborough Day on 26 March, with an event to celebrate its 12 sparkling wine members. The day recognises the quality of traditional method sparkling wines produced in the Marlborough and celebrates the conclusion of the region’s sparkling wine harvest, which happens earlier than that of still wine. Nautilus Estate’s winemaker Clive Jones says the company had the second earliest harvest to date this year, starting on 17 Feb with Pinot Noir destined for its Vintage Rosé. “Our Méthode Marlborough colleagues weren’t far behind with all members starting to pick by early March.” He says fruit has been “perfectly balanced” so far, “and we look forward to seeing the resulting wines develop over the coming 24 months”. Daniel Le Brun, owner and winemaker at No.1 Family Estate, says when he first visited Marlborough in 1978, he was immediately convinced it was the best place in New Zealand to produce Méthode Traditionelle. “The soil and the climate reminded me of Champagne in the best vintage years, yet it happens every year here in Marlborough.” methodemarlborough.org @methodemarlborough #methodemarlboroughday

BRI Leader Leaving MJ LOZA, has resigned his role as Chief Executive of the Bragato Research Institute (BRI), to move back into the industry. Board chair Mark Gilbert says in the past three years at BRI, MJ has made an “outstanding contribution, moving the organisation from its set-up phase into an integral part of the wine industry, offering world-class services from its base in Blenheim.” MJ says it has been a “privilege” to lead the establishment of BRI. “I’m proud of the team and what we’ve accomplished together with support

from New Zealand Winegrowers and a large number of industry members and research partners,” he says. “We’ve created worldclass capability, and the team’s focus and reason-for-being is on delivering industry benefit. I know there’s even more exciting and important stuff to come and I’ll be watching keenly from within the industry.” MJ will join Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates as Chief Executive moving from Blenheim to Havelock North to take up the role, in early May.

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   9


Upcoming Events TO HAVE EVENTS ADDED TO OUR CALENDAR CONTACT SOPHIE@SOPHIEPREECE.CO.NZ

Soljans Berba Festival Berba, which means harvest, began in Croatia in the 18th century to celebrate the picking and gathering of grapes. The Soljan family continues the tradition at its Auckland winery over Easter weekend, free to people of all ages. The festival celebrates harvest with grape stomping, winery tours, good food and wine, live music and Croatian dancing.

3, 4, 5 April soljans.co.nz

Clyde Wine and Food Festival Held in the main street of an historic town in Central Otago, the Clyde Wine and Food Festival is on Easter Sunday each year. The festival celebrates wines from the world’s most southernvineyards in a town forged on a gold rush.

4 April promotedunstan.org.nz/

Go You! New Zealand Winegrowers Go You! Workshops are being held around the country over the next two months. The 1.5 hour workshops are aimed at boosting morale, reigniting enthusiasm and inspiring goal setting, following a challenging 2020. The sessions, presented by Fiona Fenwick and Nicky Grandorge, cover the importance of mental wellbeing and offer tips on how to look after yourself and others.

22 April – 25 May nzwine.com/goyouworkshops

Sauvignon Blanc Day Crisp, fresh and pure, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc captures the flavours of our unique place. We’re inviting everyone around the world to taste New Zealand when you pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand Wine will be running a digital campaign to celebrate our most famous variety throughout April until International Sauvignon Blanc Day on Friday 7 May.

7 May nzwine.com/members/marketing #sauvblancday

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon Join the speedy and the sociable in one of New Zealand’s most picturesque and entertaining running events, coursing through Marlborough vineyards in autumn. Expect music and tasty treats, while the sartorially savvy step up, with prizes for the best dressed teams and individuals.

8 May vineyardhalf.com

The Chardonnay Affair Tickets are now on sale to the Chardonnay Affair 2021, a chance to rendezvous with Gisborne’s finest Chardonnays. An array of events will be held over two days, matching sublime wines with local cuisine, in celebration of a beautiful region and International Chardonnay Day.

28-30 May thechardonnayaffair.co.nz


Upcoming Events

Grape Days A selection of New Zealand’s most exciting wine research will be presented at the upcoming Grape Days events around the country. Bragato Research Institute (BRI) Viticulture Extension and Research Manager Len Ibbotson says the events are also important as a gathering place for industry, and the conversations that happen in the breaks enhance the learnings shared by the researchers. “Covid-19 meant last year’s events were pushed online, with a webinar series that allowed us to successfully share a selection of science with members, via researchers and practitioners. But we’re really looking forward to bringing the industry together in the regions once again.” An important goal of Grape Days is to share relevant outputs of industry funded research, and this year has a strong focus on the seven year,

$7 million Vineyard Ecosystems programme, which is drawing to a close in the field. The events around the country will be tailored so science relating to the most pressing issues for certain regions can be addressed. That means trunk disease will be on the schedule for Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough, while Central Otago drills into mealybug. As with every Grape Days, the events are also an opportunity to hear the vintage update from New Zealand Winegrowers’ Chief Executive Philip Gregan, along with an update from the BRI on future projects, and a regional update from a local viticulturist.

When + Where

Elephant Hill The 2021 Grape Days will also include segments on soil health, the Lighter

• Hawke’s Bay, 14 June, Napier Conference Centre • Marlborough, 16 June, ASB Theatre Blenheim • Central Otago, 18 June, The Moorings Cromwell • Registrations open soon

Wines programme, and a session from New Zealand Winegrowers’ environmental team, exploring treated timber posts, biosecurity risks and climate change mitigation. To find last year’s recorded Grape Days webinars, go to nzwine.com/members/ events/webinars

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   11


The Marketing Place

NZ Wine Week Kiwi wines hit centre stage NEW ZEALAND Wine Week provided one of the first international wine events of the year, reaching an audience of millions, says New Zealand Winegrowers General Manager Marketing, Charlotte Read. “Social media advertising for the celebration received almost 1.2 million impressions, and in more traditional media, articles have been published with a total reach of over 91 million,” she says. The week in February, created to fill the void of the longrunning New Zealand Annual Trade Tasting in London, provided a virtual platform “to keep our wine front and centre among international

audiences”, says Charlotte. It also leveraged off New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s (NZTE) Made with Care Food and Beverage campaign, which continues to run across major export markets. “We have been delighted with the record audiences it has attracted,” she says. The hero events of New Zealand Wine Week were daily webinars involving leading voices of the international wine trade and a range of New Zealand winery representatives. These sessions focused on Pinot Noir soils, “What’s New, What’s Next?” for New Zealand wine, a Syrah masterclass and Sustainability, in association with Harpers magazine. There

was a combined audience of 1,098 live, with 464 views of the recordings at time of writing. Sample tasting packs were sent to 150 influential trade registrants across the UK and Canada for certain sessions, adding to the impact, Charlotte adds. Four Instagram Live sessions with Jamie Goode, who has 32,000 Instagram followers, had reached almost 5,000 views by mid-March, with that reach extended when each session is written up for his Wine Anorak website, with unique monthly visits of 22,170, says Charlotte. She says reviews of the Wine

Week have been glowing, with one attendee commenting that they learned more about winemaking and trends from the webinars than the London New Zealand Annual Trade Tasting. “New Zealand Wine Week has been an amazing example of collaboration across the New Zealand Winegrowers’ teams in the UK, US and Canada,” Charlotte says. “Working together we could reach a greater audience than working in isolation.” It’s a creative solution in a difficult year, she says. “This collaborative approach has taught us a new normal.”

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The Marketing Place

The Marketing Place

Taking NZ wine to the world: Bringing the world to NZ wine

Wine Tourism

VISIT THE Vines is focused on inspiring New Zealanders to get out, ‘do something new’, and Sip, Dine, Stay or Play at local cellar doors or by travelling to another wine region. In January, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) completed a ‘Scan and Win’ for visitors to cellar doors, winery restaurants or vineyard accommodation. A social media consumer campaign was activated, and a ‘Scan and Win’ marketing toolkit created for members. We had 149 wineries (55 percent of members with wine tourism experiences) opt in, with visitors scanning a QR code and completing an online form to win a trip to their favourite New Zealand wine region. Key campaign objectives were for NZW to secure a domestic consumer database of engaged wine tourists, and to understand the demographics of current domestic winery visitors.

New Zealand to Singapore NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWERS (NZW) recently brought New Zealand to Singapore, with two days of wine masterclasses via Zoom. To maximise participation with social distancing, the event was split across two days of 16 attendees in two rooms who watched the hosts and each other on screen, and included a Singaporean five-course lunch paired with a range of Sauvignon Blancs. NZW moderated from Shanghai, while anchors Jane Skilton MW and Stephen Wong MW, plus winery principal co-hosts, zoomed in from New Zealand for sessions on Chardonnay, Natural and Orange, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and the Future of New Zealand. Reactions were enthusiastic and positive, with attendees expressing surprise at the range of wines poured, many not typically seen in Singapore.

Intel and Insights • THE NZW webinar series continues to focus on bringing our members closer to our major markets, with comprehensive updates on the United Kingdom, Canada and China, as well as a taste of three of our smaller markets in Asia - Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Additionally, Paul Mabray, who is considered one of the wine industry’s foremost futurists, led a session on his company Pix Wine, a United States-based global online consumer wine discovery platform that will also focus on the UK market. • Market data can play a valuable role in decision making, and NZW has worked with Euromonitor to create a Market Tracker tool to make their reports more accessible and easier to work with. • Finally, NZW are excited to be working closely with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to develop a programme to support wine exporters, including market research in key markets, starting with the US, digital marketing training and wine specific export readiness workshops. More details to come, with activities happening between April and November. Go to nzwine.com/members/ marketing for market intel, to register for webinars, or view recordings.

Speaking of NZ... THE NEW ZEALAND wine story is receiving excellent coverage worldwide, as we continue to push out messaging via our Global PR Programme. We are also working hard to leverage our close Government relationships, and have seen great success for New Zealand wine via NZTE’s Made with Care campaign, reaching an additional 9 million people in our key markets. Editorial Value / EAV $3.9M Total Reach 188.5M+ To see what the world is saying about New Zealand wine, visit nzwine.com/members/marketing

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   13


The Marketing Place

The Social Place

5Forests’ guide to connecting

Pretty is nice, money is nicer At 5forests, we spend a lot of time looking at websites - cheap, expensive, DIY, custom - from all around the world. At the same time, we spend equally as many hours looking at global wine consumer data: who, where, when, how, why. What we find, smack dab in the middle, is that too often wine websites prioritise pretty over usable. That’s an expensive mistake, so let’s talk about the three most common design choices that wineries love but customers loathe. 1. Moving parts You know what I’m talking about: sliders and video background and animations and custom hover effects... This is the stuff that agencies convince you to do so that they can submit your site for an award, or that someone designed seven years ago when it was cool and now can’t bring 5Forests Managing Director Polly Hammond

“Let’s talk about the three most common design choices that wineries love but customers loathe.”

themselves to remove. With rare exception do any of these actually help you market your product. In fact, they often directly impede sales. They slow down site load time (site speed is one of the top factors in user happiness), they often work poorly on mobile devices, and they are distracting. Plus, they’re expensive. Skip all the bling and spend that extra money on better copy.

be read by your audience. Our eyes are best at around the age of 30, so basically our entire target market is on the downhill slide for vision. Here’s my advice: increase your font size across all devices. If you have to zoom in, it’s too small. If it doesn’t stand out against the background, check your contrast, check your font weight. You know that gold colour that everyone in wine likes to use? Rubbish for contrast. It needs to die a design death. If you need a tool to help, Google “accessibility checker” and you’ll find several that will check the contrast for you. Next, use fonts the way they were meant to be used. Headline fonts really are only meant to be used for a few words and at large sizes; condensed (narrow) fonts are fine for navigation and headlines, not body copy; and script fonts have little or no place on websites.

2. Illegible design choices I’m the first person to say, ‘fonts are magical’. But they’re worthless if they can’t

3. Pattern interruption This is another one of those “design-y” things that we see too often in sites trying

14   // 

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

to be clever. There are basic patterns of reading and comprehension, as well as website and e-commerce layout. Similarly, information is hierarchical – visually, structurally, and even semantically. Common patterns support our ability to navigate and scan a page, understand what is important, and absorb the content we seek. If you are trying to stand out by rearranging common site elements (buttons, cart, navigation, scroll direction, content flow), you will negatively impact usability and therefore you will reduce a site visitor’s willingness to stick around, explore, and shop. Anyone who has sat through a 5forests workshop will hear me say, “shop your site”. So today, grab your phone, open your website, and spend some time playing with it as if you were a new visitor. Is it easy to read, easy to use, easy to follow? Less is more, patterns work, and money is nicer than pretty. 5forests.com


VE YOUR PLANTS THE ST POSSIBLE CHANCE FOR OWTH WITH GYPSUM GIVE YOUR PLANTS THE

GIVE YOUR PLANTS THE BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE FOR BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE FOR GROWTH WITH GYPSUM GROWTH GYPSUM The worldwide standardWITH practice for improved soil structure and drainage.

rldwide standard practice for improved soil structure and drainage.

of those rare materials that performs in all categories of an amendment, conditioner and fertiliser.

How Does Gypsum Work? The worldwide standard practice for improved soil structure and drainage.

dily available form of calcium, is 100 times more soluble more suitable for the digestive system during this period.

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• Allows water to penetrate the soil without forming puddles or logging Gypsum in soil conditioning Testsshow showthat thatfarmland farmland treated treated with upup toto 33% • •Tests withgypsum gypsumrequires requires 33% less • Reduces cracking and compaction following irrigation • Conserves water by stretching intervals between irrigations in soil conditioning o dry more•Gypsum quickly after rain or irrigation so water than soils without recent gypsum application less water than soils without recent gypsum application Reduces cracking and compaction following irrigation and retards soil crusting Gypsum in amendment

• Tests show that farmland treated with gypsum requires up to 33% be worked sooner retards crusting •• and Reduces cracking and compaction irrigationso Allows soil tosoil dry more quickly afterfollowing rain or irrigation Gypsum in amendment • Displaces sodium binding soils less waterin than soilsclay without recent gypsum application and retards soil crusting Gypsum amendment • Allows soil to dry more quickly after rain or irrigation so that it may worked sooner energy requirements forbetillage •Displaces Displaces sodiumbinding binding clay soils soils it may be worked sooner • sodium clay •• that Allows soil to dry more quickly after rain or irrigation so • Reduces high soil aluminium levels Decreases energysoil requirements Gypsum in amendment ic matter to soil and checks erosion for tillage • Reduces high soil aluminium levels that it may be worked sooner • Reduces high soil aluminium levels • • Decreases energy forsoil tillage Binds organic matterrequirements to soil and checks erosion • Suppresses the soilsodium acidification effects of • Suppresses Displaces clay soils iendly bacterial action and matter discourages thesoil soilbinding acidification effects Decreases energy requirements tillage • •Suppresses the acidification effectsof of ••• Binds organic to action soil for and checks soil erosin Enhances friendly bacterial and discourages growing crops and the prolonged use of •growing Reduces high and soil aluminium levelsuse growing crops and the prolonged use of crops the prolonged of es related•to poor soil aeration • Enhances Binds matter totosoil andsoil checks soil plant organic diseases related poor aeration fertilisers friendly bacterial action anderosion discourages plant acidifyingacidifying fertilisers fertilisers • acidifying Suppresses the soil acidification effects of Enhances friendly bacterial action and discourages d soil allows••for deeper, healthier root diseases related to poor soil aeration Conditioned soil allows for deeper, healthier root growing crops and the prolonged use of plant diseases related to penetration poor soilhealthier aeration root development and development water nt and water • penetration Condition soil and allows for deeper acidifying fertilisers penetration • water Conditioned soil allows for deeper, healthier root development and water penetration

For more about Natural Gypsum and soil stabilisation visit gypsum.co.nz For more about Natural Gypsum and soil stabilisation visit gypsum.co.nz

more about Natural Gypsum and soil stabilisation visit gypsum.co.nz


Vintage Update

Light ‘n Lovely Low yields but high quality in vintage 2021 SOPHIE PREECE

Nautilus harvest 2021. Photo Richard Briggs

GRAPE YIELDS across the country have taken a hit from poor f lowering, but growers and winemakers are welcoming beautiful fruit and a kind ripening season. Nautilus Estate Winemaker and General Manager Clive Jones said on 18 March that vintage ‘21 in Marlborough was progressing well. “The fruit is pristine in quality but down across the board in quantity – particularly for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris,” he said. “At the halfway stage through the Sauvignon harvest, crops are moderate

16   // 

but flavours are fantastic.” Clive said the weather had been close to perfect, “with barely a glance required at the weather forecast”, and Nautilus was on track to have completed picking before the end of March, “our earliest finish ever”. Jules Taylor, Gourmet Traveller Wine’s 2021 New Zealand Winemaker of the Year(page 40) says all varieties are lower than the longterm average and agrees Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are particularly light, “which is a shame”, but is also the real-

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

ity of horticulture. The silver lining is that fruit is beautiful and clean, thanks to a great summer. “The weather is playing the game and the mood is so different to last year, with Covid,” she says. “It’s back to the old days, with all the banter in the field.” Jules says the 2020 harvest was a case of keeping the panic at bay and getting the fruit off as fast as possible, “in case Covid decided to rear its ugly head”. The contrast with 2021 is extreme. “This year we can pick exactly when we want to, in terms of capturing the

essence of Marlborough at its best – it’s a delight.” In Central Otago, Viticulturist James Dicey says yields are variable, with some subregions doing “really well”, while others are “exceptionally” low, with expectations of as little as two tonnes to the hectare predicted for some blocks. That’s due to a cold initiation period that resulted in smaller bunches , and unsettled weather during flowering, causing some hen and chicken and poorly set bunches. He says the weather averages for


Vintage Update

the season look typical, but have resulted from big blocks of extreme conditions. “We have been seeing quite big swings in weather variability, which has stressed the grapevines and stressed out the viticulturists.” However, he has been pleased by a “really nice” and consistent ripening period and “coolish” nights, and says the positive of the small yields is the “really high quality fruit” and lack of disease pressure. That gives growers “the luxury of time with picking decisions”, and the option of leaving fruit out for longer, if required. And that could be key to getting fruit in this harvest, with labour at “dire” levels due to border closures, he says. James has spent more time and money than ever before advertising harvest roles, including to viticulture and oenology students, in backpacker lodges and on all

bulletin boards, and directed to the remaining hospitality staff in the area. The main pressure is on staff for hand picking, with little of the area suitable for machine harvesting. James says some blocks that have never been machine picked before now have that option as a back-up plan, but in many cases a hand pick is the only option, because of a steep aspect or small size. Two of the blocks he works with, for example, are 0.3 hectares, “so it’s not economical to have a machine turn up”. James s ays staff are “trickling” in, “but if we don’t get what we want or quite what we need, then harvest will be delayed or protracted… we are encouraging wineries to pick early and pick hard”. In Hawke’s Bay, Esk Valley Winemaker Gordon Russell says they have experienced lower yields, with a general

drop of around 20 percent, due largely to poor flowering. He says Sauvignon Blanc yields have done better than Chardonnay and the reds, which have small berries and loose bunches. The low yields and lack of rain means there has been no disease pressure, and cooling conditions are creating an enviable ripening period, allowing acids to drop without sugars climbing too high. “There seems no hurry at the moment.” Esk Valley picked white varieties up to 19 March, and Gordon says the harvest to date has delivered grapes of excellent quality. He expects wines to be “bright, fresh and pure”. The labour situation has been manageable in Hawke’s Bay, with viticulture sharing picking gangs with other hor ticulture industr ies , he says. “We seem to have been able to get in what we wanted when we wanted it,

so it hasn’t been an issue.” However, that’s also down to a strategic approach, which has seen hand picking tonnages drop slighty, allowing selective machine harvesting to ease some labour pressure.” At Matawhero, Owner Kirsten Searle says tonnages are about average for a Gisborne season “and with great ripening weather it will be a great vintage for Gisborne wines”. Kirsten says apart from some frost damage at budburst in some vineyards, the season generally has been good and has produced “some exceptional fruit”. Matawhero began picking on 22 February, which is their earliest start ever. “The season saw higher growing degree days and heat summation during the season which would have ensured the early pick. We also experienced low disease pressure and good brix, acid and Ph balance at harvest.”

Extended pruning season AN EARLY grape harvest means Marlborough pruning is likely to begin in April, with a late finish to extend the work window, says grape grower Guy Lissaman, chair of the Marlborough Labour Governance Group. He says the challenges of recruiting enough experienced pruners to Marlborough for winter 2021 continue. “The workforce picture for winter pruning will become clearer over the next two months, including how many RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme) workers can be accessed.” Good training, supervision and monitoring is important to achieve a good pruning result, and Guy supports the development of updated pruning training modules to assist contractors and grape growers with training new pruners. “The dilemma we face with higher pruning costs and worker shortages is the risk that pruning quality will be compromised, due to the pressure to get the job done,” he says. “A good quality pruning job will

Tiki Wine & Vineyards

help achieve target yields, maintain good vine health and help pay for the additional pruning costs. By comparison cutting corners and getting a poor pruning job done will reduce yield and income potential and have a detrimental impact on vine health.” Guy urges grape growers and wine companies to contact their vineyard labour contractor and work through winter pruning plans. In the meantime, industry

groups continue to lobby Government ministers on how the RSE worker pool can be refreshed, “while enabling RSE workers to return home for a break and ensure there is an adequate pool of workers in New Zealand for the future”, he says. The wine industry needs more certainty “on how and where our workforce is accessed from, to service existing vineyards and additional plantings”.

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   17


The Focus The Cover Story

Steve Wratten Nature’s Champion Pg 21

Mighty Sward

Grazing Greystone Pg 22

Blooming Lowlands Regenerative Vit Pg 24

Ecosystem Services Science & Diversity Pg 26

Jason and Anna Flowerday in a field of buckwheat


The Focus

The Cover Story Organic winegrowers have long sung the praises of cover crops beneath the vines, building biodiversity, attracting beneficial insects and nurturing the soils that grow the grapes. But crops of buckwheat and phacelia have escaped organic boundaries, with many ‘conventional’ growers now delighting in rampant vineyard plantings. Science sees the sense in diversity too, investing in research into ecological services and counting the ways mother nature gets it right. Te Whare Ra SOPHIE PREECE

JASON FLOWERDAY likes to think outside the box when looking inside the rows at Te Whare Ra. “We have taken hay off ours and trialed vegetables last year,” says the 2020 Gourmet Traveller Wine New Zealand Viticulturist of the Year and known master of the cover crop. “You can utilise your mid-rows for a different income stream.” Jason has been planting cover crops since the winter of 2004, after returning to Marlborough from Australia to take over the boutique company with his winemaking wife Anna. He’d had plenty of practice across the Tasman, where older soils and drygrown vines relied on winter plantings for organic matter. “The old boys just used it as a competition of who could grow the best cover crop in winter.” These days he sees a similar drive from some Marlborough growers, peering amid the rows to see whose buckwheat is blooming the best. After a few decades of trials, he believes diversity is the most important aspect of mid-row planting, along with knowing what you have and why you have it. “It’s knowing what

you are trying to achieve by planting a cover crop opening the soil, trying to feed the microbes you already have, or you might want to increase your organic matter, or be looking to add more nitrogen. If it’s a summer cover crop, is it just for beneficial insects?” Whatever the purpose, “you have to have a plan”, he says. “The biggest thing is knowing why you are doing it and what your cycles will be and thinking ‘ok, what am I trying to achieve?’” As well as purpose, he’ll consider matching soil type with plant species, with wetter sites able to sustain a longer tap root, while dryer soils might be left without a summer active crop, which will take moisture away. “It’s a big picture thing. The good thing about Anna and I is we relate it back to wine quality and what we see in the wines… The end wine quality is what we are doing it for, he says. “Your soil is the foundation of wine quality.” The couple, who moved Te Whare Ra to a combination of organic and biodynamic management in 2007 and gained full BioGro certification in 2012, are relentless about soil tests, and about long-term plans to feed the soil, rather than any “quick fixes”. Jason

Richard Briggs

says these days he has a bit of a recipe for his plantings but works closely with Kiwi Seed in Blenheim to learn about successful seed trials that might prove a good fit. He’s also happy to try something new, like the kale, onions, beetroot, and carrots, along with rocket and coriander, that he planted in some rows in the autumn of 2020. That was a bit “hit or miss”, but every year is an opportunity to improve the health of the vineyard system, he says. And sometimes the vagaries of nature outweigh the best intentions. “This spring I tried to get in an early cover crop, but the season didn’t work out, so in the end we didn’t put anything in.” He and Anna keep their cover crops to the mid-row, weeding the undervine area

to reduce competition for nutrients and water. Jason stresses that he wouldn’t cultivate and plant every mid-row ever y year, but instead runs an alternate system with one row being used for cover crops, summer and winter, and the other sown with sward species. Every three to four years he swaps them over, with one year for restablishment of new permanent sward. This regime allows for the soils to have a chance recover from the compaction of machinery. The region’s vineyards have suffered from “years and years of people driving on those mid-rows with no remedial work on them”, he says. “But I have certainly seen an increase in productivity once you open your soils up and use cover crops.”

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   19


The Focus

Planting the seed of vineyard diversity SOPHIE PREECE

WHEN BART Arnst first came to Marlborough in 1994, he found vineyards akin to a cricket pitch, with neatly mown rows of grass and headlands. “If there was anything growing down the rows it was just an easily managed grass - a sole species – with either rye grass or fescue,” says the organic viticulture consultant. By 1996, when he was running a Montana vineyard on Rapaura Rd, Bart was tiring of the monoculture, and began to look for plants that would attract beneficial insects to the block. That goal soon expanded, as he considered nitrogen fixing, and plants that would bloom and then mulch down, and those that would offer the best nutrition to stock coming in to graze the rows. Before long Bart had 25 species growing beneath his vines, and within a few years “the whole place was swarming with insects”. Just as he was pondering the problem of identifying the crawling, flying and jumping community, someone put him on to Professor Steve Wratten at Lincoln University (see facing page), an expert in ecological services. That relationship began with Steve sending Bart

some traps to catch and identify the insects, then grew into a research project on planting buckwheat mid row, as a natural deterrent to the light brown apple moth. Marlborough vines were mostly “neat and tidy” with single species grass cover, but there were also some regenerated swards, where a greater diversity of species would naturally reseed. Bart’s trials included rye grass rows as well as regenerating sward, and counts of worms and insects – both ground and flying – revealed a dearth of life in the homogeneous grass, while the sward “was way better” and the cover crop “was superior to all”. As well as buckwheat, it included plants that offered different rooting depths, to increase the activity of the soil, says Bart. “The chicory roots and radish roots go down, and when they are deep they become elevator shafts for worms.” Viticulturist Samantha S car ratt continue d the buckwheat work through her PhD with Steve, and that research “clearly showed that by having flowering buckwheat you were able to maintain a parasitic wasp population to keep the light brown apple moth under

Bart Arnst

control”, says Bart. Growers and scientists have learned a lot since then, although much of it – such as organic vineyards having lower mealybug population levels – is still largely anecdotal, he says. “I think if you have a better balance in a vineyard then the pest problem is way less.” Now, as organics flourishes and regenerative agriculture (see page 28) gains a strong following, Bart sees growers being “far more thoughtful”. That is most obvious in the cover crops, he says, noting that “even the smallest thing”, like mowing every second row or not mowing their headlands, is a step in the right direction. In his quarter century

of using cover crops and consulting to organic growers, Bart has learned what cover crops can do to help and hinder a vineyard. “You have to know what you are planting and what are you trying to achieve with it. Because some plants, given the wrong mixture or the wrong grams or kilograms per hectare, are going to really put your brakes on. You need a good balance.” He says there is a “massive diversity of species” to consider, but science is increasingly able to support the anecdotal success stories of interrow diversity. “That it’s able to reduce pesticide and insecticide use, provide nitrogen and keep the soil biologically active”.

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20   // 

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

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The Focus

Nature’s Champion THE ACADEMIC who helped seed enthusiasm for undervine cover crops in New Zealand has left a legacy of biodiversity in vineyards. Professor of Ecology Steve Wratten, of Lincoln University’s Bio-Protection Research Centre, died in March, but his countless influences remain, says Viticulturist Bart Arnst, who began working with Steve in the late 1990s. “His research and presenting have been instrumental in getting people to understand how effective biological controls are, and how we can implement them into the day-today running of vineyards.” Steve was an expert in ecology, biological control of pests and enhancing ecosystems on farmlands, and supported the use of non-crop plants to provide shelter, nectar, alternative food and pollen (SNAP) to assist natural predators of pests. That saw him work with practitioners like Bart, who studied the impacts of midrow buckwheat on light brown apple moth in vineyards, as well as with the 90 PhD students he supervised in projects that allowed nature to flex its muscles. Included

among them was Viticulturist Samantha Scarratt, who had Steve as her PhD supervisor at Lincoln University from 2002. She says he was “incredibly passionate about his life’s work in habitat manipulation and ecosystem services”. He developed worldwide connections, was recognised for his work globally and was “loved by all of his students”, she adds. Through Steve’s tutelage they developed a recommendation for the New Zealand wine industry, taken up by predominantly organic growers, where flowering plants such as buckwheat (and occasionally phacelia and alyssum) are planted in the vine rows to attract beneficial insects to help combat insect pests in vineyards in New Zealand. Steve was always enthused about a new opportunity to grow the work here and abroad, and he will be “remembered by many”, Samantha says. A m o n g S te v e ’s p ro grammes was Greening Waipara, a research-driven project to measure and enhance ecosystem services in North Canterbury vineyards, focused on finding ways to reduce chemicals by increas-

Steve Wratten and Samantha Scarratt in 2002

ing functional biodiversity in vineyards. The project began 15 years ago, driven by Lincoln University, local winegrowers, the Hurunui District Council and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. With a goal of restoring native plantings throughout the landscape, the project also saw growers plant groundcover under vines to provide SNAP for native enemies of insect pests. “I know of one vineyard that hasn’t used pesticides at all after putting buckwheat in,” Steve said in a story in Winegrower magazine in April last year. “That’s a tangible statement about how biodiversity can help save money.” More recently he worked with Mauricio GonzálezChang on understanding and implementing non-insecti-

cide control of the New Zealand grass grub beetle. That included a three-year research project at the Kono vineyard, Whenua Awa/Tohu Wines, in the Awatere Valley. Vineyard Manager Mondo Kopua says “Steve was brilliant to work with and was very supportive of his students”. Professor Travis Glare, Director of the Bio-Protection Research Centre, says Steve was one of the most influential researchers and thinkers in the areas of sustainable agriculture and ecosystem services in the world. “Having published over 400 journal papers, over 100 books and chapters in books, supervised 90 PhD students and given many keynote addresses on the subject, his influence has been immeasurable.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   21


The Focus

Mighty Sward

Grazing the grasses at Greystone Mike Saunders and Nick Gill at Greystone

GROWING GREAT grapes at Greystone is “an evolution not a revolution”, says General Manager Nick Gill from amidst a grassy sward.

we do better? What else can we change? What else can we challenge?” W hen Greystone was planted in 2004, it was characterised by a metre- wide “dead strip” under the vines with 1.5m of grass “Back in the day between, which, they there was only one “pounded, planted plant that should be then mowed”, says Nick. That all changed living in the vineyard in 2011, with the – that’s the vines.” p u rc h a s e o f t h e neighbouring Muddy Water, a dry-farmed The North Canterbur y organic vineyard that inspired vineyard’s latest “stepping- Greystone’s move to Biogro stone” is to eschew cultivation certification. in favour of mowing, replacing Nick leaped into researching floral rows with regenerating and planting interrow crops grasses, while hatching a that included tall bright plan for year-round flocks of blooms of buckwheat and mowing sheep. phacelia, seeking biodiversity It’s about removing the and beneficial insects, while “blinkers” of strongly held replacing herbicide with beliefs to seek the best outcome cultivation. “Now we are for individual sites, Nick says. starting to think more about “This is great but what could what that cultivation does,

22   // 

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

whether it’s undervine or in the mid-row, in terms of wrecking the soil structure,” he says, lamenting carbon loss, and topsoil runoff on the hills. “At the time it was a step forwards, but it doesn’t mean we should stop challenging ourselves to do better.” Viticulturist Mike Saunders says Greystone’s vines take up 50 hectares of a 180ha farm, so there’s plenty of biodiversity and beneficial insects already available. Planting ever y seventh row in flowers doesn’t have as much impact as “getting the whole farm right”, he adds. “If we don’t have a balanced vine, it doesn’t matter how pretty your vineyard looks and how many flowers you have got there.” For the past 12 months he has been weeding out cultivation, starting with a hill block that was too side slopy for efficient machinery work. “It all came from a little bit of laziness to be honest…

I thought, ‘what happens if we don’t weed it at all?’” He watched the undervine species “doing what they do”, with grasses coming through over broadleaf weeds like mallow, which are typically “stirred up with cultivation”. The grasses grew to a foot, seeded and fell over, and Mike and Nick are delighted to have evolved to a dry hill face dominated by annual grasses, “but that doesn’t mean it would be an awesome idea on a flat block of lucerne and chicory”, says the latter. So they’re taking a bespoke approach to the blocks, with some still cultivated and planted in flowering cover crops, and this new block, with subsurface irrigation and a mixed grass sward undervine and mid-row. It was green cropped before planting, with lupins, tick-beans and oats as part of a seven species selection designed to mulch back into the soil. Next summer, they’ll plant


The Focus

a multi species crop. In the meantime, the irrigation and competition from the grasses mean the vines are digging deep, while the undervine growth helps conserve soil moisture, and the mid-row grasses are added to the vine row as mulch when mown. “We didn’t know what would happen when we stopped cultivating,” Mike says. But the grasses came away, along with clover, chicory and plantain, “which we haven’t planted for years”. All three are good for the soil structure, bringing aeration and feeding the soil biology. “That is really exciting to see, and just another evolution in terms of what we are doing.” The vines would be bigger if there was a “carefully manicured strip down the middle”, says Nick. “But do we have to focus entirely on speed of growth and everything at the expense of, what did it kill in the soil? What did it take to make that drum of Round Up? What are we going to have to do later on, in 20 years’ time, to fix these things?” He admits that in past viticultural roles he would have been embarrassed to see the “messy” rows, but relishes the change in attitude. “Back in the day there was only one plant that should be living

in the vineyard – that’s the vines.” Now, when planning their sward mix they think of the health and biodiversity of the soil, but also of the nutrient value for stock on top, with more sheep at work then ever before, and a plan to graze them all year round. Mike and Nick have been delving into new knowledge in the farming sector, including in regenerative agriculture, to understand “smart grazing technology” that can boost soil carbon. Mike – blinkers well off - is considering a change to trellising that would keep tender tips above bite height, and make the vineyard an integrated facet of the full farm unit. “We are all farmers who have planted vines and become viticulturists, but that doesn’t mean we need to focus solely on vines.” Nick says it’s a constant journey to get the best balance of vine, farm biodiversity and healthy soils. “It’s incredibly complex and you need to be passionate about it and prepared to dive in deep on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.” So the Greystone evolution continues, he says. “You can’t ever stop and tick the box and say ‘we’ve done it now’.”

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   23


The Focus

Functional Complimentarity

Down the pathway of regenerative viticulture SOPHIE PREECE

Robert Holdaway

ROBERT HOLDAWAY sees science at work when he harvests a salad for dinner, plucking rocket, spinach and beetroot leaves from his Lower Wairau Vineyards. He sees a burgeoning above and belowground biological community when diverse cover crops flourish down the grape rows, flower heads blazing above the green. And he sees a healthy ecology when driving a mule down a vineyard row becomes a “hazardous” occupation, with the bonnet splattered with insect diversity, from aphids to ladybird larvae. Measuring an ecosystem via tasty salads, pretty flowers and hit-and-run insects seems imprecise. But Robert - who has a PhD in forest ecology from Cambridge University and spent eight years as an ecosystem ecologist at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research –

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says such biodiversity is about making the vineyard “hum”, or function properly. “It’s about getting biodiversity back into the vineyard – plants, insects, fungi, bacteria,” he says. “And if you can get the plants feeding the soil life, the soil life will feed the plants and help protect them from disease… you get functional complementarity.” Each plant supports a different niche of insects and microorganisms, “and you get the predator-prey relationship, and all that balancing that nature does”. Robert describes himself as an ideas guy, having returned to Lowlands Wines three years ago, when he became disillusioned by the lack of transfer from science to action. “The pure science was out there telling you what to do and it supports the idea that plant diversity and biologically active

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

soil are critical for plant health and ecosystem function.” So he joined his brother Richard, who had finished his engineering degree in 2003 and returned to Marlborough to help expand and develop the family business. If Robert is the ideas guy, then Richard is the engine. He says regenerative agriculture is easy to say and hard to do, but he was already heading in that direction when Robert returned. Now, they use Robert’s science and Richard’s nous to plant abundantly diverse cover crops, feed the soil biology, implement biological spray programmes, and cut fung icides and herbicide use, in order to seek that utopian “hum”. The plan is to use no insecticides at all. “Our cover crops mean we hopefully have enough beneficials present,

and there are biological controls we can turn to if needed,” says Robert. The brothers are also trying to cut back on fungicides, and have run a trial with no chemical canopy sprays beyond an earlyseason oil, using a biological programme instead. That meant no fungicides – organic or chemical - no sulphur and no copper, “in an attempt to pull out all the inputs that are killing the good biology”, says Robert. In the end a touch of powdery mildew led to a single fungicide application across most of the trial block, then a return to the biological programme. “That’s one instead of 14,” says Robert. “We were able to do that because we are not organic. So instead of going in with soaps and sulphurs and nuking it, we were able to do one targeted powdery spray,


The Focus

which we thought was better for the overall ecosystem.” The results were compelling, this season half of Lowland’s 155 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc vineyards were included in the biological trial, “with the caveat that we will monitor the heck out of it, and if we do get some we will do that one fungicide”, says Robert. He a n d R i c h a rd a re adamant that the flexible use of inputs is a key advantage of regenerative viticulture. In the past, companies have been either organic or conventional, says Richard. “We are going the third way.” That’s why it shouldn’t be certified, he adds. “The whole point is that the toolbox is wide open, and holistic management means you use whatever tools you need to do the best thing for the whole”. When people ask Robert to explain regenerative viticulture, he calls it a mentality, not a set

of practices. Decision making becomes about putting the biology and the ecosystem first, because “if we get that thriving, the rest will follow”. That means not asking “how do I kill this problem organism?” but “how can I enhance the environment so that the pest or disease is naturally supressed?” Fungi and bacteria play a key role in a plant’s health and defence systems, so killing off everything with a fungicide is “the last thing you want to do”, he says. “In ecology, when you have a slate that is clean, the thing that comes back first is the disease. You see this with the use of harsh chemical controls for mealy bug, for example”. Robert is quick to point out that there is no silver bullet solution they are still using fungicides. But they use them reluctantly, while continuing to work as hard as they can to improve vine health.

FA_Enartis_enartisSTAB_MICROM_AD_180x120_NZ.indd 1

Richard is moving from mitigating herbicide rounds with a biological buffer, to feeding the soil directly all year round with cocktails of biological stimulants to boost the soil’s microbial activity. As soon as harvest ends, they start feeding the bugs for the next season, he says. “It’s your one window in vineyards where you are not driving a tractor through and not putting fungicides on.” The Holdaway brothers are bemused to see growers doing a winter herbicide spray, or mowing vineyards to a bowlinggreen neatness. They prefer to let the undervine vegetation grow over winter, feeding both the soil and the sheep while the grapes are dormant. “This is the tidiest you’ll ever see it,” says Robert in August, once the sheep are gone and the fresh green shoots of selfseeded species, including oats, phacelia, mustard and rocket,

are pushing up along the row. In summer they let everything grow, mowing occasionally or roller crimping to manage excessive biomass or create undervine mulch. Land in the Lower Wairau is a “big horsepower system”, says Richard, noting that six trims a season is typical when you “ride the vigour wave”. That means they’ve less to gain from the regenerative viticulture than a grower on less healthy soils. “But there are a lot of other benefits, and disease resistance is the big one,” Robert says. “That is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” It’s likely to be 10 years before they can “get out of the way” of nature, says Richard. “But we are working really hard to get all the building blocks in place.” This piece first ran in the September 2020 edition of Winepress, the magazine of Wine Marlborough.

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The Focus

Bug Bait

Harnessing the power of biodiversity SOPHIE PREECE

Anna Dunne and Nigel Sowman at Dog Point Vineyards with a buckwheat cover crop used as a food source for the parasitic wasp that lays its eggs inside the leaf roller caterpillar. Anna says Dog Point started interrow planting in 2006, three years before it began its organic conversion.

NEW ZE AL AND ’S WINE industr y is “ waking up” to the power of nature’s services, says entomologist and virologist Vaughn Bell. And that’s “got to be a good thing”, says the Plant & Food Research Senior Scientist, as he researches how vineyard biodiversity might aid pest and disease management. “With the quest to enhance vineyard biodiversity often initially focusing on plant communities, it can be anticipated that beneficial insects and beneficial fungal communities will eventually follow,” he says. “Greater species richness and abundance will increase the potential for biological control, a natural ecosystem service, to better regulate insect pests like mealybug and a pathogen like powdery mildew.” Cover crops are springing up beneath vines on organic and conventional vineyards alike, while native plantings around the edges are helping to break up the grapevine monoculture, says Vaughn. “There are a lot of people across

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the winemaking spectrum who are either already undertaking this work or opening their mind to the prospects offered to them and their vineyard.” That may be partially driven by aesthetics or marketing opportunities, but it may also be because other measures – including the broad spectrum organophosphates once used – were not getting the results required when it came to managing mealybugs, he says. “Hence, the status quo wasn’t always working. So, what can we do that is different, and which might help us achieve a better outcome? Is enhancing the biodiversity in and around New Zealand vineyards a positive way forward? It is a question that really needs to be explored.” And they’re questions he asks daily, as he considers how increased plant biodiversity might help attract and retain beneficial species, and which plants might draw insect pests, for example, away from the grapevine. He also recognises that by increasing plant diversity there may be

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

downsides to consider. “While there are likely to be a lot of positives to be gained by sensible habitat manipulation, there is potential for some negatives to be introduced as well. We need to get a handle on what some of those negatives might be and how they might impact vine production.” For example, some of New Zealand’s indigenous plants are known to host viral pathogens, “which may or may not have an adverse influence on the grapevine ”, says Vaughn. “We need to identify and understand what those risks are so we can inform industry and then mitigate or manage that risk as necessary.” Another example of possible unintended consequences of habitat change might be the attraction of unwanted bird species, or to increase rabbit populations so they become a problem for the vineyard, he adds. “It is important to try and identify as many of the positives and negatives as resources will allow.” Vaughn says the science

around ecological services on vineyards is sometimes drawn from anecdotal evidence or from the vineyard operators themselves. “In years gone by, some of my best research questions have come through conversations with growers… They see things in their vineyard that generates a question, which can lead to some really important new knowledge and a better understanding.” After 17 years working i n v i n e y a r d s , Va u g h n believes enhancing vineyard b i o d i v e r s i t y t h ro u g h a combination of indigenous and exotic plants will offer the species diversity and abundance needed to occupy nature’s “many niches”. “ T his will enable the beneficial species to migrate into and to survive in the vineyard so they can fulfil their respective ecological roles,” he says. “The vision? A vineyard environment rich in biodiversity is able to reduce reliance on pesticides without compromising grape yield and wine quality.”


The Focus

Army Commander at Terrace Edge PETE CHAPMAN loves to see an abundance of cherries at his family’s North Canterbury vineyard. Not because he’s anticipating sweet fruit, but because this sentry of trees is designed to foil the attacks of grass grub beetles, which eat young spring growth on vines. “I love them the way an army commander loves a successful booby trap,” says the viticulturist at Terrace Edge. As well as the cherry tree guard, the family have carefully planned plantings in paddocks beside the vines, with species designed to limit the proliferation of the grubs. “We see in nature, that everything can work together if given the opportunity,” says Pete of imitating the biodiverse ecosystems of nature.

for immediate

They have also used cover cropping within the vineyard since 2008, initially intended to attract beneficial insects to reduce leaf roller caterpillar. “However, since 2012 we have been planting many different species to bring the soil alive, enhancing beneficial microbes and maintaining and improving the structure and fertility,” says Pete of the estate, which won Vineyard of the Year at the 2018 New Zealand Organic Wine Awards. “We have been applying less fertiliser, but getting better soil test results due to the cover cropping.” Cover cropping takes time and money, “but I believe it is definitely worth it”, says Pete. “There is a lot of learning to be done on what works on each individual site. Sometimes

Pete Chapman and a mid-row crop of phacelia

we have had cover crops fail due to really dry conditions

or frosts – but you learn each time.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   27


The Focus

Regenerative Research SOPHIE PREECE

Matt Murray on Pernod Ricard’s regenerative agriculture trial vineyard. Photo Jim Tannock

SCIENTIFIC TESTING around the anecdotal claims of regenerative agriculture i s “ u r g e n t l y re q u i re d ”, according to a new report. Lead author Dr Gwen Grelet, Senior Researcher at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research,

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says regenerative agriculture potentially has an important role to play in New Zealand. “Regenerative agriculture has huge momentum internationally in all parts of the food system. It is not a magic bullet, but its grass-

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

roots popularity with farmers and food consumers means it has huge potential for driving the transformation of Aotearoa’s agri-food system to move our country closer to its goals.” Gwen says the consultation

found many areas of strong agreement between advocates and sceptics. “It’s time to stop bickering and focus on identifying any true benefits regenerative agriculture might have for New Zealand.” The white paper -


The Focus

R e generative A g r iculture in Aotearoa New Zealand: Research Pathways to Build Science-Based Evidence and National Narratives - was produced from a research project r un by Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research and funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge. It sets out 17 pr ior ity research topics identified by more than 200 representatives of New Zealand’s agri-food sector. Michelle Barry of Bragato Research Institute (BRI) ran focus groups of winegrowers and makers, industry representatives and researchers to contribute to the paper for the wine i n d u s t r y. S h e t h i n k s regenerative agricultural practices can help growers and farmers have a positive impact on the land. “These practices can help winegrowers improve the health of waterways,

reduce topsoil loss, offer resilience to drought, and add value to primary exports including wine”, she says. “Providing evidence of the impact of claimed regenerative practices will be important to help farmers and growers make decisions that achieve positive environmental and social outcomes, while also increasing profitability at the vineyard level.” The report makes several recommendations for regenerative agr iculture re s e a rc h d e s i g n . T h e s e include delving into whether regenerative agriculture can prevent further soil losses, and how and where soil carbon can further increase. The paper also calls for research to adopt some “common metrics to allow comparability of results”, and that research to test regenerative agriculture claims focuses on established and successful regenerative

agriculture farms, as well as transition case studies. Pernod Ricard Winemakers New Zealand Sustainability Manager Tracey Marshall says the report recognises the science, ex per ience and community aspects of regenerative agriculture. “I think it’s timely, because there are a lot of anecdotal stories out there and a lot of people doing good work.” Last year the wine company established an 8-hectare vineyard trial in Marlborough, to explore knowledge in regenerative techniques, trial cover crop species, build better “soil balance”, and measure the impact on vineyard health. The site is part of a 60ha vineyard ideally positioned for regenerative viticulture, sitting between one of the company ’s large organic blocks and the 9ha Kaituna Wetland, which is a showcase of Pernod’s environmental

initiatives. Tracey says the first season was a significant learning opportunity, with a “global approach” that sees the Kiwi team tapping into support from Pernod Ricard’s other winegrowing regions, while collecting their own data and getting “real hands on experience”. Exploring how ever ything works “synergistically”, requires understanding of what’s happening in the soil and above ground, then assessing the combination of factors to quantify the benefits, says Tracey. The white paper also looks at the enjoyment of farming, which she agrees is a key element. “I don’t think you can discount the fact that it feels good too, particularly if your soil and plants are thriving.” Find the white paper at ourlandandwater.nz

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   29


The Focus

A balancing act at Bell Hill IF SHERWYN Veldhuizen didn’t

love her day job so much, the North Canterbury winegrower might spend all her time farming fungi. Sherwyn and her husband Marcel Giesen, winners of Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine’s Viticulturist of the Year 2021 Award, view their cover crops and compost with scientific curiosity, determined to enhance biodiversity “and the micro flora and fauna in the soil”, she says. Talking of nurturing fungal communities, turning their backs on cultivation, and harnessing sunshine via plants to feed mycorrhizae, Sherwyn seems as excited by their “crazy project” as she was when they founded the Weka Pass vineyard and winery in 1997.

The soils have high pH, which attracted them to the site but carry challenges, so they’ve looked to cover crops to help bring balance to the soils and promote the “fungal loading” required in a vineyard “to get that really good symbiosis with the vine”, she says. “Basically, what we are trying to do is build carbon in the soil, and we’re doing that through cover crops, compost and carbon inputs such as wood chip.” In contrast, in the paddocks surrounding 2.5 hectares of vines, Sherwyn seeks a one-to-one balance of fungi and bacteria, which she describes as ideal for pasture. Bell Hill is small but closely planted, with 1.1-metre row spacings and low fruiting wires.

That adds to the challenges of the cover crops, and the past four years have been spent “cautiously” delving into that space, choosing plants that fit the site, with a diversity that covers the seasons and include key functions, including big tap roots that can open channels for the fungi and the microbes. In the past year, there’s been another step change in how Bell Hill manages its vineyards, with a move away from the cultivating and undervine tilling common in organic management. “The bare ground is where the bacteria dominate,” says Sherwyn, who works to offset any necessary cultivation – in order to sow a new and diverse cover crop mix – by adding in “organic” stimuli

including fish hydrolysate, fulvic acid and humates “to feed the fungi up again”. It’s a big shift for the couple, and they’ve sought plenty of advice from consultants, studied the science behind the soil, and read up on experiencebased observations of farmers over the past four decades. Their mission is to do the best they can for their soils, their property and beyond, says Sherwyn. “It’s very exciting and i t ’s v e r y s t i m u l a t i n g ,” she says. It’s also “really important”, she adds. “There are so many challenges on us environmentally and climatically… I really feel all we can do is work the best in our own space.”

Regenerating Rimapere DELVING INTO organics and regenerative agriculture has renewed Kurt Robinson’s passion for viticulture. “There’s so much more you can sink your mind into,” says the Viticulturist at Rimapere Vineyards on Marlborough’s Rapaura Rd, where decades of sheep, fruit and grape growing have demanded much of the soil, and given little in return. Seeking a natural recovery, Kurt planted the whole vineyard in cover crops last May, with plantings devised to fix nitrogen, add bulk matter, break up the soil, and draw down CO2. When the plants had set seed, they crimp rolled them multiple times, laying a mulch between the rows. “That created a little microclimate in the spring,” says Kurt, who was delighted to see the rapid proliferation of mushrooms, mycorrhizae and

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

bacteria in the soil. Come spring they planted wildflowers in alternate rows, to attract beneficial insects and wasps. “This past season was about trialling everything,” says Kurt, who will adapt the plantings this winter. “The biggest thing for me about doing it last year was just how much was going on. Sometimes vineyards can be quite sterile in Marlborough - everything is mowed to within an inch of its life,” he says. Instead, he found an abundance of life, including an “insane” number of earthworms. It’s the beginning of a journey to revitalise the land, and part of Rimapere’s commitment to improving the terroir for generations to come, he says. “We want to know we have put in everything we can, and leave it better than when we started.”

Kurt Robinson. Photo Jim Tannock


The Focus

Planting Partnership JEAN GRIERSON

Gareth King with native plantings at Felton Road

FELTON ROAD Wines is restor-

ing native plantings on public land near its Bannockburn estate, with Winemaker Blair Walter hopeful other businesses will get on board. The previously publicly owned inaccessible land on the shores of Lake Dunstan is on the new 55 kilometre Lake Dunstan Walking and Cycling Trail, linking the townships of Clyde and Cromwell through the Cromwell Gorge. The restoration began after Blair identified a 3-hectare parcel of wasteland on the lakeside adjacent to Felton Road’s Cornish Point Vineyard and applied to Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the Government body that administers Crown Lands, for access con-

sent to carry out weed removal and native plant restoration work. He says wilding conifers had previously been removed by the Central Otago Wilding Control Group, and now woody and thorny scrub, including sweet briar and gorse, will progressively be cleared to give way to re-establishing native plants. It’s a tough job, but clearing the weeds will greatly enhance trail users’ views from Cornish Point across Lake Dunstan to the Cromwell Heritage Precinct and beyond. “It’s a good opportunity for our company to give something back to the community and to the environment,” says Blair. He expects that over the next two

years they will liberate existing native species, such as mingimingi, tūmatakuru/matagouri, toetoe and kōwhai, then plant locally sourced species including kānuka and more kōwhai. He likens the approach to the “Adopt a Highway” programme in the United States. Felton Road Wines has also put a similar proposal to LINZ to clear and plant lakeside land bounded by its Calvert Vineyard and Te Kano Estate in Bannockburn. Felton Road had previously cleared the poplar and willow-choked Pipeclay Gully leading to it and planted native riparian species and, if approved, the lakeside project would be a collaboration between the two vineyards.

Blair says he’s heartened to see and hear birdlife re-establishing in the Cromwell Basin that weren’t there when he arrived some 25 years ago, including korimako/ bellbirds and tui, and even a recent sighting of a pair of pūkeko near Lake Dunstan. Central Otago Winegrowers have supported native plant restoration and enhancing biodiversity in the region through the Central Otago Pinot Noir Charitable Trust. Blair says both the Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust in Wānaka, founded by Nick Mills of Rippon Wines, and the Cromwell-based Mōkihi Trust, which Blair chairs, had been helped with grants.

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The Science Herbicide Resistance Growing concern Pg 33

PhD Precis

AI virtually here Pg 35

BRI Extension

Sharing the science Pg 36 Trevor James


The Science

Into the Weeds Tackling the issue of herbicide resistance SOPHIE PREECE

A SURVEY of herbicide resistant weeds in Marlborough vineyards has revealed “terrible” results, according to an expert in the field. AgResearch Senior S c i e n t i s t Tre vo r Ja m e s found possible herbicide resistant ryegrass in three quarters of the 64 vineyards visited in February. “What we don’t know is whether it has multiple resistance,” he says, referring to whether the weeds could survive doses of the three most widely used herbicides for ryegrass. “It’s quite possible that the ones that are really bad could be resistant to all three.” The survey, conducted with Bragato Research Institute (BRI) Viticulture Research Technician Yuichi Ando over a two-week period, is part of a four-pronged, pan-sector research project into improved weed control and vegetation management. The five-year project is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), BRI, and several research organisations. For Trevor, who first found a herbicide resistant weed in a Waikato maize crop in 1981, it’s been a long journey to get producers to tackle the growing issue. In some cases, that’s because of pressure coming from beyond the landowner, he adds. “Now we have a team of sociologists based at A gResearch at Lincoln and Ruakura, and they are interviewing all sorts and

everybody to find out who makes weed management decisions.” Trevor says the more scientists discover, the more alarming the issue is. With glyphosate, for example, there are 12 different ways a plant can become resistant. “In New Zealand we have already found that a single plant can have more than one resistance pathway,” he says. That is “additive”, so that first pathway provides “so much resistance” and pathway two can add to that. FAR sur veyed pastoral farms in central Canterbury in 2019, and found that about a quarter had resistant weeds, “well up on the 5 percent they thought they would find”, says Trevor. Last year they looked at South Canterbury and the number climbed to close to half the farms. This year – with more streamlined techniques in place – they have added Southland to the list, as well as Marlborough’s vineyards and maize crops in the Waikato, with the plant numbers tested likely to double the 25,000 processed last year. Trevor says the first strand of the project is delving into meta data from around the world, to find traits and trends that could help predict what the next herbicide resistant weed might be. The data considers 100 regions and 200 weeds for each major herbicide group, in order to identify weeds most likely to develop herbicide resistance in the future, including those

already in New Zealand, non-herbicide solutions, such and those not here but of as robotic weeders, the use of greatest risk if unintentionally cover crops, and looking at introduced. Māori management practices. M e a n w h i l e , M a s s e y Researchers are meanwhile University researchers are work ing to is ol ate and developing better ways of evaluate natural pathogenic identifying herbicide resistant fungi and bacteria that could plants, using genotyping potentially kill weed seeds. and seed bioassays to create Yuichi says many of the ‘quick tests’ for key weed species. That will be a welcome “In New Zealand development, says Trevor, admitting we have already that the current found that a single surveys are “very traditional” and plant can have time consuming. more than one The vineyard survey in Marlborough resistance pathway.” involved him and Yuichi identifying weeds that had survived spraying then set Marlborough grape growers seed, including the dubious they spoke with were already ryegrass and other grasses aware of the problem herbicide and broadleaf weeds that resistant weeds posed, and are “potential candidates”, “see what’s happening in their including sow thistle, which vineyards”. BRI Viticulture has become resistant to Ex tension and Research glyphosate in Australia. Manager Len Ibbotson agrees The collected seed is then that herbicide resistance has grown in a glasshouse before been raised by a number of successful plants are sprayed growers as an issue, “but we with different herbicides at don’t currently have a good normal use rates. Survivors understanding of the extent of that process are then grown in Marlborough”. As well as again to enable different gleaning the size of the issue, herbicide rates, to ascertain the survey would establish dose responses. One of the the management systems Massey researchers’ DNA being used by growers, “and methods will be trialled on how that may have led to all the ryegrass seeds collected resistance or may have helped i n t h e v i n e ya rd s t u d y, avoid resistance”, says Len. alongside the traditional There is potential to expand method. the vineyard survey to other Another strand of the regions over the next 12 research is looking to develop months.

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The Science

WINE COMPA NIE S will soon be able to use artificial intelligence to count inflorescence, with a research prototype to be trialled in Marlborough later this year. The technology is one of the first outcomes of the Grape Yield Analyser Project developing automated tools for vineyards, led by Armin Werner from Lincoln Agritech. Armin says the system, to be trialled in November, requires someone to take a photo of the vines, either with a digital camera or smartphone. The image is sent to a website, where it is processed immediately by a “machine learning tool” that identifies the inflorescence “by its shape and colour and the neighbouring parts of the picture”. The result - the number of inflorescences in the image - then comes back to the vineyard in around 30 seconds, says Armin. The tool was developed v i a ex p er t s ident if y ing inf lorescence in photos, allowing artificial intelligence (AI) to train a model that can then assess and analyse new images. Armin notes that the model can only count what is visible, which can lead to errors when compared to a very thorough human count. “But we think these small errors can be accepted, because you can collect many more of these counts per block.” In human counting, even among expert viticulturists, there will always be a variation between people, or in repeated counts. “The accuracy of the tool we have in development is high, so we think we can be as close and accurate as a human being,” he says. As the project progresses, they will look at the possibility of mounting cameras on moving machinery, so the count can cover more ground more quickly. The original focus of the

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Automating Estimates

AI to predict yields SOPHIE PREECE

Millton

Grape Yield Analyser Project was to use sensors to count young grape bunches with image analysis using AI to help growers assess their crops in January. However, discussions with growers and wine companies revealed that for some of them the earlier inflorescence count would be more valuable, Armin says. The optical technology to count grape bunches is for growers who want to use the growth by January to assess potential grape yield. However, optical occlusion from leaves of up to 95 percent limits the use of just a camera. The project has developed two modified optical solutions and one radar (microwave) based methods to overcome occlusion. The first of these options is for vineyards to use rows or bays, where leaf is intentionally machineplucked off vines, allowing the camera, potentially mounted on a moving vehicle, to capture clear imagery of the bunches for an AI count. Armin says discussions with growers revealed that giving up some yield would be worth it for an automated count. Another option in the pipeline is to use a strong

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

airf low pointing into the canopy, to blow leaves upwards, with dedicated nozzles or even a vineyard airblast sprayer. A digital camera or a good smartphone moves with the airf lowgenerator along the row, taking many photos, says Armin. “ You’ll find a few images where in total all the leaves have moved away so that the AI can ‘see’, thus count the otherwise hidden grape bunches,” he says. “The AI in the webservice will find the grape bunches in the many leaves.” The microwave (radar) technology is a novel method of the project to combat optical occlusion from leaves, as these are quasi ‘transparent’ for the radar, says Armin. He expects the microwave technology to be ready to be trialled in vineyards by the 2022 vintage. The researchers are also talking to companies that could commercialise the described technologies. “It is important that we work with partners that want to do larger scale tests, so they have robust data to have of a product that they can manufacture and commercialise.” Lincoln Agritech is also

working with Canterbury University to build a Bayesian model to allow yield predictions from the first few weeks in January and February. The model would allow growers to input data from their blocks, including grape count and bunch weight, and receive a yield prediction. The project is currently being trialled with nine growers in Marlborough who have provided data and counts every fortnight, and received a report back on predicted yield. “It adds to their existing knowledge and traditional tools,” says Armin. As well as grower data, they have used historical data from New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) and Plant & Food Research (PFR). Individual management and vineyard structure will ultimately be part of the modelling, says Armin. “We want to have a block specific model based on the grower’s own data set.” The research project is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and NZW/BRI and undertaken by experts from Lincoln A gritech, PFR , Canterbury University, Lincoln University and CSIRO.


The Science

PhD Précis SOPHIE PREECE

FROM STUDYING banana plantlets in Cameroon to barley in Australia, Paul Epee has long been fascinated by agriculture and improving production. Now, 15 years after the agronomist put his Bachelor degree to work at the African Research Centre for Bananas and Plantains, Paul is helping New Zealand’s wine industry utilise artificial intelligence (AI) to address labour issues. His P hD do ctorate Modelling grapevine canopy and analysing pruning intensity e ffects on ca ne pr unin g determinants, canopy structure and vine balance - is part of the larger five-year programme MaaraTech or Human Assist, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund, with the goal of researching and developing technologies that help manual labour in orchards and vineyards in unique ways. The programme intends to develop novel AI technologies, supportive means and then robots, which will assist workers in horticulture and viticulture, including through winter grapevine pruning, by supporting inexperienced

human pruners and autonomous pruning machines, says Paul. The AI system will learn from expert pruners and make pruning decisions by sensing the grapevine canopy. His work provides the input for the AI-logic, by exploring the multiple relationships between dormant shoot weight and canopy metrics to accurately estimate pruning weight and leaf area. He also intends to quantify and model retained cane attributes, pruning criteria and pruning decisions on grapevines displaying morphological variability. The work will investigate the effects of pruning intensity on grapevine growth, fruit composition, balance and dormant shoot attributes. The ultimate goal of Paul’s work is an autonomous robotic pruner. However, the data he collects, and the statistical model built from it, will initially inform augmented reality tools (with technologies like Hololens, for example) through which an inexperienced pruner can be assisted by AI technology when looking at a specific vine. Advice on the best pruning

Paul Epee

decisions in the vineyard might be given audibly, through a loudspeaker or earpiece, or visually, perhaps through a light pointer directing the worker to the correct spur or

shoot, says Paul. In this way augmented reality, informed by AI, will support staff in the vineyard, raising productivity and consistency of manual pruning work.

Paul’s research programme - Modelling grapevine canopy and analysing pruning intensity effects on cane pruning determinants, canopy structure and vine balance is supervised by Armin Werner of Lincoln Agritech, and Amber Parker, Peter Almond, Olaf Schelezki and Rainer Hofmann, all of Lincoln University. MaaraTech or Human Assist is a research collaboration between University of Auckland (lead), University of Waikato, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, Lincoln Agritech, and Plant & Food Research, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund. New Zealand fruit industries and equipment manufacturers are also supporting the project.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   35


The Science

Extend & Excel SOPHIE PREECE

GETTING SCIENCE to work in

the field requires some give and take, says Bragato Research Institute viticulture extension and research manager Len Ibbotson. “Modern extension programmes recognise the importance of a two-way transfer of knowledge between scientists and primary producers,” he says in a recently completed report on the motivations and dissemination of science and research in the New Zealand wine industry. The report, produced as part of a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) through Otago University, investigates the current pathways between research and practice in New Zealand’s wine industry, and develops an extension strategy for the Bragato Research Institute (BRI). “The overall strategy offers a framework and tactics that aim to firmly embed BRI as a grower led organisation, working alongside industry in the field and winery, supporting the generation and transfer of knowledge and enhancing the value of New Zealand’s wine industry,” says Len in his executive summary. The strategy is split into two phases, with the first looking to enhance BRI’s extension programme, under its resources, while phase two ramps up the exchange, with a BRI-led applied science programme, to “generate information to benefit industry, inform future research projects and enhance BRI’s direct relationship with growers and winemakers”. He says the combination of a structured extension programme and applied science programme would result in “a synergistic

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Len Ibbotson

effect, boosting BRI’s capability and reputation as a research and extension organisation”. The BRI board was compelled by the report and its conclusions, and opted to immediately steer towards phase two, with the employment of two extra staff to enable the strategy, says Len. His report describes a change from the classic topdown and linear approach to primary production research, where extension agents (extensionists) act as a conduit from agricultural scientists to producers. Interviews with extensionists in other primary industries, in New Zealand and abroad, and with grape growers in this country, reveal the value

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

of “informal (social and experiential) learning pathways for knowledge diffusion”, he says. “It is the role of extensionists to shape extension programmes to facilitate knowledge transfer, improve alignment between research and industry objectives and improve the uptake of research outputs.” Len says extension is “critical” for ensuring a good return on science investment “and for supporting uptake of new knowledge and behaviour change”. That’s even more important as the environmental impacts of primary production come under the spotlight, with new technologies and research key to mitigating those impacts.

He asked grape growers what motivates them to seek out new knowledge, in order to understand how they prefer to receive new information and find out how they share knowledge with others. Len says New Zealand’s growers are typically “very collaborative and normally willing to share knowledge with other growers and researchers”. They often seek advice from other growers before adopting a new practice, product or technology. “Experiential, social and formal learning are all important pathways for New Zealand’s grape growers seeking to acquire new vineyard management knowledge,” he says. “However, growers are time poor and want information to be easy to access and shared in a way in which the key points are easily recognisable.” Len’s study found that extensionists and growers value face to face interactions at industry events, with the social networking as important as the formal transfer of knowledge. However, he also found that there was little formal coordination between the individuals and agencies that contribute to “the wine industry’s knowledge transfer ecosystem”. There can often be poor alignment between the objectives of science providers and primary sector practitioners in New Zealand and “extension is the process that can bridge this gap”, he says. “The research undertaken for this report suggests there is a significant opportunity for BRI to take a leadership role for viticulture extension in New Zealand.”


The Science

Best Paper Award NEW ZEALAND viticulture researcher Stewart Field

Bury your undies

has been awarded The American Society for Enology and Viticulture’s 2021 Best Viticulture Paper Award. The Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) lecturer won the award for his paper Soil Temperature Prior to Veraison Alters Grapevine Carbon Partitioning, Xylem Sap Hormones, and Fruit Set. He and supporting researchers found that soil warming promoted shoot growth via utilisation of starch reserves, while soil cooling promoted starch storage in both the root and wood and shifted overall biomass partitioning to the roots. “A change in soil temperature from warm to cool through flowering was also associated with reduced fruit set,” the paper says. Stewart says Covid-19 travel restrictions mean he’ll do a presentation online rather than flying to the now cancelled ASEV National Conference in Monterey, California, this June. Despite that disappointment, the award shows great research can spring from Marlborough. “I guess it shows that NMIT has the capability to do some really good research now, in collaboration with Plant & Food and Bragato Research Institute.”

STEWART FIELD truly

put his research on the line this February, having dug up his dirty laundry. The Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) lecturer followed the global Soil Your Undies Challenge in December 2020, by burying cotton underpants beneath three treatments in the undervine trial at NMIT vineyard. The undies were buried 10cm deep in three places - beneath the undervine weedmat, beneath mussel shells, and beneath cultivated rows. “It was an idea Damian Martin and Glenn Kirkwood gave me,” says Stewart, who hung the dilapidated underwear up on lines after two months buried. “As soil microbes break down cotton, the more breakdown you see, the healthier the soil microbe population,” he says. “The underwear buried under the shells was a lot more decomposed.” Stewart also analysed the percentage weight loss, and found the shells were the biggest impact.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   37


The People Good wine 27seconds Pg 39

Wine Accolades Gourmet Traveller Pg 40

Cellar Hands

Intern Matt Lancaster Pg 42

Women In Wine

Sophie Parker Thomson Pg 44

New Vintage Scout Pg 46

Postcard

Nicholas Blampied-Lane Pg 47 Pete and Alanna Chapman


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27seconds ON A small vineyard in a quiet valley, a young couple is growing hope. Pete and Alanna Chapman’s wine label 27seconds is named for UNICEF’s estimate that 1.2 million children are sold into slavery every year. “We loved this idea of being able to make a difference”, says Pete about the Waipara Valley charitable business, which has donated all its profits - $47,000 over the past three years – to Hagar New Zealand, a not-for-profit that works with victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and slavery. The home base for 27seconds is Ter race Edge, where sheep paddocks have been transformed into olive groves and vines, thanks to a tramping trip Pete did with his family in 1999. That year the annual trip was in Marlborough, and when they emerged from the hills the Chapmans visited a vineyard and olive grove. “Something about it captured us”, says Pete, who was in his second to last year at school and wondering what to do from there. On the way home they saw a real estate sign on 30 hectares of river terrace north of Amberley, and decided to invest in a “weekend hobby”. It’s fortunate they had no idea what the workload would be, says Pete, who helped plant the vineyard with his two brothers and went on to study viticulture at Lincoln University. Now they have 4.5ha of olive trees, 14ha of vines - including a jawdroppingly steep Syrah crop and a reputation as a premium organic producer (see page 30). Being viticulturist for the family business is a role Pete loves, but 27seconds is about making a social difference. He and Alanna had come face to face with human trafficking in

Kolkata, India, when visiting friends who run a social enterprise to offer employment to women in prostitution. Alanna went on to work with Hagar, and in 2017 the couple hatched a plan to do better with their wines, making a 27seconds Riesling from surplus fruit at Terrace Edge. The project snowballed, Pete’s parents portioned off more fruit, and 27seconds rapidly grew into a whole range. “I loved working on the vines, but wanted to do more,” says Pete. “This brought the two things together.” The quality of the wine - made at Greystone at a discounted rate - is not negotiable. But while most of the fruit is certified organic, they decided the growth of the social enterprise - “and what we can give away” - was more important than being purely organic, says Pete. And the trajectory is as steep as their Syrah block, expanding its reach as customers “muscle” 27seconds into the market, approaching restaurants and bottle shops to request it be stocked. “It’s been a lot of work,” says Pete. “Probably a lot more work than we had thought.” But it’s also come with increasing amounts of support, including the independent directors now on board, who volunteer their time but bring a wealth of experience. The wine community has got behind them too, with the harvesting contractor picking the crop for free, Guala Closures helping with caps, and Label and Litho with discounted bottle labels, says Pete. “That just means more profits can go to the cause and help it get bigger quicker.” 27seconds.co.nz Hagar.org.nz

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   39


The People

Wine Awards Gourmet Traveller Wine’s Kiwi winners MARLBURIANS JULES Taylor and Ben Glover, and North Canterbur y winegrowing couple Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen, took out the titles in Gourmet Traveller Wine’s 2021 New Zealand Awards. The namesake of Jules Taylor Wines in Marlborough received the magazine ’s Winemaker of the Year Award, celebrated as “one of New Zealand’s modern pioneers”. Jules makes outstanding wine, is fiercely proud of

“Jules makes outstanding wine, is fiercely proud of her region, and mentors the up-and-coming breed of Kiwi winemakers.” her region, and mentors the up-and-coming breed of Kiwi winemakers, judges said. Jules had her first vintage in 1994, and immediately ditched

plans to become a viticulturist, thriving instead on the buzz of the winery during harvest. She worked hard to make her mark in Marlborough’s industry, becoming one of New Zealand’s few women

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

Jules Taylor

winemakers before setting off for vintages in Italy. She spent nine years alternating vintages in Marlborough and Italy, including five harvests in Sicily. Jules and her husband George Elworthy launched their own label in 2001, with

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The People

400 cases of Jules Taylor Wines, and have grown it well beyond their expectations in the years since. “I never imagined this would feed my non-existent family and I certainly didn’t think I could ever give up my real job,” she said in the April/May 2020 edition of Winegrower Magazine. Ben Glover, the winemaker behind Glover Family Vineyards and Zephyr Wines and co-founder of The Coterie, a contract winemaking facility devoted to small-batch organic wines, won the Leadership Award. “Winemaker, wine judge and businessman: there’s nothing Ben doesn’t know about the New Zealand wine industry,” says the awards blurb. “His sense of humour, storytelling and passion for making fine wine are surpassed only by the love he has for his family.” Ben says judging, including as chief judge for

this year’s Marlborough Wine Show, Cuisine Magazine’s lead judge and co-chair of the New Zealand Wine of The Year Awards, is part of giving back to the industry he joined in 1998, as assistant to Brent Marris at Wither Hills. Ben was also chair of Pinot Noir 2017, but says establishing The Coterie was probably his most “concrete step” into helping the wine community. Bell Hill Vineyard winegrowers Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen won the magazine’s Viticulturist of the Year 2021 Award. Sherwyn says the award validates the “pioneering efforts” that began in 1997, “our old-school values and a continuation of tradition”. The couple sought out the limestone soils of Weka Pass and have been dedicated to a winegrowing ethos of B urg undi an v iticulture. Sherwyn says their high-vine density (11,363 vines per

Ben Glover

hectare), dry farming and low yields, under organic farming with biodynamic methods, “all combine to elevate the quality of fruit from which our wines are made”. In recent times, new vineyard plantings and more land have provided additional opportunities for expansion as the pair ramp up their regenerative farming efforts, as part of

a movement they consider one of their most exciting developments yet (see page 30). ”Regenerative farming is about working with the land to actively improve it. Organics is about inputs, regenerative practices are about outcomes,” Sherwyn says. “We’re moving away from cultivation to enhancing biodiversity and soil health.”

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   41


The People

Trading cows for vines Matt Lancaster

GROWING UP on a Pukekohe lifestyle block, a young Matt Lancaster loved watching big tractors drive past. “For my fifth birthday I got my first John

ers’ 21-year-old cadet has relished working in Marlborough vineyards in the lead up to harvest. “It’s good getting in the old DX20 and going up and down the rows leaf plucking,” he says, “We all work together eager as ever to get in a tractor. as a team and produce There’s “quite an exceptional products.” art” to that job, he adds. “ You have to position Deere tractor – a little ride on. everything perfectly otherwise It was quite exciting.” you destroy the grapes and it So it’s hardly surprising will really reduce yields coming that Pernod Ricard Winemak- into the winery.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

Matt has brought the same enthusiasm and dedication to his introduction to the winery, where he’s in the red receival area. “It’s awesome to come here and meet so many different people from so many different backgrounds,” he says, three days into his cellar work. “We all work together as a team to produce exceptional products.” Matt has spent the past three years studying for his Bachelor of AgriCommerce at Massey University in Palmerston North, majoring in International Agri-business.

Matt’s study didn’t involve viticulture components, but in his final year, he started looking to the opportunities in the viticulture sector. “I spent about five years part-time dairy farming and was keen to try something new.” Wine is a booming industry, with opportunities from the field to finance, he says. “There’s so much growth and I am so fortunate to be part of Pernod Ricard Winemakers, because they are a huge, diverse and very innovative company.” Matt applied for the cadetship in September last year and


The People

started in November, as one of three cadets in Marlborough. So far the work has seen him work in the Brancott, Stoneleigh, Kaituna and Triplebank vineyards, getting a taste of everything from vine training and irrigation maintenance to leaf plucking and vineyard development. After vintage in the winery he’ll head back to the vineyards for winter work, and will also start work on the Primary ITO level 3 and 4 Viticulture units tied in with the cadetship. Pernod Ricard Winemakers Operations Director Tony Robb says the company has around 100 extra people employed in the Marlborough winery for vintage this year, including the three cadets. While those numbers are fairly standard for harvest, the number of Kiwis training up for cellar work is unprecedented, he says. “Historically we have struggled to recruit New Zealanders,

but nearly half of our vintage uptake this year are Kiwis.” The company always brings its cellar staff in early to prepare for vintage, with staggered starts for a multiday induction, he says. “We bring them in tranches and pair them up with existing staff, many of whom came here originally for a vintage and

subsequently joined our permanent team.” Training up green hands is standard too, although they are often internationals who happen to be in the country when harvest rolls around. “While we do have a small core of experienced returnees, most years we are lucky to have 20 percent of people who come to the winery

who have worked here before,” says Tony. Pernod Ricard Winemakers invested more in recruitment for vintage 2021 than it has in the past and he wasn’t surprised that many New Zealanders left applying until “quite late in the piece”, because they were likely looking for full time work where they lived. However, for some working a vintage is something to “tick off the bucket list”, Tony says. Meanwhile, some experienced international cellar hands, still in the country after the 2020 vintage, applied for work early, then shopped around for the best deal, knowing they’d be in high demand. “It’s been a huge task recruiting for vintage 2021,” Tony says. “Personally I’m really excited to see so many young Kiwis signing on. Hopefully this will be the start of a new career for many of them.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   43


The People

Women in Wine Living to the edge of the canvas STEPHANIE MCINTYRE

Sophie Parker Thomson

WINE HAS been a supporting

act in much of Sophie ParkerThomson’s life, but the Master of Wine credits a dinner out in Dunedin as making it centre stage. Sophie was 19 years old and in her second year of an Otago University law degree when she told her mother she was feeding her love of wine by writing wine reviews and studying the Level 2 Wine & Spirit Education Trust course. Her mum simply asked, “why don’t you become an MW like Jancis Robinson?” Last month, Sophie turned that idea into a reality, becoming a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine, having

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already obtained her law degree and admission to the bar, completed the Level 4 WSET Diploma in Wines, established a wine label, and become a mother. Across 32 countries, there are now 418 MWs –149 of them women – who are recognised as having “exceptional expertise” in the wine world, with theoretical knowledge and tasting skills in the art, science and business of wine. Gaining membership requires a series of tasting and theory papers, plus an in-depth research project, through which Sophie considered the relationship between the use of sulphur dioxide and

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

biogenic amine levels in wine. Born in Gisborne, Sophie’s life revolved around the wine and hospitality industries from an early age. Her father was a winemaker with Corbans, and their home welcomed many of today’s great New Zealand wine mentors, including James Millton, James Healy and Simon Waghorn - many of whom remain in Sophie’s life today. Her parents set up the renowned Smash Palace in Gisborne, before they moved south to the blossoming wine region of Central Otago, where Sophie’s father continues to work in the wine industry. In 2011, Sophie secured a

Marlborough vintage position with Matt Thomson’s winemaking consultancy business KiwiOeno, working alongside her future husband and greatest ambassador. “Matt urged me to tackle the Master of Wine and I was incredibly lucky to have him by my side. Aside from sharing his knowledge and experience of the industry, he organised countless blind tasting practice exams for me and has been hugely supportive throughout my studies.” Today, Sophie and Matt co-manage their boutique wine brand Blank Canvas, which they established in 2013, as well as their recently


The People

refreshed consultancy business Lock, Stock & Barrel. Sophie’s vast skillset sees her operational from vine to glass and beyond, actively participating in harvest, winemaking, intellectual property, contract law, as well as marketing and sales. She says her law degree has contributed to her success as both a business owner and wine student. “It was a great foundational degree, teaching me research and writing, logical thinking, and analytical

skills. But it wasn’t ticking all the boxes I wanted in my life.” It is clear that Sophie loves the diversity of her work and her enthusiasm is contagious when she speaks about Blank Canvas wines. “It all stemmed from our desire to produce single vineyard wines,” she says. “Marlborough has so many great vineyards, but most are blended away into a regional product. We wanted to talk about these special sites. We didn’t want to see their unique

expressions lost.” The backbone of Blank Canvas is in the genuine relationships with six vineyard owner/ operators, says Sophie. “They are committed to growing great wine, not just great fruit. And we respect their efforts by approaching each vineyard and vintage with a blank canvas.” Sophie’s aspirations for Blank Canvas are humble: to retain their small parcel approach to winemaking and to one day operate from their

own purpose-built winemaking facility. In the winery, science and art entwine, she says. “It is important to know the rules before you can break them. Science defines the edge of the canvas. If you don’t have that science, you don’t know where the canvas ends so you can only paint a tiny picture in the middle. Whereas if you do know the canvas and the science, you can paint right to the edge in confidence.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   45


The People

New Vintage Scouting a new way forward SARAH ROWLEY ADAMS

Sarah Adamson

SCOUT SOURCES fruit from two wine territories – the South Island and South Australia - to create small batch wines. The brand was created by a winemaking couple who grew up on opposite sides of

“Throughout our winemaking careers we have questioned all aspects of grape growing and winemaking.”

the ditch, and were brought together by their passion for wine. Kiwi Sarah Adamson and her partner Greg Lane, an Australian, had been working as winemakers for seven years - building experience and thoughts about what they liked

46   // 

in wine - before they founded Scout in 2017. At that stage, Sarah was working at Deviation Road, a family-owned winery in Adelaide Hills, and owner Kate Laurie was very supportive of her forging her own brand. “The push” came at just the right time, says Sarah, who named her brand for Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch, from Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The character is both a questioner and observer, something Sarah and Greg wanted to reflect in their winemaking. “Throughout our winemaking careers we have questioned all aspects of grape growing and winemaking, challenging ideas and practices, but also observing how wines are crafted and perfected.” They began with a couple of tonnes of Chardonnay and created their first wine, Scout 2017 Adelaide Hills Chardon-

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

nay, before moving to New Zealand. “We had always thought that New Zealand was where Scout would call home,” says Sarah. “For both of us, having worked globally, we felt New Zealand was the best place to achieve what we want, due to the climate, the soil and the industry we have here.” The brand has continued to grow, and the couple were able to pull through the difficult vintage in 2020, she says. “Being multi-regional, we were able to come to terms with Covid-19 as it progressed at the start of vintage, and rework our intake. We are fortunate to have some fantastic, supportive growers who understood our situation.” Their sales initially took a hit when the hospitality industry went into lockdown, with most of their wines in bars and restaurants. But “the back end of 2020 brought a really strong sales result so we are really upbeat going into the 2021 vintage”, she says.

Sarah is enthusiastic about the New Zealand wine industry. “We are a young industry really, and as a young brand in amongst that, it feels like a really exciting time.” She thinks small brands with unique offerings, like Scout, only strengthen the industry. “Diversity of ideas and styles will help New Zealand enhance its reputation for premium wine, benefiting everyone in the end.” She hopes the industry remains “mindful of where we have come from – small wineries and wine brands which rode on a passion for making great wine. By remembering that, we can be supportive of the next generation of young winegrowers and winemakers.” Everyone she has met in Scout’s journey has been supportive and helpful, Sarah adds. “I hope people reading this understand how important a bit of encouragement means to a young winemaker – don’t underestimate it.”


The People

Postcard

Winemaker Nick Lane writes from his new base in the UK IT’S NOW been five months since

I moved from Champagne to Kent. Harvest commitments in Champagne did not allow me to move any sooner, although my family moved in August so they could begin the school year in September. The peak of the Covid-19 pandemic certainly made moving countries even more difficult and we are glad to have that behind us. So my time over the past six months has been split across two countries. Firstly, the harvest in Champagne: 2020 will turn out to be the third in a hat trick of superb vintages for this region. The comparisons with the trois glorieuses of 1988, 1989 and 1990 are tantalisingly seductive. It appears the real winner from Champagne in 2020 will be the Pinot Noir and Meunier wines. Time will tell. Life in the UK has been challenging, to say the least, with an undulation of lockdown restrictions. The most recent

(and the most severe) lockdown has just come to an end with schools finally now going back for the first time since Christmas. I arrived at Defined Wine in early November. We are a contract only facility just outside of Canterbury, Kent, and we make wine for 29 different clients, offering a grape to bottle service. Getting stuck into the winemaking post-harvest was really interesting. 2020 was considered a good year, with the harvest dates ranging from 16 September until 22 October. We make a wide range of wines, from sparkling with Champagne varieties to some fairly obscure grape varieties and quite a few Rosé wines along the way. Bacchus is presenting itself as the signature English dry white wine. It is not dissimilar to Sauvignon Blanc in some ways, herbaceous, zesty and full of life. Since I have been here I have

been quite encouraged to see the potential of a number of varieties and styles. We have made some delicate and flavoursome Pinot Gris, elegant Chardonnay and even some fairly chunky Pinot Noir. It seems that even in a marginal climate like in Southern England, Pinot Noir is as emotive as it is elsewhere around the world. One thing I immediately noticed here is the very high acidity and very low pH. The cool nights during the last part of the ripening season really retain the malic acid concentrations in the grapes. That presents obvious challenges for the overall balance of the wines, in particular malolactic fermentation. What England has really become known for is its sparkling wine and it is indeed true that there are some stunning examples. However, yields are naturally very low here and financial viability is far from

given, especially considering the long lead times required to make sparkling wines. I feel the next step for English sparkling wine is longevity. Truly great sparkling wine lasts for several decades. In order to achieve this, the grapes must first of all acquire the appropriate balance between flavour, sugar and acid. This is not a given in this marginal climate. But there is the ambition, the dedication and the resources to do it. Over the last few weeks, we have seen winter loosen its grip, after a very intense and cold, snowy period in early February. This will naturally flow into the imminent budburst that usually happens around mid to late April. Early season frost is a major factor here, so fingers are crossed that we can have some nice yields and ripening conditions like in 2018. In the meantime we are looking forward to simply being able to go to a pub for a meal and a pint!

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   47


The People

Sustainability Guardian Engaging wine companies with conservation projects JEAN GRIERSON

DENIS MARSHALL has worn plenty of hats throughout his working life, but his plea to the wine industry has required a one-size-fits-all. The former Minister of Conservation, recipient of the Queen’s Service Order, and owner of Hawkshead Wines in Central

Otago, wants to see the wine industry more directly engaged in conservation and biodiversity. Denis is the chair of the New Zealand Nature Fund, which he founded in 2000 with a belief that more contribution from the private sector and corporate

INDUSTRY NEWS PROFILES

world was needed to support “game-changing” conservation work. The Nature Fund brings together philanthropists, investors, public, private, community organisations, conservation experts and project leaders. It recently for med a

LATEST RESEARCH REGIONAL UPDATES

relationship with Kinross in the Gibbston Valley, which has pledged its support as a donor. The five wine partners of K inross are K inross Wines, Valli, Coalpit, Wild Irishman, and Hawkshead. The fund has also initiated discussions with New Zealand

MARKETING UPDATES ARCHIVES

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021


The People

The indigenous species threatened with or at risk of extinction include: -84 percent of reptiles -76 percent of freshwater fish -90 percent of all seabirds -74 percent of terrestrial birds nznaturefund.org/ Winegrowers around building more relationships with wine companies. Denis says investment and funding for the protection and restoration of New Zealand’s biodiversity is more important than ever, with previously significant contributions from the tourism industry having dried up overnight due to Covid-19, while indigenous species remain at great risk. The Nature Fund works alongside Government organisations, but Denis says the charitable status brings tax advantages and makes it a more efficient and effective way to raise cash for conservation projects. “We studied overseas models, such as the National Parks organisations in the USA and Australia that raise hundreds of millions of dollars for conservation.” After a period of sitting quietly in the background, “we have now rebranded, re-energised and re-engaged”, says Denis. “Because there’s a lot of work to do, and Government will never be able to do it all itself.” The fund’s focus is primarily on restoring biodiversity in the nature conservation space, working with threatened and endangered species. “We’re a non-advocacy group so we don’t campaign for causes. We look to provide support for causes that need additional funding, especially threatened species work.”

Current key project areas include Fiordland, predator control, recovery and breeding programmes for threatened species including takahē and kākāriki karaka (orange fronted parakeet), and support of a multi-layered Greater Christchurch, where nature is at the heart. The Nature Fund has previously played roles in supporting projects on Little Barrier Island, and the establishment of the Rakiura National Park on Stewart Island/Rakiura. Denis has always held a strong conservation philosophy, and the Hawkshead wine label was inspired by the drawings of naturalist William Swainson, whose natural history folios of birds, butterflies and tropical shells, and drawings of early Wellington landscapes and dwellings created valuable historical records. A s o n e o f W i l l i a m ’s descendants, Denis inherited the same love for the natural world. When he and Ulrike Kurenbach settled in Gibbston and planted their first grapes in 2001, they chose the name of William’s first 1841 home in New Zealand for their family vineyard. Denis would love to hear from other wineries interested in supporting biodiversity projects through the New Zealand Nature Fund. Contact him directly, or speak to Executive Officer Rose Challies at info@nznaturefund.org

IT WOULD BE STINK IF THESE GOT INTO NEW ZEALAND 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)

MPB0160

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   49


Bob’s Blog

Bob Campbell

Back to the Future AN INCREASING number of winemakers are employing ancient winemaking techniques to produce wines with gustatory as well as historic merit. Natural wines, for example, take us back to a time before additives such as sulphur were added to lengthen the life of wine. Orange wine gains its distinctive colour and reputation from allowing crushed white grapes lengthy skin contact, a practice that was once fairly standard. PetNat or Pétillant-Naturel is sparkling wine made in the Méthode Ancestrale by bottling the wine before primary fermentation is finished, without the addition of secondary yeasts or sugars. Now a handful of local wine producers are making often very stylish wines by picking several, usually white, grape varieties at the same time and co-fermenting them to produce wines that, in music terms, are representative of a symphony rather than a solo performance. The result can be very pleasing, as I discovered when I tasted 2020 Te Whare Ra Toru, a co-fermented field blend of Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. It is a fragrant and delicious wine that suggests Gewürztraminer with the volume turned down and assisted by fruity acidity, possibly a contribution from the Riesling component. However, the best way to enjoy a field blend is to ignore its varietal make-up, shut your eyes and enjoy. I first encountered white wines made from a field blend while touring wineries near Vienna. This Viennese wine specialty is Weiner Gemischter Satz, a field blend using at least three grape varieties from a vineyard in Vienna. It confused me. I had always believed that each grape variety has a perfect moment of physiological ripeness which is when it should be picked. Gewürztraminer ripens much earlier than Riesling. Pick them at the same time and surely one variety will be overripe or underripe? The Viennese wines I tried were delicious as long as I didn’t try to disassemble them. The magic disappeared if I strained to identify the Grüner Veltliner component. Vineyards were once planted with a mix of grape varieties so the composition in the vineyard produced their target style. In the case of white grapes, they might plant a little more Riesling to give extra acidity or more Pinot Gris to add colour depth. A mix of grapes offered some protection against adverse weather such as frost, hail or rain. Field blends became unfashionable toward the end of the 19th century. I’m all for a field blend revival.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

The Big Dipper ONCE A year, when capsicum prices bottom out (which means they’re at their freshest best) I make the Big Dipper, a kick-ass mix of red capsicum, cashew nuts, garlic and olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper. This heady, spicy mixture does for Sauvignon Blanc what spinach did for Popeye. Capsicums are currently $5 for 10 of the plumpest, crunchiest most fragrant fruits (yes, they are a fruit) you are likely to find at any other time of the year. I’m not sure who christened it “The Big Dipper” but it is a family tradition going back at least a couple of decades. The big bonus is that it is quick and easy to make. The only fiddly bit is roasting and peeling the capsicums. That’s my job. I do it on my Weber barbecue. The Big Dipper is cheap, quick to make and is highly addictive. One dip is never enough. It partners up nicely with any Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, although I find that wines from cooler subregions such as the Awatere Valley make the best match. The acidity in the wine contrasts nicely with the olive oil in the Big Dipper while the slightly spicy capsicum flavour helps to amplify any hint of capsicum character in the wine. THE BIG DIPPER 3 x large red capsicums charred and peeled 1 x clove of garlic sliced ½ cup raw cashew nuts ¼ cup olive oil Salt & pepper Put all ingredients in a Nutrabullet or blender. Blitz until smooth. Serve with toasted pita bread or (even better) Sardinian parchment crackers (from Sabatto, Auckland). It’s fine to alter ingredients to suit your taste.


Regions – Marlborough

The Places Wine weather

James Morrison Pg 52

Export Milestones Felton Road Pg 54

Green Bottle

A reuse project Pg 56

Biosecurity Update Find-a-pest Pg 58

Advocacy Matters

Alcohol advertising and promotion Pg 62 Coal Pit Vineyard, Central Otago

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The Places

Wine Weather Is La Niña leaving us?

JAMES MORRISON

Greenhough Estate

L A N I Ñ A I S c u r re n t l y weakening and is forecast to fade out over the next two to three months. This should leave neutral conditions for late autumn, but there will be a tendency for northeast flows to persist for a while. A more unsettled period of weather

may eventuate towards the end of April and into May as the blocking high pressure systems give way. There are no long term signals yet of a transition into El Niño and the latest discussion is that conditions may remain close to neutral for several months.

What has been going on? The past six months have seen our weather influenced by a moderate La Niña. Some unusual short term weather events made headline news for various regions. From the 200mm of rain that fell on Napier, to temperatures closing in on 40C in

South Canterbury, to a near frost about parts of Marlborough and North Canterbury during February, these events punctuated what turned out to be a pretty average kind of summer. Mean temperatures have been near to average or maybe a little above average, but rainfall

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

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The Places

fell away in many places as summer wore on. Part of this unusual weather was caused by two global weather patterns that were working against each other. La Niña traditionally brings cooler water to the equator across the Pacific and an increase in northeast winds, as well as an increase in the risk of ex-tropical cyclones forming and possibly affecting New Zealand. This was matched off by a positive Southern Annular Mode (SAM) which showed a decrease in activity of the belt of westerlies that roar around Antarctica between latitudes 50-60. The later part of summer has seen high pressure move into a blocking position east of New Zealand and the few tropical cyclones that have formed have so far had little or no effect in terms of headline making weather. The southern annular mode may remain a weak positive which means

fewer strong westerlies through autumn. This could be offset by low pressure systems that will drag up cold air to mix with warm subtropical air either in the Tasman Sea or in the Pacific Ocean and we may get a few turbulent weather events before winter arrives.

Outlook for April and May: Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay Conditions are expected to remain reasonably settled at first but, although there maybe bursts of mild northwest winds from time to time, easterly conditions are expected to persist. As high pressure moves away there is an increased risk of a low bringing rainfall from mid-April onwards. Mean temperatures are likely to remain near average and night time minimums may remain a little above average.

The risk of frost is lower than usual. Humidity should be a little higher than usual so an increase in mist or fog is possible. Rainfall totals should lift close to average by May. Marlborough/ North Canterbury Mean temperatures are likely to be close to average but a slightly larger diurnal range should see a few cold mornings about inland valleys and areas away from the coast. There may be an increase in humidity at times and again we are expecting a number of foggy or misty mornings. Rainfall may be close to average, but there is still a tendency for rainfall totals to be below average for the remainder of the season. There is likely to be some rain for Marlborough from both the northwest and the east as our patterns become more unsettled. North Canterbury may have to wait for a rain

event out of the east to produce larger amounts of precipitation. Central Otago Mean temperatures are likely to remain a little above average for the remainder of autumn. High pressure means a few cold nights and the occasional frost, but daytime temperatures are likely to be quite mild at times. There will be a number of strong periods of northwest winds followed by the traditional cold southwest change, but these may be fewer than normal so the number of cold outbreaks is reduced. Rainfall totals will depend on the tracking of any low pressure systems as we move into May. If low pressure remains to the north then rainfall totals are likely to remain below average. James Morrison runs Weatherstation Frost Forecasting Ltd – weatherstation.net.nz

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   53


The Places

Milestone Series Felton Road’s relentless pursuit of quality SARAH ROWLEY ADAMS Felton Road

FELTON ROAD is one of the legendary names in New Zealand wine. Since the first vintage in 1997, the brand has acquired a formidable global reputation for its Pinot Noir. Its story begins in 1990, when 50-year-old Stuart Elms gave up his blackcurrant farming business and went back to school, signing up as a mature student in Lincoln University’s viticulture and wine science course. His goal was to make great Pinot Noir and, after extensive soil and climate research, he found a perfect exposed slope just off Felton Rd in Bannockburn. After persuading a hay farmer to sell the land, he began meticulously planting The Elms vineyard. In 1997, young winemaker Blair Walter, who had been Stuart’s lab partner at Lincoln, made the first official Felton Road Pinot Noir. A bottle of the Block 3 ended up in front of renowned wine writer Robert Parker, who famously declared it good enough to be used as a ringer in a blind tasting against the very best Burgundies. One vintage in, and Felton Road was on the map. At the same time, another person down the road was on their own Pinot pursuit. Having sold his London marketing

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agency, Nigel Greening had decided to live in New Zealand for a year. Already aware of the early Central Otago Pinots and their potential, he settled in Wanaka and began a search for the right site, recruiting help from Gibbston Valley founder Alan Brady. Nigel purchased an apricot orchard called Cornish Point in 1999 and began to rip up the trees to replace with vines. Just a year later, word reached him that Felton Road was up for sale. With Alan acting as intermediary, Nigel put in an offer and within three days was the proud owner of his favourite wine. Today, the winery has grown to encompass four vineyards in Bannockburn, with 32 hectares of grapes as well as a similar amount of hill country dedicated to farming. Felton Road ’s ex por t markets were mainly developed between 2000 and 2006, says Nigel. During this time, Central Otago Pinot Noir was attracting international attention and global demand was strong. There had been a huge increase in Pinot plantings in the region through 2001-2003, and Nigel was aware that this would lead to a sudden flood of wine onto the market. He created a bold business strategy, centred on first and

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

foremost spreading the limited production thin to build a formidable international brand. “Our rule was simple: look at a market. Is there a demand for fine wines? Are the great wineries of the world represented in the market? If they are, we need to be there.” The method for opening new markets was simple. “We would research the market by looking at the portfolios of the distributors there to see who was selling wines we like to be seen with. You quickly find who has the good names on their list. Then we would arrange an introduction.” They would find a respected intermediary or matchmaker to open the conversation, says Nigel. “This has almost always worked.” Once Felton Road was established in the market, they would visit often to nurture relationships, even when it didn’t necessarily make financial sense. “You need to commit to a partner and encourage them to engage with the wines,” says Nigel. The second part of his bold strategy was becoming a ‘zero growth company’ as part of Felton Road’s environmental sustainability commitment. “We set the size - no more than 150,000 bottles - in 2000 and

reached it in vintage 2006. We have not grown since.” Most of their export growth was before 2006, says Nigel, and since then they have only added smaller markets or fine-tuned existing ones. Felton Road now exports to approximately 40 countries and is frequently ranked high in the Drinks International magazine’s ‘World’s Most Admired Wine Brands’ list. Remarkably, they have earned their reputation without a sales team and without a marketing budget, with Nigel and Blair splitting the market visits between them. Nigel’s main objective is always to be regarded as a key producer of fine wines on the global stage. “We get there through a combination of a relentless pursuit of quality, ignoring hype (including social media), setting the very highest environmental and ethical standards, supporting and nurturing our staff, and being perpetually curious.” Their strategy has started to change slightly under Covid19 circumstances, Nigel adds. “We have actually pulled back on the percentage of wine that we export… we are always short of wine and determined that our domestic customers should be offered a preferred supply.”


The Places

Felton Road has seen a small fall in domestic restaurant sales, but their retail and directto-customer is up, and exports are currently around 60 percent (down from about 69 percent) of production. “This is not due to any drop in export demand, simply a response to the surge in domestic sales, which we’d like to be able to honour,” says Nigel. Blair and Nigel are passionate about wine - not just their own brand - and would often attend events just out of that love for wine and meeting other makers. “We know many of the key producers around the world, often as personal friends”, says Nigel. These friendships have helped develop awareness of their brand, as they extend to other people of gravitas within the wine community. “They know we love being part of the world of wine, not to sell our products but

because great wines are an important part of our life. So, we are part of that world wine club of producers, sommeliers, buyers, journalists, authors, critics.” There is no better time to engage with the world as a New Zealand company, says Nigel. “Research your markets and your competition thoroughly and respect them, don’t criticise them. You will make sales by speaking to a buyer and showing them that you know exactly how good the competition are. Be enthusiastic about their strengths as well as selling your own. You’ll be seen as knowledgeable, fair and honest, and nothing is more important in building international relationships.” This story is part of the New Zealand Winegrowers’ Milestone series, celebrating New Zealand wine’s export history, which can be found at nzwine.com

Nigel Greening

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   55


The Places

Green Wash New push for reusing wine bottles SOPHIE PREECE

THE TIME is right for a bottle reuse programme in New Zealand’s wine industry, says Green Bottle Project director Neil Pollett, who plans to have a machine in the country by the end of the year. “We are looking to wash bottles commercially and return to the producer,” he says. “It’s like going back to old ways and allowing new technology to do it better.” Neil first launched the project eight years ago, with

“Recycling is good but reuse is many times better for the planet and us.” plans to collect, clean and reuse glass wine bottles, in collaboration with two major New Zealand wine companies. Enthusiasm waned before the project hit its straps, due to concerns over costs and glass quality, but Neil believes increased industry and consumer concern for the environment, paired with the proposed introduction of a Container Refund Scheme (CRS) in New Zealand, make it a viable and exciting opportunity to reduce the environmental footprint of wine. “There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then. Timing is

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Photo supplied

everything.” Neil notes that a glass bottle can make up more than half the carbon output of a bottle of wine, but washing a bottle for reuse uses a fraction of the energy. “Recycling is good but reuse is many times better for the planet and us,” he says. An environmental report commissioned in the project’s planning stages found that reusing bottles could result in a 93% lower carbon footprint than using new or recycled glass produced in New Zealand. Neil believes those numbers are still reliable, based on data shared by companies in America and Europe. When the New Zealand Government announced plans last year for a CRS scheme where containers, including glass bottles, can be returned for a refund – Neil relaunched the concept. A “mandatory known system” for how bottles are returned could make a collect, wash and reuse scheme “go gangbusters”, he says. “Instead of popping the

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

bottle in your recycling bin you might take it back to the place you bought it and pop it into a reverse vending machine.” However, while a CRS would allow the project to be “scalable”, it is still viable without one, says Neil. “The important thing for us is we are 100% confident that it will work and make a big difference… It could become a unique marketing advantage for New Zealand,” he says. “Another unique selling point that makes us stand out.” He sees the necessar y shift in mindset as similar to screwcaps being championed by a handful of companies in New Zealand, despite resistance, and then everyone “sitting up and taking notice”. However, at this stage the beer industry, among others, is more receptive than wine, Neil says. “The facts are fairly undeniable in that it does work…often there need to be changes in society or Government to push things over the line.” Whilst cost was prohibitive in the first launch, Neil is now confident a wash and reuse

model will be cheaper than buying new bottles. He’s also confident in the quality of the product, with machines that scan each bottle for damage, including chips and hairline cracks. “Anything like that is automatically picked up and rejected…that’s something we didn’t have 30 or 40 years ago.” All rejected bottles are colour sorted and sent straight to recycling, says Neil, explaining that “recycling and refillables go hand in hand”. W h i l e m u c h o f Ne w Zealand’s wine goes offshore, the project is more about a “closed loop system” for New Zealand. Into the future however, Neil says he could look to work with partners in the United States and Europe to ensure New Zealand companies bottling offshore could also utilise reuse technology in that country. Once bottle collection is sorted, the next challenge is label specification, with certain glues enabling labels to be removed more easily in the washing process. greenbottle.co.nz


The Places

Varietal Profile Gris Anatomy JOELLE THOMSON

PINOT GRIS is the fourth most planted grape in New Zealand, with 2,593 hectares nationwide, up from 157ha in 2001. That growth has only been outstripped by Sauvignon Blanc, which rose from 2,843 in 2001 to 25,160ha today. Back in 2001, Sauvignon was already the country’s most planted grape, but Pinot Gris was a relatively unknown varietal in Kiwi wine circles. And it remains a mystery to many, divided between those looking for dry whites and those who want a softer white wine, perhaps with a touch of residual sugar to accentuate the wine’s smooth character. Fortunately, Pinot Gris lends itself to both styles. It varies widely in the vineyard too - most noticeably in colour, which tends to be darker than most white grapes and ranges from pink and almost as red as Pinot Noir on warmer sites. It buds and ripens early, and is relatively

vigorous in growth, but is not always highly productive. It can be prone to botrytis bunch rot, downy mildew and small berries. Pinot Gris has potential for high sugar and is typically low in acidity, which can translate to a high alcohol white with richness, depending on cropping levels. The book Wine Grapes describes Pinot Gris as a colour mutation of Pinot Noir that occurred over time in Burgundy, the RheinlandPfalz and Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. This was first written about in 1711, in Baden-Württemberg, as a wild

Colombo

vine discovered by Johann Ruland - hence, the Germans

Complex stuff SAINT CLAIR Family Estate Winemaker Stewart Maclennan says the path to great Pinot Gris is as much in the making as it is the growing of the variety – if not more so - with the ability to build complexity. “That puts it firmly in the ‘endlessly fun and gratifying to create’ - when you get the chance – category,” he says.

refer to it as Ruländer. In France it was also known as Beurot and in Alsace as Tokay Pinot Gris, which the Hungar i ans complained about in 1984 to the European Economic Community. The French finally dropped the word Tokay from their labels in 2007, and in exchange the Hungarians dropped the word Medoc from theirs. But that’s another story.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   57


Biosecurity Update

Spatial distribution of grape varieties around New Zealand JIM HERDMAN

OVER THE past four months, New Zealand Winegrowers has been working with the Hyperfarm team at AgResearch, led by Dr Seth Laurenson, to map the growing locations for all commercial wine grape varieties across New Zealand. T his information will ultimately be useful for memb ers assessing the predicted impacts on wine regions and the suitability of varieties as the climate changes. The Hyperfarm team has employed a geographic information system (GIS), data interrogation methods, satellite, and aerial imaging to identify and validate vine growing locations using anonymised vineyard physical address information, stored in the New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) database, that creates the coordinates held in the Biosecurity Vineyard Register. To begin the mapping p r o c e s s , A g R e s e a r c h ’s Geospatial Analyst Peter Pletnyakov transfor med addresses into coordinates using reverse geocoding and measured the address proximity to the nearest vine yard record in the landcover database. Where the distance between address and vineyard was large, aerial imagery was used to confirm a vineyard location. During the verification process, it was discovered that 678 vineyards were missing from the landcover database and

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Regions around New Zealand where Sauvignon Blanc is expected to grow. For some sites, frost protection and irrigation may be required. Specific microclimate conditions, soil type and localised topography may prevent suitability.

Caption Dr Seth Laurenson

were generally poorly classified. In total, the Hyperfarm team validated 1,852 locations across the country. They are now able to produce accurate maps of vine distribution for different wine grape varieties. Future steps will include assessing how predicted patterns in climate conditions will influence growing regions over the next 50 years. This information will help inform decisions such as changes in suitable vine varieties, vineyard expansion or shifts into new growing regions. The accurate vine location maps provide a powerful validation set for the Hyperfarm team to test and calibrate their land use suitability model for

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

wine grapes in New Zealand. “In developing the land use suitability model we collated data from around the world on such things as altitude, slope, growing degree days, winter chill hours, soil pH, bedrock depth, water holding capacity and irrigation, amongst other bioclimatic variables. This information helps us understand the ideal growing conditions for different grape varieties,” says Seth. “We are now able to validate these global models to the New Zealand conditions and create maps of where we think grape varieties can grow around the country, including those grape varieties we do not currently grow.”

Hyperfarm has a computerbased visualisation tool that allows users to design and visualise future landscapes and explore new land-based opportunities. A suite of scientific models that are geospatially explicit to the location underpins the process and helps the user understand an array of environmental, social, and financial factors associated with a particular change to the climate and region. Understanding and coping with the effects of longterm climate change is one of NZW’s primary concerns, so this work should help growers assess any future threats and identify new opportunities. T he NZW biosecurity team is also pleased with the Biosecurity Vineyard Register’s improved accuracy as a result of the collaboration, and asks members to check the vineyard physical address information held on the database. This improved accuracy will help notify potentially impacted memb ers if there is a biosecurity incursion in their geographical area.


Biosecurity Update

Find-a-pest: new biosecurity app can help identify and report vineyard pests SOPHIE BADLAND

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here. When a user submits an image through Find-a-pest, it is triaged by an industry representative. Images of low-risk species such as existing pests or weeds are then sent on to iNaturalist NZ (a web-based citizen science platform) for full identification. If the image shows a suspected biosecurity threat, it is then forwarded to the Biosecurity New Zealand exotic pest and disease hotline for follow-up; the user will receive instructions as to next steps and the image is not released publicly on iNaturalist. GPS location information along with the time and date is also included with the image, as well as any other details the user wishes to add. Exact location can be obscured from public view by the user through the app’s settings. Photos can also be taken and stored in the app offline, to make it more user-friendly for those working in the field in remote locations. The photos will then be automatically uploaded when the phone next gets a wifi or data connection. Find-a-pest is intended to aid in quick and accurate identification of pests for primary industry groups and is a great tool to help protect the New Zealand wine industry from unwanted pests and diseases. Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility; downloading and using Find-a-pest in the vineyard and beyond is an easy way to contribute to our biosecurity team of 5 million. Sophie Badland is NZW Biosecurity & Emergency Response Manager

UN

EVER FOUND an unusual insect out in the vineyard and not known what it was, or what to do? There’s now an app to help with that. The free Find-a-pest app for iPhone and Android enables users to take photos of any suspicious insects, plants, or plant disease symptoms and submit them through the app for quick identification. When a new pest or disease arrives in New Zealand, the sooner it is detected and reported, the better chance we have of being able to eradicate it before it becomes established and difficult to manage. The Find-a-pest app means anyone with a smartphone can be on the lookout, and quickly and easily report anything suspicious, or anything they don’t recognise. New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) encourages anyone working in vineyards to download the app and give it a go – next time you spot an insect you don’t recognise, use Find-a-pest to take a photo and submit it for identification. The app is designed as a general surveillance tool and has been developed by Scion and the Ministry for Primary Industries in conjunction with primary sector organisations concerned with biosecurity, such as NZW. It contains a series of fact sheets relevant to various primary sectors with information about both unwanted pests and diseases not known to be present in New Zealand, and a range of pests and diseases already established

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   59


Not on the Label - Legal matters with Dentons Kensington Swan

Legal Matters

Health and safety update JACOB SMITH AND CHARLOTTE EVANS OF DENTONS KENSINGTON SWAN

Amongst other developments: • When demolition works went wrong , the High Court held that a project management company was a person WorkSafe has conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), also confirmed even where there that it is enforcing was no contractual minimum health relationship with the property owner or the and safety earthmoving company requirements which caused the damage. The court connected to the decided that the project Covid pandemic. management company being involved in managing or a host of fundamental issues supervising the demolition for everybody, and introduced was sufficient to make them particular legal complexities a PCBU in relation to the and issues for those running work. businesses. At the same time, • T he Hig h Cour t also considered a charge of meeting general health and “recklessness” in relation safety obligations has remained a key concern, with ongoing to an officer of a PCBU for development of the law in this the first time. The court area. found that a helicopter pilot THE RECENT period has been

dominated by a major health and safety concern – the Covid19 pandemic. This has raised

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(and officer of the relevant PCBU), recklessly failed to consider a number of safety critical factors before flying, including overloading the helicopter with weight. The pilot was ordered to pay $120,000 in financial penalties and was sentenced to 350 hours of community work and four months community detention. • A first sentence for an officer and worker of a PCBU in relation to exposure to risk of serious illness, injury or death was handed down, after a fishing charter that was grossly overloaded sunk off the coast of Kaikōura, even though no one was physically injured. The company, the sole shareholder and director (charged as an officer), and the skipper (charged as a worker) of the vessel were charged and pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of the crew of the

fishing vessel. The officer was fined $47,000, the worker was fined $17,500 and the company was fined $380,000. Reparations of $60,000 were also ordered. • The courts have confirmed that while the financial capacity of businesses to pay fines will be considered, they will prioritise financial penalties over payments to a company’s shareholders and directors. At the same time, businesses showing an inability to meet penalties immediately have had their fines ordered on the basis of the business meeting an instalment payment plan. WorkSafe has also confirmed that it is enforcing minimum health and safety requirements connected to the Covid pandemic, and requirements for the use of masks, physical distancing and contact tracing may all be matters where businesses need to ensure they have proper systems in place to


Not on the Label - Legal matters with Dentons Kensington Swan

minimise the risk of any failure to comply. Covid vaccinations? A key issue moving forward for many businesses, perhaps particularly those working with seasonal and/or international travellers, is the extent to which they can insist on employees getting Covid19 vaccinations. Businesses have an ongoing duty to ensure the health and safety of all those in the workplace, including by minimising the risk of exposure to Covid-19. However, employers cannot generally force staff to receive medical treatment or other interventions. It might be possible to require vaccination where a particular clause allowing that is included in the employment agreement. However, that is likely to be rare for existing staff. Disciplinary action against staff who refuse vaccination is unlikely to be legally justifiable unless there was no alternative, less invasive option to vaccination. For most New Zealand employers, who arguably have been managing safely enough without a vaccine (albeit with a range of new rules and restrictions), that justification is unlikely to exist. In limited circumstances, such a basis may apply in roles or sectors with a high risk of exposure to Covid-19, such as workers in border control, healthcare and managed isolation facilities. There is more freedom to impose requirements upon potential new recruits, with businesses able to express a preference for those who are vaccinated. However, even then, employers should ensure that any policy of this nature takes into account that for some individuals there may be legally protected reasons under the Human Rights Act 1993 for not receiving a vaccine, for

example, perhaps those suffering from immunosuppressed conditions. Health and safety representatives Businesses are already required to ensure workers’ views on matters that could affect their health and safety are sought and taken into account, and that they provide reasonable opportunities for workers to participate effectively in improving health and safety. However, currently businesses which employ fewer than 20 workers and are not in a prescribed highrisk industry are exempt from a requirement to elect a worker health and safety representative. The Labour Government has promised to change this to ensure that all workers have the right to elect health and safety representatives, regardless of the size of the business. There is yet to be any indication of exactly when we can expect this change, which will require an amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. But when it comes, it may mean a significant change in approach and the formality which needs to be attached to health and safety compliance for smaller employers. It is an unfortunate irony for many businesses dealing with the pandemic that Covid pressures have diver ted resources, and capacity has potentially reduced their ability to manage health and safety compliance. That may particularly be the case for those employers who have had to retrench and lose some of their specialisation and knowledge in the areas of human resources and health and safety. However, recent developments only confirm that there will need to be even greater investment in compliance going forward.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   61


Advocacy Matters

On your Behalf

Advocacy on matters of vital importance to the industry.

New requirements for alcohol advertising and promotion SARAH WILSON

THE CODE for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol recently underwent a lengthy review and consultation process. Its replacement, the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code, applies to new advertisements from 1 April 2021, and to all advertisements from 1 July 2021.

The new Code There are a number of significant changes in the new Code. The Code applies broadly to advertisements that are for the purpose of promoting alcohol. • An advertisement covers lots of things, but includes radio, print, out- of-home, cinema, digital, websites, your social media pages and even your product labelling. It also includes ‘usergenerated content’ over which you have control (eg, posts by people on your Facebook page). The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) expects advertisers to monitor user-generated content on their sites and remove anything that does not comply with the law or with the Code. • The Code applies to advertisements which are for the purpose of promoting alcohol. This includes promoting alcohol products, brands, producers, importers, distributors, retailers and premises. We expect this ‘purpose test’ is a low bar, and that most (if not all) activities of our members will be captured. • The Code also covers zero alcohol products if the products resemble alcohol products (eg, brand extensions). If the Code applies, there are a lot of specific requirements that are engaged. In general terms, the Code is focused on placement (where you put your ads) and content (what you put in your ads). New rules in the Code include: • Minors (anyone under 18) cannot be shown. This is a significant change from the previous code, where minors could be shown in places where they would normally be found (eg, at a family barbeque). We know that some family businesses in particular have previously used children in their advertising – this will not be permitted under the new Code. • Women who are visibly pregnant or breastfeeding cannot be shown. • The Code includes specific guidelines on how to ensure

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advertising targets adults only (eg, how to adjust the settings on your Facebook page). • While people shown in your advertising must usually be 25 or older, you can now show 18-24-year-olds in your advertising if they are: - real people in real situations (ie, not a paid actor); - your staff who are employed to serve or offer wine samples; or - part of a crowd scene from an R18 event, with appropriate appearance and behaviour for people that age and older. There are also special rules for Alcohol Sponsorship Advertising and Promotion (ie, advertising that promotes the sponsored party). Even if the Code does not apply, all advertisements are still subject to the general Advertising Standards Code, and advertisers must act with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and safety. In addition to the Code, there are many other legal obligations that apply to alcohol advertising. This covers everything from the Food Standards Code to the Gambling Act and the Fair Trading Act. Sarah Wilson is Senior Legal Counsel at New Zealand Winegrowers.

More information

YOU CAN view the new Code in full at asa.co.nz. We expect to develop additional guidance over time as the first complaints are dealt with under the new Code. On 25 March, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) held a webinar with more information about the changes in the new code. The recording of the webinar and slides are available to view on the members page of the NZW website (nzwine.com/members/events/webinars/asa-code/). This includes specific guidance on how you can introduce ‘age gates’ or age targeting on various social media platforms. If you have any queries about the requirements for your alcohol advertising and promotions, please contact sarah.wilson@nzwine.com


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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   63


Machinery Updates

Nuts and Bolts

Mark Daniel’s updates on Machinery and Technology

Torque Talk

Spend Wisely But Get the Spec Right

Fendt

CHOOSING THE right new vineyard tractor is an important decision, given the major capital outlay. While the local dealer may have a substantial influence on the potential purchase because of service and parts support, there are several other areas that might focus the attention. Of course, the tractor’s dimensions will always play a part in the eventual choice, but will depend on the row spacing in individual vineyards, or the need to deal with different spacings in multiple blocks. Alongside physical dimensions, it also pays to look at the tractor’s wheelbase (the

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distance between the front and rear axle centres) and the maximum turning angle of the front axle. In these cases, the former will dictate the overall turning circle, while the latter, typically ranging from 50 to 60 degrees, will influence the ability to emerge from a row and travel down the next, or maybe skip a row or two to get back into work. So, after deciding that the tractor will “fit” in the vineyard, what other considerations should be looked at before a potential purchase? Given that a typical vineyard tractor will spend a lot of time on power

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

take off (PTO) driven duties like spraying, mulching or topping, it’s worth spending a little time looking at engine characteristics and their relation to PTO speeds. While manufacturers will talk in mysterious terms, like torque back up, usually expressed as a percentage, this item taken alone only tells part of the story and can be misleading. As an example, let’s look at two 90 horsepower tractors (A or B) that have rated speeds of 2,500 and 2,200 rpm respectively. Tractor A develops 300Nm torque at 1,400rpm, with tractor B developing 350Nm at the same

speed. At rated speed, tractor A has a torque value of 200Nm, while tractor B shows a value of 320Nm torque. Given that torque back-up is expressed as a percentage of the torque at rated speed to that of maximum torque, Tractor A will be a higher number (200 to 300Nm equates to a 50 percent back up as the tractor drops 1100 rpm). In the case of tractor B (320 to 350Nm equates to only 10 percent as the tractor drops only 800 rpm), so tractor A will have a higher torque back up. Reality tells us that although tractor B exhibits a lower torque back-up, it only loses 30Nm of


Machinery Updates

torque, so is likely to hang on for longer as the engine revs reduce, meaning there is no need to change gear. Looking at PTO speeds in more detail, its vitally important that the tractor can “hold” the PTO speed irrespective of load, undulating ground or slopes. Not doing so runs the risks of sprayer pump speed dropping resulting in poor atomisation. As PTO speed works at a fixed ratio to engine speed, it is important to choose a tractor that offers PTO speeds at similar engine rpm to that of rated power. Other features to consider are the choice of single or twin PTO speeds (540 or 1000rpm) and economy (E) versions of the same systems. E options allow reduced engine revs for light duty operations, alongside the bonus of reduced engine noise. Following on from PTO speeds, a wide range of

ground speeds or gears is also high on the wish list. While CVT transmissions address the issue by offering stepless speed control, most viticulture tractors still use conventional drive trains. While a base tractor might offer 15 forward speeds, it is more important to understand how many of those speeds lie in the working range of 3-12kph. Upgrades in transmission spec can often double up that offering to 30 forward speeds, or in some cases up to 60 choices. As an example of the need for a wide choice, its worth remembering that a drop from a target speed of 4kph to 3.7kph will result in an over-application of 8 percent, while dropping to 3kph means a 33 percent over-dosing. Similarly, more intensive operations may want to tackle multiple tasks during each pass though the vineyard, resulting in a need to understand the

hydraulic configuration and the former, remember that maximum flow rates of the when a hydraulic spool valve tractor. is operated, the oil will take In every case, ensure that the least line of resistance, the power steering system meaning adjoining valves is run independently of the might see reduced flows or hydraulic circuits to ensure even total oil starvation. In an adequate f low during this case, look for systems that manoeuvring. High flow rates have priority circuits to which will be needed for the likes key implement functions can of trimmers or pruners, Ensure that the power particularly if steering system is run they are used in conjunction with independently of the linkage mounter hydraulic circuits to mulchers. While 50 ensure an adequate flow litres per during manoeuvring. minute flow will cope with most operations, the option of be connected. At the same upgrading to as high as 70L/ time, consider the likes of min should be considered. centrally mounted valve banks Also take a look at the and in-cab joystick controls configuration of the hydraulic that will make the fitting and circuit and understand if it is operation of front mounted a single, tandem or multiple implements so much easier. pump setup. In the case of

NOW READ IT ONLINE GENERAL NEWS PEOPLE PROFILES OPINION REGIONAL UPDATES AND MUCH MORE...

ONLINE www.nzwinegrower.co.nz

Reading the magazine online has never been easier.

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   65


Machinery Updates Top tips for maintaining frost fans 1. Regular servicing of your frost fans by a qualified service agent safeguards you from any unwanted issues in the colder months. To ensure your warranty remains valid, follow the manufacturer’s servicing requirements. 2. Start and run your frost fans every four to six weeks for at least 10 minutes at operating revs. This brings the engine to operating temperature, gives the battery a charge-up from the alternator, moves oil thoroughly through the top and bottom gearboxes and helps reduce any build-up of water condensation. Lack of use is the major cause of

failure in frost fans. 3. Check battery voltages regularly. You can do this manually yourself on many types of frost fan by checking the auto start controller LCD screen or by checking online monitoring data if available. 4. If not already fitted, consider having your frost fans monitored. This can be configured to notify you if there are any fault alerts requiring attention. 5. Be aware of the weather. Do not operate your frost fans in foggy or windy conditions. Refer to the manufacturer’s operator manual. 6. Ensure your frost fans are operating at the

correct rpm and adhering to applicable noise and consent regulations in your local area – if you have any concerns, talk to your service agent. 7. Keep fuel tanks full. This is because the bigger the air

gap, the greater likelihood for condensation to develop and contaminate the fuel. Water condensation also creates the perfect environment for the diesel bug, so removing the conditions for condensation to occur is the best form of preventative maintenance. 8. Ensure you have the 24/7 contact details for your service agent stored in your phone for any emergency repairs that may arise during the frost season. This frost fan guide was created by Abbie Franklin at New Zealand Frost Fans. For specific advice and assistance, find them at nzfrostfans.com

Short on stature, big on performance

WITH A minimum width of just one metre, Claas Nexos compact tractors are ideally suited to working in the narrowest vineyards. Fitted with Tier 4, 3.5 litre, four cylinder FPT engines delivering 75 to 112 maximum horsepower, engine speed can be precisely adjusted at the touch of a button for optimal performance of PTOdriven implements, while also offering 600-hour service intervals. Hydraulic output can be up to 84L/min, using a triple pump system, while also seeing a dedicated power steering pump delivering an extra 26l/ minute Sporting the characteristic ‘narrow waist’ found on all Claas tractors, the Nexos achieves a higher steering lock angle of 52 degrees, resulting in a tight turning radius of 3.55 metres, while the front

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overhang, reduced by 88 and wheelbase extended by 50mm is said to make the tractors more manoeuvrable and stable. Transmission choices include powershift or mechanical units that provide 24F/24R speeds and a clutchless reverse function. Power take off (PTO) is available in conventional

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

1,000rpm and 540rpm economy, with optional front suspension, 4WD, linkages, PTO and hydraulic connections providing a wide degree of flexibility. The Nexos cab boasts an outstanding all-round view, thanks to six-pillar cab and large glass windows. A low

transmission tunnel, alongside the optimised layout of the controls and digital colour display in the instrument panel afford more space and greater comfort for the driver. Large, wide opening doors and a non-slip step make access to the tractor safe and convenient.


FOR STATISTICS QUERIES CONTACT EMILY AT EMILY.TUNNICLIFFE@NZWINE.COM

JUN DEC 2020

Regions – Marlborough

Key Performance Indicators

Keep an eye on how New Zealand wine is performing both domestically and internationally.

Total Value of Exports

$2.01

Growth Markets fob value

USA

UK

AUSTRALIA

CANADA

GERMANY

CHINA

NETHERLANDS

HONG KONG

Billion

$628.1m 6% $506.3m 14% $402.8m 12% $133.8m 3% $62.2m 11% $26.5m 9% $27.5m 1% $16.8m 26%

8%

Packaged Wine Export

Bulk Wine Export

Volume

Volume

157.1 mL

2%

150.0 mL

30%

Packaged Price

Bulk white wine price

2%

3%

$4.02/L

$8.72/L

Domestic Sales, Volume

47.7mL

1.0%

All figures are for the 12 months to the date specified, figures are in $NZD unless otherwise specified NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   67


SPONSOR A TANK AND BECOME PART OF THE LEGACY Bragato Research Institute invites you to show your support for this world-class wine research facility and the value it adds to the industry

BRI boosts the wine industry’s ability to sustainably and profitably produce exceptional wines. The equipment and expertise housed here give us bespoke solutions of international standard, while we train the next generation of winegrowers, viticulturalists, and researchers. BRI has sponsorship opportunities available, from $1,000. To discuss having your name included in our legacy, contact Business Development Manager Augusta van Wijk, augusta.vanwijk@bri.co.nz

YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT THE BRAGATO RESEARCH INSTITUTE

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24/03/21 9:47 AM


Research Supplement

A regular feature to inform industry people about research projects being undertaken for their benefit. Newly approved projects (when available) are briefly summarised and longer reports will describe what has been achieved so far. When completed, each project will be reported in full detail with references, on nzwine.com

Research Supplement Information and updates on Bragato Research Institute research programmes. Nautilus 2021 Pinot Noir harvest. Photo Richard Briggs

CONTRACTED RESEARCH PROJECTS Quality Wine Styles for Existing and Developing Markets

in wine University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi)

Lighter wine (PGP) University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research (Various) jointly funded by NZW and MPI Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) fund

Understanding green character in Pinot Noir wine Lincoln University (A Borssato)

Breaking the qualityproductivity seesaw in wine grape production (Pinot Noir Programme) University of Auckland, Plant & 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

Pests and Disease Improving remedial surgery practices for control of grapevine trunk disease to increase vineyard longevity Linnaeus (E van Zijll de Jong) Improving the outcomes of mealybug insecticide use in vineyards Plant & Food Research (V Bell) Harlequin ladybird in vineyards: monitoring a potentially invasive insect Plant & Food Research (V Bell)

Cost Reduction/ Increased Profitability Precision Grape Yield Analyser Programme 2016-2021 Lincoln Agritech Limited (A Werner)

Sustainability/Organics Vineyard Ecosystems Programme University of Auckland and Plant & 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)

Agriculture (RA) in New Zealand Beef and Lamb NZ Investigation of subsurface drip irrigation in vineyards Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

Climate Change Climate case study – Managing hail damaged vineyards  Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)

Viticultural treatments for improving Syrah quality Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

Microbial community and vine responses to increasing temperatures in the New Zealand context University of Auckland (S Knight)

A comparison of physical means to reduce rot versus chemical means in New Zealand vineyards Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

Assessing foliar fertiliser for grapevine frost recovery Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)

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

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   69


Research Supplement

PINOT NOIR PROGRAMME

Trends in phenolic analyses of viticultural research trials (RA 3.2) LEANDRO DIAS ARAUJO AND PAUL ANDREW KILMARTIN, SCHOOL OF CHEMICAL SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND AT THE UNIVERSITY OF Auckland, we have developed a suite of assays for tannins and phenolic compounds in red wines, for use within the Bragato Research Institute Pinot Noir Programme. This has enabled advanced tannin assays to be available for the first time for New Zealand red wine research. These include a new high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method for the analysis of monomeric phenolics and total polymeric tannins in a single run; a “phloroglucinolysis” procedure that breaks tannins into their monomeric subunits for analysis; and a gel permeation chromatography (GPC) method for tannin size.

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Finally, an HPLC procedure has been developed that produces a measure of “tannin activity”, or stickiness, through the binding energy involved at a special column, and is related to the specific composition of the tannin molecules. Some of the total tannin measures compare well to each other, with wines higher in tannin content scoring higher on each method. At the same time, differences in the response on particular wines can provide key insights into drivers of mouthfeel properties such as astringency and bitterness, and comparisons are continuing on wines from sensory trials within the wider programme.

In 2020, selected appropriate methods were applied to research wine samples from viticultural trials. Trends in the phenolic profiles of 52 wines from the largest of these trials are described below. The analysed wines consisted of 45 wines made at a research scale in 2019 from vineyards in Marlborough (four sites), Central Otago (four sites) and the Wairapara (three sites). The vineyard sites were chosen to be mature (10 to 20 year old) blocks with the same clone/rootstock combination (Abel Clone on 3309C rootstock), and had comparable pruning and canopy management systems (mainly cane pruning). Samples were taken from


Research Supplement

vines chosen for being close to the target total soluble solids (mostly 21.5 to 22.5 oBrix), while the yields differed somewhat, ranging between 1kg and 7kg per vine. A further seven wines were provided, which were commercial wines made from the same trial blocks. Monomeric phenolics and total condensed tannins and polymeric pigments were determined, along with the newly developed measure of “tannin activity”. The phenolic composition of the 45 research wines, in terms of monomeric phenolics, followed many of the trends in previous surveys of commercial Pinot Noir wines. These included the phenolic at the highest concentrations being the coloured anthocyanin, malvidin-3glucoside (ave. 192 ± 49 mg/L), along with catechin (117 ± 47 mg/L) and epicatechin (61 ± 30 mg/L), flavan3-ols derived largely from Pinot Noir seeds. These are important compounds in young Pinot Noir wines, and were accompanied by significant amounts of gallic acid (26 ± 12 mg/L) and the hydroxycinnamic acid transcaftaric acid (33 ± 11 mg/L), which like the flavan-3-ols can together contribute bitter flavours to the wines. Further significant compounds included the quercetin glycosides

(61 ± 33 mg/L), which over time hydrolyze to release free quercetin (8.1 ± 7.5 mg/L). Certain wines showed much higher levels of these flavonols, with some wines exceeding 100 mg/L of quercetin glycosides, and other wines exhibiting over 20 mg/L of free quercetin. At these levels, the wines are in danger of throwing a quercetin precipitate, also known as flavonol haze. While the phenomenon is more associated with wines such as Merlot and Sangiovese, its potential occurrence in Pinot Noir wines needs to be monitored, particularly in the high UV light conditions of New Zealand vineyards which favours the production of these compounds. On a more positive note, the wines showed significant levels of resveratrol (ave. 4.9 ± 2.1 mg/L), a phytoalexin antioxidant of interest for wine and health studies. Some wines contained concentrations of resveratrol over 10 mg/L, which are particularly high values for red wines, even for Pinot Noir. Across the three regions, most of the monomeric phenolics fell within similar ranges. The total tannin measures (the first two columns of Table 1), namely tannin activity and total tannin by the HPLC method (ave. 716 ± 328 mg/L epicatechin equivalents), were typical for Pinot Noir wines (Dias Araujo and Kilmartin, 2020). However, the Otago

research wines showed lower tannin values (570 ± 348 mg/L), compared to the Marlborough (830 ± 270 mg/L) and Wairarapa (789 ± 303 mg/L) research wines. Some much higher values were observed with particular wines, of up to 1,510 mg/L in the case of one Wairarapa wine. Other wines contained significant amounts of polymeric anthocyanins, with the three Otago wines from the same block showing particularly high values (74 to 104 mg/L) compared to the average value of 36 ± 21 mg/L. The ranges of values obtained for the seven commercial Pinot Noir wines were quite similar to the research wines for the total tannin measures (Table 1), and for most of the monomeric phenolics. Some exceptions were lower anthocyanin values, about half the values of the research wines, as was the average concentration of free quercetin. By contrast, the concentration of caffeic acid was about 2.5 times higher in the commercial wines, and the quercetin glycosides close to twice the average concentration, compared to the research wines. These differences in concentrations may reflect differences in the winemaking procedures, starting with the scale of the ferments. Across the entire set of 52 wines, comparisons can also be made

Table 1. Total tannin measures for the research wines from 2019 Viticultural trials. (m3g = malvidin-3-glucoside; equiv. = equivalents).

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021  //   71


Research Supplement

between the various measures obtained (Figures 1 to 2). A good correlation was obtained between the tannin activity and the total tannin by HPLC (r2 = 0.9002, Figure 1), showing the strong correspondence between these two tannin measures. By contrast, the tannin activity showed a negative correlation with the catechin to tannin ratio (r2 =

0.3109, Figure 2). This showed that wines with greater tannin content (potentially more astringent), had a relatively smaller proportion of the monomeric phenolics coming from seed extraction (so potentially less bitter). This result is of interest to understand the interconversion of monomeric phenolics with larger tannin structures and the implications

for wine mouthfeel properties. In the future, these data sets will be compared to information obtained about the source berries and associated grape parameters for each of the research wines.

Figure 1. Tannin activity compared to the total tannin by HPLC, across the 52 wines from the 2019 viticultural research trials.

Figure 2. Tannin activity compared to the catechin to tannin ratio, across the 52 wines from the 2019 viticultural research trials.

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Research Supplement

VINEYARD ECOSYSTEMS PROGRAMME

Managing grapevine trunk disease using remedial surgery ELINE VAN ZIJLL DE JONG1 AND MARK SOSNOWKSI2 LINNAEUS LTD; 2SOUTH AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE

1

Grapevine remedial cut site with wedge staining associated with dieback pathogens.

GRAPEVINE TRUNK DISEASES EUTYPA and botryosphaeria dieback are becoming more prevalent in New Zealand vineyards, causing significant yield and quality reductions and reducing vine longevity. Remedial surgery is increasingly being used to “renew” infected vines by removing the diseased wood and reworking the vines to improve productivity. The effectiveness of the practice is dependent on complete removal of infected wood and recovery of watershoots.

Research in this area is being undertaken as part of the Vineyard Ecosystems Programme to facilitate the development of best-practice recommendations for management of grapevine trunk disease. The study covers the use of remedial surgery based on the recovery of watershoots, distribution of pathogens and disease symptoms, and impact on vine health and productivity. In 2019, trials were established in an organic vineyard block of

Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough, and conventional vineyard blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Hawke’s Bay. Remedial surgery has been performed in winter and spring over the last two growing seasons and will be carried out for another two growing seasons in each trial block following a randomised complete block design with four blocks (replicates). The vines were cut approximately 200mm above the graft union in Sauvignon Blanc and 150mm in Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

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Research Supplement

Grapevine remedial cut site with central staining associated with dieback pathogens.

Symptoms of dieback are being monitored in the vines for the duration of the trial. The disease was found to be widespread in all three trial blocks, particularly in Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Watershoot recoveries have been recorded in the first growing season following remedial surgery and will be assessed in the second growing season for vines that did not previously strike. For both years, recoveries in the first growing season were not significantly different for vines reworked in winter or spring. Fruit yields have been recorded in the untreated control vines and will continue to be measured in these vines as well as the reworked vines as they come back into production. The data collected from these trials will be used to investigate the impact of grapevine trunk disease and remedial surgery on vine health,

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2021

recovery and productivity. The remedial cut sites and trunks of vines reworked in the first two years of the trials have been assessed for internal wood staining typical of dieback (Figure 1). In Sauvignon Blanc, there was an increase in the incidence of staining at the remedial cut site after only one growing season, and the distance of staining from the remedial cut site also decreased in vines that had “clean” cut sites. Internal symptoms will continue to be monitored in the vines cut in the next two years of the trial to estimate the rate at which the disease progresses down the trunks in all three varieties. Dieback pathogens were detected in the trunk in advance of the necrotic staining. Eutypa lata was

common in vines with wedge staining. Botryosphaeriaceae species, Neofusicoccum and Diplodia species in particular, were often present in vines with central staining. Because the isolation of these pathogens in culture was sporadic, the distances they were recovered in advance of staining was highly variable. Molecular diagnostic tests are currently being used to study the distribution of dieback pathogens in the trunk below the staining front. These trials are yielding new data on the progression of trunk disease in mature vines and its impact on vine productivity in New Zealand vineyards. This data will be used to improve best-practice recommendations and assist growers in their cost-benefit analysis of remedial surgery based on the disease status of vineyard blocks.


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Profile for Rural News Group

New Zealand Winegrower April - May 2021  

New Zealand Winegrower April - May 2021

New Zealand Winegrower April - May 2021  

New Zealand Winegrower April - May 2021