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NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWER T H E O F F I C I A L M A G A Z I N E O F T H E N E W Z E A L A N D W I N E I N D U S T RY

Covid-19

A tense backdrop to harvest 2020

Sustainability Guardians

Protecting people, place and planet

Wellness in Wine The value of a six-day harvest week

Craggy Range

APRIL/MAY 2020 ISSUE 121

Biodiversity integration in New Zealand vineyards

APRIL/MAY 2020 / ISSUE 121


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Contents

Issue 121 – April / May 2020

REGULARS 4

Editorial

Sophie Preece

6

From the Board

Fabian Yukich

32 Bragato Research Institute

New research winery opens

44 Women in Wine

Jules Taylor

52 Wine Weather

James Morrison

58

Biosecurity

Sophie Badland

60

Not on the Label

Legal Matters with Dentons Kensington Swan

F E AT U R E S 12

Coping with Covid-19

Nothing stands still in the strange world created by Covid-19, but this edition looks at some of the issues raised so far, and some of the innovations born of necessity. The one thing that is certain in these uncertain times is that all will have changed by the time this magazine is in print.

16

Sustainability Guardians

New Zealand Winegrowers has ramped up its sustainability goals, with a raft of new and improved measures to safeguard planet, people and profit. You don’t have to dig deep in New Zealand’s wine industry to find stories of people going the extra distance to protect all three, and you’ll find a few of their sustainability stories in this edition.

34 Zero Alcohol

No alcohol wine may be a “niche within a niche”, but it’s a growing opportunity for New Zealand wine companies, says Dr David Jordan of the Lighter Wines programme. However, there are some “mighty technical challenges” ahead to achieve a product that replicates all that people expect in a wine, says Dr John Forrest.

28

32 52 54

42


A strange new world

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 Nelson: Neil Hodgson neil@hodgson.net.nz Central Otago: Jean Grierson jean.grierson@nzsouth.co.nz

Sophie Preece EDITOR

A DV E R T I S I N G Upper North Island: Stephen Pollard stephenp@ruralnews.co.nz Ph: 09 913 9637 Mobile: 021 963 166 Central North Island: Ted Darley ted@ruralnews.co.nz Ph: 07 854 6292 Mobile: 021 832 505 Lower North Island: Ron Mackay Ph: 04 234 6239 Mobile: 021 453 914 South Island: Kaye Sutherland kayes@ruralnews.co.nz Ph: 03 376 5552 Mobile: 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

I WROTE four Covid-19 story intros in a week, before realising it was a fool’s game. Things are moving so quickly that even a daily newspaper cannot stay up with developments and I don’t stand a chance. This is a strange new world full of uncertainty, and when we look back in 10 years’ time, I hope we’re saying, ‘wow, we dodged a bullet’. So far, harvest 2020 has dodged a bullet, with picking progressing against the backdrop of the virus. I’m writing this in the last week of March, and while the complexity of vintage has ramped up with Covid-19 precautions - including some staff self-isolated, cellar doors closed, social distancing in place, and increased hygiene measures- the fruit is looking excellent. People I spoke to welcomed the distraction of picking and pressing grapes in this time of tension, but everyone was awake to the risk. Once harvest is over, minds will go to winter pruning, where further implications of coronavirus will certainly bite. This edition has limited content on the virus, and no calendar of events, I’m afraid, because most of them have been cancelled. Instead it has a feature on the environmental leadership of New Zealand Winegrowers, with a raft of new initiatives to embed sustainability into the industry. You’ll also find some case studies of companies doing their bit to protect their community, their land and their planet. But of course environmental initiatives take investment, and in this time of economic uncertainty, the best intentions can be shaken. I normally shy away from an editorial sign off, but if there was any time to wish you all well – with harvest, with health and with the long-term security of your employment or your business – this is it. See you on the other side.

Publisher: Brian Hight Managing Editor: Adam Fricker Production: David Ferguson, Rebecca Williams

Contributors

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

ISSN 1174-5223

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL / MAY 2020

Charlotte Read

Oliver Styles

Tessa Nicholson

Marija Batistich

Charlotte compares building a brand to a Lego construction, with foundations always the starting point. In this edition, New Zealand Winegrowers General Manager of Marketing introduces a new Marketing Place page, to keep members abreast of activities.

Olly Styles is a Hawke’s Bay winemaker who occasionally moonlights as a wine writer - a habit picked up in a six-year stint writing for Decanter magazine. In this edition he looks at biodiversity in Hawke’s Bay.

The former editor of Winegrower has looked at New Zealand’s wine industry from every angle. Luckily, her talents are staying with the magazine, and in this edition she celebrates Greening Waipara.

Late last year the long awaited Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Act became law. Dentons Kensington Swan Partner Marija Batistich gets into some of the detail on page 60. The firm also provides some advice for businesses dealing with Covid-19.

Go to page 10

Go to page 22

Go to page 26

Go to page 12


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From the BOARD

Sustainable Future

FABIAN YUKICH

THE WORLD slowly woke up to New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in the 1980s. To those in the Northern Hemisphere who first tried our wine, it was like waking to the refreshing feeling of an amazing holiday, in a place never visited before, with warm early morning sunshine, refreshing sea breezes, and magnificent ocean and landscape views. It was the outliers; the passionate wine enthusiasts, the New World wine champions and innovative wine writers, who ardently supported us and gave rave reviews about Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to the small but growing audience for wines from our tiny New Zealand industry. It wasn’t until the 2000s that there was a massive groundswell of worldwide recognition of our unique wines and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc became a “must-have” category on wine lists and supermarket shelves all around the globe. During the 1980s, the world was also starting to wake up to concerns about the state of the planet. Again, it was the outliers; the green activists, and a select growing group of concerned scientists who raised the red flags about the risks of climate change, and other man-made impacts on the environment in a world where the rise of consumerism was the main economic and social driver. The predictions weren’t pleasant to listen to, and initially not that many listened. Exports of New Zealand wine grew by more than 1,000 percent from $18 million dollars in 1990 to nearly $2 billion in 2020. The growth of the world’s awareness of our wines and the growing alarm about the impacts of climate change were like two parallel lines in our consciousness. Those lines are no longer parallel, and they are about to collide with potentially significant consequences for the massive investment we have in land, infrastructure and people working in our wine industry. We are fortunate that in our industry in the 1980s we also had the outliers - people like James and Annie Millton (see pg 28) who were growing organic grapes way back then. By the mid-1990s, the forerunner to New Zealand Winegrowers initiated what is now known as Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ).

Fabian with his family on Stewart Island last month.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

Fast forward to 2020, and we are facing down some serious threats to our industry. The new generation of millennials is drinking less and questioning more. We are a long way from our biggest customers and that is starting to really matter in markets where, for all sorts of reasons, consumers are being encouraged to buy local. Consumers tr uly don’t care that we have Consumers truly some fancy words about don’t care that sustainability in our glossy brochures and we have some we have ticked a few fancy words about difficult to understand accreditation boxes. They sustainability in our want to hear stories, glossy brochures with authentic facts and and we have ticked figures, about what we have actually done, and a few difficult continue to do, to help to understand save the planet. From being a “nice to have”, accreditation boxes. the role of SWNZ, our industry-led environmental accreditation must now play an even more critical role for the future of our industry. Across the wine industries of the world, SWNZ is generally regarded as the best certification system and the achievement of having nearly 100 percent industry membership is considered remarkable. Since its inception, SWNZ has had to constantly go where there is no blueprint, and then re-invent itself and redefine its role in a rapidly-growing wine industry and a world with snow-balling consumer interest about how we measure and report our impacts on the planet. Since last year, SWNZ is aligning its goals with the United Nations Goals for Sustainable Development. We are making significant changes and, by the end of 2020 we plan to have revised the vineyard and winery scorecards around the five key focus areas: Water, waste, pest and disease, climate change and people. We plan to make significant progress on technological solutions that enable members to use the information they provide to SWNZ to inform their business decisions. We are initiating an award for sustainability at the New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards to recognise outstanding achievers in sustainability. What this can mean for you is that you will be able to tell your customers and your consumers genuine authenticated stories about what you have done to reduce your carbon footprint, your water usage, your environmental footprint. The story of New Zealand wine can be as much about our wonderful quality, our unique aromas and flavours as it is about how we are playing our part to reduce environmental impacts. Now about that amazing holiday… locally. Fabian Yukich is Executive Director at Villa Maria, and New Zealand Winegrowers’ Board Member and Chair of the Environment Committee.


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News Briefs

Young Viticulturist of the Year

Ormond Nurseries Expansion MARLBOROUGH’S ORMOND Nurseries has bought Villa Maria’s Vineyard Plants in Hawke’s Bay, including Vine Test Lab, with the sale taking effect from 31 August. Vineyard Plants will close as a result of the acquisition, after the vines grafted in 2019 are harvested, graded and despatched to clients. Vine Test Lab - one of only two laboratories in New Zealand focused on testing grapevines for the presence of Grape Vine Leaf Roll 3 - will continue to operate in Hawke’s Bay for the 2020 testing season and will be moved to Ormond Nurseries in time for the 2021 season. Vineyard Plants was established in 1999 to meet the needs of Villa Maria’s developments, and those of its growers, says Villa Maria Chief Executive Justin Liddell. “After 20 years in the nursery industry we feel very comfortable to hand this on to Ormond Nurseries Ltd, for whom it is their core focus.” Ormond Nurseries, run by the Wickham family, was the first nursery to develop HI-STEM Vines, and Villa is confident in sourcing its vines from the company going forward, says Justin. “Ormond Nurseries are world leaders in propagating top quality, grafted grape plants and have an excellent understanding of what it takes to grow quality vines from scratch.”

NEW ZEALAND Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is offering an Export Essentials workshop to New Zealand Winegrowers. The two-day course is intended to help companies keen to grow their business faster by focusing on what they do best, and helping them build a smart, practical export plan and avoid expensive mistakes. The course will include key steps to successful exporting, from explaining your unique value proposition, to using market selection and validation methods to find the right opportunities for your business. To keep informed, go to nzwine.com/members/events/workshops/

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

CORTEVA AGRISCIENCE is the new naming rights sponsor of the New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. “We are thrilled to have Corteva on board and are looking forward to working with them to continue growing this competition, so it benefits even more young vits within our industry,” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership and Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. The crop protection company, which has an increased focus on biologicals, will have its viticulturists at the education days, as well as regional and national competitions, sharing their knowledge with the competitors. The national finalists will also have the opportunity to visit their Taranaki research farm and the winner will earn a study tour to an Australian viticultural region, accompanied by Corteva’s viticultural specialist. This year marks the 15th year of the competition, and plans are underway for a celebration later in 2020. The Corteva New Zealand Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition will begin with six educational days around the regions during May, before the six regional competitions throughout June and July. The winner from each region will then go onto the national final in August. The regional competition dates are as follow, with contingency plans in place should Covid-19 make postponement necessary. Auckland/Northern – 5 June Hawke’s Bay – 11 June Wairarapa – 18 June Marlborough – 2 July South Island Regional – 10 July Central Otago – 16 July

Villa’s Vintage - lights, camera, action IN A world of digital culture and marketing “clutter”, Villa Maria’s Vintage is getting satisfying cut-through, says the company’s Global Public Relations and Communications Manager Sarah Szegota. The feature length documentary on the 2019 vintage - including frosty starts, vital decisions and sleepless nights - offers Viticulturist Stuart Dudley. viewers around the world insight into the people, places and passion behind New Zealand wine, says Sarah. “We want New Zealand to be front of mind when consumers are browsing the wine aisles, and to gravitate to Villa Maria as a result of watching the documentary.” She says Villa Maria’s marketing team has “grand ambitions” for Vintage, which has been released in 12 overseas markets, including London, Dublin, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Berlin, Amsterdam, Sofia, Moscow and Stockholm. There are 1.7 million bottles of Villa Maria Private Bin 2019 Sauvignon Blanc with stickers that promote the film as part of a global public relations campaign, says Sarah. “We want to give Vintage length and longevity.” It’s not only Villa Maria that will benefit from the world watching a vintage played out against the backdrop of New Zealand’s vineyards and broader landscapes, she says. “I hope it raises awareness and makes people see the beauty of New Zealand, our wine regions, and of course try our wines.” Vintage is available to view on Three Now


News Briefs

Say Cheese! NEW ZEALAND Winegrowers has put out the call for vintage images on social media, including behind-the-scenes moments worth sharing. Last year’s competition drew more than 1,600 entries and was won by Lewis Hall from Sacred Hill (see photo). This year’s competition will be judged by Marlborough photographers Jim Tannock and Kevin Judd, with entries up to win a professional photoshoot worth $2,000. Post an image on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #nzv20 or upload an image on nzwine.com/vintage.

Te Kano CENTRAL OTAGO’S Te Kano has opened a beautiful new cellar door on Felton Road, hovering above the vineyard with spectacular views of the Kawarau river. Te Kano owner Rhonda Lloyd hopes the cellar door will be a special place for guests to relax and enjoy the wines. “It’s the heartbeat of our business – a place we not only welcome visitors to experience Te Kano - but to also celebrate this extraordinary land in Central Otago.”

Sauvignon Blanc Day GET READY to raise a glass to toast New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on 1 May, no matter where you are in the world. Post on social media using the hashtags #SauvBlanc and #NZWine, and follow @nzwinegrowers to keep up with all the #SauvBlanc action.

Southern Boundary Wines

A CANTERBURY company and three individuals have been sentenced for a raft of charges related to fraudulently blending and mislabelling wine, then falsifying records to cover it up. Southern Boundary Wines received a $1.7 million fine at the Christchurch District Court on March 13. Director Scott Berry was sentenced to 10 months and two weeks’ home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $25,000. Director Andrew Moore was sentenced to two months and two weeks’ home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $20,000. Employee and winemaker Rebecca Cope was sentenced to 200 hours community work. New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Chair John Clarke says the severity of the sentences handed down by the court reflects the gravity of the offending, “which falls well below the standards expected in the New Zealand wine industry”. NZW commended the actions of the former employee who alerted authorities. “It is the responsibility of all members within our industry to uphold legal and ethical standards.”

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   9


Marketing

Getting Connected The building blocks of marketing

A marae visit at the International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration.

THE MOST elaborate Lego constructions begin with foundation pieces, says New Zealand Winegrowers General Ma n a ge r o f Ma r ke t i n g , Charlotte Read. W hen it comes to New Zealand wine, that means building and strengthening the New Zealand wine brand. “I liken this to placing the first piece of Lego on the ground, and we then enable the regional story to be slotted onto this. From there, our winery members will slot their story in on the top – providing a coherent authentic story of provenance.” Over the past four months visiting regions, Charlotte has recognised a gap between the marketing team’s role, and

members’ expectations. “I’ve been observing and listening and engaging with our staff and members, casting everything I hear through the lens of, how does that add value to our members and the overall New Zealand wine category?” The first step to that is foundation blocks, including the visit and education programmes aimed at leveraging the power of influencers, “to help magnify our premium New Zealand wine story and embed our key messages of diversity and sustainability”. The value of the resulting articles, in print and online, is measured, and the marketing team then looks to augment the “talk” with targeted events (another

Lego piece) in focus export markets. The final block in the foundations is tourism. “Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing mechanics there is, and the wine tourist can be a powerful ambassador to share their love of New Zealand wine,” she says. The marketing team also works to create connections globally and acts as a conduit for information to trade, consumers and members, Charlotte says. “We all know building strong relationships are very important in the wine industry and our international footprint of market managers in our major markets help New Zealand be a part of the global wine conversation.”

Meanwhile, they look to external parties to help build capability, such as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and their relevant services, including Export Essentials workshops dedicated to New Zealand wine. There’s more intel and insights development in the pipeline, including information sharing through the likes of webinars, and networking opportunities, such as a fullday Wine Business Forum, says C harlotte. “R ather than a one size fits all, we’re aiming to offer more relevant assistance that adds value to our members and helps build more sustainable businesses as we move into the new decade.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020


Marketing

The Marketing Place

Taking New Zealand wine to the world: Bringing the world to New Zealand wine

Visit Programme NZW HAS been running its Visit Programme for many years now, as a cost effective way of securing international media and trade to share the New Zealand wine story. We aim to bring 60 to 70 guests to New Zealand each year, from North America, Asia, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. We host a major event biennially (the ‘on year’), whether it be the International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration or Pinot Noir New Zealand. In these years, we use the event as a hook to bring all our guests together. They are invited to also join a pre or post event itinerary, exploring the wine regions of New Zealand. Alternate years (the ‘off’ year) sees us bringing guests in on individual itineraries. This works particularly well for those who prefer not to attend events or prefer bespoke programmes, and is a chance for guests to visit members one on one. With the announcement from government that everyone entering New Zealand will need to self-isolate, the Visit Programme has been suspended and trips to New Zealand postponed. NZW is monitoring the situation closely, and will be in touch when the programme can resume.

Explore Marlborough

Really Sommething Sommelier Case Study - Ashlyn Foster, QUAY, Sydney “THE POST-SOMMIT Blues are very real. I really cannot express how grateful I am for the experience. It was everything…” Now in its fifth year, having hosted seven Sommit events, for 112 sommiteers from 19 countries, the New Zealand Wine Sommelier Scholarship continues to create New Zealand wine exponents. Ashlyn Foster (pictured with a Northland beer after tasting 50 wines at Sommit) is from the long-standing, fine-dining, three-hatted QUAY in Sydney. After the event she presented a staff training recapturing her time in New Zealand, hosted a New Zealand winery tasting that resulted in several purchases, and of course added listings to the QUAY wine list. “All in all, we’ve probably gone up about six to seven new listings since Sommit, plus new vintages of old favourites. We were the first ones in Sydney with one of the listings, and if we can get the Albariño that I’m after then we’ll be the first in Australia for that listing.” Ashlyn was recently awarded the Court of Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier Dux, having already been awarded the Certified Sommelier Dux.

Speaking of NZ…. “WHAT’S SPECIAL About New Zealand Wines? If you love supporting wines from boutique wineries and family farmers, New Zealand should be at the top of your list: A full three quarters of the country’s wineries are producers working with less than 20 hectares.” That’s just a taste of what US writer Sarah Tracey (pictured on left at Sauvignon 2019) had to say about her visit in January 2019, when she explored the length of New Zealand, as part of her visit to Sauvignon 2019. The Visit: 16 days, 7 regions, 2 conferences The publication: marthastewart.com The eyeballs: 6.5 million unique views per month The value: $60,884 NZD To read the whole story, and more, go to nzwine.com/members/sell/ marketing/visit/2019-2020

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   11


Covid-19

The effect of Covid-19 on your business JAMES MCMILLAN; PARTNER AT DENTONS KENSINGTON SWAN

WITH A recession now inevitable, many New Zealand businesses will want to know what they should do to protect their interests in a distressed business environment. In this article we explore 10 things that your business should be thinking about as Covid-19 affects the economy. 1. LOOK after your staff. They will be anxious about their health and job prospects, so an active communication plan is essential. Be prepared for staff to work from home or allow flexible work hours so that staff can avoid busy public transport and take care of dependents. 2. REACH out to your customers. How are they affected by the pandemic? What new protocols do they have in place for doing business? How can your enterprise continue to supply goods and services to customers when physical distancing is becoming the new norm? Many customers will be seeking comfort about the integrity of their supply chain, so be clear about what your business can offer at this time – and what your payment terms will be. 3. MAKE sure your paperwork with your customers is up-to-date. Now is the time to make sure you have “dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s”. Do you have signed contracts? Did you receive the guarantees you were promised? If you are supplying goods on credit, do you have an enforceable security agreement for those

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

goods and have you registered a financing statement on the PPSR? 4. MAINTAIN good relationships with your key creditors. No one likes unpleasant surprises, particularly lenders, and full and frank discussions as early as possible will leave more options on the table. In our experience, most creditors want to work with their debtors to find an outcome that both parties can live with. 5. SEEK trusted professional advice early to identify the best options for your business. Make the most of the insights on offer from your lawyers and accountants. Stay in touch with relevant industry groups. 6. REDUCE costs where possible - many businesses will be saving on travel and events at present. Maintain an accurate financial position for your business, monitor cash flow forecasts carefully and check underlying assumptions to ensure that they are realistic. Keep apprised of support that may become available from the Government. The IRD has already indicated that relief and assistance, such as instalment arrangements, may be available to those affected by Covid-19. 7. IF business debt is getting out of control, take prompt action and talk to your advisors about whether a standstill arrangement, creditors’ compromise or a voluntary administration is the right step

for your business to preserve value. 8. IF your business is struggling to perform its obligations, take advice about whether Covid-19 will trigger any force majeure clauses in contracts with customers or suppliers. A force majeure clause excuses non-performance where circumstances make performance impossible. If there is no such clause or it is not triggered, it is still possible that a contract may have become frustrated at law and no longer capable of performance. 9. CHECK your insurance policies to see whether your business has business interruption insurance. Such a policy may cover some losses arising from a communicable disease such as Covid-19. 10. DIRECTORS should be particularly conscious of the duties that they owe to their companies. Directors must act in good faith and in the best interests of the company. A director should not commit a company to new obligations unless she believes, on reasonable grounds, that the company will be able to perform those obligations when it is required to do so. Further, the law penalises directors who engage in reckless trading by taking illegitimate business risks. James McMillan leads the restructuring and insolvency team at Dentons Kensington Swan.


Covid-19

Covid-19

Stay Informed New Zealand Winegrowers has a dedicated Covid-19 information page on its members’ website. Go to nzwine.com/members for information on: • The current situation • New Zealand government business support package • Practical advice for vineyards and wineries • Reliable information sources • Frequently asked questions

Industry reaction to the pandemic SOPHIE PREECE

ON A fine March morning, Nick Mills walks down a row at Rippon, tasting grapes a safe distance from his team, armed with sanitiser and a walkie-talkie. He’s a week into self-isolation following a US sales trip, and keeping well away from his staff. It’s one

of hundreds of precautions being taken by wine companies around the country as Covid-19 threatens health, harvest, jobs and businesses. On March 16, Neudorf closed its Nelson cellar door, after hosting 15 international tourists in an hour. “We made

the decision at 12 o’clock on Monday because it was too high risk,” says Judy Finn, noting that cellar door staff are “loving” their time picking grapes in the sunshine. She’s seen an increase in mail order and retail sales as a result of Covid-19. “I think people are

still drinking wine, but not in restaurants.” Wine companies countrywide followed suit, including Cragg y R ange, which launched vir tual tastings, with wine delivered to customers, then explained by cellar door staff over

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   13


Covid-19

Zoom. General Manager Aaron Drummond says they have made a commitment to safeguarding jobs and hours, “however, we will need our team to be flexible, with all extra capacity heading to pick fruit this harvest, which they are excited about”. That’s protection for staff, but will also allow the business to “rebound stronger when things stabilise”. Aaron has noted strong retail sales, but says the bigger economic issue will be the length of time it takes to normalise, and the impact on buying behaviour. “While no one knows, we think it will be a lot longer than many commentators are willing to admit.” Harvest was well underway when the government stepped up its reaction to Alert Level 2, followed swiftly by Level 3 then 4. Jules Taylor of Marlborough’s Jules Taylor Wines says the weather had

been kind and the vintage is “very promising”, but she’s anxious about getting all her fruit in before Covid-19 “changes they way we work”. Life is going to get “really tough”, she says, “and I wish everyone well”. New Zealand has closed its borders to foreign nationals, raising concerns about the impact on Pacific Island workers coming in for winter pruning. “ The viticulture industry is considering what contingencies they have to ensure that the vines can be pruned and that their human resources can be shared collectively,” says Marlborough Mayor John Leggett. “They may also need to seek local sources of labour.” Meanwhile, “employers need to think about their options and their obligations”, says Kirsty Trolove, owner of Only Human - HR Solutions. M o s t b u s i n e s s e s s h e ’s

spoken to have done well communicating with their teams about keeping risk at a minimum in the workplace. At a higher level, she’s advising clients to have behind-thescenes scenario planning. Management teams need to consider plenty of questions, including how to manage sick and annual leave, and what to do if people are able, ready and willing to work, but can’t do so remotely and need to selfisolate. “Companies also need to also assess if they can access the Government’s Covid-19 support package.” Health and safety

consultant Rebecca Condon says wine companies need to act in good faith when dealing with workers who may be affected, and to avoid knee jerk reactions and decisions that could be deemed to be discriminatory. Those who have workers self-isolating should take the time to contact them each day “and check on how they are”, she says. It could be a stressful and isolating time for foreign workers, she adds. “Even small gestures like sending a vintage meal home to workers in isolation will help them feel supported.”

China Online New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) recently hosted two successful online livestreaming courses, with a combined reach of 10,000+ wine lovers, with 7,000+ interactive comments. For further information on online activities, please contact Natalie Potts (natalie@nzwine.com) or Vanessa Wu (vanessa.wu@nzwine.com)

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The Focus Growing Sustainability

Sustainability Guardians

Embedding sustainability. Pg 16

Zero Carbon

A carbon commitment. Pg 18

Craggy Range

Bigger better biodiversity. Pg 20

Hawke’s Bay

Biodiversity field day. Pg 22

Marvellous Milltons

Organic Trailblazers. Pg 28 Wakatū Incorporation’s Whenua Matua vineyard.


The Focus

Sustainability Guardians Supporting a more sustainable wine industry

Churton Estate

NEW ZEALAND Winegrowers has ramped up its sustainability goals, with a raft of new and improved measures to safeguard our “planet, people and profit”, says General Manager Sustainability Dr Edwin Massey. The initiatives being rolled out by

“These changes seek to embed sustainability at the core of our industry for the benefit of all members.” the board include groups of Sustainability Guardians, to work on key areas of water, waste, pest and disease, people, and climate change. The board has introduced environmental health indicators, with objective and measurable benchmarks, and made a commitment to the industry working towards carbon neutrality (see pg 18). There is also to be a staged ban of organophosphates, among other changes to Sustainable

16   // 

Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) and the Spray Schedule. Together, the measures signal a new direction for New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), says Edwin. “Simply put, these changes seek to embed sustainability at the core of our industry for the benefit of all members.”

Environmental industry health indicators A recent PwC review of the New Zealand wine industry defined sustainability as environmental, social and financial, says Edwin. Existing health indicators of sustainability are comprised of grape price, the value of exports and compliance with resource management rules. NZW has now adopted four environmental industry health indicators, to ensure care for the planet is also at the core of the industry. They are: • No major new pests established in vineyards. • Percentage of member organisations measuring their carbon

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

production footprint. • Amount of water used to produce a litre of wine. • Percentage of producing vineyard hectares certified under a recognised sustainability certification scheme.

SWNZ funding model and audits The NZW board has approved in principle a new financial model that separates SWNZ membership costs and audit costs. The change also includes options to increase the flexibility of audit verification for members. The first of these is the introduction of producer groups, overseen by a specific winery, which will be trialled by a producer group in Northland, then developed, says Edwin. The second option is for “trusted supplier arrangements”, so that members who have passed two consecutive face-to-face audits with no corrective actions can then alternate between a desktop and face-to-face audit every three years. Edwin says audit verification remains vital to

ensure the integrity of SWNZ, but the new model recognises an often-raised concern that the one-size-fits-all approach is too blunt. “There’s opportunity to increase flexibility, reduce duplication and potentially reduce costs.” The extent of the changes will be determined after analysis, and their roll-out will link to ongoing development of new vineyard and winery scorecards. The board also confirmed an audit holiday for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, so that members can be trained in the new scorecards.

Sustainability Guardians Programme A new SWNZ Sustainability Guardians programme will begin in July, with the establishment of working groups for water, waste, pest and disease, people, and climate change. Edwin says the Guardians initiative will replace the Continuous Improvement (CI) project, a voluntary extension programme that failed to gain traction. Instead, the Guardian working groups will address


The Focus

difficult issues in each area and promote peer-to-peer learning on sustainability best practice, says Edwin. “There’ll also be a Sustainability Guardians Award to recognise an outstanding commitment to sustainability.” Edwin says the programme will promote sustainability as a core value of the industry and provide members with an opportunity to be recognised for their efforts to go beyond sustainability baselines set by SWNZ. “These efforts to go

‘above and beyond’ help to protect the environment and our people, create opportunities for knowledge transfer between members, and enhance the reputation of the industry.”

Organophosphates The 2020/21 growing season will be the last where organophosphates can be used on SWNZ certified vineyards. Edwin says using these chemicals comes with significant health and environmental

risks, as well as a reputational risk, as they “There’ll also be a have been banned in Sustainability Guardians the EU. “These risks, and the increasAward to recognise ing availability of an outstanding meaningful alternacommitment to tives, highlight that the ongoing use of sustainability.” organophosphates is simply not sustainable.” The NZW board If you have questions on has also approved the introduc- these changes, or insights and tion of an agrichemical rating ideas you would like to discuss, system based on HSNO codes please contact Edwin Massey at in future Spray Schedule pub- Edwin.massey@nzwine.com or lications. 0211924924.

Grateful to the Guardians

YOU DON’T have to dig deep into New Zealand’s wine industry to find stories of people going the extra distance to protect their people, places and planet. We’ve got a handful of them in the next few pages, but expect to read more in future editions about those going solar, getting planting, enhancing waterways and reducing water use, or looking out for their community. If you’ve got a great story to share or a guardian you’re grateful for, email sophie@sophiepreece.co.nz.

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The Focus

Carbon Zero Wine industry to lead in cutting carbon NEW ZEALAND Winegrowers has made a commitment to the industry becoming net carbonzero ahead of the Government’s 2050 deadline. The pledge, made at a board meeting late last year, follows the inclusion of climate change as a strategic key focus area for the board. Members received a communication in late March explaining that New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) would support them

through the transition, with an investment in programmes such as climate adaption (preparing for the effects of temperature increase and climate change) and mitigation (reducing carbon emissions). “The world’s climate is shifting,” the email explained. “An unprecedented global response is underway to avoid the more severe impacts of climate change and prepare communities to transition to a

Zero Carbon Act THE RECENTLY passed Zero Carbon Act is designed to progress the global effort under the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. The Act establishes the legislative framework for setting clear emissions reduction targets for all of New Zealand to reach in 2050 and beyond. To read more, go to Legal Matters on page 60.

net-zero carbon economy.” The Bragato Research Institute’s climate change res e arch pro g ramme is developing adaptation strategies, including climate change scenario models for each of New Zealand’s wine regions, as well as a “toolbox” of specific adaption measures for growers and wine producers. Meanwhile, NZW is increasing its focus on carbon mitigation,

says NZW Sustainability Advisor Tessa Chilala. “The recently passed legislation does not specify policies or plans, so we’ll need to wait and see how it may impact our members’ business.” She is calling on industry to share their stories of mitigating climate change. If you’ve got one, or know a “climate hero”, contact her at tessa.chilala@ nzwine.com.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

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The Focus

Electric Ideas Clos Marguerite’s battle against climate change

SOPHIE PREECE

Photo by Jim Tannock

JEAN-CHARLES AND Marguerite Van Hove are harnessing the sun to fight climate change, with a three-year transition to electric vehicles, irrigation and hot water, all powered by solar. From a relatively small roofline of panels at a relatively remote vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Clos Marguerite is now hardly on the grid, with plans for an electric tractor and winery refrigeration next on JeanCharles’ hit list. “The real battle is climate change,” he says of his decision to reduce the footprint of his operation. “If we miss this one, if we can’t turn the boat, then there are not many other

battles that are worth fighting, I think.” The couple’s first step was a hybrid car for Marguerite’s sales trips, then an electric pump in the river, which involved bringing in power, among other complications. Finally there was a fully electric car, with a range of 220km. “During that process I thought, ‘well what we should do is produce power here,’ and so we looked at the solar panels.” It took some time to find a tradesperson to work so far from town, “but we got someone and he’s been very good”, he says.

The system uses a 10kW converter, despite the panels achieving 12.8kW. T hat ensures redundancy in the panels, meaning more output in the mornings and evenings, reducing the usual bell curve of solar production, he says. As it is not valuable to return power to the grid, Jean-Charles uses software that manages the load, putting the first low levels of power into hot water, before charging the cars. “Once the cars are full, we start exporting (to the grid) again and if we export more than 7.5kW then the irrigation starts on its own.”

When he has optimised his operations to include the glycol system for the refrigeration of wine over summer, surplus power would be used for irrigation or refrigeration, with less offloaded to the grid. Jean-Charles has done the numbers to weigh the pros with the cons, including the heavy environmental cost of electric cars, due to the rare elements used in the batteries. But the outcomes are still well in the positives, especially in smaller electric cars, he says. This story ran first in the February 2019 edition of Wine Marlborough’s Winepress magazine.

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The Focus

Blooming Biodiversity Craggy Range aims big for sustainability SOPHIE PREECE

Photos by Richard Brimer

A NEW Zealand wine company is planting more than 150,000 native trees and plants in and around its Martinborough vineyards, with 100,000 plants to go in this winter alone. The massive biodiversity effort is part of doing better by the land, environment and people Crag g y R ange Vineyards relies on, says Chief Executive Michael Wilding. “The key thing for us and the Peabody Family was, how can we continue to evolve our farming practices better and also engage with and look after our community?” Michael says strong economic per formance over the past three years has allowed Cragg y R ange to reinvest in its key sustainability pillars, including the roll-out of a major planting plan, increased water storage and a focus on organic production, as well as the Children’s Christmas Foundation (see sidebox). T he company has a

20   // 

biodiversity programme of 100,000 trees to be planted in June this year, and another 60,000 in June 2021, from

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

tall forests of kahiketea and tōtara to low-lying riparian areas of grasses and shrubs, interspersed with tī kōuka

(cabbage trees). An artist’s impressions shows the two vineyards transformed, with wide margins of native bush,

Anton Stadniczenko plants a totara at Te Muna vineyard.


The Focus

and a large grove at the centre. “ T his will be one of the largest biodiversity programmes in the New Zealand wine industry and hopefully an opportunity for New Zealand wine to show leadership on a global front,” says Michael. Staff on the Te Muna vineyards are excited by the planting plan, he says. “This also allows Craggy Range to explore using carbon sequestration to offset its operations.” I t ’s C r a g g y R a n g e ’s a s p i ra t i o n “ t o s e t t h e benchmark for biodiversity integration in New Zealand vineyards”, Michael says. “Both improving our monoculture and setting new standards for the region.” The increased biodiversity is not only good for the environment, but has led to improved wine quality, he says. “This is primarily due to increased natural yeast in

A Christmas Cracker IN 2018, Craggy Range launched the Children’s Christmas Foundation, aimed at making a difference to the lives of children experiencing hardship in the Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa. In its first year, Craggy Range staff and other supporters wrapped up 1,500 Santa sacks for kids who may otherwise not have received a gift, and last year that jumped to 5,500, with help from Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers’ members, families and associates. The presents were geared towards enabling kids to have a strong start to the school year, and included backpacks, water bottles, sports balls, books and stationery. Michael Wilding says there are a lot of people “doing it incredibly tough” in the regions the company operates in, including those that work in vineyards. He says the Christmas initiative recognises the desire of Craggy Range and its staff to make a greater contribution to the community, and vineyard, winery, office and hospitality staff all come together on the project, resulting in a big cultural shift for the company. They’re passionate about good wine, he says, but they also want to have a good impact.

the vineyard and reduced pest pressure, due to an increase in native birds.” The winery team is hoping to work with

Dr Matthew Goddard at the University of Auckland to better understand how the biodiversity plantings

influence indigenous yeast in the vineyard. Meanwhile, the company is investing heavily in water storage in Martinborough and Hawke’s Bay, to reduce pressure on rivers, says Michael. “This will mean we take our allocation in winter when the river is in full flow and reduce our summer take.” T he third tier of its environmental push is an increase in focus on farming organically, with more than 10 percent of this year’s production, across six blocks, in organics. “We are looking to learn and to expand this programme and to continually evolve our practices,” says Michael. The company has sought advice from specialist consultants, and employed Jonathan Hamlet ex- Chairman of Organic Winegrowers - as its new National Vineyard Manager.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   21


The Focus

Green Leaders Hawke’s Bay biodiversity field day

OLLY STYLES

HAWKE’S BAY celebrated its inaugural biodiversity field day in early February, with grower Xan Harding leading a posse of viticulturist utes on a tiki tour around the wider Bridge Pa area. First stop was the undervine and inter-row trial at Villa Maria, where Paul Robinson took attendees through the thinking behind an experiment that saw multiple native species planted under the rows, and two mixtures of cover crop treatments. They were “trying to get away from the single-species, monoculture thing”, Paul says. Research Viticulturist Raquel Kallas said the trial, which ran through two blocks - Merlot on silt loam and Syrah on gravels - was inspired by the Greening Waipara Project (see pg 26) and the associated study through Lincoln University, which found that diversity had a positive impact in the vineyard. The South Island project

found, for instance, that species like Leptinella squalida encouraged a natural predator of mealybug. While clearly a popular initiative, the Villa Maria trials had so far failed to show any direct outcome. “The control looks much the same as the vines with cover crops,” said Raquel. She was, however, pleased that none of the treatments had been “stressful” to the vines and hoped that more funding would be secured for further trials. With the words “you cannot address climate change without addressing biodiversity”, Xan led the group through his Bridge Pa triangle property, where he is looking to create a suitable habitat for one of his favourite creatures, the skink. Xan’s thinking, though, is in more broad environmental terms - he is actively looking to promote more personal

enjoyment from the vineyard, and pushing to get safe cycling paths through his vines. Then the ute tour went to Paritua, where work is ongoing to improve riparian plantings on the Paritua Stream, itself part of the Karamu catchment which ultimately feeds the Ngaruroro River. The emphasis here was to work on the upper catchments and then move down, said Paritua neighbour Cairn Coghill, from Sileni.

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Xan was keen for Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers to adopt this as an industry project. Talking of the overall vision, he said, “if we lead on this, we get the chance to influence the rules, and that’s never a bad thing”. The biodiversity programme is run under the auspices of HBVine - a local viticultural group led by vineyard stalwarts Ian and Linda Quinn, who head up the Two Terraces vineyard in the Mangatahi sub-region.


The Focus

Growing Oasis Creating corridors at Cloudy Bay SOPHIE PREECE

CLOUDY BAY’S 2020 harvest is well underway, but Mark Lovegrove is more interested in harakeke and grasses than harvesters and gondolas. In late March, the company’s Grounds Super visor and his crew planted natives at Staete Landt vineyard on Marlborough’s Rapaura Rd, the latest move in an 11-year programme to increase the biodiversity of Cloudy Bay’s vineyards. Mark says the project began when the company became involved in the Marlborough District Council’s Tui to Town project, aimed at creating corridors of plantings through the vine landscape of the Wairau Valley. He jumped in nine years ago and has continued the momentum beyond the Tui to Town scheme, including substantial plantings along waterways on the Widow’s Vineyard. Estate Director Yang Shen is also on board

w i t h b i o d i v e r s i t y, a n d began last year’s company Christmas party with a native planting session by staff, says Mark. “Now our social club committee is looking at doing the same thing… with plantings before a drink and get-together.”

Mark says the company has a fund for the plantings and an appetite to do more, with a focus on enhancing areas not suitable for grapes. Cloudy Bay won the design prize at the 2020 Marlborough Wine & Food Festival, for an oasisthemed stand that had zero

waste and stacks of plants. He’s been keeping the natives used in the display healthy since that February event, waiting for good autumnal planting conditions to plant them out at Staete Landt, as the grape harvest goes on around him.

Cloudy Bay’s herbicide free mission MOËT HENNESSY has announced its Champagne concerns will be herbicide free by the end of the year, with an expectation that the rest of its wine brands will be herbicide free by 2025. Cloudy Bay Technical Director Jim White says Cloudy Bay wants to be “ahead of the curve” in terms of restrictions on herbicide use in New Zealand, and the company is exploring the machinery, people and innovation it will require to transition. That includes researching and trialling new technology for weed control, which is a challenge on Marlborough’s stony soils. There

is no one-size-fits-all in Marlborough, he says. “We are looking at a block-by-block approach across our vineyards.”

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   23


The Focus

The application deadline for Greening Marlborough is 31 May, 2020. For more information, including planting guides, go to nzwine.com/greenmb As Dog Point developed its vineyards, it also planted unused land, including its waterways. Photo Jim Tannock

Greening Marlborough Growing a more biodiverse Marlborough SOPHIE PREECE

PLANTING MARLBOROUGH’S “forgotten corners” will be a boon for biodiversity, and a valuable boost for grape growers, say those behind the new Greening Marlborough initiative. The Marlborough Landscape Group (MLG), supported by the Marlborough District Council (MDC), is offering grants of up to $2,000 to help landowners plant riparian areas, boundary lines and other unused or neglected areas, says MLG Coordinator Bev Doole. “This is a step-by-step approach to try and restore some of the trees and shelter belts that have been removed, because with that goes the loss of the habitat for native birds and insects. The plains look like a monoculture and we are trying to soften that.” Under the pilot programme, grape growers and wine companies can apply for dollar-for-dollar grants to establish native plantings on

24   // 

spaces of any size or shape, and can access planting guides, including species that will thrive in a wetland, for example, or would work along a boundary. “These are all plants we know do well in Marlborough,” says Bev. “We want to make this process as simple as possible, so it makes perfect sense to do the right thing.” The MLG was established in 2002 because of increasing concerns around the loss of trees and biodiversity as the wine industry flourished. Now there is an increasing appetite, among grape growers and wine markets, for a more sustainable footprint, she says. “We have had a lot of interest from people wanting to know more, so this is on their minds.” As well as improving plant, bird and insect biodiversity, the plantings will reduce the need for mowing and spraying and increase the amenity of the workplace, Bev says. “It also

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

provides an important message in marketing, because people want to see companies doing better.” Greening Marlborough will complement the existing Tui to Town programme, which is working to create a corridor for native birdlife on the Wairau Plains, but is limited to larger format plantings. “Tui to Town is doing a good job of livening up our landscape, and we see Greening Marlborough as supporting that, by targeting ‘forgotten corners’,” says Bev. MDC Environmental Scientist for Land Management, Matt Oliver, came up with the concept of ‘forgotten corners’ to describe seemingly insignificant and unused pieces of a vineyard that are regularly mowed or sprayed. They include the edges of creeks or drains, unplanted triangles, and “legacy” fence lines, many of which are no longer necessary but have a constant base of brown, says

Matt. “I think the idea that people have in their mind is that a herbicide strip is neat and tidy, but they need to look again, because it’s really pretty ugly. It’s bare earth and dead plants.” He says many growers will have parts of their vineyard that they mow or spray “endlessly” but could easily plant instead. He would like to see the region’s forgotten corners quantified, so council can get a handle on how much planting could be achieved. There is a growing shift in attitude, largely from big companies that have access to resources and a “sustainability imperative”, driven by market and management, Matt says. “It would be great to see some of the smaller vineyards taking that up as well… I would suggest that if you have a place in your vineyard that you have to back the mower into, then that might be a forgotten corner.”


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The Focus

“We like the fact that we can utilise our greywater now the plants have taken off.”

Greening Waipara

Fifteen years of nurturing natives at Waipara’s Torlesse Wines TESSA NICHOLSON

WHILE NEAT rows of vines abound throughout Waipara, a community project has seen a plethora of native flora add diversity to the region. Soaring ribbonwood, flower-laden kowhai, mānuka, tī kōuka (cabbage tree) and houhere (lacebark) thrive amongst vines, along roadsides, and around culverts and streams. They are attracting korimako (bellbirds), bees, reptiles and insects back to the plains, increasing biodiversity for those farming in the area. Greening Waipara, which began 15 years ago, followed initiatives 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 Waipara wine growing community jumped on board. Close to 60 individuals and companies supported the programme, working together to restore natural habitats wherever there was space.

26   // 

Kym and Maggie Rayner of Torlesse Wines were inaugural members and are now reaping the benefits of the hard work that began in 2005. While there were limited areas that could be transformed, due to the planted vineyards, Torlesse established a native garden close to their winery, as well as a 120-metre biodiversity walkway. Some of those plants, knee high when planted, are now more than 3 metres tall. But it hasn’t always been an easy road, Kym admits. “I thought because they were natives that they would be tough little suckers. But down here it is a pretty tough climate. It can be hot, dry and windy in the summer and cold and frosty, even snowy, in the winter. So, a lot of the first plants we put in didn’t do so well.” Undeterred, Torlesse replaced those that succumbed and took extra precautions to ensure the next lot fared better. Irrigation was added, as was cardboard mulch and bark. “That kept the moisture in and

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

they took off.” The winery transfers all its greywater to the plantings, although Kym says he wouldn’t advise that when the plants are young. “Some of the plants don’t like having wet feet when they are trying to establish, but we like the fact that we can utilise our greywater now the plants have taken off.” During the initial stages, Torlesse also planted native groundcover under the vines, only to discover that rabbits were rather fond of them. “So we gave that away.” However, a non-native groundcover buckwheat - has been highly successful as an under-vine plant, according to Lincoln University Ecology Professor Steve Wratten. As part of the Greening Waipara programme, a number of vineyards followed his advice to provide SNAP (Shelter, Nectar, Alternative food and Pollen) for native enemies of insect pests. Buckwheat is one plant that helps attract the parasite wasp

that helps control the leafroller precursor to botrytis. “I know of one vineyard that hasn’t used pesticides at all after putting buckwheat in. That’s a tangible statement about how biodiversity can help save money,” he says. Dr Colin Meurk from Landcare Research, who has been involved in the design and planning of the restoration programme, says tens of thousands of natives have gone into the ground and, where “love and care” has been provided, the plantings have prospered. He is hoping to reignite the enthusiasm for a second push later this year. For Torlesse Wines, the success of the plantings and the emergence of native species such as bellbirds has brought a great deal of personal satisfaction. “We can’t change the past, but if we are in a position to plant anything new, we will plant something that represents the native flora that used to be here.”


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The Focus

Good Intentions

Thinking holistically comes naturally to the Milltons SOPHIE PREECE

JAUNTY SUNFLOWERS line the road to Millton Vineyard, in a joy-inducing yellow ‘hello’. From there, a wooden gate and a treedraped driveway lead down to a rustic cellar door in a leafy glade, where an errant chook pecks determinedly at something in the soil. “When people come in here they feel the energy,” says Annie Millton, from what was once her family’s bull paddock. “I find that interesting.” It’s the kind of comment that might have been disregarded in the past, part of a biodynamic philosophy people couldn’t measure or get their heads around. But in a world that’s suddenly eager for organics and sustainable agriculture, James and Annie Millton can talk about preparation 500, nettle tea, and an undefinable energy until the cows come home - quite literally. It’s been 30 years since the

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Milltons produced their first biodynamic vintage in Manutuke, Gisborne, considered “crazy” for shunning paraquat and instead burying dungfilled cow horns in their vineyard, preparing for biodynamic preparations. But these days they’re lauded for tirelessly and long thanklessly - forging a trail for organic winegrowers, who are suddenly rather thick on the ground. “It’s fantastic to see, because it was a very lonely road for a long time,” says Annie. The couple were described as “organic trailblazers” when named New Zealand Winegrowers Fellows last year, and this year, when James took out the Gourmet Traveller Wine New Zealand Winemaker of the Year 2020 Leadership Award, organisers said “his vineyard, his wines and his personal example have given many

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

other growers the motivation to become organic or biodynamic”. Annie says it has been nice to get recognition “for the hard work and the hard times we have persisted and worked through over all those years”. Her father John Clark developed the Opou vineyard in 1969, as one of the region’s original growers. Given the post-war attitude to industrial farming and the guidance he sought from spray companies, it was ‘natural’ that his development included an arsenal of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides, James says. He and Annie met when he began a cadetship with Montana Wines in the 1970s and in 1977 they set off to see the old wine world, soaking up all they could learn about barrel ferments, late harvest wine and a “completely different way of thinking”, says Annie. When

they returned to Gisborne, they knew they wanted to follow the traditional approach, she adds. “They all thought we were really crazy.” Annie ’s parents were bemused that they would ignore modern technology to “do it the difficult way again”, but thinking outside the box came naturally to the couple. By 1983, they had replanted much of the Clark’s vineyard area, in 1984 they established The Millton Vineyard, and in 1985, their Riesling Late Harvest won a gold medal at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, “and everyone went woah”, Annie says. In 1989, Millton Vineyard became the first grape land in the country to obtain BioGro certification, thanks to Goethe not Google, with a dearth of research or case studies available. “You had to learn the


The Focus

knowledge from the masters in the old times,” says James, known for his esoteric take on soils and vines and wines. “As an artisan winegrower you farm with your head, your heart and your hands.” They spent many years being “mocked”, but remained true to that philosophy, and slowly became mentors to the few and far between who were keen to follow. In those early days they didn’t put organic on the label, because there was a perception that it reflected poor quality wines, associated with “hippies and sandals”, Annie says. “Brown paper on bottles under willow trees by a brook, with water murmuring past,” agrees James with a smile. These days some of New Zealand’s most sought-after wines are organic, but it’s only been in the past six or seven years that the Milltons have seen a shift in general attitudes, starting with more

frequent mention in World of Fine Wine. “After that it just went ‘boom’, which is great,” says Annie. Now organic certification is powerful in the market, says James, describing Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand as taking wine companies to the front steps of a “beautiful door”, but organic certification getting them past the increasing number of vigilant “gatekeepers” demanding true commitment. Ironically, just as the wine world catches up with the Milltons, organics and biodynamics are becoming a “bit old fashioned”, he says. Instead, the buzz is around regenerative agriculture, including the ability of healthy soil to assist in the battle against climate change. In wine, that carries on from the work they’ve done for 30 years, growing vines without chemicals, and allowing the symbiotic relationship between plant and soil microbes to

improve the outcomes of couple says that for them, both. When a plant is growing growing great wine is about in the soil “and has freedom of “good intentions”. That’s in expression”, the roots exude an terms of relationships with essence that sends a message to the people they work with, the the microbes, informing them plants and soil they nurture, of the nutrients they want, he says. “As an artisan “The world wide winegrower you farm web - where did it start? In the dirt.” with your head, your T here ’s als o heart and your hands.” growing knowledge about the grapevine’s ability to fend the sunflowers they plant for itself when allowed, with on a neighbouring cornfield, inbuilt defence mechanisms the cows they cherish, and against insect attack, climatic the wines they produce with change or fungal disturbance. care. “The score of your good “You’ll notice I haven’t used the intentions is the population word disease,” he says, enunci- of earthworms you have in ating it as dis-ease. “We farm the earth, and the abundance ease, we don’t fight disease… of other critters,” James adds. Its’ a totally different way of Even the process of weighing doing things.” worms can be eye opening The Millton family crest for people working in the says Sine Fraude Fides, Latin vineyards. “If they realise for something like “honour there’s someone living there, without fraud”, and the they’ll tread more carefully.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   29


The Science Science and Technology in wine

Bragato Research Institute Game-changing winery opens. Pg 32

Zero alcohol

Challenges and opportunities. Pg 34

Sensory Science Perception of wine aroma. Pg 38

Computer modelling

Accelerating innovation. Pg 37

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The Science

Pegasus Bay

Science Snippet Holy Holobiont! The symbiosis of vines and microbes WILL KERNER

THE WHOLE is greater than the sum of its parts; so said Aristotle when he articulated the concept of synergy. I see no better example of this concept in ecology than the theory of the holobiont, where the plant, and in our case the vine, is better understood and studied not as a standalone entity, but holistically, alongside the microbiota that comprise the plant’s ‘second genome’. With further research, we hope to unlock and exploit the relationship between soil microbes and vine, enabling us to ecologically engineer plants to thrive under stressful conditions. Think about human health and the influence the gut microbiome has on the brain. How can it be that those seemingly unrelated components of the human body - gut microbiota and neurochemistry - exist in a causal relationship? The answer to that question is far beyond the scope of this article, but I’d like to use the analogy to introduce the rhizosphere - the ‘gut’ - of the vine. Rhizospheric microbiome refers to the soil organisms

living around the root zone, and we know that they interact with plant root secretions, known as rhizodeposits. The assemblage of the plant host and its root zone organisms is an integral part of the holobiont, a discrete ecological unit comprised of the plant host and its associated microbiota, with interactions ranging from mutually beneficial to one benefitting over the other (mutualistic to parasitic). There have been recent advances towards harnessing the power of microorganisms in mutually beneficial relationships, but there are knowledge gaps around how microbes drive adaptation in the host when faced with environmental stressors. As the challenges of climate change loom on the horizon, a better understanding of holobiont could offer the opportunity to adapt our vineyard ecosystems in a way that respects nature, enhances sustainability, and vitalises our global reputation as ethical land stewards. Will Kerner is Research Programme Manager with the Bragato Research Institute.

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The Science

Game Changer New winery ups the ante for wine research WORDS SOPHIE PREECE

Photos Richard Briggs Students of Te Pā Wānanga perform at the research winery opening.

A NEW research winery in the heart of New Zealand’s vine country will be a “drawcard” for international researchers, says MJ Loza. Speaking at the opening of the Bragato Research Institute (BRI) facility - with its bespoke-tank technology and sustainable, future-proofed design - the BRI Chief Executive said it would enable valuable collaborations around the world, as well as throughout New Zealand. “While based regionally in Marlborough we are here for New Zealand’s entire winegrowing industry, operating nationally, with global reach.” The BRI and its research winer y received start-up funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Marlborough District Council, and are intended to add to the industry’s research capability, not duplicate it, he told the audience. “We need to be expert in our chosen fields and partner with the very best in New Zealand and globally.” That meant expanding on research

32   // 

to benefit New Zealand’s wine industry, while developing new research capability; promising science excellence, while “connected and collaborating with the world’s best”, MJ said. The new winery would ensure research to a standard of excellence that the industry - and its wines - deserve, he added. “We’ll conduct winemaking trials and we’ll take vineyard trials through to finished wines, under levels of experimental control not possible in New Zealand before.” Aside from the winery, BRI has research priorities a r o u n d s u s t a i n a b i l i t y, climate change, grapevine i m p ro v e m e n t , i n d u s t r y research data and technology transfer - “making sure the industry’s research is taken up and applied for real benefit”. MJ said the winer y ’s location at the Marlborough Research Centre in Blenheim - alongside Plant & Food Research, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), Wine Marlborough, and New Zealand

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

Winegrowers - was strategic, enhancing the ability to “build connections between research, industry and education”. Winer y Establishment Manager Trac y Atkin acknowledged the commitment of the Marlborough-based project team that worked to design and refine the winery and its specialist trial tanks, which have inserts to enable four-in-one fermentation and automated functions for remote control. She also applauded the efforts and initiative of the contractors behind it, who delivered the facility and its fittings in time for vintage 2020, just nine months after it received the go-ahead. “Not only did we not need to go outside of the Marlborough/Tasman region for anything, I don’t believe we would have the result we have today if we were anywhere else,” she told guests at the opening. “The team have worked as a community on this, continually coming up with new ideas and inspiration, working together for what you

see today.” Andy Frost was one of the industry representatives on the working group, and helped design the 200-litre tanks, then refine them after replicated trials were conducted in the first tranche in the 2019 vintage. Seeing the completed winery, its floor lined with rows of world-first tanks, was “exciting” and a real step up for the wine industry, which increasingly recognised the value of research, Andy said. He was struck by the “tidiness” of the winery layout, with few fittings extruding from the pedestals, despite the winery having all its bells and whistles. “The overall design is really exciting - it will be an absolute breeze to operate.” Andy, who was involved in a lot of research while at Pernod Ricard, said industry members were eager to help make the research winery the best it could be, reflecting the information sharing that is typical of the industry. “There was no holding back because they knew it was for the good of all.”


The Science

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   33


The Science

The Light Stuff The opportunity and challenge of no-alcohol wines SOPHIE PREECE

John Forrest with his range of lighter alcohol wines.

NO ALCOHOL wine is a “niche within a niche” but a growing opportunity for New Zealand wine companies, says New Zealand Lighter Wines manager Dr David Jordan. Approximately 30 percent of people aged 18 to 34 abstain from drinking alcohol and have a myriad of like-alcohol products to choose

Forrest says the new drive for no-alcohol wines has some “mighty technical challenges” ahead, “to achieve a product that replicates – minus the alcohol – all that we expect in wine”. Referencing the “science behind the scenes”, John says alcohol does more than provide a stimulating lift - “it is also critical to aroma and f lavour chemistr y “Alcohol changes the and also a foundation for the mouthfeel of perception of the wines”. fruit aroma profile in The Marlboroughbased founder of the human brain.” Forrest Wines has been an industr y from, from Seedlip to zero leader in producing wines at alcohol beer, he says. “We need 9.5% alcohol or lower, and to stay relevant to future wine has spent 14 years perfecting consumers… We don’t want to a vine management technique be the Kodak of the beverage that allows for naturally world.” reduced alcohol wines that But New Zealand lighter emulate their full-strength wines champion Dr John counterparts. The quality of

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

lighter wines has improved and totally aligned with New Zealand industry’s reputation, he says, and “the same demands need to be applied to all wines and wine-like beverages”. John says he is “hugely proud” of what the industry has achieved but “very protective of its reputation”. On a recent trip to the UK, he noted the rapid development and interest in wines with no alcohol. They have a place, as do lighter wines, he says, comparing the gradient of wine alcohol levels to fat levels in milk, designed to meet the requirements of a range of consumers. “Wine needs to embrace the same concept,” but zero alcohol wines will only fly if they are as good as the original, he says. “People don’t like changing what they like.” The techniques of removing alcohol, whether by spinning

cone column or reverse osmosis, are the same as those used for 30 years to make “disappointing” wines and beers that lack flavour, balance and weight, despite the addition of sugar, John says. ”Nothing much has changed.” Some of the new f lavour capturing technology will help, but the real winner would be a non-mechanical approach to help winemakers manage the alcohol levels over a range, John says. “This is an exciting challenge and one that does not have a simple solution.” David agrees the step to zero alcohol is a far more challenging proposition than creating lighter wines, because alcohol provides such a big piece of the sensory experience of wine drinking. “We have pushed the threshold with 9 percent, and we led the world on that. That’s the first frontier


- now how do we push on to the next frontier?” He talks of happily sipping a glass of Lindauer Free - bubbles with less than 0.5 percent alcohol - at a mid-afternoon me e t ing , follow ing the November launch of Lindauer’s new alcohol-removed range. Sparkling is a good first option, because the CO2 substitutes for some of the characteristics alcohol provides, David says, noting that Lion is working to create a “wine-like experience”, with acidity and a length of palate that will satisfy consumers who want to enjoy a glass of wine, but cannot or do not drink alcohol. “And if you’re driving after you catch up with friends, or heading to a yoga class, O% ABV offers the consumer the choice.” He applauds Lion’s efforts to have a range that caters to all, from sparkling grape juice and the new no-alcohol bubbles, to the Lindauer Enlighten lower

The alcohol effect ALCOHOL HAS a “huge myriad of effects” on a liquid, including its impact on fruit esters and complex sugars in wine, says John Forrest. “They are competing and sending different signals to the brain and the brain gets confused about what it’s getting.” A liquid that tastes like fresh orange juice at 9 percent alcohol could switch to orange marmalade at 14 percent, he says. “Alcohol changes the perception of the fruit aroma profile in the human brain. So that’s hugely significant.” But that’s just the beginning, he adds. “Its biggest effect, in my opinion, is that we love both the sweetness, texture and ‘oily’ mouthfeel that this modified sugar called alcohol gives to a beverage.” He should know - the scientist and winemaker has tapped into both skillsets, along with extreme confidence in the future of lower alcohol beverages, to produce wines like the award-winning lower-alcohol Doctors’ Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir, which now make up more than half of Forrest Wines’ portfolio.

alcohol sparkling wines and those with standard alcohol levels. Lion also has its Wither Hills Early Light brand in the lower alcohol segment, as well as its myriad of standard alcohol still wines.

Since its launch in 2014, the Lighter Wines Programme has developed vineyard methods, including natural manipulation of the plant’s physiology, to provide grapes with naturally lower sugar,

while retaining good flavour and acidity. In the winery, they have used different yeasts and winemaking methods to lower alcohol while retaining other key characteristics. Ho w e v e r, t h e re i s a biological limit to what can be done in the vineyard, and the first versions of no-alcohol wines have used mechanical means to separate the wine and remove the alcohol, then add the bits back together again. In the case of the Lindauer Free, and of Giesen’s new no-alcohol Sauvignon Blanc (see page 36), the alcohol was removed in a spinning cone column. David says future work is likely to include study into how alcohol influences the perception of wine, and what other approaches could be taken to lift the aroma. “I think there are opportunities and not a day goes by when I am not thinking about it.”

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   35


The Science

Sobering Statistics Giesen’s no-alcohol Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc SOPHIE PREECE

A LOW and no-alcohol trend “is on the cusp of mainstream”, says Giesen Winemaker Nikolai St George, in the wake of launching a 2019 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with its alcohol removed. Nikolai says the project began as an idea following a lifestyle challenge, but swiftly progressed to something Giesen “had to do”, given consumer pressure in New Zealand and Australia, and now

“To be able to bring Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc lovers around the world a 0 percent version of their favourite varietal is huge.” in the US. “Our distributors in the States have heard about what we are doing and are very keen to see samples as well.” Over the past two decades, a ‘sober-curious’ trend has seen people trade full-strength wine, beer and spirits for low or no-alcohol counterparts. According to the European Zero Alcohol Drinks 2019 Report, that trend will only grow, with global sales of non-

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alcoholic drinks predicted to increase 10 percent a year over the next five years. “Boozy long lunches are becoming a thing of a past - from the rise of mindful drinking to people looking for a lighter drop in the evening after an exercise class,” says Nikolai. “The low and no-alcohol trend is on the cusp of mainstream.” Giesen’s first iteration of the alcohol-removed wine was made from its Estate Range Sauvignon Blanc, grown and made in Marlborough. The wine was then processed through spinning cone technology - popular in perfume making - to separate the fragrance and alcohol. Nikolai then put the wine back together, leaving the alcohol out and putting as much aroma in as possible. “It’s not easy, because alcohol adds mouthfeel and texture,” he says. “You have to build the wine up as much as you can without alcohol.” There were unexpected challenges - “you have to be really careful about how you’ve made it and how you handle it” - but the resulting wine “looks really good”, Nikolai says, noting a review from Master of Wine Bob Campbell, who called

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

Nikolai St George

it a “giant leap forward for 0.0 percent alcohol Sauvignon Blanc”(see pg 49). Going forward, Giesen will trial the alcohol-removed wine with the lower alcohol Sauvignon Blanc it already produces as part of the Lighter Wines programme, using natural vineyard and winery methods. The goal is to develop wine with the aromatic queues, acidity and flavour people associate with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc,

while carrying none of the alcohol and only 10 calories per serve. “It will never be the same as full-strength Sauvignon,” Nikolai concedes. But in a world with increasing health and lifestyle aspirations, it’s an appealing alternative that maintains the ritual and culture of wine. “To be able to bring Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc lovers around the world a 0 percent version of their favourite varietal is huge.”


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Stay safe. Stay in touch. From Chris Henry, Henry Manufacturing Limited In the wake of the COVID-19, it’s going to be difficult to continue with our normal face-to-face grower meetings we’ve held for many years during the winter months. But even before a virus turned our world upside down, I had already been thinking about what else I could do to help grape growers. I turn 67 this year and wish to do all I can to achieve my life’s aim which is to see products of low toxicity widely accepted and used by our industry as alternatives to synthetic chemistry. As grower, it seemed illogical to me to be producing food by using chemicals that can damage us and the environment. This inevitably led to my transition from growing to fungicide development and manufacture. But I have never stopped being a grower. I understand the complexities of growing and the need to be profitable. My business allows me to extensively research and trial, meet with many scientists and growers, both here and overseas. I listen, learn and gather insights. I know this knowledge could be of great benefit to many others. Unfortunately, many growers tend to be so busy working in the vineyard that they do not have the time to see and learn from what others are doing. I want to share what I’ve learnt and suggest ways you could improve your business outcomes - it does not matter if your property is organically registered or not. Helen and I plan to spend more time in each region this winter. If you’d like to walk us through your vineyard and discuss the broader aspects of grape growing (not just fungicides) please get in touch. If travel restrictions are still in place, we are more than happy to talk over the phone or Skype.

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The Science

Sensory Science Age-related differences in perception of wine aroma ANNA MCINTYRE

“AGED WINE” may have an alternative meaning in future, as researchers learn more about how individuals process and perceive aromas while tasting wines. María Pérez Jiménez, a PhD student from Spain, is now collaborating with Plant & Food Research (PFR) scientists Drs Farhana Pinu and Emma Sherman to investigate how oral physiology affects the release of aromas during wine consumption. “I am interested in combining what we know about the chemical composition of wines with knowledge about how human physiology affects a person’s perception of the wine,” María says. “Ultimately this type of research might mean we are able to produce personalised wines for specific populations, such as different

age and ethnic groups.” Winemakers have long been interested in how aroma compounds produced during fermentation (typically ethyl esters of volatile acids and higher alcohol acetates) contribute to the increasingly popular fruity characteristics of many wines. Studies have shown that minor alterations in the concentrations of these compounds can lead to remarkable effects on wine f lavour. Laborator y work has tended to focus on understanding how winemakers can manipulate concentrations when developing a wine’s unique matrix of compounds. María is going further by focusing on what happens to these compounds when they

Aroma Perception OUR SENSE of smell (olfaction) depends on volatile, airborne molecules binding to olfactory receptors, which results in neurons sending impulses to the brain’s olfactory system for processing and perception. Aromas from wine are perceived in three phases: 1. Pre-ingestion: Sniffing causes volatile compounds in wine to be transferred via the nasal passages to the olfactory receptors, resulting in perception of its odour. 2. Ingestion: Swallowing causes volatile compounds from mouth and throat surfaces to be transferred via the retronasal passages to the olfactory receptors, resulting in perception of its immediate in-mouth aroma. 3. Post-ingestion: Successive swallowing and breathing causes prolonged release of volatile compounds from the mouth and throat membranes, resulting in the persistence of aroma.

encounter saliva. She hopes to characterise the type of chemical transformations that occur in the mouth to better understand how real-life physiology contributes to the release and perception of wine aromas (see Aroma Perception). María is from the Institute of Food Science (CIAL) in Madrid and her PhD is super vised by Dr MariaAngeles del Pozo Bayón, whose team is using novel in-vivo analytical techniques to measure the way aromas are released in the mouth and/or in the nose, and what contributes to their persistence while drinking. These include fully automated methods that are sensitive enough to detect the minute concentrations of volatile compounds during

tastings by individuals and to also enable the processing of large numbers of samples for robust data analysis. The techniques have shown excellent reliability to measure individual differences in the release of known compounds associated with wine aroma and flavour. Examining the data according to a person’s age (18-35 years versus over 55 years) has also shown measurable variation in the composition of saliva and the compounds associated with in-mouth aroma release. These age-related differences were also observed in terms of the persistence of aroma. Interestingly, the senior age group detected aroma attributes in red wine for

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Reading the magazine online has never been easier.


Opinion Piece

longer than the younger group. One question María is looking at is whether enzymes in saliva break down fruity esters into degradation products, some of which may lead to unfavourable flavour characteristics (such as carboxylic acids which are associated with unpleasant odours). However, the targeted analytical approaches used so far in her research have not identified new odorant metabolites that could be significant for wine aroma perception, which is why she is now collaborating with PFR scientists in New Zealand. PFR has experience and equipment used in flavoromics research, an untargeted approach which allows for OLIVER STYLES better detection of metabolites and potentially undiscovered Icompounds. WORKED myFarhana first vintage in and New Zealand in 2011, and if Emma are planning to start thisI hear thework songson Joey or Caroline line of New Zealand by the band Concrete Blonde I wines with the continued

The Science

Framingham Wines are not only renowned for their music in the winery, but also that staff members make up a local band.

The power of music in the winery

Young palates at the North Canterbury Wine Festival. Photo by Nayhauss Photography.

collaboration with the CIAL team. María says the research has long-term applications for the wine industry. “We are learning am transported back toofMartinabout the behaviour aroma borough Vineyards, late attasting night, compounds during wine waiting for the press to finish. and how both the composition Boxer Theand National and the of the by wine differences in

human physiology affect the perception of wine aromas. This will allow us to better u n d e r s t a n d co n s u m e r s ’ preferences and choices. Flight of the Conchords Winemakers may bealbum able belong to Ata Rangi, the year to modify their techniques later. In fact, ifthe notrelease an album, to improve of nearly every vintage a song favourable aromas,has and new

additives may be designed that enhance their persistence and minimise the creation of unpleasant flavours when tasting.” or two M a rthat í a sticks p re s einn the te dmind, her situating the year. findings at a Wine Research Coming from vintageslast in Seminar in Marlborough Europe, where the best one year.

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The Science

Bragato Breather Resources diverted to Spray Days and Grape Days THERE WILL be no Romeo Bragato Conference this year, due in part to an increasingly crowded conference calendar. New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Chief Executive Philip Gregan says the future of the conference beyond 2020 is still up in the air. “It may be that we never hold it again, but the board hasn’t made that decision.” Conversations about the 2020 Bragato conference began following the last event,

held in August 2019, he says. “Part of the thinking was that Bragato used to be the industry event. What we have done in the past few years is add other things, like Grape Days and Spray Days, which are getting really strong attendance - much stronger attendance than Bragato.” The decision was made to build on those programmes, “which are clearly delivering”, in lieu of Bragato 2020, and

then gauge the result. “If the new approach works, we will continue with that.” Philip notes that there is plenty of competition in the conference space, and 2019 saw the Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference, the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference, and Bragato. “Our thinking was, ‘we know Grape Days and Sprays Days are very successful. They are

a lower cost option for our members and the feedback is really positive. So let’s build on that.” NZW also plans to create more online opportunities for sharing information and research, says Philip. “And this was before coronavirus.” The recent webinar with government agencies on water policies was a great example of how well that could work, he says. “That had a good response.”

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The People Wellness in Wine

A six-day harvest week. Pg 42

The Balance

Jim White’s fungi forage. Pg 43

Women in Wine

Taylor-made for Marlborough. Pg 44

Bob’s Blog

The seller’s market. Pg 48


The People

Wellness in Wine Leading change with six-day vintages SOPHIE PREECE

VINTAGE RUNS more smoothly w h e n e m p l o y e e s a re n ’ t exhausted by endless hours, says Constellation Brands Regional Winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst. Anthony attended Wine Marlborough’s February seminar on its Winemaker Survey, in which nearly half the respondents reported working more than 85 hours a week during vintage, with 16 percent working more than 96 hours. Most respondents worked three weeks or more at a stretch, with 15 percent working between 36 and 57+ days in a row. Anthony says he was surprised by the long hours reported by many in the industry, and the number of days without a break. “But it was good to see there were a lot of winemakers that were taking a day off each week, and that companies are starting to recognise the importance of time away from the winery to rest and recover,” he says. Nearly a third of the survey respondents (28 of

42   // 

99) reported working just six days at a time. Constellation has operated a six-days-on, one-day-off cycle over vintage for some time, “to ensure that there is some downtime for employees both in the cellar and vineyard”, says Anthony. It takes a lot of planning prior to harvest and good communication during the pressured weeks, but allows the company to guard against putting too much stress on its teams, he adds. Over the 2020 vintage, Constellation is trialling a new approach in the vineyard, with a four-days-on, one-dayoff cycle, to reduce fatigue and increase safety. Meanwhile, the company’s shift change has moved from 3am to 6am, to align better with the winery change-over and sleep patterns. Anthony says ensuring each team member gets a day off at least once a week is “extremely important” to help employees balance family

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

life, avoid injuries “and have the opportunity to refresh and recharge”. The health and safety of Constellation Brands employees is the top priority, he says. “And as a result of ensuring each team member has adequate rest, we also see less frustration and stress within teams. This results in smoother operations and working environments in general.” He says in the past 15 years working in the New Zealand wine industry, the biggest change has been in the constant workload throughout the year. “Previously, there were quiet times of the year when staff could take a break and not have to be operating at 100 percent. But with the volume of wine increasing, it has meant that there are no more quiet months - it’s all go the whole year.” As well as moderating vintage hours, Constellation Brands’ Wellness Committee organises initiatives such as

fruit for every lunchroom, meals provided for harvest, mole maps, flu shots and annual health checks. “I guess the report highlighted some differences to the way that we operate versus others in the industry,” says Anthony. “Hopefully as an industry we will use this information to look for ways to improve current practices for the betterment of our employees and the industry as a whole.” Wine Marlborough Advocacy Manager Vance Kerslake, who sent out the survey last year after discussions with a group of concerned winemakers, says the six-day-har vest week was a hot topic at and after the seminar. “There’s been a lot of feedback from companies wanting to know how to do it, and from other companies offering to share their expertise.” He says the survey has been a valuable tool in promoting discussion on a better work-life balance.


The People

The Balance As part of a series on satisfying a wine-life balance, Cloudy Bay’s Technical Director Jim White talks to SOPHIE PREECE about fruitful fungi foraging. IN THE cool damp conditions of autumn, circles of field mushrooms push up in parks and paddocks, and mounds of boletus emerge beneath certain trees. So when Jim White’s last grapes leave the vine, and he’s released from the toil of harvest, he grabs his children, knife and basket, and explores the world of fungi. “I have just finished worrying and I can get on with mushroom hunting instead.” He’ll find boletus beneath silver birches in community parks, and slippery jacks beneath the pine trees at Cloudy Bay’s Mustang vineyard

and beyond. They can get platesized caps on them, with quite thick stems and are delicious on pizza, or simply fried with butter and fresh parsley, he says. “But they’re largely unavailable, unless you find them yourself. It seems to make perfect sense, that if you have these things growing on your doorstep, and you have the knowledge to identify them, there’s this whole world of edible fungi ahead of you.” It takes research to eat mushrooms, with plenty of deadly species. “Never eat a mushroom you can’t identify.

Photo by Jim Tannock

In France people can visit that lives in the root of the tree. any pharmacy to have their We’ll let them grow naturally, mushrooms identified. If you and hopefully the mycelium stop in Europe in September or October, “I have just finished there are cars parked everywhere in the worrying and I can get forest and people on with mushroom running around with hunting instead.” little baskets.” Jim is set to extend his fungi foraging, as Cloudy Bay plants trees spreads to other trees.” All the inoculated with mushrooms better for future fungi foraging. at Mustang , including saffron milk caps and porcini. This story first ran in Cloudy Bay’s “Essentially the mushroom is a book, Forage, ‘an epicurean journey fruiting body of the mycelium into the heart of Marlborough’.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   43


The People

Women In Wine Taylor-made for Marlborough wine WORDS: SOPHIE PREECE

Photos: Lisa Duncan

JULES TAYLOR is still smitten with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, more than 25 years after she smelled her first ferment. “I think we are so lucky to have a wine that took our country to the world,” says the founder of Jules Taylor Wines. “I love its vibrancy and everything about it. I love tasting those berries during vintage, and imagining how great they will taste in the glass.” When Jules launched her eponymous label in 2001, with begged grapes, borrowed winery and 400 cases of wine, she was moonlighting for the fun of it. “I never imagined this would feed my (then) nonexistent family and I certainly didn’t think I could ever give up my real job,” she says. But 19 years on, Jules Taylor Wines is a household name in markets around the world, and a full-

44   // 

time gig that certainly keeps her family fed, though occasionally called on to bud rub for their supper. Jules grew up in Marlborough, surrounded by a wine industry that was growing up too. By the time she left to do a Bachelor of Science at Canterbury University, vineyard expansions were cranking and the world had a taste for Malborough Sauvignon Blanc. Jules was also getting a taste for it, while studying plant and microbial science and zoology, satisfying a penchant for bugs, growing things and cutting things up. “I still love all those things and looking at all different sorts of ecosystems and how change influences them.” In 1993, with a degree in hand, she vetoed thoughts of doing her Masters, and instead went to Lincoln University to

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

study wine. Her plan was to work in viticulture, but it took a single vintage to become “mesmerised” by winemaking, and the ability to turn a raw material into something completely different, “with a whole new shape and form”. She was also immediately attracted to the “craziness and stress and excitement and camaraderie of vintage”, she says, on the cusp of another harvest. “I still get excited by it.” With her wine studies completed, Jules worked in vineyards and at the Wairau River Wines cellar door, but spent plenty of time across the road at the new Vintech winery led by winemaker John Belsham. “I just hounded him really,” says Jules. “Like in any industry, getting your first job is the hardest. In the end I just said, ‘I need a chance’.” John gave it

to her (for which she remains thankful) while warning of the relentless nature of the work, and Jules threw herself at a dauntingly steep learning curve. “It was awesome, but tough,” she says, admitting to doubts halfway through vintage. “I found it really stressful.” She stayed the course and conquered the curve, but after 18 months decided it was time to see more of the wine world. Jules set off for northern Italy, launching a lifelong “love affair with all things Italian”. Nine Italian vintages followed, including five in Sicily, interspersed with Marlborough harvests. In the 1997 Marlborough vintage, she was working at Cloudy Bay, just down the road from Allan Scott vintage worker George Elworthy - these days father to their two boys


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Nico and Louis, and manager of Jules Taylor Wines. They continued their Italian vintages together, but in 2000 Jules got her “big break”, taking on a winemaking role at Marlborough Valley Cellars, with Saint Clair, Kim Crawford and Cape Campbell Wines. Winemaking opportunities were emerging around the region, so her mentors - including winemaking legends Kim Crawford, Simon Waghorn and Matt Thomson - encouraged her to stay with the contract winery and forge her own label on the side. “So in 2001, my second vintage there, I made a tiny 400 cases in two varieties.” Working at Marlborough Valley Cellars gave Jules precious insights into what grew best where, because such a cross-section of the region’s grapes came across its presses. “We saw fruit from so many different areas. And we had the ability to ferment everything

separately - to look at the vineyards and taste the wine and then to think, ‘oh yeah that’s what that region gives you in terms of its flavour profile’.” She explored the nuance and character of pockets of land in the Wairau and Awatere Valleys, and found what she liked - and didn’t like - from each. Marlborough Valley Cellars fully funded the early days of Jules Taylor Wines, including fruit, winemaking and packaging. “It was tiny,” says Jules. “If it didn’t get drunk we were going to have a bloody great Christmas the next year.” But in 2006 Kim Crawford and Saint Clair decided they were big enough to occupy their own space, so Jules and George had to decide the future of their nascent label - “either call it quits or buy all the stock”. They chose the latter and set about finding growers who would trust their cheque book. It was a tough road, she says. “We lost

out on little blocks of land to multiple vineyards from difbigger, more established com- ferent subregions gives you a panies… It took a long time to much more interesting, wellearn people’s trust.” rounded wine with lots of But earn it they did, and as different flavour profiles that Jules Taylor Wines grew its rep- aren’t competing, but enhance utation, its namesake was able to get more of the “Like in any industry, fruit she loved, getting your first job some of it from is the hardest. In the tiny producers with less than a end I just said, ‘I need a hectare of grapes. chance’.” While they have their own estate vineyard now to add to the mix, she remains each other.” She compares a committed to their grower single source Sauvignon to model, and the ability to choose a fruit salad made only from the best sites and fruit for her pineapple. “It’s really boring. wine. “There’s no way, even if But if you have a little bit of we won the lottery and had the pineapple, a bit of lime juice desire, that we could own all and some jalapeno - I get that those little pockets.” from some of the fruit in the Site diversity is especially lower Dashwood - with pepper important with Sauvignon and tomato stalk, then yum.” Blanc, Jules says. “I am conSauvignon Blanc is a grape vinced that blending from variety with “amazing innate

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   45


The People

flavour on the vine”, she says. “If you pick it at the right time, you can’t stuff it up.” A classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is all about fruit, site selection and picking date, she adds. “The rest of it is not that difficult.” Jules has been full-time in the business since 2008, having worked for Constellation and consulted to other companies. “It took a long time to get to the stage where I felt comfortable leaving a real job with a real salary,” she says. There are still plenty of challenges, and she puts climate change high among them, but the company’s small size allows them to be more agile than many, in the market and the vineyards. As they’ve grown, the culture of Jules Taylor Wines has stayed true, Jules says. “We have tried to keep it fun. We are serious about it but you have to have fun, otherwise what is the point?”

“We are serious about it but you have to have fun, otherwise what is the point?”

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www.nzwinegrower.co.nz 46   // 

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020


The People

Change Maker To celebrate International Women’s Day in March, SARAH ADAMS talks to Sachi Rana of Pernod Ricard Winemakers. SACHI RANA has a doctorate and 10 years experience in biotechnology, specialising in nanotechnology. But she had a lightbulb moment while writing her thesis, and realised she wanted a career in the wine industry instead. After her convocation, with PhD in hand, she moved from India to New Zealand to pursue a new career. In 2015, Sachi did a Post-Graduate Diploma in Wine Science at the University

of Auckland, and while on an educational trip to Church Road Winery in Hawke’s Bay, decided to become a winemaker with a focus on innovation. During her diploma, she had the opportunity to do many internships at wineries around the Auckland region, including conducting degustation tastings at Peacock Sky Vineyard. “I loved this role as I learned a lot about wine and food pairings here. To enhance my sensory

analysis skills, I also took up a certification in WSET Level 3.” Sachi experienced her first vintage at Church Road Winery, then moved back to Auckland to be a laboratory analyst at Pernod Ricard in 2018. One of her career highlights was being part of the Innovative Project at Pernod, which allowed focus groups across the business to develop and bring a new product to life. Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz was one such

innovation. She was once told that the industry is “very supportive towards anyone who is really passionate about wine”. That comment rings true for Sachi and having joined the Women in Wine programme in 2019, through which she was mentored by winemaker and consultant Lynette Hudson, she now represents Auckland on the Women in Wine national committee.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   47


Bob’s Blog

It’s a seller’s market Bob Campbell

No alcohol, 85% less calories I’VE RECENTLY given up caffeine. At first, decaffeinated coffee and herbal tea didn’t really do it for me, but I’ve persevered and am beginning to enjoy both. I still miss the buzz, but not so much. I have no plans to cut out alcohol and was motivated by a sense of curiosity rather than hedonism when I agreed to taste three “blind” alcohol-free examples of Sauvignon Blanc. I have tasted alcoholfree wines in the past. None of them made me want to climb the steeple and ring the bell. David Jordan, neighbour and rock-star viticulturist, had masked the wine with his very own socks which he assured me were freshly laundered. As he poured three anonymous glasses he explained that one was a yet-to-be-released New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc while the other two were major sellers and leading competitors in the world of zero-alcohol wine. The first wine was notably paler than the other two. It was slightly sweet but the sweetness was nicely balanced by gentle acidity, creating an appealing tension. Fresh with subtle fruit. I liked the wine and would happily drink it. It was David’s favourite. The second wine was more intense and richer. It tasted like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with pronounced passion fruit and red capsicum flavours. Slightly sweet but dryer than the first wine with pleasing sweet/sour tension. This was my favourite. I rated it narrowly ahead of the first wine and way ahead of the third wine, which I found to be bland and very slightly bitter. The great unmasking revealed that the first wine was Eisberg Sauvignon Blanc from Germany while the second was our very own 2019 Giesen Marlborough 0.0 percent alcohol Sauvignon Blanc. Well done Giesen! I’d very happily drink it and awarded it a score of 87 points. Giesen claims that the wine has 85% less calories (presumably when compared to their regular Sauvignon Blanc). The third wine, which we both rated worst, was Edenvale from Australia. Neither the Eisberg or Edenvale were vintage-dated which indicates to me that they are a blend of vintages. A small step in wine perhaps, but a giant leap forward in 0.0 percent alcohol Sauvignon Blanc. Read more about the Giesen alcohol removed wine on pg 36

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

Photo from Webb’s Wine Auctions

AT LEAST that’s the impression I got from a Webb’s Wine Auctions email inviting entries into an upcoming wine auction at their Auckland auction rooms. To encourage sellers to dig deep in their cellars, Webb’s dangled a few wines that had been the subject of spirited bidding. The 1982 Te Mata Coleraine Cabernet/Merlot, Hawke’s Bay, must surely be one of this country’s more collectible wines. It was the first release of New Zealand’s most iconic wine, Coleraine. The bottle shot showed a fill level at the lower neck which suggests it had been stored reasonably well. I last tasted two samples of this vintage a little over a year ago. They were obviously mature but surprisingly good. An estimate of $140-$160 didn’t stop someone from paying $763.75 including buyer’s premium. Verdict: A fair price given the rarity and iconic status. 2 x 1985 Nobilo’s “Own label” Pinot Noir, Huapai. I held the position of company secretary for Nobilo’s in 1985 and remember this wine well. It was part of a “buy now, drink later” scheme involving a lump sum up front to secure five successive vintages at a fixed price. Rampant inflation at the time ensured that the purchaser got a bargain although it was a costly exercise for Nobilo’s. This is a very early New Zealand Pinot Noir although it was an ordinary wine when first released. Fill levels on the two bottles look “hopeful” on one and “worrying” on the other. Estimate $12-$20. Price paid $282. Verdict: An exceedingly generous bid. 2 x 1984 Chateau Haut Brion, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux. Decanter magazine describes the 1984 vintage as, “The poorest vintage of the decade, in which the Merlot crop largely failed, leading to hard, charmless, Cabernet-based wines, overpriced from the start”. In 2003, I visited the Chateau with a group of MWs. They had poured the worst seven vintages they’d made in the past 50 years, including the 1984. It was delicious. In fact, the only bad wine in the line-up was the 1977. First Growth Bordeaux producers seldom release dodgy wines. Both bottles have fill levels at the appropriate/slightly worrying level, but the wine is 36 years old. Estimate $400-$500. Price paid $1,527.50. Verdict: A bit of a gamble, that might pay off.


1 x 2000 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. This is my second favourite champagne (after Salon) and I love bottle age fizz. There is a risk that the wine has been stored badly although the fill level looks fine. The bottle displays a price sticker showing $445. Estimate $200-$300. Price paid $305.50. Verdict: Should be a lovely bottle of wine (with luck). 1 x 2001 St Francis Riesling, Marlborough. I know nothing about this wine but found the following tasting note of the 2000 vintage on the website of wine critic, Sue Courtenay, which reads: “St Francis Marlborough Riesling 2000 : A delicate medium-sweet Riesling with lovely floral notes, a touch of ginger, honey and a spritzy sherbet (fizzy fruit lolly) sweetness on the finish. Sipping slowly, underlying flavours of limes enrichen on the palate. This wine is developing nicely in the bottle. Tasted 30 Sept 2001.” Good fill level. Estimate $12-$16. Price paid $39.95. Verdict: A bit generous for 20-year-old Riesling sealed with a cork.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   49


The Places Checking out our regions

Vintage Update

A memorable harvest. Pg 51

Wine Weather

James Morrison’s update. Pg 54

Pinot NZ 2021

Connecting with identity. Pg 56

Biosecurity Update

Important reminders. Pg 58

Legal Matters

Zero Carbon Act. Pg 60

Jules Taylor Wines.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020


The Places

Memorable Vintage SOPHIE PREECE

WITH A backdrop of Covid19, this has been a harvest like no other. But amidst the complications of coronavirus, there are reports of excellent fruit around the country, promising a vintage to be remembered.

Auckland Soljan Estate Winer y Winemaker Tony Soljan says Auckland has had one of the best vintages ever, with a long hot summer and next to no rain in the lead-up to picking. “Picked by hand, the grapes were full of undiluted juice of

exceptional flavour.” He says 2020 is going to go down as a vintage to remember for Auckland. “We look forward to sharing this treasure with the public when the wines are ready for release.”

Hawke’s Bay Villa Maria’s Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay harvest began on 27 February - a record early start - and the Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay harvest was over by 2 March, nearly two weeks earlier than average. “Chardonnay should once again be one of the superstars of

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   51


The Places

our harvest,” says Group Chief Winemaker Nick Picone, talking of “a very “It will be a very memorable favourable season” which was warmer than average, and extraordinary vintage particularly in January for all the obvious reasons.” and February. “It has also been very dry which has allowed the crops to ripen with very little disease without extremely hot days, pressure.” A few blocks lost less wind and warmer nights, water during February, but it resulting in the earliest start would be difficult to ask for a to harvest this district has better season so far, he says. experienced.” Larry, speaking “The real highlight has been a week after their 12 March how beautifully clean the start, says the fruit quality is fruit has been, with an almost “exceptional, clean, uniform surprising balance of flavour, and around the ideal yield in sugar and acidity.” most cases”. Escarpment had yet to start on white table Wairarapa wine grapes, “but it’s very The Wairarapa is looking close and looking as good as at its best vintage yet, says the reds”. With more of the Escarpment General Manager same weather, and if ferments Larry McKenna. “Right now continue as successfully as in a backdrop of (Covid-19) we couldn’t be happier.” The they appear to have started, apprehension and uncertainty. region experienced a drier and he thinks 2020 will beat his It will be a very memorable and warmer summer and autumn personal best vintage. “Just extraordinary vintage for all than normal. “This has come a shame it’s all happening the obvious reasons.”

Tony Soljan

Nelson “Pinot is looking particularly splendid at this stage,” says Judy Finn, two days into Neudorf’s harvest, which began

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

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The Places

Craggy Range Te Muna vineyard

on 17 March. The weather has settled into an autumnal routine of hot days and cold nights, and the lovely fine days are a boost to spirits during the Covid-19 tensions, she says. Neudorf expects harvest to be completed within three weeks at the longest.

Marlborough Cloudy Bay began picking for sparkling on 24 February, after a “dream run” leading in to harvest, says Cloudy Bay Technical Director Jim White. Chardonnay was set to start 17 March, followed soon after by Pinot Noir. “Then we start to ride the wave with a fair bit of stuff ripening quite quickly,” says Jim. With dry conditions in the summer months, disease pressure is low and those with access to water are enjoying a happy harvest, he says. The fruit has great flavour, beautiful fresh acidity and lovely balance, and there’s the luxury of, “when do you want to pick? But it is going to get

rather busy”, he says. “Like every harvest, you spend a whole lot of time waiting, then it’s a mad rush when it’s good to go.” Jim thinks Cloudy Bay’s Marlborough harvest should be done before Easter, while their Central Otago fruit will come in later, with a finish date closer to 20 April or beyond. Yields in Central are low for Cloudy Bay, with “incredibly small berries” that have the potential for deeply coloured wines with density and structure, he says. Blank Canvas Winemaker Matt Thomson says flowering weather was generally very good in Marlborough, “and we are consequently looking at very high berry numbers in most varieties”. Most people have adjusted down their crops to compensate for the potential higher yields from the higher bunch weights, he says. “Bunch numbers are lower than average however, so a bit of maths was required this year.” The growing season has been very dry and growers have

been “saved” by some regular he says. small rains inland that kept the Growers had overspent rivers just above shut-off for their budgets battling the cold irrigation, Matt says. “We are and windy weather, and some now getting some truly autumn disease protection budgets had days, with quite cool nights but also been blown, Timbo says. sunny days. This is what has made Marlborough “We’re on track to have famous, so this a good vintage but it combined with could be an exceptional exceptionally low disease levels vintage if we get that and fantastic late season warmth.” developing flavours makes us pretty excited.” Those higher costs hurt, but “Central Otago has a genuine North Canterbury desire as a collective to try and North Canterbury had its produce the very best Pinot earliest ever harvest, beating Noir, so the work is still being Marlborough and Central done”, he says. “I think this Otago to the start line, says is a vintage that will deserve Black Estate’s Penelope Naish. a big rest afterwards, but it “The fruit is absolutely beautiful will yield some really positive and delicious, coming in really results on the world stage in well and presenting very years to come.” cleanly,” she says, delighted Speaking on 17 March, with the Chardonnay and Pinot Timbo said the harvest was Noir that has been picked so looking seven to 10 days far. “We’re seeing really clean, behind, increasing frost risk gorgeous small bunches, but in on high elevation blocks yields we are all happy with.” later in the season. While yields are down, with small Central Otago berry bunches, the quality Central Otago is looking at looks good, and the Waitaki, low yields, high costs and the in particular, is looking potential for excellent quality “absolutely stunning”, he from vintage 2020, says says. “We’re on track to have Viticultura viticulturist Timbo a good vintage but it could Deaker. “We’re quite bullish be an exceptional vintage if about the quality this year, but we get that late season it’s been a hard fought battle warmth.” to get the quantity.” After two Growers will feel the lower “absolute banger” vintages yields, however, with demand in a row, many in the region for Central Otago Pinot suspected that 2020 would already outstripping supply. throw up challenges. They were “The trend we are seeing is right, with the season proving a that Pinot Noir is in vogue… “very uncharacteristic” vintage In the past 30 months we for Otago, says Timbo. “The have had an explosion of thumbprint was set in the Rosé fruit demand as well, first eight to 10 weeks, with and that has cannibalised our one of our coolest seasons and supply even further,” Timbo the coolest cell division period says. “Financially, of course, we have witnessed.” That led everyone would have liked a to “grave uncertainties” about bigger vintage, because we late season berry development, could sell it.”

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   53


The Places

Wine Weather

A warm run in February then an average March. Still dry in the north and east. JAMES MORRISON

Seifrieds in Nelson

A COOL period through early January gave way to a run of very high temperatures for the east coast of both islands into mid-February. This brought some very warm temperatures,

and records were broken in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. But, as fast as it came, it went, and March temperatures have been average in most places. I guess that this sums up summer for

many of us. The main talking point, however, has been the lack of rain in most regions. Central Otago suffered quite a wet end to 2019 and a heavy rain event in early February

2020 but conditions have dried out since then. The big driver of the dry conditions has been the dominance of high pressure. Whilst anticyclones are quite common during summer, this

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020


pattern has been prolonged as we move into autumn, and there is considerable concern that it could be some time before this pattern breaks. The cyclone season is still active, and with warming sea temperatures around New Zealand over the past few weeks, there is still the chance of an ex-tropical low bringing a heavy rain event to the country. The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) was in negative phase late in 2019. This usually means that the belt of westerlies that circle Antarctica push further north, and we saw a noticeable

increase in southwesterly conditions. So far in 2020 we have seen this move back towards neutral along with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). The effects of that may be an increase in mild northerly conditions from mid-April onwards and also a decrease in the number of colder southerly changes. This is likely to lead to above average temperatures in most places but also possibly an increase in rainfall. The main long-term climate models are not showing any real signs of a La Niña or El Niño developing over the next few months.

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The outlook for April and May Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay Mean temperatures are likely to remain above average through the remainder of autumn and into early winter. The range between maximum and minimum temperatures may well change from mid-April onwards. Early April looks to bring some cool nights and the risk of frost, but once the high pressure system breaks down, we are likely to see milder nights along with an increase in humidity and cloud cover. Daytime temperatures continue to run near or slightly above average. This may fall to average but will be offset by the milder nights. Rainfall modelling is split, with near average totals predicted, but the dry run may continue through the first half of April. Marlborough/North Canterbury Rainfall is likely to remain below average for some time. With a possible increase in the northeast flow there is a good chance of some moderate rain events from late April onwards. These may require a decent southerly change, and the SAM model is not supporting much in the way of cold southerlies at this stage. Mean temperatures are likely to run close to average and may push above average as we move into May. The risk of frost naturally increases but the biggest risks are likely to be in April about areas that are well away from the coast, in particular the Waihopai, Wairau and Awatere Valleys. Central Otago The high pressure that has seen conditions dry out somewhat appear to continue through April. This means an increase in the diurnal range and a higher number of nights with a risk of frost. Day time temperatures are likely to remain reasonably mild and may still draw in occasional southeast breezes to increase the risk of overnight fog. The effects of an increased north to northeast flow should reach Otago and temperatures may remain milder through May due to a lack of cold southerly changes. There is, however, the risk of low pressure systems forming west of Fiordland and these would be likely to bring moderate rainfall to the region.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   55


The Places

Pinot NZ 2021 Connecting wine with cultural identity

Photo by Peter Monk

WHETHER THEY know it or not, New Zealand Pinot Noir producers have been informed by generations of Benedictine,

Cistercian and Burgundian winegrowers, says Rippon’s Nick Mills, who sees centuriesold learnings embodied in the

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“We are learning to embrace our cultural reference point as New Zealanders.” which will be at the heart of New Zealand Pinot Noir Celebration 2021 (Pinot NZ). “What we are finding is that our own sense of identity as New Zealanders is far more developed than we, at least as winegrowers, perhaps realised,” he says. “There are notions that have been established for many hundreds of years that are particular to this place… Without turning our back on our cultural reference point as Pinot Noir growers, we are learning to embrace our cultural references as New Zealanders.” It’s a gradual process to grow understanding of that, and Nick and his peers on the Pinot NZ organising committee hope the event will be part of deeper conversations about identity and what it means to be a New Zealander. After consultation with Ngai Tahu in Christchurch, the location of next year’s event, they set themes that celebrate notions that are true of New Zealand culture at large and also true of the culture of New Zealand winemaking. They describe them as: • Turangawaewae. A place to put one’s feet, a place to stand, a place to which one belongs. If Terroir is how a place is expressed, through grapevines, into something we can taste and feel, Turangawaewae is how a place informs, or defines us as people. It drives our sense of belonging and, in turn, how we relate back to that place. • Kaitiakitanga. Guardianship, stewardship. How we relate and care for land, as a place, and as a living entity. We can consider this as Pinot Noir winegrowers, merchants,

commentators and enthusiasts. Importantly, it might also lead us towards acknowledging how the land has cared for, or provided for us. • Whanaungatanga. Kinship, relationships, family culture. How we maintain connections with those in our family, community and industry. In Pinot Noir, this may also lead us to ask how our craft, and the product itself, helps to us connect with each other; both here in New Zealand and abroad. They are seeking to learn from Ngai Tahu, and use the concepts in an appropriate way, guarding against misappropriation, says Nick, noting that the committee is formed of people who joined in order to drive meaningful change in the industry. “We feel like we are having an open discussion that is worthy, relevant and hugely important.” Turangawaewae is as important as the notion of terroir for him as a winegrower, because while the latter explains how place impacts plant physiology and its produce, the Māori concept talks to how that place informs humans and human culture, he says. “That’s really, really interesting for a maturing nation and a maturing community of winegrowers who are developing their own sense of place in their work and wines as well.”

Pinot Noir New Zealand 2021 will be held in Christchurch from 23-25 February 2021. pinotnz.co.nz

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Biosecurity

Biosecurity Update Biosecurity - critical to the sustainability of New Zealand’s wine industry

SOPHIE BADLAND

NEW PESTS and diseases are a key threat to the sustainability of New Zealand’s wine industry. A biosecurity incursion of an unwanted pest or disease such as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) could have many impacts on the winegrowing sector and affect the livelihood of many in the industry. Incursions could cause loss of saleable fruit, widespread damage to vines and potential taint to wine products. Movement of fruit and plant material could be legally restricted under the Biosecurity Act, and there could be organism management measures imposed, using chemicals which fall outside of sustainable and organic certification schemes. Therefore, activities which minimise the likelihood of a new pest or disease arriving in New Zealand, and which mitigate potential impacts on the wine industry, are of critical importance. Increases in international travel, trade, online shopping, and changing climate have resulted in ever-increasing biosecurity risk, and more

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high-profile incursions are affecting New Zealand’s primary industries. Recent examples such as Mycoplasma bovis, Psa , pea weevil, Queensland fruit fly, bonamia ostreae and myrtle rust have individually cost millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in eradication and management programmes. The wine industry has so far been spared involvement with these responses; however, we cannot afford to become complacent. Members should take the opportunity to embed biosecurity best practice at vineyards and wineries now this will go a long way towards mitigating the impacts should any of our most unwanted pests or diseases be the next to turn up post-border.

Links to sustainability focus area pest and disease Biosecurity is a key component of the Pest and Disease focus area, one of five focus areas in the New Zealand Winegrowers Environment Strategy. The goals in this focus area

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

are to reduce and mitigate the impacts of existing and potential pests and diseases, and to be a world leader in sustainable alternatives. Having a biosecurity plan in place for your vineyard or winery will help to achieve the first of these goals; a good biosecurity plan, which includes vineyard hygiene measures and best practice management of people, machinery, equipment and plant material around your site, will help to reduce and mitigate the impacts of both existing and new pests and diseases. Investment in infrastructure for biosecurity risk mitigation (such as washdown facilities, tool hygiene and footwear cleaning stations) may be costly at first, but should be worth it in the long term as pests and diseases will have less impact on your site and you will spend less managing these.

Biosecurity Strategy – maximising protection for members The New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Biosecurity Strategy was developed in 2017 and has

three key objectives: • Maximising members’ capability to influence decisionmaking across the scope of the system. • Maximising members’ awareness of biosecurity risks and mitigations. • Maximising members’ participation in biosecurity activities. Together, these objectives help to achieve the desired outcome – that our activities maximise the protection to members afforded by New Zealand’s biosecurity system. How is New Zealand Winegrowers working to mitigate biosecurity risk?

Influence: GovernmentIndustry Agreement (GIA) In 2017, NZW joined as a signatory to the GIA for biosecurity readiness and response, gaining the ability to partner with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on biosecurity decisionmaking in situations where the wine industry is potentially


Biosecurity

impacted. NZW is a party to the operational agreement for BMSB and helps to shape and develop the readiness work programme for this insect. NZW is currently in the process of negotiating an operational agreement with MPI and other industry groups for a specific piece of readiness work for Xylella fastidiosa, another organism at the top of our Most Unwanted list. NZW is also a member of the National Biosecurity Capability Network, a network of organisations nationwide that build capability amongst their staff and members to be able to assist in biosecurity responses when needed.

Awareness/participation To foster improved understanding of biosecurity risks and mitigations, and to enable members to better participate in biosecurity activities, some of the core functions of the

NZW biosecurity team are to provide useful information and resources for members, and to organise opportunities for member engagement with biosecurity education and issues. The biosecurity team has developed a range of fact sheets, posters and best practice guides (available on the nzwine.com members website or in hard copy by request), and regularly present on current issues and opportunities at regional workshops and industry events such as Grape Days and the Young Vit Education Days. The ‘Being a Biosecurity Champion’ campaign and the NZW Biosecurity Week will run again in 2020, providing members with opportunities to upskill and get involved in biosecurity issues and events. Some priorities for the current year include developing some easy to use biosecurity planning templates that members can effectively adapt for use at

New Zealand Winegrowers joined the Government Industry Agreement for biosecurity readiness and response in 2017.

their sites, building capacity amongst members to participate and assist in biosecurity responses, and promoting biosecurity awareness to members and other stakeholders involved in the sector and supply chains, so that they can also help to protect our industry.

It’s your asset; protect it! Do you have questions about biosecurity or want to share stories about the steps you

are taking on your site? We can help. The biosecurity team is available to help members with biosecurity planning, advice or general biosecurity queries at any time. You can contact us by sending an email to biosecurity@ nzwine.com, or give us a call: Sophie Badland, Biosecurity Manager, 027 700 4142 or Jim Herdman, Biosecurity Advisor, 027 644 8010.

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   59


Not on the Label - Legal Matters with Dentons Kensington Swan

Whitehaven Wines

Legal Matters New Zealand’s path to carbon neutrality MARIJA BATISTICH, PARTNER, AND JOSEPH WRIGHT, SOLICITOR, OF DENTONS KENSINGTON SWAN

L ATE L AST year the long awaited C limate C hange Response (Zero Carbon) Act became law. The key purpose of the Act, and its namesake, is to reduce New Zealand’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 in order for New Zealand to meet its targets under the Paris Agreement. T he framework to be established by the Zero Carbon Act will require significant regulator y change across many sectors of the economy to ensure the emissions reductions targets are met. This change has the potential to affect the viability and profitability of some sectors

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of the economy, particularly agriculture and other highemission primar y sector producers. The Productivity Commission stated in its August 2018 Low-emissions economy report that the price of carbon will need to rise from an existing price of around $25 per tonne to between $75 and $250 per tonne for New Zealand to achieve the required net reduction in domestic emissions to meet Paris Agreement targets. In practice, the greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the Act mean that we will not all have to reduce our emissions to zero but remaining emis-

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

sions will need to be offset, by actions such as tree planting. The Act contains a “split gas” target, so methane has a different target than other gases such as carbon dioxide (CO²). The target in the Act is to reduce emissions of biogenic methane by 24 percent to 47 percent below 2017 levels by 2050. This target includes a reduction of 2017 levels by 10 percent over the next 10 years. The Climate Change Commission established under the Act will provide the Government with independent advice. A five person expert panel along with a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson will

communicate information to the Government about achieving targets set in the Zero Carbon Act. The progress toward these targets and goals will be reported on by the Commission, who essentially will aim to keep future Governments’ climate policy in check. Once the Commission’s advice has been received by the Government, they must respond to the recommendations within 10 working days. However, the Government will not be obliged to comply with any recommendations. If the Government chooses to reject the Commission’s advice it


will have to give reasons why, including any alternative measures proposed. T he five independent commissioners have been appointed and come from a variety of fields. They include experts on agricultural greenhouse gas research, climate change adaption, economics, agriculture, and economics. The first three budgets, which will run through to 2035, are already in the planning stages with the five commissioners, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson being asked to recommend these by 1 February, 2021. The budgets will set down in detail the pathway to achieving the zero-carbon goal. Trading in carbon credits will be one of the key tools ut ilis e d to lower to tal emissions. The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) puts a price on greenhouse gases and provides a financial incentive for businesses to reduce their emissions while making planting forests more attractive to landowners. One emission unit represents one metric tonne of CO² or other equivalent gas. Businesses emitting greenhouse gases must purchase units on the New Zealand ETS market and then surrender these to the Government. In demonstrating support for the objectives of the Act, the Board of New Zealand Winegrowers has committed to the industry becoming carbon neutral before 2050. The

Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand programme, which has been in place for some time, encourages winegrowers to adopt environmental initiatives that demonstrate their commitment to work toward the 2050 target. The programme allows members to benchmark and track energy use. This is a step toward minimising collective environmental impact. Individual energy footprints for wineries and vineyards can be mapped out through the use of energy use data and compared with wine production output. Overall, the Zero Carbon Act is an important first step in reducing the likelihood of irreversible damage caused by climate change. The success of New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon economy will depend on the stringency of the initial budgets, the types of policies the Government puts in place to meet the budgets, and the support for initiatives to implement the magnitude of change required. The bi-partisan support shown, with 119 of the 120 members of parliament voting in favour of the Act, indicates the importance of the issue and supports the general view that we must begin now. In February 2020, Kensington Swan combined with Dentons, a global law firm, to become Dentons Kensington Swan. The firm will continue to supply Winegrower with valuable insights into legal matters that impact the wine industry.

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   61


Australian Bushfires Hope remains for Australian winemakers after fires LEE SUCKLING Vines destroyed by bushfire in the Adelaide Hills, December 2019.

THE DAMAGE to vineyards from Australia’s 2019-2020 bushfires were the last thing most people were worried about this summer. With the loss of 33 lives, 6,500 buildings and half a billion animals, it hasn’t been a priority for the media to cover the damage sustained to Australia’s wine industry. Yet for those in the industry itself, the effects of those disastrous fires will be felt for some time. The worst hit area was Adelaide Hills, where many of the nation’s cool climate Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes are grown. According to Australian Government body Wine Australia, this region sustained the majority of the 1,500 hectares of land that burned over the summer. While this is only 1 percent of all Australian vines, it represents 30 percent of Adelaide Hill vineyards, including Henschke’s Lenswood vineyard, plus land owned by top per for mers like Vinteloper. Vineyards in New South Wales regions like

62   // 

the Hunter Valley sustained less widespread but equally destructive damage. Small vineyards without res ources in the o ther 99 percent of Australia’s winemaking countr y will struggle the most over the years to come. In Tumbarumba, New South Wales, Obsession Wines’ 10ha were blazed through, decimating the vines, the on-site personal home, and all equipment – what once were tractors became piles of melted metal. Owner Adrian Brayne says his vineyard is so heavily impacted it’s unsalvageable. “To resurrect this is to start again, replant, and go from there… It’s about five years for this site to be back to reproduction,” he says. Wine Australia’s message to the world of wine drinkers is that the country is open for business as only 1 percent of its vines were damaged. However, grape growers with intact crops (in fire-affected areas) won’t be using the grapes they have right away.

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

They are being encouraged to test their grapes for smoke exposure, a process that is time-consuming, expensive, and comes late in the season. This has led to a significant, still-in-process period of uncertainty as growers find out if their grapes are usable. Smoke taint, as it’s known, has made many growers anxious. Fresh smoke from new fires (rather than lingering smoke) is the most destructive, but grapes are unable to be checked until they start ripening and mature. The effects of smoke are dictated by the age of the smoke, grapes’ proximity to fire, duration of smoke exposure, geography, weather, and how close the grapes were to ripening at the time of exposure. Wine Australia has suggested that at the same time grapes are being tested, winemakers also carry out a micro-ferment and do a sensory evaluation before harvesting the grapes and committing to using them. Smoke taint to grapes is

largely confined to the skins. Volatile phenols through smoke particulate matter are passively absorbed. This concentrates the phenols and glycosides just inside the skin tissue. For white wines, there will be an opportunity to maximise grape viability because skins will be removed, and grapes can be pressed more gently. For reds, where winemakers ferment the skins, smoke taint will be far more problematic. Yet the industry remains positive. The New South Wales Wine Industry Association surmises that New South Wales will lose AU$100 million in that state alone when wine tourism is taken into account. In 2003, the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) began studies on the impact of smoke on grapes. AWRI researchers continue to play a supporting role in this season’s bushfire aftermath, by supporting growers with technical advice on how affected vineyards can get back to favourable productivity again.


Vintage 2020 @WINE_GROWER

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The NZ Wine #nzv20 photo competition has kicked off on social media! This year it will be judged by wine photography legends, Kevin Judd and Jim Tannock. They’re looking for a creative shot that captures something unique, behind-thescenes at vintage. The competition runs from 1 March to 8 May 2020. @RENE.FISCH

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   63

NZWinegrower.socialmedia.Mar.Apr20.indd 1

9/03/20 3:24 PM


Research Updates

Research Supplement Information and updates on Bragato Research Institute research programmes. Editors Manager EditorsDr DrMatias MatiasKinzurik Kinzurikand andWill WillKerner, Kerner,Research ResearchProgramme Programme Managers regular feature to inform industry people about research projects undertaken their Newly benefit.approved Newly projects AAregular feature to inform industry people about research projects being being undertaken for theirfor benefit. approved projects areand briefly summarised anddescribe longer reports will describe whatso has achieved (when available) are(when brieflyavailable) summarised longer reports will what has been achieved far.been When completed, each so far. will When each project will be reported in full detail, with references, on nzwine.com project be completed, reported in full detail, with references, on nzwine.com

Quality Wine Styles for Existing and Developing Markets

Prevention of quercetin instability in bottled wine Villa Maria Wines Limited (E Taylor)

Cost Reduction/ Increased Profitability

Lighter wine (PGP)

Pests and Disease

Precision Grape Yield Analyser Programme 20162021

University of Auckland and Plant and Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MPI Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) fund.

Population genomics of the wine spoilage yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis Auckland University (M Goddard)

Breaking the qualityproductivity seesaw in wine grape production (Pinot Noir Programme) University of Auckland, Plant and Food Research and Lincoln University (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MBIE

UC Davis collaboration to determine factors that affect colour in Pinot Noir wines when grapes are harvested at lower than target berry soluble solids.

Optimising management of grapevine trunk diseases for vineyard longevity South Australian Research & Development Institute (M Sosnowski)

Improving remedial surgery practices for control of grapevine trunk disease to increase vineyard longevity Linnaeus (E van Zijll de Jong)

Impact of grapevine trunk fungi in hot water treated planting materials on young vine health Linnaeus (E van Zijll de Jong)

Investigation into the relative abundance and species of mealy bug parasitoids in Gisborne vineyards Plant and Food Research (V Bell)

Plant and Food Research (C Grose)

Exploring the chemical space in Vineyard Ecosystems (VE) Programme juices and wines University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi)

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NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

Lincoln Agritech Limited (A Werner)

An automated grape yield estimation system – The Rod Bonfiglioli Scholarship Massey University (M Legg)

Sustainability/ Organics Vineyard Ecosystems Programme

Future-proofing the wine sector with innovation: evaluation of ground cover, amenity & native plants as potential reservoirs of pathogens of grapevines Plant and Food Research (V Bell)

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

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

University of Auckland and Plant and Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MBIE

Potential applications of nanotechnology for wine growing in New Zealand University of Auckland (M Kah)

Cost efficient optimisation of weed management in vineyards

Climate Change

Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

Optimisation of irrigation and water savings in Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and Merlot Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

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


Progress Reports

Delegates of the 11th International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases

Industry outcomes from the International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Disease Mark Sosnowski THE 11TH International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases (IWGTD) was held in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, in July 2019. Researchers and industry personnel from around the world gathered to discuss and share the latest research findings on grapevine trunk diseases (GTDs), including eutypa dieback (ED), botryosphaeria dieback (BD), the esca disease complex and young vine decline, amongst other diseases. The workshop attracted 146 delegates from 21 countries, with 112 papers delivered in oral and poster presentations. The workshop covered the research areas of pathogen detection and

BRI RESEARCH ON A GLOBAL STAGE Dr Mark Sosnowski, from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), presented research funded by Bragato Research Institute (BRI) at the 11th International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases. He presented an invited keynote address “Disease Management 101: Grapevine trunk disease control in mature vineyards” and a poster titled “Emerging patterns in the dispersal of Botryosphaeria and Eutypa dieback pathogen spores in New Zealand vineyards”, which included outputs from the Vineyard Ecosystem Programme delivered through collaborative work between SARDI, BRI, Plant & Food Research and Linnaeus. The workshop brought together key international researchers and practitioners to discuss the latest information on managing grapevine trunk diseases - a worldwide threat to vineyard sustainability. His summary looks at outcomes from the workshop with relevance to the Australian and New Zealand wine industries, and reveals how the BRI-funded work fits in with international science in this field. identification, epidemiology and host-pathogen

interactions, and the final day focussed on disease

management in the nursery and vineyard, with local industry members invited to participate. Australian and New Zealand research on GTDs was presented, and highlighted that this research is at the forefront of delivering practical outcomes to assist growers in management of grapevine trunk diseases. It is therefore important to continue this research, which contributes significantly to the sustainability of our wine industries. Following are some highlights of the information presented by international speakers that has particular relevance to management of GTDs in Australia and New Zealand.

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   65


Progress Reports

DISEASE DETECTION Cédric Moisy (The French Institute of Vine and Wine) has been monitoring fungal pathogen development and impact on wood tissues through non-destructive imaging. His research team are evaluating µ-MRI and X-ray µ-CT imaging approaches for detection of GTDs by monitoring the dynamic colonisation of wood by fungi when artificially inoculated under controlled conditions. They were able to follow the progression of fungal growth in different tissues and quantify different types of degraded tissues in grapevine wood. These technologies are very expensive, hazardous to the operator and pose logistical challenges in the vineyard. However, if a more cost effective, safe and versatile system could be developed to scan grapevines non-destructively in the field, it may provide an alternative to the only currently available strategy of monitoring internal disease, cutting

through trunks with a chainsaw. Loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the detection of GTD pathogens was the topic of presentations by both James Woodhall (University of Idaho, USA) and Felipe Sáez Cortez (University Andrés Bello, Chile). Molecular tests like real-time PCR are sensitive and accurate but can take several hours to complete in the laboratory. LAMP assays offer a rapid and portable alternative for molecular testing, and have been developed for the main causal agents of ED and BD as well as Esca. The assays were shown to be sensitive, and provided results within 10 minutes. Detection in grapevine wood was possible using an on-site DNA extraction method where wood was sampled using a drill, and transferred to a small tube containing buffer and a ball bearing. After vigorous shaking by hand, it was diluted tenfold and used in the LAMP reaction. Wood

samples using the in-field extraction method were positive within 10-30 minutes. Current Australian research is developing LAMP assays for rapid and cost-effective detection of ED and BD pathogens on spore tape and in field samples, which will increase awareness and improve decision making on GTD management for the industry. An alternative technique of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analyses offers rapid and inexpensive detection and identification of grapevine fungal pathogens according to Christopher Wallis (USDA, California). Fingerprinting of fatty acids that comprise cell membranes of each pathogen was performed using gas chromatography on methyl esters. Profiles for over 20 fungal species were created. A total of 20 samples from culture could be analysed with FAME in as little as 2 hours, and cost less than 10 cents a sample. Ongoing work is examining ways to extract and analyse fun-

gal FAMEs directly from plant tissues to avoid the need for culturing. FAME provides an alternative to DNA-based identification and could be employed in cases where nucleic acid degradation is a concern. INOCULUM DISPERSAL Mónica Berbegal (Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain) has been monitoring inoculum dispersal of the esca pathogen Phaeomoniella chlamydospora by spore trapping in Spanish vineyards using microscope slides coated with silicone. Pathogen DNA concentration was quantified using real time PCR over two seasons and high levels were detected for 71 of the 139 weekly sampling periods with rain, and at low levels in 20 of the 31 periods without rain. Similar trends have been observed with ED and BD pathogen spores detected in Burkard spore traps in Australia and New Zealand, which were also presented at the meeting. The dynamic of inocu-

Vineyard tour in the Okanagan Valley

66   // 

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020


Progress Reports

lum detection in Spain was best described by a Gompertz equation when time was expressed as hydro-thermal time (i.e. a combination of accumulated temperature and relative humidity). The information obtained and the equation developed will help to identify the periods with high risk. Modelling of Australian and New Zealand spore dispersal data is underway which may assist prediction of risk patterns for ED and BD pathogens. Using droplet digital PCR technology, Daniel O’Gorman (Agri-Food Canada) quantified BD pathogen spores captured in Burkard spore traps located in commercial vineyards. Results showed spore release events occurring from late March (spring) to October (autumn) and were absent or greatly reduced through the winter, where temperatures were below zero, and snowfall occurred. Generally, the first spore release was detected at the end of winter when average daily temperatures climbed above zero to around 5°C or higher and often correlated, though not always, with rainfall. The presence of spores, sometimes even when rain is not present, is common between all of these studies. More research is required to understand the factors leading to spore release in the absence of rain. HOST-PATHOGEN INTERACTIONS Christopher Wallis (USDA, California) is examining the effect of

multiple pathogen infections in a grapevine. He suggested that an infection by a GTD pathogen may induce systemic changes in host physiology that could alter progress of an independent infection elsewhere in the vine. He found that initial inoculation with a BD pathogen (Diplodia seriata) was associated with reduced lesion lengths of subsequent inoculation 2 months later with the same pathogen, another BD pathogen Neofusiccocum parvum and the Esca pathogen P. chlamydospora. These reductions were linked to changes in amino acid, sugar, phenolic compound and terpenoid levels. Research is ongoing to confirm this phenomenon and examine other pathogen combinations. In general, studies investigating the effect of multiple trunk disease pathogen infections on grapevine are lacking and may provide some insight into the variability of disease progress in vineyards. ED and BD pathogens co-exist in many Australian and New Zealand vineyards, and along with the presence of P. chlamydospora, it is important to understand how they impact each other in regard to development and progression of disease symptoms. Previous studies in California and Australia reported on the link between xylem vessel diameter and the ability of some commercial cultivars to respond to infection by GTD pathogens. Jerome Pouzoulet (INRA, France) is study-

ing the genetic basis of xylem morphology in grapevine using the esca pathogen P. chlamydospora. Using a grapevine rootstock experimental progeny (F2, V. riparia cv. ‘Gloire de Montpellier’ x V. vinifera cv. ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’), 261 genotypes from the progeny were characterized for various xylem morphological traits, and a quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis was performed over 2 years. Results showed that there were strong and stable QTLs associated with various xylem morphological traits, including diameter of vessels. Based on this analysis, subsets of genotypes were further characterised for functional traits (hydraulic conductivity and pathogen susceptibility). A QTL found for vessel diameter was seen to significantly impact xylem hydraulic conductivity. In addition, results confirmed that within this progeny, the density of vessels of wide diameter was positively correlated with the level of susceptibility to the pathogens. STRESS Aurélie Songy (Université de Reims ChampagneArdenne, France) studied the effect of water and heat stresses on the physiology of the variety ‘Ugni blanc’ when infected with the BD pathogen N. parvum, based on specific transcriptomic and metabolomic profiles. The impact of infection on plant metabolism was greater following heat stress than following water stress, but greatest when they

occurred simultaneously. This was related to plant growth reduction and increased aggressiveness of N. parvum, with lipids and secondary metabolites impacted by infection. It was concluded that these results may help explain the seasonal variability of GTD symptom expression in the vineyards that may be influenced by abiotic stresses that can occur independently or simultaneously. This result concurs with previous Australian research which showed that seasonal variation of ED foliar symptoms was linked with the combination of temperature and water stresses. GTD MANAGEMENT IN THE NURSERY Pilar Martínez-Diz (Galician Viticulture and Oenology Station, Spain) screened biocontrol agents (BCAs) for control of black-foot and Petri disease in nursery propagation material. She evaluated five BCAs; two Streptomyces sp., Pythium oligandrum, and commercial products containing Trichoderma atroviride, T. koningii and Pseudomonas fluorescens + Bacillus atrophaeus. Prior to dispatch and planting, 1-year-old dormant grafted vines were hotwater treated at 53ºC for 30 min and then roots immediately soaked in BCA suspensions for 24 h. Two additional applications of BCAs were applied by drip irrigation in the field. Other than T. koningii and P. fluorescens + B. atrophaeus, BCAs were able to signifi-

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cantly reduce incidence and severity of infection by the pathogens. In a similar study, Isidora Silva (UC Davis, Chile) reported control of BD pathogens by Trichoderma sp., Clonostachys sp. and Epicoccum sp. in grapevine cane bioassays. Australian and New Zealand research has been investigating the populations of beneficial microorganisms present in propagation material and links with GTD pathogens. Research in New Zealand has eliminated the use of HWT for GTD control due to vine mortality and limited efficacy, so viable alternatives are required. GTD MANAGEMENT IN THE VINEYARD The fungicide Tessior® (boscalid and pyraclostrobin) is being evaluated for control of esca and BD pathogens by George Karaoglanidis (Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece). Applications of Tessior resulted in significant reduction of disease incidence and severity when applied either on the day of pruning or 6 days after. However, applications made 13 or 29 days after pruning and inoculation did not reduce disease compared with untreated controls. Long-term trials were also established in newly planted vineyards in 2015, where applications of Tessior were initiated from the 1st year of planting, and artificial inoculations with either P. chlamydospora or D. seriata were initiated 2 years after establishment. Continued monitoring of

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Typical disease symptoms observed in a dissected trunk

the trial will determine longer-term efficacy of regular application of Tessior to wounds. SARDI research has identified pyraclostrobin as an effective fungicide for control of ED and BD pathogens, but to date no label registration for pruning wound protection has been forthcoming. Long-term vineyard demonstration trials of post-pruning wound treatment applied from planting would provide evidence of the benefits of preventative management and encourage wider adoption of the practice in Australia and New Zealand. Jinxz Pollard-Flamand (Agri-Food Canada) has been screening a range of Trichoderma species alone and in combination for pruning wound protection against BD pathogens using a detached cane assay technique developed at SARDI. His results showed 100% reduction of infection from 1d to 21d post

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

treatment with combined BCAs compared to inoculated controls. PRUNING MANAGEMENT The effect of training systems on esca disease in French vineyards was presented by Chloe Delmas (INRA Bordeaux, France). Her research team studied four pairs of ‘Ugni blanc’ vineyards ranging in age from 30-46 years, where each pair consisted of vineyards located in similar environments and comparable age, with one trained as ‘espalier cordon’ (spur-pruned) and the other ‘espaliers Guyot-arcure’ (canepruned). Cane-pruned vines generally had more esca symptoms than spur-pruned vines. This supports previous research on ED in France where greater disease and mortality was recorded in canepruned vines that were older than 20 years of age. Christian Kraus (Julius Kühn-Institute and

University of Hohenheim, Germany) evaluated the influence of minimal (semi-minimal pruned hedge) vs intensive (vertical shoot position) pruning on the occurrence of esca disease. Over the 4 year study, symptoms varied, with pruning style having no consistent effect on the appearance of symptoms. The effect of different sized pruning wounds on the cone of desiccation was studied by Emilie Bruez (INRA Bordeaux, France). Vines were pruned directly below or directly above the node to investigate the impact of the natural dieback on sap flow for the new shoots. She reported varying extent of desiccation depending on the position of the cut, with low cuts having desiccation cones impeding the vascular tissue of the new shoots. In this study, there was no assessment on the impact of infection success by


Progress Reports

esca pathogens, but this should be investigated for ED and BD pathogens in the future. ECONOMICS OF MANAGING GTDS Jonathan Kaplan (California State University, Sacramento) has undertaken extensive assumption based economic analysis and reported on the financial consequences of GTDs and the potential gains from adopting management strategies. If left unmanaged in vineyards, GTDs lead to falls in revenue and significantly shortened profitable lifespans. By simulating alternative scenarios depicting their adoption on symptomatic vines in a ‘Cabernet-Sauvignon’ vineyard, he found that preventative practices adopted early (≤5 years old) and remedial surgery adopted in mature vineyards (>10 years old) significantly reduced yield losses, raised revenue, and extended the profitable lifespan of the vineyard (approximately 25 years) by over 100%. Adoption of preventative practices from year 10, however, showed limited economic value. He also showed that remedial surgery alone outperformed earlyadopted preventative practices, but in tandem they performed best, with greater gains the earlier preventative practices began. Further, the greatest gains from remedial surgery occurred when performed on all symptomatic vines beginning in year 11 (when no preventative practices

are adopted earlier) and up to year 14 (when adopting preventative practices in year 3). As such, growers are recommended to adopt preventative practices in young vineyards and then remedial surgery after symptoms appear in approximately 20% of vines or before year 15, to maximise vineyard profitability and longevity. These assumption based outcomes correspond with recommendations resulting from modelling of data collected from New Zealand ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ vineyards. FIELD TRIP TO THE OKANAGAN VALLEY A tour of the Okanagan Valley wine region provided insight into the BC wine industry (Figure 2). With a variety of climates and soils throughout British Columbia, 4,400 hectares are planted in 186 vineyards to over 60 different grape varieties such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling, with a 50% split between red and white varieties. There was a big move away from the American native hybrid varieties with mass planting of Vitis vinifera varieties during the 1990’s meaning the most vineyards are up to 25 years old. The main diseases affecting the industry currently are trunk diseases and viruses. The tour provided the opportunity to hear from local viticulturists and winemakers and see firsthand the pro-active way in which the industry is tackling trunk disease as

well as other general viticultural practices (Figure 3). Growing grapes in this region presents logistical challenges and abiotic stresses during the winter freeze. In summer, hot, dry conditions and bushfires present similar challenges to those experienced in Australia. CONCLUDING REMARKS GTDs are increasingly causing serious economic impact around the world. Australian and New Zealand research is at the forefront of practical management strategies for GTD, leading the international effort in preventative wound protection, remedial control strategies and spore surveillance. Highlights from the workshop relevant to the Australian and New Zealand wine industries include: • Development of nondestructive detection methods. • Inoculum dispersal varies between climatically diverse environments. • Co-infection of grapevine with multiple pathogens may affect disease severity. • Vascular morphological traits correlate with disease susceptibility. • Some biocontrols are showing promise for GTD management in the nursery. • Positive reports on preventative and curative management in commercial vineyards. • Pruning management influences development of disease. • Early and regular GTD management maximises vineyard profitability and longevity.

Outcomes from this workshop for Australia and New Zealand include the following recommendations: • Continue the search for alternative natural compounds or biocontrols for wound protection. • Understand the risk of wound infection at all times of the year. • Elucidate the complex relationships between spore dispersal and climate. • Continue spore trapping development with a view of real-time monitoring in future. • Investigate interaction between pathogens within grapevines. • Evaluate rootstock and clone material in the search for tolerance to GTD. The IWGTD is the leading international forum for information exchange on GTD, with the next workshop planned for 2022 in Brno, Czech Republic. Future involvement by Australian and New Zealand researchers will continue to ensure they remain at the forefront of international GTD research. All abstracts from the 11th IWGTD can be found at https://icgtd.ucr.edu ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS As an invited keynote speaker, Mark Sosnowski was supported by the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Wine Australia, NZ Winegrowers and SARDI to travel to Canada for the 11th IWGTD. This article was originally published in Wine and Viticulture Journal, summer 2020 (Volume 35) nzwine.com

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Vineyard Ecosystems Programme pruning wound protection, a case study PROTECTING GRAPEVINES against trunk diseases can include a range of interventions in the vineyard, but one approach that’s gaining in popularity in New Zealand involves the use of pruning wound treatments, made either by hand (painting over the wound’s exposed surface) or via the application of fungicides with tractordriven sprayers. According to recent research, there’s a good reason for the rapid adoption of this practice – using effective fungicides for pruning wound protection really works. Optimising the management of grapevine trunk disease (GTD) has been a focus of New Zealand Winegrowers research for decades – most recently, as part of the extensive Vineyard Ecosystems Programme, managed by Bragato Research Institute. Current investigations, led by Mark Sosnowski (South Australian Research and Development Institute – SARDI) and Dion Mundy (Plant & Food Research – PFR), build on their previous work, including a survey of almost 700 vineyard blocks in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough, first conducted in 2013 and repeated in 2018. In 2013, the incidence of infection from grapevine trunk disease pathogens ranged from 0-88% in selected New Zealand vineyards aged 4

70   // 

to 33 years (with an average vine age of 12 years). Subsequent economic analysis showed that early adoption of preventative wound treatments could minimise the cost of trunk diseases and increase vine longevity. Five years on, the Sosnowski-Mundy team re-surveyed the same vineyards (now with an average vine age of 17 years). Their reasons for revisiting the previous monitoring effort were to provide insight into the progression of GTD in New Zealand vineyards, including the influences of management practices. The project, which began in January 2017, also seeks to: • Investigate the length of time that pruning

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

Top and below: Examples of proactive management activities using a range of pruning wound paints.


Progress Reports

wounds are susceptible to GTD pathogens. • Optimise the timing of wound protection treatments. • Understand how GTD pathogens are dispersed throughout the pruning season. WORLD-LEADING RESEARCH The researchers’ previous investigations also generated evidence to support label registration for selected fungicides for dual control of eutypa and botryosphaeria dieback – a world first. Research into applications of fungicides with tractor-driven sprayers followed, first in Australia and then New Zealand (for a list of products currently available for control, refer to the latest edition of New Zealand Winegrowers’ Vineyard Spray Schedule). It’s fair to say that these two countries are leading the world in wound protection research and, with little work conducted elsewhere, continuing this investigation is vital to the long-term management of GTD, says Mark Sosnowski, who has become a familiar presenter to New Zealand growers thanks to his many appearances at Grape Days and Romeo Bragato events. Nick Hoskins, programme manager for Vineyard Ecosystems, agrees: “Reducing vine deaths from grapevine trunk disease is one of the key outcomes for the Vineyard Ecosystems Programme. With new tools registered for use on grapevine pruning

wounds, plus new recommendations on remedial surgery, this research is already changing best practice for our industry.” Now, the latest annual report on GTD research (“NZW 16-102: Optimising management of grapevine trunk diseases for vineyard longevity”) provides a demonstration of wound protection in action.

Top and below: Examples of proactive management activities using a range of pruning wound paints.

PRUNING WOUND PROTECTION AT DELEGAT As a case study on wound protection, a group of 102 Delegat blocks were selected, comprising Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. The blocks, located in both Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay, have had a well-documented wound protection management in place since 2006, prompted by the

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Progress Reports 100

All survey blocks

Incidence (%)

80

Marlborough

60 40 20 0

0

100

5

10

15

20

Vine age (years)

25

30

Blocks with wound protection

80

Incidence (%)

Hawke's Bay

35

40

Hawke's Bay Marlborough

60 40 20 0

0

5

10

15

20

Vine age (years)

25

30

35

40

Figure 1. Scatter plots of the incidence of dieback in all blocks surveyed in 2018 (top) and the 102 selected Delegat blocks (bottom) with active pruning wound protection in place since 2006. Blue lines indicate the maximum dieback incidence for vines aged between 10 and 20 years of age.

potential economic benefits achieved from vine longevity. In all of these blocks, large wounds (>25 mm) were consistently hand painted with registered fungicides following pruning up until 2012. Then, from 2013, all wounds, regardless of size, were protected each year with handpainted applications. A selected fungicide is ideally applied on the day of pruning but must be applied within 72 hours and definitely before rainfall. According to Robert Trought, company viticulturist at Delegat, rainfall and sap flow from pruning later in the season create some challenges for application, but the effort is definitely worthwhile. “You need to look past the immediate cost and look to the longterm benefits,” he adds. “It is your asset you are protecting. If you have young vines, start from

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day one.” Figure 1 shows scatter plots of the incidence of dieback infection in 2018 for all vines (top), and for the selected 102 Delegat blocks (bottom). The selected blocks were aged between 9 and 21 years in 2018, so vines under 12 years of age have had wound protection since they were planted, whereas the oldest vines have had wound protection since 10 years of age. Across all blocks, the maximum incidence of dieback infection increased with vine age (from 20% in 10-year old vines to 80% in 20-year old vines), whereas the subset of Delegat blocks under active wound management only reached a maximum of 20% incidence of dieback infection over the same range of vine ages. “Delegat’s decision to follow best practice and commit to an extensive programme of pruning

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

wound protection over a decade ago is paying off, reducing the negative impact of trunk disease on vineyard longevity,” says Sosnowski. Where to from here? In the time remaining to the GTD project, Sosnowski plans to confirm the curative and preventative properties of fungicides registered for use in New Zealand. The goal is to inform recommendations to maximise the period of wound protection from a single application. The long-term benefits could be substantial, according to Hoskins, who points to previous economic modelling developed by Mark Sosnowski and Greg McCarthy and reported in the June/July 2017 Research Supplement of New Zealand Winegrower magazine. “If pruning wound treatments become a routine practice in New Zealand vineyards,” he

adds, “the modelling indicates there’s potential to save the industry $20 million each year.” FOR MORE INFORMATION Members of New Zealand Winegrowers can access the following research reports by signing in to the members’ area of nzwine.com (nzwine. com/members/grow/ vineyard-resources/ pest-disease/trunk-rootdiseases/): • Sosnowski M and Mundy D (June 2016), Sustaining vineyards through practical management of grapevine trunk diseases. “Final Report to New Zealand Winegrowers”, NZW 13-100. • Sosnowski M and Mundy D (January 2020), “Optimising management of grapevine trunk diseases for vineyard longevity”, NZW 16-102. • New Zealand Winegrowers’ Vineyard Spray Schedule nzwine.com


Progress Reports

New research into the management of grapevine trunk disease Eline van Zijll de Jong1 and Mark Sosnowski2 1 Linnaeus Ltd 2 South Australian Research & Development Institute 19-101 GRAPEVINE TRUNK disease is a major threat to the economic sustainability of New Zealand vineyards. The disease not only causes significant yield and quality reductions but also shortens the lifespan of vineyards. Remedial surgery (Figure 1) is used to ‘renew’ infected vines by removing diseased wood and reworking vines to improve productivity. Grower reliance on remedial surgery is set to increase as vineyards in New Zealand are reaching the age that production is likely to be significantly affected by trunk disease. Timely intervention is important for effective disease control and preventing vine death. The efficacy of remedial surgery is dependent on complete removal of infected wood. Successful implementation of remedial surgery is also determined by the growth and origin of watershoots. Cuts close to the graft union improves efficacy but reduces the likelihood of watershoot growth from the scion. There are indications that under New Zealand conditions, recovery of watershoots is variable in winter and may be improved if remediation is carried out in spring.

Figure 1 - A grapevine that has undergone remedial surgery.

A new research project in the Vineyard Ecosystems Programme funded by New Zealand Wine-

growers and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has commenced to facilitate

the development of best practice recommendations for New Zealand growers on the optimal

Figure 2. Internal symptoms of grapevine trunk disease.

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020  //   73


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time and position for remedial surgery based on the recovery of watershoots and the distribution of pathogens and disease symptoms. In 2019, three trials were established in mature commercial vineyard blocks requiring remedial surgery. One trial in an organic block of Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough and one trial each in blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Hawke’s Bay. Remedial surgery will be performed in winter and spring over four years to collect robust field data on watershoot production, the rate of disease progression in trunks (Figure 2) and external dieback symptoms (Figure 3). Data will also be collected on crop yields before and after treatment. Vines from all three varieties will be sampled to determine how far in

74   // 

advance of visible symptoms dieback pathogens are found and to identify the main causal agents.

NZ WINEGROWER  APRIL/MAY 2020

In addition to improving best practice guidelines, this research is expected to assist growers in mak-

ing informed decisions on whether to retrunk or replant. nzwine.com

Figure 3. Symptoms of dieback in cordon (above) and cane (below) pruned grapevines.


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