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

Covid-19

A memorable vintage and uncertain future

Social Connection

Upping the ante on digital marketing

Winter Work

Pruning progresses with unexpected workforce

JUNE/JULY 2020 ISSUE 122

Survive; Adapt; Thrive

Weathering the storm of Covid-19

JUNE/JULY 2020 / ISSUE 122


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Contents

Issue 122 – June / July 2020

REGULARS 4

Editorial

Sophie Preece

6

From the CEO

Philip Gregan

30 Bragato Research Institute

Pruning Fact Sheet

46 Women in Wine

Kate Radburnd

50 Wine Weather

James Morrison

52

Biosecurity

Sophie Badland

54

Not on the Label

Legal Matters with Dentons Kensington Swan

F E AT U R E S 16

Weathering the storm

Wine companies with a foot in both on and off-premise camps stood their ground through the initial phase of Covid-19, with retail sales lifting while hospitality plummeted. Now the industry is looking to adapt for the next phase in a strange new world.

16

24 Poised for change

Paul Goodege thinks a lot about evolution, from the change in wines and vines at Boneline, to the ancient geology beneath them. Now he’s considering the evolution of their model, as Covid-19 crashes down on the restaurant trade they’ve relied on.

24

38 Wellness in Wine

Lion New Zealand has been on its health and safety toes in response to Covid-19, but the company has also recognised the importance of mental and emotional care through this uncertain time.

38

Cover: Wasana Buppee, from Thailand, harvests at Cloudy Bay. PHOTO RICHARD BRIGGS.

40

46


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 Hawke’s Bay: Olly Styles oliverstyles@hotmail.com Nelson: Neil Hodgson neil@hodgson.net.nz Central Otago: Jean Grierson jean.grierson@nzsouth.co.nz

Evolve & Survive

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

AT BONELINE in Waipara, Paul Goodege (pg 24) ferments grapes grown on the fossils of dinosaurs, the bones of moa, and a landscape carved by a glacier. They’re all poignant symbols that things can change, over millennia or overnight, and that adaptability isn’t a given. Covid-19 has certainly forced change on the world, and New Zealand’s wine industry is adapting to survive and thrive. Individual companies, large and small, have each been faced with shared and unique challenges – from harvesting fruit and selling wine, to planning for the ‘new normal’, whatever that turns out to be. Those reliant on restaurants were struck a particularly harsh blow, but they’re not out for the count, instead using high tech platforms to tell their (often low tech) rich and authentic stories. Live tastings, webinars and Zoom meetings have become part of the vino vernacular, while companies across the board up the ante on social media. Ultimately, borders will open, travellers will return, and winemakers will again fly into markets. But the old normal will not return and nor should it. Digital experts have long urged the wine industry to take advantage of technology and its remarkable ability to beam you into the home or business of your greatest (or potential) fans all around the globe. For all the pain, now and ahead, it’s been a powerful time of learning and connection, with people and with technology. A business advisor on page 18 suggests the industry can survive, adapt and thrive through this period of change. Cloudy Bay’s Estate Director Yang Shen (pg 20) agrees. The Chinese word for crisis combines the characters for danger and opportunity, Yang says. “I do think that the crisis will be gone really quickly, and only opportunity will remain.”

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  JUNE/JULY 2020

Lee Suckling

Jean Grierson

Bob Campbell

Tessa Nicholson

Lee has been published in more than 60 lifestyle magazines around the world and writes a weekly column for the New Zealand Herald. This month he celebrates some Sauvignon social success stories, following Sauvignon Blanc Day on 1 May.

Hundreds of Pacific Islanders in New Zealand for summer vineyard work are stranded because of the Covid-19 lockdown. Jean talks to a Ni-Vanuatu chief in Central Otago about working out the winter.

One of New Zealand’s great wine pioneers – Denis Irwin - passed away on 10 April, after a battle with bone cancer. Bob recalls the wines and character that made the Matawhero founder so beloved.

Tessa has written stories about almost every aspect of New Zealand’s wine industry, as a onetime grower, longtime wine writer and former editor of this magazine. This month she talks to Kate Radburnd about the winemaker’s remarkable contribution to New Zealand wine.

Go to page 12

Go to page 26

Go to page 48

Go to page 46


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From the CEO Philip Gregan

2020: A vintage and a time not to be forgotten IN THESE strange and uncertain times, New Zealanders are rightly proud of the way we all worked together to manage the threat from Covid-19. Equally in our industry, we can have great pride in our positive response to the unique operating conditions under Alert Level 4. The Government stressed that we were privileged to operate under Level 4, and there is no doubt growers and wineries embraced that challenge in the best way possible, by operating safely under ver y testing circumstances. The fact that more than 400,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested and no Covid clusters developed in our industry testifies to how total that commitment to safety was during harvest. With the vintage now behind us, there are a whole new set of challenges facing our sector. Selling and getting paid for all that wine sitting in tanks and barrels is right near the top of the agenda. Positively, the reputation of our wine remains strong in our key markets. Our wines resonate with consumers and the trade; they want to buy them. There has also been plenty of international media coverage on New Zealand in recent weeks, given our success with Covid-19. That will have generated further

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interest in New Zealand and our products; that’s got to be good news. But there are going to be some headwinds, that is certain. Some of the numbers coming out around the economic impact of the Covid-19 response are very sobering. For example: • Global GDP forecasts are uniformly bleak, albeit laced with large doses of uncertainty. In mid-April, the IMF forecast a 3 percent reduction in global GDP, the biggest reduction in the past 100 years. • For New Zealand, the Treasury forecast for the year ending June 2020 is for GDP to fall 4.6 percent with unemployment rising to 9.8 percent at the end of September. In major export markets for New Zealand wine (USA, UK, Australia and Canada) the forecasts are all similarly pessimistic. • Bringing matters closer to home, Statistics New Zealand has released data that shows the New Zealand hospitality trade suffered a 95 percent decline in business between February and April. That data lined up very closely with the reports from wineries supplying the restaurant and on-premise trade. • And of course, visitors coming into the country have

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

plunged to virtually zero, down bers will remain a focus. There 99 percent in recent weeks, will be changes to how some according to Stats NZ. material is delivered, with more Put all those numbers online, of course. A particular together and they point to focus will be ongoing informatough times ahead. Overlaid tion about changing market across any view of the future dynamics, which will be so are also all the uncertainties important during this period – how long and deep will the recession be? Will consumers go out to cellar doors “With the vintage a n d r e s t a u r a n t s ? now behind us, there When will the borders are a whole new set open? How much will consumers trade down of challenges facing in recessionary times? our sector.” Only time will provide any certainty on these matters. Each grape growing and of rapid market and regulawine business in our sector will tory flux. We will continue respond as it sees fit. Some will to work also on those various see opportunity, while others regulatory barriers that have may need to change business come into sharp relief in recent models if routes to market weeks. The need for labour, remain closed or constricted some of the ridiculous rules for a long period of time. From around cellar door licensing, a New Zealand Winegrowers and the perennial bugbear – (NZW) perspective, we will excise, among other matters. do our best to support the And we will continue to fund whole industry. We have research through the Bragato already announced proposals Research Institute and focus on to cut levy rates in the year those important sustainability ahead and to fund Sustainable issues. Winegrowing New Zealand All the best for the release (SWNZ) membership fees from of the 2020 wines. For many within the levy for one year. reasons it will be a vintage and Providing timely and highly a time that lingers long in our relevant information to mem- collective memories.


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News Briefs

Young Vit & Young Winemaker

Jane Cooper and Mike De Garis

Royal Easter Show THE CHURCH Road McDonald Series Chardonnay 2018 took top honours in the 2020 Royal Easter Show Wine Awards judged in Auckland in March. Awards Director Terry Dunleavy says judges were impressed by the overall general high quality of entries this year, especially for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. “Not only was there an increase in the number of gold medals awarded to the top Sauvignon Blancs, but the wines revealed greater diversity of styles, more complexity and showed stronger evidence of the flinty, minerally flavours that the variety can achieve. The 2020 awards were the final awards managed by Shona White, who has retired, and will be replaced next year by Ian Clark. Chairman of Judges this year was Australian Mike De Garis. In 2021 Jane Cooper will take over the role, with Mike reverting to his long-held role as Deputy Chair. To see trophy winners, go to wineshow.co.nz.

Legendary host DON HEWITSON was a “true pioneer, and unforgettable Kiwi bloke”, says Terry Dunleavy, in a tribute to the restauranteur, who died of cancer in March. The piece, which can be found at the ‘people’ section of nzwine.com, talks of Don’s “legendary status” for the laid back Kiwi-style hospitality of Cork & Bottle in London. In 1972, Don went from running front of house at The Coachman in Wellington to open Cork & Bottle just off Leicester Square, “and to introduce London to a new way to enjoy wine and good company”, says Terry, who was inaugural Chief Executive of the Wine Institute of New Zealand. “As soon as New Zealand wines became available, Don served them at Cork & Bottle, giving our brands both popularity and credibility among the growing ranks of London wine cognoscenti who were his regular customers,” says Terry. “For his huge and pioneering part in promoting our wines in what is undoubtedly the capital of the world wine trade, London, Don Hewitson will ever be remembered by New Zealand winemakers with gratitude, respect and affection.” Matawhero founder Denis Irwin also died recently, and Bob Campbell discusses his legacy on page 48.

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

NEW DATES have been set for the 2020 Corteva Agriscience Young Viticulturist of the Year and Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year Competitions. “These are such positive initiatives”, says New Zealand Winegrowers’ Leadership and Communities Manager Nicky Grandorge. “It’s fantastic to see individuals grow in confidence and skills as well as relationships grow 2019 Young Winemaker of the Year between everyone involved Emily Gaspard-Clark such as previous contestants, winners, sponsors and industry members. It’s an exciting and special time of year, so we are thrilled everything can go ahead.” To read more and see dates, go to Advocacy Matters on page 56.

Getting Through NEW ZEALAND Winegrowers has a Health and Wellbeing page amongst its Covid-19 resources at nzwine.co.nz. The Getting Through resources include links to information on where to find help and how to stay healthy and motivated. Nicky Grandorge, Leadership and Communities Manager, has also been running informal Zoom meetings with some industry groups, including Women in Wine, which have been a valuable opportunity for people to talk through their experiences over the Covid19 period, she says. “It’s more important than ever to keep in touch and look after each other’s and our own mental health and wellbeing.” The New Zealand Mental Health Foundation has listed “five ways to wellbeing” as people return to work: • Connect • Give • Take Notice • Keep Learning • Be Active Nicky can be contacted at 021780948 or nicky.grandorge@nzwine.com. If you feel you need to talk to a professional, the Ministry of Health have a free to call or text number for a counsellor – 1737.


News Briefs

Bring on the buzz

Pinot Noir NZ postponed THE BEST Pinot Noir party on the planet has been postponed to February 2022, due to the ramifications of Covid-19. Co-chair Pen Naish says the impact of the pandemic on the wine industry, international travel and the hospitality sector made a change of date essential. “We have made this decision with our wineries, partners and attendees at heart, and are absolutely committed to delivering an epic Pinot Noir NZ event to the world at a later date.” That later date has now been set as Tuesday 15 February to Thursday 17 February, 2022. It will be held in Christchurch, as originally planned, with a programme that will evolve in light of recent events, ensuring it remains relevant, informative and inspirational, Pen says. “These are unprecedented times, and Pinot NZ will be an important opportunity to meet and reunite with the global wine community face-to-face, and explore the exciting evolution of New Zealand Pinot Noir.”

VILLA MARIA and Countdown have teamed up to encourage people to plant wildflower seeds in their gardens, supporting the importance of bees to Aotearoa’s unique biodiversity. Villa Maria Chief Executive Justin Liddell says the company plants more than 700kg of wildflower seeds in its vineyards every year to attract beneficial insects and encourage biodiversity. “We know our customers care about the environment, and so do we. Being environmentally responsible is inherent in the long-term view we take of not only our business, but the wine industry as a whole.” Villa Maria and Countdown have also announced their intention to plant 2,000 native trees in New Zealand this year, in support of Trees That Count.

Hall of Fame NEW ZEALAND’S “wine show queen” Shona White and “seminal” wine historian Dick Scott have both been inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame. Terry Dunleavy, who is on the judging panel, says Shona has played a “leading and decisive role” in the development of wine competitions in New Zealand, including the Royal Easter Wine Show, which she stood down from this year. “Having becoming involved as a steward in the 1980s, Shona became my Assistant Director, and on my retirement in 2013, took over as Director, becoming identified as the ‘wine show queen’,” says Terry. She helped develop the ‘double blind’ system, “which absolutely assures that sample entries are presented to judges in a random method that prevents even a hint of the identity of the entrant’s winemaker,” he says. Shona was also a Director of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, as well as

taking charge at the Bragato Wine Awards until its cessation in 2018, and others such as the New World Wine Awards, the Marlborough Wine Show and the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards. She also organised export and educational tastings for New Zealand Winegrowers. Dick Scott was inducted posthumously to the Hall of Fame, in recognition of the industry’s “seminal historian”, says Terry. His book Winemakers of New Zealand, was published by Southern Cross Books in 1964 and dedicated to the pioneer winemakers who transplanted their skills of the old world to New Zealand. Terry says the meticulous researcher pored through official and church documents to record the planting of the first vines at Kerikeri in 1819 by missionary Samuel Marsden, and the first commercial vines planted in 1833 by James Busby at Waitangi. “From that beginning, the

book recounts the arrival of migrants from England, Germany, Dalmatia, Lebanon and elsewhere, and the problems they encountered from prohibitionists determined to thwart their winemaking intentions.” Dick also produced the first regular wine publication - Wine Review -from 1964 to 1978, and in 2002 collaborated with photographer Marti Friedlander to produce the book, Pioneers of New Zealand Wine, published by Reeds. In 1977, Corbans selected Dick to author the history of their pioneer winemaking family, in A Stake in the Country, published by Southern Cross Books. The principal objective of the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame is to recognise and commemorate individual persons who have made major contributions to the development and enhancement of the national domestic and export-based wine industry in New Zealand.

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   9


The Market

China Online FOLLOW ING MONTHS of restrictions, the China wine market is starting to see positive signs of recovery, says New Zealand Winegrowers Market Manager for Asia, Natalie Potts. “We are starting to see our wine community coming together to celebrate wine once more.” Long-term New Zealand wine education partner Grapea Institute ran recent #sauvblanc day tastings across three cities in China, each successfully hosting more than 40 guests, she says. Meanwhile, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) have successfully created an online ‘national pavilion’ at the new

Online Expo created by Chinese wine media Lookvin, with nearly 30 wine brands signed up. “By navigating e-platform communities, and keeping in tune with the appetite of our Chinese wine lovers, we will look to re-engage with physical tastings as soon as the time is right,” says Natalie. While people are now venturing out, the trend for ‘livestreaming’, or real-time interactive video content, is still booming, she adds. “NZW moved quickly to join the trend, so far hosting four successful online livestreaming courses with Lookvin and Grapea, as well as wine key opinion leader

(KOL) Terry Xu.” The four courses have: • Combined reach of 19,500+ wine lovers, with 13,000+ interactive comments • 800+ new followers to the New Zealand Wine Wechat official account • Increased traffic to New Zealand Wine e-commerce platforms on Tmall and JD.com

• Creation of several Wechat groups for hundreds of New Zealand wine fans NZW has a series of livestreams with KOLs planned in the coming months as part of the wider China plans, says Natalie. For further information contact Natalie Potts (natalie@nzwine.com) or Vanessa Wu (vanessa.wu@nzwine.com)

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The Market

The Marketing Place

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

Read On The impact of Covid-19 has meant that a lot of our planned New Zealand Winegrowers marketing activity has been severely affected, including the cancellation of events in our major export markets, postponement of Pinot Noir NZ 2021 (and the satellite events that surround it) plus the halt in visitors and international tourism. During the lockdown Charlotte Read period, we used the opportunity to move our activity into the virtual world and to accelerate our plans to provide you with relevant information digitally, to assist your business planning and execution. This includes sources from New Zealand’s wider business support ecosystem and overseas thought leaders. Bringing information to you virtually has always been part of our plan, and will be part of our new ‘normal’ as we recover from this crisis, so please let us know if you have a topic suggestion for future sessions. Charlotte Read is General Manager Marketing at New Zealand Winegrowers.

Content Call

When one door (or border) closes, another generally opens, so with our Visit Programme on hold, we have developed another way to continue to tell the New New Zealand Winegrowers has been Zealand wine story to the world. A new weaving an informative web in recent media hub will provide stories to targeted months, with all manner of wine related media to use as they see fit – whether it subjects covered in a series of webinars. be verbatim, or part of a wider Brand New Among them are webinars geared at helping wine companies understand Zealand piece. We are already making and respond to the changing market. impact pre-launch with one story being used Last month, members could learn about in three Canadian publications, reaching consumer behavioural changes in China, 647,000 people. If you have a great story to as a result of Covid-19, as well as wider tell, we would love to hear about it, and to market trends such as e-commerce, share it. In particular, we love: key opinion leaders, the impact of the • People stories US-China trade war and more. Or they • Sustainability initiatives could hear from Paul Mabray, an expert • New experiences Paul Mabray • Great imagery on major digital trends for the wine industry, talking about the US market and its digital transformation, as well as Please send your story ideas to Juliana at how wine companies can take steps to move beyond traditional channels. To hear juliana.foster@nzwine.com, or feel free to contact her if these and more, go to nzwine.com/members/events/ you would like to hear more.

Webinar Works

NZ Wine Diaries It’s time for wine to get digital, which is why we’ve invited some of the world’s most entertaining palates to a series of webinar conversations. The New Zealand Wine Diaries are about ‘mastering the conversation’, with Masters of Wine sharing their palates and perceptions. We kicked things off with a date with Sauvignon Blanc, as

Master of Wine Jane Skilton joined Master Sommeliers Ronan Sayburn, David Keck and John Szabo to talk about New Zealand’s most popular grape and its current position in the market. They contemplated the evolution of style and its importance on a wine menu, and why it’s vital to “get past

that gooseberry and just talk about the wine”. In late May, John Szabo led fellow Master Sommeliers Cameron Douglas, David Keck and Ronan Sayburn to discuss Chardonnay and Pinot Noir “at the other 45th Parallel”. To hear these discussions and diary future events, go to nzwine.com/thenew-zealand-wine-diaries

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   11


The Market

Celebrating Sauvignon Sharing the love for Sauvignon Blanc LEE SUCKLING Spy Valley’s 2020 Sauvignon Blanc.

HOW DO you celebrate Sauvignon Blanc during a pandemic? Throw a festival, but make it digital. Sauvignon Blanc Day, on 1 May, looked a little different than usual. The overarching goal remained the same: enhance the position of Sauvignon Blanc in the crowded market and encourage wine tourism to our Sauvignon-producing wineries. Yet all physical events, local and international, were cancelled due to Covid-19, so New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) members looked to #sauvblancday to carry the day. Armed with a toolkit of New Zealand imagery, videos, logos, and other campaign material, wine brands got creative and posted across Instagram, Facebook and other social networks to their respective followers. The result, for the Instagram crowd, was brands like Forrest Wines overlaying #sauvblancday logos with their own product on display. General Manager Beth Forrest says #sauvblancday gave “a chance to reflect on an exciting and vibrant industry we have built in New Zealand on the backbone of such a vibrant and zesty grape variety in such a short period of time”. She notes the day is a “reminder of where we have come from”. Decibel Wines got even more creative, sandwiching a bottle of 2018 Sauvignon Blanc in a baguette for a photo. “Pinot is

12   // 

what brought me here, Malbec became my passion, but Sauvignon Blanc is Decibel’s bread and butter,” says Daniel Brennan, laughing at his selfproclaimed “dad jokes”. Facebook pages for wine collectives such as Mana Winegrowers used the #sauvblancday opportunity to share insights into their family-owned producers’ organic methods of Sauvignon Blanc production, as well as tasting tips and food serving suggestions. Whitehaven, Te Mata, Loveblock, Wine Marlborough and others conducted wine tastings over Instagram Live or Zoom. Nautilus Estate went all out, with Winemaker Clive Jones streaming virtual tastings in the USA and UK with distributors. The brand encouraged its Instagram followers to upload their own images showcasing Nautilus, Opawa or Twin Islands wines on their own pages, with $200 vouchers for the best photos. “That Friday, the Royal New Zealand Ballet also streamed Romeo and Juliet for all New Zealand to watch,” says Nautilus’s Claudia Yanez. Nautilus shared with that audience recipes from Kelly Gibney to match their Sauvignon Blanc while watching the show. Nautilus also participated in wine and yoga sessions with Vino Viyasa Yoga. “[This is] yoga that incorporates wine education and

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

Sauvignon Blanc is Decibel’s bread and butter.

tastings in New York and LA,” explains Claudia. “They do private events and virtual classes. We got approached by them via our distributors. They used the International Sauvignon Blanc Day to showcase Nautilus and another brand from New Zealand.” The likes of Rimapere, Saint Clair Family Estate, and Jules Taylor Wines also took to Instagram stories (which appear online for 24 hours) to share brand videos and wine journeys. Social media was also used by many to promote direct sales, free shipping, and promotional mixed cases. More formal webinars also took place for Sauvignon Blanc Day 2020 Specialist Cellars, 5Forests and NZW’s own New Zealand Wine

Diaries all helped drum up digital engagement from within the wine trade, reaching importers, critics, writers, restauranteurs, and more. During the lockdown, New Zealand was more “communityfocused” says NZW’s Sarah Adams, noting the “buy local” campaigns that popped up around the country. “Sauvignon Blanc has benefitted from this introspection,” she says. The result in social media engagement with New Zealand wine companies was a 261 percent increase on the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Day, Sarah adds. “This Sauvignon Blanc Day was a celebration of the variety that kick-started our industry and continues to provide for us.”


The Market

One Wine World SAUVIGNON BLANC Day 2020 was more about connection than it was wine, wrote digital wine strategist Paul Mabray in the wake of the celebration. “It was about one wine world, reunited online, finding refuge and comfort with each other over a beautiful beverage and reminiscing about what was and finding hope, together, of what will be.” Felicity Turner from New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) says that response was one of many warm messages received after the organisation sent parcels of Sauvignon Blanc and New Zealand food to wine writers and trade around the world, “so they could create a perfect New Zealand Sauvignon pairing or “The response to explore a tasting theme from the comfort of their these parcels own homes”. was overwhelming.” Replacing international events with Sauvignon Blanc Day ‘care packages’ helped build relationships with key opinion leaders and decision makers in markets, she says. “The parcels were not designed to be a ‘hard sell’, but a genuine show of concern for our supporters in the trade… Of course we hope that when the international market rebuild begins, these top level trade and media will remember New Zealand wine.” Almost 60 parcels were sent across Asia, Australia, California and

the UK, with fresh mussels delivered across China, chef-prepared food matches delivered across California, and a celebrated New Zealand chef’s recipe book, along with a voucher for the recipient’s local specialty grocer, delivered across Australia. “The response to these parcels was overwhelming, with our trade contacts fortunately recognising that these were a genuine show of support,” says Felicity.

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   13


The Market

Connect & Collect Making the most of digital platforms

Joanna Glover speaking at the Organic and Biodynamic Conference PHOTO JESSICA JONES

DIGITAL MARKETING and direct to consumer sales have never been more important to the wine world, says social media specialist Joanna Glover. Covid-19 has introduced uncharted territor y, and companies are working hard to come up to speed, with virtual tastings, webinars, live digital

experiences and Zoom meetings suddenly key to business. It’s a time to be agile, watch and learn, create and test (and test again), Joanna says. But there are still some fundamentals to forging a good connection with your customers. Now, more than ever, “stopping the scroll” requires companies to be

storytellers, able to build brand recognition through depth, transparency and humanity, she says. Here are some of her tips for doing just that: • Focus on what is important to your customer and tailor your content. • Be entertaining and mix it up. • Try images, video and Q&A.

• Video is critical, and at the moment people are more forgiving of ‘raw and real’ footage. • Be authentic, be yourself and bring your brand voice to life. • If you’re in the New Zealand market, take a look at the huge spike in ‘buy local’ platforms. • Help customers and prospects solve their problems - think about what they‘re asking. • Differentiate yourself from your competitors - what makes you different from the thousands of family-owned w iner ies w i th b eautiful vineyards making premium wine? • Plan, set goals and have measurable objectives. • New Zealand Wine’s social media masterclass webinar is on Thursday 4 June at 10am. Register to secure your place on the members site at nzwine. co.nz, or dip in to the recorded session after the event.

Wine advertising and Covid-19 SARAH WILSON

MUCH HAS changed in the world over recent months, but the legal requirements that surround alcohol advertising remain the same. Alcohol advertising is a broad term, which includes things like social media posts, billboards, competitions, product displays and media releases. Breaches of the legal requirements for alcohol advertising could result in various penalties including fines, loss of your licence and being required to take down the offending advertising. Here are some tips to help you navigate wine promotions and Covid-19. • When preparing your promotions, put yourself in the position of someone looking at your promotion from the outside: What would they think was appropriate? • Review the conditions of your existing liquor licence. Make sure you are comfortable with what it does (and does not) allow you to do, particularly regarding remote sales.

14   // 

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

• Don’t suggest that alcohol is necessary or essential to survive lockdown or the pandemic. • While it’s common to take a lighter tone on social media, don’t claim that alcohol might improve mood or provide relief from the pandemic (even in a comedic way). • We don’t recommend using promotions that show people doing things that would breach the current Alert Level. If using older content (eg, photos from last year when the restrictions didn’t apply), this should be made clear in the promotion. • Wine is prohibited from being used as a prize (there are very limited exceptions to this). Instead, you could use competitions where the prizes are things like restaurant vouchers, visitor experiences or picnic hampers. • Don’t discount wine by 25 percent or more, or promote your product in a way that might make people think the wine is discounted by 25 percent or more. For

example, don’t refer to “crazy sales”. • Make sure your target audience is over 18. Take care when using cartoons, bright colours or anything that could be seen as appealing to children. • If you sell wine online, make sure your website has an age verification page on entry. This should be in a format that requires the user to enter a birth date that confirms they are over 18. Users should also be asked to confirm their age again immediately before the sale of any alcohol is completed. • For more information on legal requirements and social media guidelines, go to nzwine.com/covid19 Sarah Wilson is New Zealand Winegrowers’(NZW) senior legal counsel. She can be contacted at sarah.wilson@nzwine.com


The Focus Covid-19

Sobering statistics

Market pressures ahead. Pg 16

Survive; adapt; thrive

Weathering the storm. Pg 18

Cloudy Bay

Finding opportunities. Pg 20

Boneline

Evolving times. Pg 24

Stranded workers

Far from home. Pg 26

Cloudy Bay harvest, before Alert Level Four . PHOTO RICHARD BRIGGS


The Focus

Covid-19 & Wine

Matt Sutherland PHOTO BY JIM TANNOCK

Uncertain journey in post-Covid landscape

SOPHIE PREECE

NEW ZEALAND wine’s glass is still “half full”, with retail sales offsetting the on-premise collapse, says a premium Marlborough producer. That’s a “very positive” outcome in the short term, says Dog Point General Manager Matt Sutherland. “But what we don’t know is how it will look in the next six to 12 months… we need to keep evolving, learning and supporting our hospitality and retail partners.” Matt says companies with a foot in both on and off-premise camps have stood their ground through Covid-19, with Dog Point noting a lift in retail sales around the world while hospitality sales plummeted. “We have a strong on-premise presence, but what we have worked hard to do is have a nice even split,” he says. “We all love to be associated with really good restaurants and that won’t change, but it shows now that you really do need a balance and that retail is vitally

16   // 

important.” The good value of New Zealand wines – even those in higher price points – was rewarded in the first flush of ‘panic buying’, early in the Covid crisis, with retailers exceeding their allocations. A US buyer could stock up on an organic, family owned, premium Sauvignon Blanc for $25 or less, and retail sales climbed for the likes of Dog Point, with Hong Kong and Canada performing “really, really well”, says Matt. Direct to consumer channels have become “really important”, but getting wine to overseas doorsteps has “never been harder” because of time lags and customs, he says. “To get a case of wine to London takes so long now… One of the challenges is,‘how do we access the world with our wine at an affordable price?’” Rabobank Wine Analyst Hayden Higgins says the “all-important” US market imported high volumes of New Zealand wine, at higher

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

average prices per litre, in the first quarter of 2020. But whilst retail in the US saw stockpiling spikes for wine, those spikes won’t be sustained, and the impacts of Covid-19 will be more apparent in the second and third quarters. Wine will still be consumed, but wine consumers historically tend to “trade down” in tough times, he says, “perhaps buying a bit more wine and spending a little less”. During the Global Financial Crisis, New Zealand retail wine prices tended to hold up in the US market, “and to a certain degree in the UK”, he says. However, Rabobank is signalling an expectation that wine export prices could drop over the next couple of quarters, “because the recession will be far more severe than in the GFC”, he says. “There will be a flow on impact.” Another concern is “finding a home” for wine not consumed during the hospitality lockdown, Hayden says. That

issue is likely to be exacerbated by a slow return to on-premise, with reports indicating a six to seven month lag between emerging from containment and food service sales returning to zero – equal to the same level as the previous year. “We may find that countries with a bit of surplus wine will try to channel it into the same markets as New Zealand, such as the US or UK.” History shows that tends to cause a softening of price, he says. “Wine will also continue to face competition from other alcoholic beverage categories in the US as well, with wine consumption growth in the US having slowed over the past two years.” The industry is undoubtedly facing “sobering” times, says New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Philip Gregan in his editorial this month (pg 6), citing “uniformly bleak” global GDP forecasts, a 95 percent decline in New Zealand hospitality trade between


February and April, and a 99 percent plunge in overseas visitors. “Put all those numbers together and they point to tough times ahead.” Wine Marlborough General Manager Marcus Pickens says the impacts of Covid-19 are varied, but it’s bound to be a “bumpy ride” for the wine industry in general. “Right now it’s quite mixed, with some companies doing exceptionally well and others finding it quite uncertain.” In general, companies with supermarket avenues have been far less impacted, while those typically dependent on restaurants and bars felt the deep bite of lockdowns, says Marcus. Losing smaller, more boutique wine companies would be a blow for Marlborough’s wine industry, he says. “That undoes years of hard work. Obviously, for the businesses themselves, but also for Marlborough’s positioning, it is potentially quite sobering. We

don’t want to be in that frame of reference as a one-stop-shop for large retail brands. We want a diversity of offerings and a rich ecosystem of wineries.” He hopes “consumer empathy and connections to small, family-owned businesses” will assist smaller operators, and says most wine companies – small and large - are successfully making digital connections with their consumers, retailers and distributors. Meanwhile, Wine Marlborough is responding to Covid-19 by “launching into marketing and positioning strategy work”, and working closely with Destination Marlborough, the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and New Zealand Winegrowers, “to make sure we are pushing wine’s cause”. Many people have spun the crisis into an opportunity to evolve into smarter, leaner, more connected operators. “You don’t often get the oppor-

Marcus Pickens

tunity to get off the train and have a good look at it,” says Rose Family Estate Marketing Manager Ang Wilson, who used lockdown to analyse their digital platforms, direct to consumer connections and reliance on international markets. “Covid-19 was a shock, but I firmly believe ‘it’s not what happens, it’s how you deal with it’, and this situation is no different.” Looking at his glass half full, Matt Sutherland notes that

behind all the Covid-19 anxiety, there’s a 2020 harvest that was one of the best he’s experienced, across all varieties. “We had no disease pressure, the weather was awesome and we could pick in a timely manner.” A longer hang time allowed for greater concentration and evolution of flavours, promising wines he’s pretty excited by. “We feel proud to have harvested some really high quality fruit given the unusual circumstances.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   17


The Focus

Adapt & Thrive

Wine industry weathering the storm SOPHIE PREECE

NEW ZEALAND wine companies can survive, adapt and thrive in the world of Covid19, says a business advisor in Marlborough. WK Director Hamish Morrow, who works with the viticulture sector and with wineries, large and small, talks of a “three phase response” to Covid-19, starting

“It’s been cool to see the industry step up and get through a really challenging time.” with survival. In Marlborough, that’s included a harvest blessed with “sensational” weather, quality fruit, and “exceptional” compliance with regulations, he says. “That has put the industry in a much better position than it might have been.” The relative affordability of Sauvignon Blanc

18   // 

– “by far the biggest line item for our local producers” - has also been a contributing factor to the local industry broadly faring up well at this point, Hamish says. “From a business point of view, there are varying impacts. We are seeing some wine companies who have a really strong grocery channel have a good lift in sales and demand, domestically and offshore,” Hamish says, while recognising the logistical challenges in getting exports out, as well as the boon of a dropping exchange rate. When Covid-19 first broke out, most people were unable to predict what would happen in any of their markets. “It was very uncertain, and then they saw there’d be a demand spike in grocery channels… That was quickly seen as a strong avenue.” Meanwhile, those with

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

more restaurant reliance have seen significant softening in demand, and little or no opportunity to enter supermarket avenues once lockdown was in place. But phase two – adapting – has geared up. Some of those companies saw the approaching headwinds, and sold more fruit in response, and many have reacted with boosted direct-toconsumer approaches, he says. “They have really adapted their marketing.” A rise in pandemic parochialism has helped wine companies launch or enhance their online purchase arms. “From what we are seeing that has softened the blow a little bit for boutique wineries.” Hamish says they have been seeing some delay in payment in some markets, and WK is advising clients to mitigate credit where possible and avoid overexposure to any one customer. They are also recommending companies

build a range of scenario plans, given the lack of predictability around the world. That includes budget planning “for a good, bad, ugly scenarios”, he says. “It is hard to predict what revenue levels will be like for the next few years, so you need to be looking at various scenarios, with corresponding strategies up your sleeve.” On the plus side, he is seeing a lot more connection between companies and customers, as well as greater industry collaboration, thanks to the technology tapped into over lockdown. That includes the likes of virtual tastings, which have been valuable adaptations for the industry. “I don’t think there will be massive growth in sales in the short term, but people may be able to maintain their current levels.” He is also seeing companies trimming waste from their business, in order to run a leaner ship. That’s not


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necessarily just about cutting overheads, but might be looking at processes and movement “and where things get stuck process-wise within a business”, says Hamish, emphasising that it’s important to plan and prioritise around efficiencies. “We’re helping a number of clients with business waste removal plans. The key here is having a structured process to reviewing areas of waste and prioritising which aspects to change”, he says. “There’s a tendency to jump to the thing that feels most painful, but that might not give you the biggest bang for

your buck.” When it comes to the third phase – thrive – there is already evidence of companies “taking the opportunity to manage the situation well and come through in a reasonably solid position”, he says. “Globally, the wine industry is in a good place, with a great product offering and a good brand.” Kiwi ingenuity is shining through, he adds. “It’s been cool to see the industry step up and get through in a really challenging time. Broadly, our view is that the industry is in a reasonable place to weather the storm.”

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Trade Credit Insurance WINE COMPANIES concerned that overseas buyers may fail to pay due to the Covid-19 pandemic can seek trade credit insurance. Thomas Sheng from New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC), which is part of New Zealand Treasury, says there have been a surge in enquiries, with the majority from the wine and horticulture sectors. In response, New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC) has streamlined its assessment process for “top-up cover” coinsurance with four of the commercial trade credit insurers operating in New Zealand. “I understand it has been a good vintage season, but it will only be good if the wine exporters will have the certainty of getting paid,” says Thomas. For more information go to exportcredit.treasury.govt.nz/news. Alternatively, you can contact Thomas Sheng on 04 8907207 or thomas.sheng@treasury.govt.nz

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   19


The Focus

There are plentiful opportunities to be had in China, says Yang Shen

Danger & Opportunity Sauvignon Blanc hits consumer sweet spot SOPHIE PREECE

THE CHINESE word for crisis combines the characters for danger and opportunity, says Cloudy Bay’s Estate Director Yang Shen. “I do think that the crisis (of Covid-19) will be gone really quickly, and only opportunity will remain.” Yang and his family were on holiday in China when the coronavirus was of rising concern there, and they swiftly returned home to Blenheim in January, to go into self-isolation for two weeks. Meanwhile, Yang took a proactive stance by urging the winery to prepare for a possible pandemic, with personal protective gear ordered early on, and social distancing and workplace bubbles put in place, particularly between the hospitality and winery teams. “I saw it would become a worldwide problem,” he says. When Covid-19 did become an issue in New Zealand, Cloudy Bay was one of the first to close its cellar doors, while any vintage crew coming in from Covid hot spots like Italy were isolated on arrival, with a two week stand-down before

20   // 

starting work. Yang says it took a while to convince people of the extent of the risk, but when the Government started to act, the message became a lot easier to convey. And the Cloudy Bay team worked exceptionally well under very difficult circumstances, he adds. The company put in place separate shift bubbles and used estate accommodation including the luxurious ‘Shack’ - for winery staff, as well hiring the hotel portion of the Top 10 Holiday Park in Blenheim. Day and night shifts were housed in different areas of the facility, and smaller bubbles created within each. There was a car

allocated to two-person bubbles as well, with layers of careful logistics. Harvest progressed slowly because of the precautions, but yielded “excellent quality” in the Marlborough region, Yang says. “The Sauvignon Blanc is tasting really, really good,” he adds, talking of more concentration and complexity than 2019, with “a more deeply refined aromatic profile”. When it comes to the market, Cloudy Bay saw a slight lift in sales during the Covid crisis, with a lot of online sales in Asia, and off-premise and wine shop sales in the US, while strong supermarket

Sensory Experience

CLOUDY BAY has had to press pause on its “menu” of extraordinary cellar door experiences, so it has pressed play on a sound track to its wines through a Cloudy Bay spotify album, called From Our Place to Yours. New Zealand, Marlborough and Cloudy Bay’s vineyards are “truly unique”, but the vast majority of people may never visit, “especially now”, says Wine Communications Manager Kat Mason. “We therefore created these tracks, alongside a composer, to bring an impression of our world and our wines to our consumers, wherever they are.”

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

action boosted the UK market. “It’s very interesting to see how the consumer has reacted in the crisis,” Yang says. “They were buying what is most reliable as products - easy to choose, easy to drink, easy to share within the house. And I think Sauvignon Blanc is part of the target.” That has buoyed sales in the short term, “although it is too early to predict the second half of the year”, he says. Longer term, Cloudy Bay will continue to build its direct-toconsumer relationships, which were already a strong focus, and will hone in on the Home Brand campaign rolled out over the past two years. That strategy - to bring New Zealand to the fore - will encompass the Marlborough and Central Otago cellar door activities as well, once they are open for business again. Yang sees huge opportunity for Cloudy Bay, and New Zealand’s wine industry, to find the opportunity in the crisis by engaging in new territories, new markets and new consumers. “And quality remains the key, going forward.”


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The Focus

Kate Barnett with her husband Matt and children Ben (14) Annie (11) and Charlie (12)

Kinship & Solidarity Harvest a family affair at Domaine Thomson SOPHIE PREECE

KATE BARNETT clearly recalls her father pulling up in Wanaka on New Years’ Day, to load his four begrudging daughters into the Chrysler Valiant station wagon. The first days of January were always dedicated to picking blackcurrants on their farm, north of Dunedin, and Kate was there for every harvest, from age five through to 20. The planting of Felton Road vineyard was also a family affair, after her dad – Stewart Elms – found the Bannockburn site, kick-starting a wine life that eventually led Kate to Domaine Thomson in Central Otago, where she’s Operations, Marketing and Cellar Door Manager. This year she was also chief recruiter of locals for harvest, including her 11, 12 and 14-year-old children, in a step back in time she’s cherished.

22   // 

The Covid-19 lockdown saw the boutique company caught short of harvest crew until a team of 18 friends and family filled the breach. Being in a small town “at the end of the world”, and asking people to come out of their isolation to help pick, was initially daunting. “With Level 4 lockdown just starting, it was a big ask - one which I felt quite strongly,” she says, describing a sense of solemnity as the team familiarised themselves with the necessary layers of safety protocol. But it rapidly became a precious time for the crew, with separate bubbles bonding emotionally, if not physically. “They were so grateful to be there and we were so grateful to have them. It was a really lovely, lovely time.” Now, with fruit in, the company is preparing for a

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

pared down period ahead. A beautiful new cellar door – 10 years in the planning and open for just six weeks before lockdown – has missed its grand opening. The vineyard’s owners, David and PM HallJones, were to be back for the harvest and for the launch, but were unable to leave Hong Kong, where they are based, due to the pandemic. Closing the doors on the cellar door was heartbreaking,

Kate says, describing the “elegantly rustic” and intimate interior, and a corrugated tin exterior that evokes the days of David’s great-greatgrandfather, John Turnbull T homson, a pioneer ing surveyor in New Zealand and Asia. But she hopes it will now be an appealing destination for locals and domestic tourists looking for a wine experience in “a lovely safe intimate space”.


In the meantime, Domaine Thomson are cutting costs where they can, and looking at the business in a different light. It will be all hands on deck in the vines and winery, and when visitors come to the cellar door, one of the team will “drop tools” and come in from the field to host them, just like the “old days”, she says. The impact on Queenstown restaurants – home to much of their business – is having major ramifications. “Even before Level 4, and with the onset of the two week quarantine, we started to feel the pinch of fewer tourists,” Kate says. “But I am quite optimistic about it. I think they are experienced operators and they know what they are doing.” Online sales boomed through the lockdown, and Kate also put an advert in the Otago Daily Times, drawing plenty of attention from non-digital Pinot lovers. It’s another old-school approach that appeals, she says, calling the lockdown an opportunity to reset. “That’s kind of why I am loving it, on a personal level.” It’s certainly a vintage to remember, she wrote in a heartfelt post on social media. “If a wine could speak of solidarity, gratitude and kinship, 2020 will be the wine to sit back and listen to.”

A vintage of two halves JOELLE THOMSON

IT WAS very dry, very warm and the grapes looked very healthy at John Douglas’ five hectare vineyard on Te Muna Road in Martinborough this year. But even with flavours hitting high quality notes, he wasn’t ready to begin harvesting when he did, towards late March. A full lockdown under Covid-19 may have meant no harvest at all, so John brought in as much fruit as he could beforehand, picking a third of his total vineyard, all of it Pinot Noir. “For me this was a vintage of two halves. First there were the grapes I picked early, because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pick at all. And then there were the grapes that were harvested during lockdown, a couple of weeks later.” He likens it to fishing. “Vintage 2020 for me is partly like the one that got away, because it was looking fantastic and then Covid came along and we weren’t quite ready to harvest.” Tannins, acids and flavours were all looking good, but physiological ripeness was not complete for all of the grapes in those first picks, he says. John harvested as much as he could alone, “and did a couple of little picks with friends and family early on, social distancing in the vineyard as we picked the grapes.” A lot of people who helped had never picked grapes

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before, “so it was slow progress, even on a small vineyard”, he says. It also served to remind him why he lives in Martinborough. “It’s because we help each other, and that made the harvest possible thanks to the strong sense of community here, which really kicked in just prior to lockdown.” When Alert Level 4 occurred and wine was announced by the Government to be an essential service, John was able to put the brakes on the first half of harvest, and investigate options for picking the remaining grapes predominantly Pinot Noir and a quarter of a hectare of Riesling, destined this year for a Pét-Nat style of wine. “Travelling vintage workers in the region this year were all living in a bubble and had to socially distance from others, but they were available, thankfully, to help complete the harvest once the grapes were at optimal ripeness.” There was 80mm of rain between the two halves of harvest, but there was no berry splitting as a result, says John. “The thing we couldn’t do was the social interaction we usually have, so it was kind of weird not being able to sit around and try wines with the vintage workers and winemakers in the region. We didn’t have the chance to have feedback from each other this year.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   23


The Focus

Wine Evolution Boneline poised for change SOPHIE PREECE

PAUL GOODEGE thinks a lot about evolution, from the change in wines and vines at Boneline, to the ancient geology beneath them. “Everything about this place is variable,” says the Waipara company’s Winemaker. “The people who work here, the varieties, and the soil in particular.” Now he’s considering the evolution of their model, as Covid-19 crashes down on the restaurant trade they’ve relied on. “I believe the biggest impact on us is coming,” Paul says. “It will play out very slowly and we are going to have to adapt and engage with the local community.” He sees a “huge opportunity” in the growing appetite for Farmers’ Markets and local connection, and the Boneline team hope to lure more people for rich cellar door experiences, while perhaps “thinking outside of just wine”, to grow the likes of citrus. The Boneline sits on the south bank of the Waipara River and is owned by Paul Tutton and Olga SienkoTutton, who live in the UK, and Vic Tutton and Lindsay Hill, who live on the vineyard.

24   // 

They began planting 30 years ago, fetching cuttings from growers in the valley and around the country, “so we have a fruit salad of clones”, says Paul. Planting took more than a decade, with some vines on their own roots while others are grafted, adding to the complexity of the operation. Their brand is named for the nearby exposed K-T Boundary line, a geological signature that marks the end of the Mesozoic Era and extinction of the dinosaurs, and for the fossils found in the Waipara River, dating as far back as 65 million years. There are moa bones here too, relative newcomers, and the geological legacy of a

glacier, and of terraces chiselled out by the river. That combination gives the property its contrasting soil profiles, says Paul, talking of swift transitions from silty soils to “bone of your arse gravel with no loam in it at all”. Vines are managed according to clone, soil and wines, and hand harvested clonally and carefully, to be processed individually in the winery. “We are only a small producer, but like to make as much work as possible,” says Paul, who joined the company as Assistant Winemaker in 2015. Since then Boneline has converted to organics, with certification due next year,

A passion scheme The last of Boneline’s Cabernet Franc came off the vine on 30 April, around three weeks after the rest of the harvest. It’s grown on a lower terrace, in an eddy carved out by the river eons ago, providing a perfect heat trap in the silty soils. Winemaker Paul Goodege says there can be some pre-harvest-holiday impatience waiting for the Franc, a “passion scheme” for the company, but the bright and pure blackcurrant characters he’s seeing in 2020 - reminiscent of purple jet planes - make it all worthwhile. Boneline’s 2018 Amphitheatre Cabernet Franc won the 2019 New Zealand Wine of the Year awards Champion Other Red Styles trophy.

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

and reduced inputs in the winery, with a philosophy of “minimal intervention with maximum care”. Tank and barrel fermentations run alongside small lots of hand plunged Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, and successive vintages show stylistic development, “guided by the seasons and the progress in bottle of our wines from previous vintages”, says Paul. Nothing remains static, he adds. “There’s a lot of evolution in the way we approach winemaking and growing grapes.” Boneline’s 2020 harvest rolled out two weeks earlier than typical, with a gentle “grazing” of the vineyard. They’d been bitten by both hail and bronze beetle in early November, resulting in “some pretty good haircuts on the vines”. But with great flowering and good fruit set, and “the weather playing ball completely”, it is a “stand out” season, says Paul. “It’s one of those years where I think it’s a beautiful balance of crop loads, with excellent quality across all of our varieties.”


Acids were lower than usual leading into harvest, thanks to warmer nights, and they didn’t have to wait for lower malic, at the price of higher brix. Once they had started, the harvest rolled through neatly, with a two-week gap between the early and late parcels for each variety, except for Pinot Noir, which stretched out over three weeks. Paul makes two Pinots off the same block, at an equal tier, but stylistically quite different, and developed from year to year. The Wai-iti Pinot, from various Dijon clones, ripens earlier and Paul aimed for 13.5 percent alcohol this year, while the 10/5 “gumboot” clone provides the base of the Waimanu Pinot, “which I had in my head at 14 to 14.5 percent alcohol,” he says. “You plan this stuff in your head, and you know it’s a good season if you can follow through.” The company was three or four days into picking when

the country went into Alert Level 3, followed swiftly by Level 4, “so the wheels were in motion”, says Paul. They picked just 55 tonnes, “so definitely in the little category”, with a small team of local pickers and strict safety measures. “The Government did such a good thing in getting onto it early enough. If the virus had gotten much worse then it would have been a much more personal decision for each of us going to work,” he says. “We still felt safe.” The advice from New Zealand Winegrowers was also “excellent”, he adds. “It was great to be told what to do. We feel very fortunate and I think everyone played ball.” Looking to the future, Paul believes the small size and “fluid” nature of Boneline will stand them in good stead as the Covid repercussions reveal themselves. “We will see what happens and react and try and evolve to what comes.”

Paul Goodege

The benefit of AgriSea Foliar Feed is that you can see the almost instant darkening of the leaves. They are shiny and healthy. What that does is help the vine ripen the fruit. It also helps with the fermentation process.

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   25


The Focus

Stranded Workforce Visiting vineyard workers trapped by pandemic JEAN GRIERSON

H U N D R E D S O F Pa c i f i c Islanders stranded in Central Otago during the Covid-19 lockdown may be facing a long wait until they can safely return home. In March and April this year, there were around 700 Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) workers from the Pacific Islands in the region for jobs in orchards and vineyards. W hen the Ne w Z ealand Government imposed strict pandemic response measures

Donald Nalpin (far right) and other Ni-Vanuatu workers

and border closures in late March, they were unable to return home. “It’s an evolving situation,” says Helen A xby, C hief Executive of Seasonal Solutions co-operative – by far the largest RSE scheme employer in Central Otago. “There are groups that have been here for up to seven months and should have been going home in May and June… We’re trying to make sure they

can keep earning money with another employer and then come up with a plan to try to get them home.” Of the 14,400 RSE workers who came to New Zealand from October 2019, around 4,000 came from Vanuatu, which at the time of writing was one of very few places on Earth with no confirmed cases of Covid-19. Ni-Vanuatu people make up the main RSE workforce in Central

Otago, and for them it was a trying time as they also awaited news from home of the effects of category five Tropical Cyclone Harold in early April. Meanwhile, the southern volcanic island of Tanna, where many Central Otago workers hail from, and which was already suffering food shortages from a monthslong drought, had crops and food supplies destroyed by volcanic ashfall.

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“We could potentially be here for a very long time.” Ni-Vanuatu chief Donald Nalpin

Ni-Vanuatu Chief Donald Nalpin, who has been coming to New Zealand from Tanna for the past 12 years and works for contracting company Viticultura, says it was the toughest season he’s known. Some of his co-workers’ families on other islands had homes and crops destroyed by the cyclone, and relief efforts were hampered by Covid-19 restrictions. “We’ve never gone through something like this before… Watching all of those people dying overseas. I wanted to go back to my family… But they told us we needed to stay here,” he says. His team understood that going home wasn’t an option due to cancelled flights, lack of quarantine and limited health facilities in their country, he says. “We could potentially be here for a very long time.” Viticultura owner Timbo Deaker, whose company employed several “bubbles” of RSE workers, says morale was low among his Ni-Vanuatu workers this year, “especially with the summer team who should have been going home.” But memories of Cyclone Pam in 2015 led many to believe that they were better off in New Zealand, rather than stretching resources at home. Getting used to social distancing took some effor t, Timbo adds, but ultimately they “embraced it 100 percent”. Bubbles followed strict work protocols, including social distancing and no sharing of equipment, w i t h d i f fe re n t b u b b l e s recognisable by the colour of their high-vis vests.

He admits it was a very difficult and different vintage, and his company had two audits from the Ministry for Primary Industries to check they were complying with regulations for operating as an essential business. “With our 63 Ni-Vans we were able to get through the regulations and get our clients’ crops in.” The costs for hand harvesting this year will be significantly higher as a result, he says. “But it was about protecting the local community, and the RSE workers.” M e a nw h i l e , He l e n i s confident the RSE scheme will continue in future. “They are a core of the workforce… Over 80 percent of them are returning year on year. Some of the teams have been coming for 10, 12, 13 years.” She has been working with Immigration New Zealand for visa ex tensions , so several hundred Otago RSE workers can be redeployed to Marlborough to help alleviate their labour shortage with winter vineyard pruning. Warm winter clothes for workers have been sourced from charity shops and other donors, and there are also ongoing negotiations with the Vanuatu Government to work out the safest way to begin a repatriation process, Helen says. Several groups of RSE workers from Vanuatu and Fiji have been unable to come to New Zealand due to the Covid-19 situation, she says. “They are losing the opportunity to earn some critical income for their families.”

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   27


Opinion Piece The Focus

Winter work in Marlborough ALAN WILKINSON’S crew of Thai and Samoan vineyard workers are feeling the bite of cold mornings in Marlborough vines this winter. “The secondhand clothing shop got a hiding on Sunday,” says the co-owner of Alapa Viticultural Services. The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) workers have visited Marlborough for several summers in row, but were caught out by Covid-19 border Framingham Wines are not only renowned for closures, so have stepped up to do the their music in the winery, but also that staff winter pruning work. Alan says Thailand members make up a local band. has low cases of Covid-19, but increasing joblessness and economic pressure, so Wasana Buppee, from Thailand, the RSE workers are grateful to still be harvests at Cloudy Bay PHOTO RICHARD BRIGGS working in New Zealand. “I just feel so sorry for my other 70 Thais, who are the winter crew, who can’t get here.” As well as pruning workforce for winter, says Wine summer RSE workers to work through OLIVER STYLES summer RSEs, Alan has a crew of Cloudy Marlborough’s Advocacy Manager Vance winter. Marlborough had over 500 sumBay vintage workers wrapping, as well Kerslake. One of its major roles was to mer RSE workers, many of whom are still I WORKED myteam first vintage am transported backpruning to MartinFlight thewinter, Conchords album or and two was thatexpecting sticks in the mind, as a growing of Kiwiinpruners. The analyse resources forofthe in the region, almost New Zealand in 2011, and if I borough Vineyards, late at night, belong to Ata Rangi, the year situating the year. Marlborough Labour Governance Group and lobby for flexibility for vintage work- 3,000 winter RSEs, a large number of who hear the songs Joey “tirelessly” or Caroline to waiting the to press later. In fact, if for not anhave album, Coming (MLGG) worked ensure afor ers stayto onfinish. for winter pruning, and been unable to travelfrom to Newvintages Zealand. in by the band Concrete Blonde I Boxer by The National and the nearly every vintage has a song Europe, where the best one

The power of music in the winery

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The Science Short Cuts

Pruning research. Pg 30

Yield Modelling

Sauvignon Blanc science. Pg 32

Organic Soils

Organic Focus Vineyards. Pg 34

Grape Marc

From winery waste to sanitiser. Pg 36 Tiki Wine


The Science

Short Cuts Piecing together pruning research SOPHIE PREECE Tiki Wines

L A B OU R C ON S T R A I N T S have put pressure on pruning this season, with experienced crews of Recognised Seasonal Employer workers shut out by border closures. However, past research trials are giving vineyard operators confidence to adapt pruning timeframes and systems, says Bragato Research Institute (BRI) Viticulture Extension and Research Manager Len Ibbotson. “I have had growers tell me that they were pruning before harvest finished, for the first time ever. It’s a great example where the results of past research were readily available for growers, in this case, reducing uncertainty where a change from normal practice was required.” When New Zealand’s border closed due to Covid-19, BRI

30   // 

sourced relevant research for a fact sheet detailing options for early and later pruning, and around converting to a combination of mechanical and spur pruning. The document includes findings that pruning cool climate Sauvignon Blanc immediately after harvest can extend the pruning season by as much as 25 percent. It also refers to Vineyard Ecosystems Programme trials showing spores for grapevine trunk dis-

eases (GTD) are lower earlier in the pruning season. “The findings show that you can prune in early autumn with no increased risk of GTD infection, if there are no rain events.” However, prompt protection of pruning wounds is still necessary, and sap flow may displace initial applications. The fact sheet also looks at long spur pruning trials by Marlborough viticulturist Mark Allen, where a vine is barrel

Find out more at nzwine.com, including: • BRI fact sheet “Labour shortage pruning options” • Video and training handout on how to prune using the fourcordon, long-spur method • Fact sheet on mothballing vineyards • Fact sheet on spray applications, to protect pruning wounds on dormant vines

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

pruned then manually tidied, decluttered and trimmed, retaining two replacement spurs in the head. New Zealand Winegrowers, Wine Marlborough and the BRI also commissioned a video guide, with Mark demonstrating the techniques. Len says the pruning research put into action this winter is an important validation of the importance of research to viticulture. People are “playing around” with their own versions of early pruning, spur pruning conversion, and “looking for shortcuts along the way”. There’s also been a lot more talk around mechanisation and converting to spur pruning, although less appetite for that amongst Sauvignon Blanc growers, says Len.


Getting in early

Logie MacKenzie

BERAKAH VINEYARD Management began pruning Marlborough vineyards in mid-April, putting the company three weeks ahead of usual, despite labour constraints. “We are very confident we will finish our pruning on time or potentially a little earlier than in the past,” says Viticulturist Logie MacKenzie. Berakah have tested early pruning over the past five years – “out of necessity on naturally wetter blocks” - by staging work on single blocks to ascertain impacts on bud burst, flowering and yields. The results of those trials – showing very little or no impact on Sauvignon Blanc bud burst or crop levels - gave them confidence to kick-start pruning just after Easter this year, as little as three weeks after harvest. Covid-19 border closures locked experienced Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) winter pruners out of the country, but Logie says the contract gangs they use were able to tap into summer RSE staff who stayed in the country and were able to move between the regions. However, those unseasoned pruners, along with a new Kiwi workforce, are bound to be slower than the usual teams, he says. “It can take two to six weeks, or more, to get up to speed on pruning or wrapping, and longer to get fast and maintain quality.” By 20 May, Berakah had cut and stripped 40 percent of its blocks, and was around 15 percent of the way through its wrapping programme. They had also managed the conversion to Klima stripping for a couple of clients, driven by the desire to save on labour costs. “That is becoming more and more prevalent as the minimum wage goes up,” Logie says, noting that the cost of conversion can be saved in the first year of Klima stripping, “saving money from year two”.

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   31


The Science

Model Maker

Dr Junqi Zhu

Predicting Sauvignon Blanc yields SOPHIE PREECE

UNDERSTANDING THE influence of weather conditions on yield formation at critical stages of Sauvignon Blanc grape growth allows more precise yield predictions to be made. That’s a valuable tool for viticulturists, who can adjust management to reduce crop variation from season to season, says Dr Junqi

Zhu of Plant & Food Research, Marlborough (PFRM) Junqi has led a three-year

project to develop a new model for predicting grapevine yield in cool climate Sauvignon Blanc

ACCORDING TO Plant & Food Research’s Sauvignon Blanc yield prediction model, the 2021 bunch numbers per vine are set to be 15% higher than in 2020 which would potentially result in a higher yield if temperatures are average over flowering next spring.

by studying phenology, bunch numbers, berry numbers per bunch, berry mass, bunch mass, vine yield and meteorology records. A PFRM team has used a long-term Sauvignon Blanc field trial in four Marlborough vineyards to quantify the correlation between weather conditions during key

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020


The Science

development stages, such as bunch initiation and flowering, and the yield of Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in a cool climate. “Incorporating the correlations between yield components and weather conditions into plant models will likely improve our yield prediction for grapevine,” says their report. Named ‘Quantifying the seasonal variations in grapevine yield components based on pre-and post-flowering weather conditions’, it was recently published in OENO One, a vine and wine open access journal owned by the International Viticulture and Enology Society. “We found daily maximum temperature played a critical role in inflorescence initiation, while both daily maximum and minimum temperature played essential roles in berry number and berry mass,” the report says. “Radiation and rainfall account for extra variation in yield components besides temperature.” The statistical model explained 60 to 85 percent of the seasonal variations in bunch number, berry number, berry and bunch mass, and yield per vine. The research incorporates much more data than the previous yield prediction model, developed in the early 2000s, which determined potential

yields based on temperatures over fixed time intervals in the initiation and during flowering periods, from December to January. Junqi says being able to anticipate the variation in bunch number per vine in advance of pruning gives growers the option to change the number of buds being laid down at pruning, to minimise seasonal yield variation. Junqi joined PFRM in September 2016, having studied as a meteorologist and plant eco-physiologist, with strong emphasis on quantitative plant modelling, at China Agricultural University. He did his PhD on plant plasticity at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, then switched to grapevine modelling to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Vine and Wine in Bordeaux, France. The full report is at doi.org/10.20870/oenoone.2020.54.2.2926. For more information on the yield prediction model, see VineFacts issues 28 (17 April 2020) and 29 (23 April 2020). The yield monitoring and modelling work over the past 15 years has been financially supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, New Zealand Winegrowers, Marlborough Research Centre and PFR.

Vineyard visualisation along row.

Science Snippet

Computer models to accelerate innovation in vineyards

RESEARCHERS IN California and Marlborough are working together to develop the next generation of computer models to help design and understand vineyard training systems. Brian Bailey from the University of California, Davis, is collaborating with Junqi Zhu from the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited on the project, which will accelerate innovation in vineyards. Traditionally, adoption of new practices or technologies is slow, particularly in perennial crops, as many seasons of trials are needed before a desired result has been adequately demonstrated. Computer models are widely used in other industries to accelerate the design process and better understand current designs, but they have been underutilised in agriculture. This next generation model can scan a vineyard using territorial light detection and ranging (LiDAR) equipment, and reconstruct the vineyard in the computer, based on the scanned data. The computer models are valuable scientific tools that help to fill both knowledge and measurement gaps and provide an integrated, three-dimensional representation of important processes such as photosynthesis, water use or CO2 exchange. Simulated outputs from a virtual vineyard model will, in time, also provide growers with information to assist with design and management choices, without the financial risks associated with field implementation. For example, growers will benefit from models that test how various management decisions (for example, irrigation scheduling, pruning, fertilisation) would affect their crops. The modelling work is transdisciplinary, and relies on international collaborations between experts in the fields of plant physiology, epidemiology, engineering and computer science.

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The Science

A full report on the 2019 soil monitoring at Organic Focus Vineyard sites is available on the New Zealand Winegrowers member website or by contacting Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (OWNZ). The original Organic Focus Vineyard Project was funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund and New Zealand Winegrowers. The Bragato Research Institute and OWNZ funded the 2019 follow-up monitoring.

Organic Focus School House Vineyard, Gibbston Valley Wines

FIVE YEARS after the completion of the Organic Focus Vineyards project, REBECCA REIDER reports back on soil monitoring and success stories. One of the best ways for winegrowers to learn about organic growing is to witness their peers’ experiences. So

organic conversion. In return, each vineyard team opened its site up for the rest of the wine industry to learn from. At each focus vineyard site, the vineyard was split in half, with only half of each site put into organic production. This made it possible to compare each newly organic vineyard with an adja“I believe an organic cent conventionally managed vineyard on regime allows a the same soils. closer revelation The project spanned three growing seasons, of place.” from 2011 through Christopher Keys 2014 and at the end of the project, all three from 2011 to 2014, Organic focus vineyards had attained Winegrowers New Zealand full organic certification. In ran the Organic Focus Vineyard the winter of 2019, researchproject, with government and ers revisited the soils from the industry funding. three sites to assess soil health We had three participating after eight years under organic focus vineyards in different management, looking at a wine regions, and for three range of parameters including years we gave them access to soil nutrient status, soil strucprofessional advice from a ture and soil biology. While a vineyard consultant skilled in sample size of three vineyards

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

means that results from this monitoring cannot be construed as being representative of all organic vineyards, the results were generally positive for organic production, showing a continuation of general soil health, without any significant problems emerging. We also talked to the managers about how organic production has continued to unfold for them. Five years after the conclusion of the original project, all three wine companies have either increased or maintained their commitment to organic production. Here are their stories.

Mission Estate, Hawke’s Bay Mission Estate’s Mere Road vineyard grows Syrah and Merlot on Gimblett Gravels soils. The fruit is destined for the winery’s most premium quality wines, and the vineyard team was interested in how organic production would suit

high-end wine production. The original focus vineyard trial was extremely successful, so Mission Estate kept the organic block from this focus vineyard in organic production after the trial ended. In 2018, Mission Estate converted the conventional half of the focus vineyard to organic production as well. Mission Estate’s recent decision to take the rest of the Mere Road vineyard into organic production was animated by a quest for wine quality. The winemaker reported noticing textural differences in the organic grapes and wines over the past three to four years, and hypothesised that this difference could be due to thicker skins on the organic grapes. The conventional vines at Mere Road were more vigorous in growth than the organic vines; however, the Mission team saw this as an advantage for organics. The grapes are thinned at this site regardless of vigour, so less vigour in the


lower vine vigour resulted from using an organic approach to undervine weeding. The Mission Estate team also believe that the organic grapes at Mere Road have been more resistant to botrytis. Mission Estate winemaker Paul Mooney believes the organic grapes from the Mere Road vineyard to be more suitable for high-end wine production. Although the winery is not certified organic, the wines from this vineyard are made separately, with only organic grapes. This is an interesting example of a winery engaging in organic production not so that they can put a sticker on their bottle, but for the sake of wine quality.

Wither Hills, Marlborough Wither Hills’ Taylor River vineyard produces Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir on stony alluvial soils in Marlborough’s

Southern Valleys. The original focus vineyard area continues to be split between organic and conventional production along the same lines that were set up at the start of the focus vineyard project. Wither Hills has elected to continue to manage the blocks separately, and they are now making organic and conventional wines separately as well. The winery recently released its first certified organic Sauvignon Blanc from the focus vineyard. Wither Hills is also looking to expand into making certified organic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, in response to signals from the market and signs that consumers are seeking out organic products. The team have observed that there may be a bit less disease susceptibility in the organic blocks as skins tend to be thicker, but more research would be needed to confirm this observation.

Gibbston Valley Wines, Central Otago Gibbston Valley Wines’ School House vineyard produces Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris on light sandy soils in the Bendigo region. The focus vineyard project represented the company’s first foray into organic production. Their commitment to organic winegrowing has steadily increased since that time. Gibbston Valley Wines have kept the organic block from this focus vineyard in organic production. The company have also since proceeded with converting other vineyards to organic growing. Currently 50 percent of their companyowned vineyards are fully certified organic, and they are aiming for 100 percent, with most of the remaining area currently in the organic conversion process. Multiple wines are now certified organic. The Gibbston Valley Wines team believe that organic growing

offers a more faithful and clear expression of each vineyard site. They market their wines as an expression of place, and this commitment has driven their further organic conversions. Winemaker Christopher Keys prefers not to categorise organic wines as objectively ‘better’ or not. In his words: “I believe an organic regime allows a closer revelation of place; be that an easy conversion that shows a well-balanced site, or the revelation of an imbalance. Each year we’re learning about our processes, and believe that the health of a site with organic viticulture is more faithfully portrayed. We feel that there isn’t anything remarkable about organic viticulture. We like it, employ it, and it is a system we like for its clarity – but it isn’t the risky alternative anymore, in our view.” Rebecca Reider is Coordinator at Organic Winegrowers New Zealand

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The Science

Necessity =Invention T HE BR AG ATO Research Institute is kicking off a pilot study to explore the transformation of grape marc into hand sanitiser, killing two proverbial birds with one stone. Funding for the project has been awarded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and E m ploy me nt ’s Cov id - 1 9 Innovation Acceleration Fund, created to fast-track research and projects that support Covid responses. In the short term, the eight-month study will deliver ethanol-based hand sanitiser, to be bottled and donated to Marlborough health workers and first responders. Longer

term, the project explores the business opportunity for the industry to turn winery waste into the new product, including more information on costs, infrastructure needed and technical findings specific to grape marc produced in New Zealand. Marlborough alone produces an estimated 46,000 tonnes of grape marc - the skins and seeds remaining after pressing - each harvest, says Bragato Research Institute Chief Executive MJ Loza. “Managing grape marc has probably been viewed as a disposal issue. However, the marc itself is increasingly being studied for other properties...

We know that grape marc is rich in valuable compounds. The challenges lie in finding a new economy for grape marc without creating a bigger environmental footprint, as well as finding a financially viable market for a new product.”

Other research throughout the industry has looked at the possibilities of grape marc for nutraceuticals and bioplastics, with some evidence suggesting marc has antimicrobi al properties. It’s also shown to reduce methane emissions when used as a stock feed.

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The People

Wine Wellness

Lion’s care package. Pg 38

The Balance

Brian Bicknell’s beloved boat. Pg 40

New Day; Neudorf

Todd Stevens steps up. Pg 42

Women in Wine

Kate Radburnd. Pg 46

Bob’s Blog

Remembering Denis Irwin. Pg 48 Radburnd Cellars

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   37


The People

Wellness in Wine Lion rolls out Covid care SOPHIE PREECE

Robin Davies

JUGGLING TIME, handling social isolation, and anxiety about the future, were common themes in a company-wide survey run by Lion New Zealand last month. Lion’s People and Culture Director Robin Davies says the company has been on its health and safety toes in response to Covid-19, but has also recognised the importance of mental and emotional care. Most of the employees surveyed were doing well, but she intends to engage external help to tackle common concerns, as part of the company’s culture of “putting wellbeing first in all decision making”. During Covid-19 that meant ensuring open communications across the company at large, including around pay and leave, she says. By early April, Lion had rolled out weekly “wellbeing capability sessions” on key topics, with hundreds of people attending online for tips and

38   // 

advice on the likes of staying connected, social isolation, energy management, and dealing with stress. The company has long had a free employee assistance programme for its people and their families, “but we have been really reminding people about that over the past eight weeks”, says Robin. Lion’s Wither Hills team in Marlborough rolled out

its own initiatives to support the response, starting with enhanced communications channels, including layers of WhatsApp groups across the workforce. Wine National Operations Director Geoff Matthews also set up a confidential helpline that anyone at Wither Hills could use to contact him at any time, and the winery continued to advertise Lion’s

Working flexi works well FLEXIBLE WORKING Day (flexibleworkingday.com) is on 10 June, and Lion New Zealand is something of a poster child for the concept. Its award-winning “LionFlex” programme is a key part of the company’s extensive wellness programme, giving employees more choice around location, leave entitlement, role and schedules, says People and Culture Director Robin Davies. Four years in, more than half of the company’s people are working flexibly, and 88 percent “feel they have enough flex to balance their work and personal commitments”, she says. “Flex and flexing has become part of our language.”

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

counselling programme. A dedicated Covid-19 manager was in place at Wither Hills to focus on the requirements of operating in lockdown, and also to check in on the wellbeing of staff, including 45 vintage workers from 18 countries. Geoff says a lot of extra care was put into supporting employees so far from home during the pandemic. They relocated them early on to suitable accommodation, so they were living, commuting and working with people in the same bubble. After harvest, they guaranteed accommodation and employment for many of the visiting staff who wanted to stay, and organised their visa extensions, while assisting those who wanted to return home. Wither Hills ran its own survey in-house in May, learning that vintage staff felt cared for, Geoff says. The Covid-19 response is


typical of a culture developed over a “20-year journey” across Lion, to put the safety and wellbeing of its people first, says Robin. For many years, physical safety was the focus, but four years ago they honed in

sible look to extend it out to other departments.” When Lion launched its Best M.E (mental and emotional wellbeing) programme three years ago, Wither Hills again “championed and embraced” the initiative, says Robin. Now “Flexing has become operations are put on hold for part of our language.” an entire day in May, and at on emotional safety and well- other times of the year, to being. Around the same time, bring in speakers, run wellbeLion launched a flexible work- ing activities, and ask people to ing programme (see sidebox), share experiences. which was rapidly adopted In 2018, Lion began workand celebrated at Wither Hills ing with Lifeline, in a pilot of in particular, where four and the Zero Suicide Workplace a half day summer working programme, giving those in weeks were swiftly put in place. leadership roles specific suiThat flexed even more over the cide awareness and prevention 2019/2020 summer, with the skills. For Robin, that’s part of winery crew opting for four ensuring there are plentiful 10-hour days and a three day tools with which to build the weekend, says Geoff. “We will company’s culture of wellbeing. most likely continue with this “We look after our people and next summer and where pos- care for each other.”

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The People

The Balance

Brian Bicknell talks of his Mahi-life balance, thanks to an old wooden boat in the Marlborough Sounds. SOPHIE PREECE

BRIAN BICKNELL thanks his lucky stars for a life of wine - or more precisely his lucky planets. Because when he applied for a position in an Auckland wine store in 1986, his astrological fortune made all the difference. “When I was born my three major planets lined up in a ‘grand trine’, which means my life would be lucky,” he says. The founder and winemaker at Marlborough’s Mahi Wines may not believe in astrology, but he counts himself lucky that the bottle shop owner did, giving him the job as a result of the reading. Brian had already travelled - tasting the world’s wines on his way and was amid a botany degree at The University of Auckland when he got the job. His uni projects revolved around vines, and before too long he was

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working in the vineyards and cellar of Coopers Creek over summer, then for the 1989 vintage. He went on to study at Roseworthy in Adelaide, immersed himself in vintages around the world, then settled into life in Marlborough with his wife Nicola, before they established Mahi in 2001. The Māori word mahi translates as work, and work is where Brian likes to be most days, whether on sales trips (obviously on pause right now), working vintage, checking ferments, weeding the winery garden, or crafting a coffee in an environment he loves. But when he’s not at the winery, home or travelling, Brian is likely to be found in the Marlborough Sounds on the 109-year-old Kereru, a 35-foot

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

double skin kauri cruiser, with white painted panels, gleaming wood, a couple of oars and a fishing rod. He and Nic bought the boat in 2005, wanting to give their children Max and Maia some of the experiences he shared with his yachtie father and uncle while growing up in Auckland. Brian might be found onboard in the marina, giving Kereru a polish, or out on the water with Nic, playing Trivial Pursuit. He planned to take the Mahi vintage crew out for a belated celebration, and looks forward to eventually being able to treat overseas visitors to a cruise through the Marlborough Sounds too. But it’s just as likely you’ll find him sailing solo, sipping stove-top coffee, listening to Leonard Cohen, and relishing a

quiet view of sea and bush. He describes the joy of leaving the winery after work on a Friday, picking up groceries in Picton, then cruising out to an isolated bay for dinner, a glass of wine and quiet evening of reading. Come morning, and he’ll slip into the cool water (despite, on occasion, seeing the fins of orca across the bay), before shaving over a bowl of boiled water, with birdsong (or Cohen) in the background. “It feels like camping on the water,” he says, imagining he’s at the edge of an undeveloped New Zealand. “I think. I keep my phone off. And I read.” With a love of both his work and life, Mahi’s yet-tobe-released Trine Chardonnay – fermented on skins – is a nod to fine fortune, whether or not determined by the stars.


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The People

Carbon Crunching Staying the course at Neudorf

SOPHIE PREECE

B E C OM I NG N E U D OR F ’ S General Manager two weeks before the Covid-19 lockdown seems like “a pretty good hospital pass”, says Todd Stevens, acknowledging a few grey hairs from vintage 2020. “But joking aside, it’s a huge honour,” he adds, determined that he and Neudorf ’s owners, the Finn family, will charge on with goals established before Covid-19 shook the world and its wine market. Foremost among those is continuing the small Nelson company’s rare reputation, built over the past four decades by

Tim and Judy Finn, who planted their first vines in 1978. But they are also intent on upping the ante on Neudorf’s environmental credentials, using a new carbon assessment as a benchmark. “There’s a strong focus on paying our way in terms of how we do business sustainably,” Todd says, having already led the company through organic conversion and certification, alongside Neudorf’s Marketing Manager Rosie Finn, who grew up immersed in her parent’s wine company.

Todd joined Neudorf in 2012, following a business degree, international work as an IT contractor, then a career U-turn that saw him do a Lincoln wine and oenology degree. A stellar

BAYLEYS MARLBOROUGH SALESPERSON 2019/2020

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winemaker introduction at Quartz Reef and Felton Road in Central Otago led him on to Nelson. “Neudorf was a winery that had a really good fit for what I wanted to do in terms

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of size, and the style of wines they were making,” he says. He also values the region’s diverse offering, which “flows out between each producer”, with Neudorf primarily focussed on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while others celebrate aromatics or Sauvignon Blanc. That’s Nelson’s challenge and its advantage, he says. “We may not have the loudest voice in the room, but we do have something to say.” Like Tim, he is wed to handsoff winemaking, dedicated to

natives at the edge of Neudorf’s home estate, and at its second vineyard, just minutes away, as well as planting phacelia and buckwheat between the rows. The company’s long-term goals - including that evolving environmental legacy - are more important than ever as the wine world grapples with the market upheaval of Covid-19 and recession, Todd says. “It’s easy to say ‘don’t panic’, but you really have to make sure we stay focussed on what we are wanting to achieve and who

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

“We may not have the loudest voice in the room, but we do have something to say.”

simply “guiding” fruit from vineyard through wild ferment, to create wines of place and integrity. That minimalintervention ethos is about trusting in fruit from a great site and working to ensure you “don’t bugger it up”, which is as complex as it sounds simple. Tim calls Todd “extraordinarily talented” in and beyond the winery, with an appetite for new challenges. One of those challenges is building some scaffolding around their sustainability initiatives, with a new carbon map of the property and business, to be used as a baseline for reducing Neudorf’s footprint. The company’s first carbon assessment audit is the latest in a series of moves to boost their environmental ambitions, including organic certification, the transition to lightweight bottles, and extending Neudorf’s rich array of trees. Many of those were planted around the winery when Neudorf was founded. Over the past three years, viticulturist Stefan Brockley has been developing groves of

we want to be.” There will likely be some sidestepping required to stay the course, but there’s opportunity to get leaner and better through tougher times, he adds. Neudorf had harvested nearly 90 percent of its fruit by the time New Zealand’s Alert Level 4 lockdown kicked in, leaving just four days of picking, in “dribs and drabs”, under the strict health and safety criteria under which wine companies were operating. It was obviously a stressful period waiting to see what the restrictions would mean for wine, but once they were back on track, vintage ran with its usual rhythm, Todd says. They had moderate yields, with what he calls a good-sized vintage, “as opposed to overly big or conversely too small”. Flowering was pretty positive, “but not amazing”, meaning Neudorf was “where we needed to be”. Pinot Noir looks great and the Chardonnay fruit shone on the vine, so he’s pretty confident on that front too. Some seasons favour a certain variety, but 2020 has been kind

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   43


across the board, “which is nice to have”, Todd says. Meanwhile, the company has seen some routes to market stop during lockdown, including on-premise. “But some have become stronger, ironically,” he says. Retail is doing well and Neudorf is making the most of its strong connection with a loyal consumer base that’s already familiar with the company’s “voice”. Rosie has ensured they already have a strong digital “engine”, with a “well greased” online presence, he says. “We don’t have to

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build it from scratch… Now it’s about standing back and saying, ‘how do we do that even better?’ Rosie and I will go back and forth to see how can we fine-tune the engine we already have to make it bigger, stronger, better.” That’s the short term work, says Todd. “In the long term, we will revert back to some kind of normal. Export markets will start again. Restaurants will open again. But it will take a bit of time before we get back to where we were and where we want to be.”


The People

The new vintage - Neudorf’s Rosie Finn SARAH ADAMS

BORN IN the middle of vintage, it was a safe bet the daughter of Tim and Judy Finn of Neudorf Vineyards would end up in the wine business. But while growing up on the Nelson vineyard shaped Rosie Finn’s childhood, she sought to carve her own path in life. “Not one paper on viticulture or oenology was considered,” when she left home to study design in Wellington. At the end of her degree, she booked a one-way ticket to London, where she met Mel Brown, who was launching the New Zealand Cellar. Rosie was soon working with her and saw New Zealand wines received with excitement a world away from her parents’ vineyard. “I fell in love with the New Zealand wine industry from 19,000 kilometres away.” Mel’s passion had a profound effect on Rosie and redirected her career. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without her, as well as, equally, Tim and Jude.” When the time

came to choose her next move, it didn’t take long for Rosie to realise she was meant to be at Neudorf. Now, she heads up sales and marketing for the family brand, a role that had previously been Judy’s. The transition from mother to daughter was a big moment, she says. “I was proud she felt confident handing over the job.” Rosie thrives on diversity in her job - “the changes, the pressure, the challenges” - where no two days are alike. Neudorf’s Winemaker Todd Stevens and Rosie are working closely together to move the winery into the future with digital marketing, organic vineyards, and a serious focus on their carbon footprint. Rosie is carving out a name for herself, throwing

her energy and talents into various industry activities. She holds a position on the New Zealand Winegrowers Marketing Committee, and is also on the board of Pinot Noir NZ. “That is an impressive group of people, so I feel privileged to be around a board room table with them. Although postponed (due to Covid-19), the event will be incredible when it does happen.” The sense of community lured Rosie back Nelson and is what keeps her in the wine industry. “There are a lot of great aspects to my job but definitely the friendships, that start with Todd and the team at Neudorf through to other winemakers, sales, sommeliers, marketers… the list goes on, is my favourite part.”

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   45


The People

Women In Wine Kate Radburnd’s remarkable contribution to New Zealand wine WORDS: TESSA NICHOLSON

K ATE R ADBURND grew up in Adelaide with wine loving parents, and tasted her first New Zealand wine in 1982. It was a Montana Blenheimer, from memor y, and ver y unimpressive, she admits. But within a matter of months Kate was working in New Zealand as a winemaker, and would grow to love cool climate wines, and to play an integral part in the formation of the New Zealand wine industry. Kate was the only female in her graduating year at Rosewor thy Agricultural College, and had no direct links to any winery, so applied for all jobs. When Villa Maria founder Sir George Fistonich visited the

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university, Kate was offered the job of Assistant Winemaker at Vidal in Hawke’s Bay. The next few years were to throw curve balls at the young winemaker. First there was 1985, when a tsunami of fruit coincided with days of torrential rain, almost wiping the vintage out. Then came the Government vine pull that saw hundreds of hectares of grapes removed throughout New Zealand. Coinciding with that, Villa Maria went into receivership, although it was to recover the following year. Kate sees it all as a glass half full: “The vine pull meant that we ended up with the right varieties and the right

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

sites. Also, with Villa Maria’s receivership, that absolutely embedded in me that we had to focus on quality. We are small and remote in New Zealand - it absolutely has to be about quality. With those experiences, I think I have been very lucky.” After seven years with Vidal, Kate moved to CJ Pask as Head Winemaker. Within two years, she was a part owner of the Gimblett Gravels’ company, and by 1999 she was Managing Director. During her time with Pask, Kate represented Hawke’s Bay on the board of New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) for 14 years, chaired Sustainable Winegrowing

New Zealand (SWNZ) for more than five years, and was instrumental in rolling out the SWNZ programme for wineries. Integrated Winegrape Production (the forerunner of SWNZ) had begun as a pilot programme in 1995 and Pask was one of the vineyards involved. But Kate could see that more was needed. “I remember thinking that this is just crazy. If we are doing it in the vineyard, we need to be able to follow it through and show that we are doing it in the winery.” Pask, Vidal, Palliser Estate and Martinborough Vineyards joined together to gain ISO 14001 accreditation for their


wineries. “We thought it was the right thing to do and we could see further down the track that it was potentially eliminating a barrier to trade.” The processes undertaken by the collective were eventually refined and developed into the SWNZ winery programme. When the NZW Women in Wine Initiative was launched in 2017, Kate immediately put her hand up. She was one of the first mentors involved, and is currently the Chair of Women in Wine. In the same year, after 26 years at Pask, she ventured out to establish Radburnd

purely on ripeness and when we want to pick.” With the rest of the small team working from home, Kate was on her own in the winery, apart from a Bay View local who helped with pump overs when she wasn’t there. “It has been quite lonely,” Kate says. “On the days that we processed I could bring in up to four people to help with the hand sorting, but that was all. It is a vintage I don’t think I will ever forget.” In terms of the future, Kate believes the marketplace will be a different beast in the months ahead, although there are some

“It’s all about restraint and elegance and it is exactly what I want to do.” Cellars in Hawke’s Bay, and is now exactly where she wants to be as a winemaker. “With this new business I am only involved in the winemaking, which I love. I am in the lab and the cellar every day and that is what I enjoy doing.” Kate’s mantra has always been “the best wines are ahead of me”, and at Radburnd Cellars she works with small parcels from throughout Hawke’s Bay. That diversity has impacted her winemaking style, she admits. “Everything is a completely different approach. All the fruit is handpicked, chilled and hand sorted. I am not making big extracted wines - it’s all about restraint and elegance and it is exactly what I want to do; small parcels of ultra-premium wine. It has been really exhilarating.” Maybe not quite the phrase she would use to describe the latest vintage, which was an extraordinary series of events due to the Covid-19 lockdown. “Here in Hawke’s Bay it has been so dry and we have had a vintage where the picking decisions have been based

positive signs. “There is much more awareness of online sales, which people have become more engaged with. From an industry perspective, that is a positive. But there is a lot of hard work ahead. It’s like with anything, whether it’s distributor relationships or direct to your customers, it’s all about ensuring you maintain those relationships the best way you can.” Kate has made an immense contribution in the 37 years since she tasted her first New Zealand wine, and was awarded the Sir George Fistonich medal in 2010, inducted as a Fellow of New Zealand Winegrowers five years later, and last year inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame. But perhaps her most precious acknowledgment is the fact her daughter Penelope has followed in her footsteps, to also become a winemaker. “She very realistically understands the hard work that is involved in this industry,” says Kate. “We are absolutely delighted.”

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Bob’s Blog

Pink Preferences Bob Campbell

Wine pioneer passes

ONE OF New Zealand’s great wine pioneers – Denis Irwin - passed away on 10 April, after a battle with bone cancer. Denis became Gisborne’s first small-scale producer of fine wines in 1976 when he began making wine under the Matawhero label from grapes grown by his father, Bill Irwin. His humble winery in the early years was a converted chicken coup. Matawhero was probably best known for Gewürztraminer that rapidly gained iconic status; 1978 Matawhero Gewürztraminer is still talked about in hushed tones by wine enthusiasts. It was a truly outstanding wine. Other memorable wines followed, including Chardonnay and Cabernet Merlot. Denis famously and perhaps slightly immodestly commented: “Other wineries are doing Mills & Boon. I’m doing Hemingway.” His best wines at that time were an inspiration to a fledgling fine wine industry. They encouraged others to follow his lead. In the 1980s Denis left his winery in the capable hands of winemaker, Hätsch Kalberer, and somewhat impulsively moved to Australia to run a tavern near Melbourne. During that time Denis was nominated for the “Young Tearaway of the Year” award by Winestate magazine after being thrown out of a pub while celebrating his birthday. Denis owned the pub. Denis returned to New Zealand where he met and married Violet (Vi) who managed the Chalet Rendezvous. Together they opened Gisborne’s first brasserie restaurant and bar, Scotties. After a serious car accident they sold the Matawhero winery, vineyard and Colosseum restaurant and planted a small vineyard to supply their new label, 747 Estate Winery. Denis was one of the New Zealand wine industry’s more colourful characters. His legendary exploits promise to give him some measure of immortality.

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THE RESULTS of a Rosé survey by online wine retailer, Black Market, make interesting reading. More than 500 wine drinkers completed a questionnaire - the results of which should be compulsory reading for all Rosé makers and marketers. More than 80 percent of respondents agreed that their consumption of Rosé has increased in the past five years. Exports of New Zealand Rosé have increased nearly tenfold in the past decade, taking the category to fourth most exported wine style.

Sauvignon substitute Sauvignon Blanc was declared as the wine most likely to have suffered from the rise in Rosé sales. $20 The average price that our surveyed wine drinkers would be happy to pay for a Rosé is $20. The average RRP for a bottle of 2018 or 2019 New Zealand Rosé in my database of 215 wines is $24.29. Price Price is the top purchasing priority followed by country of origin and variety(ies). NZ Predictably, New Zealand was the country of preference, followed by France, Spain, Australia and USA. Colour Thirty-four percent of respondents didn’t have a colour preference, which means the majority did have a preference, although they weren’t asked to declare what it was. A brief survey of a handful of wine retailers suggested that pale pink is a popular choice. Dry An overwhelming 93 percent prefer either dry or mediumdry Rosé.


Marion’s most successful dish WE ENTERTAIN a lot. At the end of a dinner party the words, “can I get the recipe for that?” and “can you tell me where I can buy that wine?” are music to my ears. My wife, Marion, is a great cook. She seldom follows a recipe slavishly, preferring to tweak it here and there, mostly to good effect. Her variation of the Chicken Marbella/Farro recipe is an absolute winner. We’ve prepared it four times and on every occasion our guests have asked for the recipe. That makes Marion’s Chicken Marbella our most successful dish ever. Marion’s recipe is at vervemagazine.co.nz/chicken-marbella-farro-recipe, although she doubled the marinade ingredients. Here is the recipe I used: I allowed two pieces of chicken per person and increased marinade ingredients - also added a splash of olive oil and a splash of sherry vinegar and chopped up rind of a preserved lemon. It’s marinated for two days, and I added a touch more sherry vinegar when cooked as I love sherry vinegar. When cooked, top with gremolata - I used parsley, lemon zest, garlic finely chopped, almonds finely chopped, sea salt flakes, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil to moisten, then add panko breadcrumbs that have been sautéed in a little olive oil. Mix all together and sprinkle over before serving. It’s a versatile dish as far as wine matching is concerned. It sits well with full-bodied Chardonnay although I prefer to match it with a reasonably robust Pinot Noir, such as 2018 Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir, Martinborough.

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   49


The Places

Wine Weather A dry autumn for most places but what will winter bring? JAMES MORRISON

Misha’s Vineyard, Central Otago

A LACK of meaningful rain during the first five months of 2020 has seen a big dry along the east coast of New Zealand, from Gisborne to

Canterbury. Hawke’s Bay is now in the spotlight, with the region entering drought, and long range forecast models are suggesting that there may

not be much change in the short term. With many places recording less than 150mm of rain so far, there have been some similarities to the start

of 2007, when very low rainfall and soil moisture deficits were recorded along most of the east coast from January to May. That year, conditions changed in early

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June and a cold start to winter followed, along with welcome rainfall. I am not so sure that we will see the same in 2020, and it could be late winter before there is a break in the dry conditions in the east. The long term forecast indicators we use to predict how the seasons may work out are not giving too much away at this stage. The Southern Oscillation Index is still hovering a little above or below neutral, so there is unlikely to be a “classic” El Niño or La Niña waiting in the wings. The Southern Annular Mode, which is the belt of westerly winds that circle Antarctica, contracted during January and February. High pressure systems blocked most rain events, but now these westerlies are starting to push further north and may continue to do so through June and July. This should lead to an increase in rainfall along the

west coast, but the east is likely to remain quite dry. Looking beyond winter through the cr ystal ball and into spring, a few early indications are that a weak La Niña may develop in the second half of 2020.

The outlook for April and May Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay Mean temperatures are likely to remain above average through early winter. We are likely to see a larger than normal diurnal range. Daily maximum temperatures are likely to be above average thanks to a predominating westerly flow. However, overnight minimums are likely to be near or even a little below average in some places. The chances of a large rainfall event are not high under westerly conditions.

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The most likely scenario is that below average rainfall will continue through June and into July.

a little above average.

Marlborough/North Canterbury AN INCREASE in westerly conditions could bring a little extra rain to the far west and northern parts of Marlborough, but once again there is a fair chance that many places will continue to see rainfall totals that are below average. The wind flow may be a little stronger at times through Marlborough and North Canterbury, bringing some mild days right into July. There is equally the risk of a cold south or southwest change blasting up the South Island as well, and often the warmest days in winter are followed by the coldest. Early winter could be quite mixed in terms of temperature, but the overall trend is that mean temperatures will remain

Central Otago AN INCREASE in the westerly flow may make winter a little more unsettled in Central Otago than other parts of New Zealand. If northwest conditions become strong then rainfall totals may push close to average, especially in the west and far south of the region. Alexandra should remain the driest part of the region, as most rain is likely to arrive from the west or southwest. Day-to-day temperatures are likely to fluctuate, and we may see some interesting extremes as strong northwesterlies give way to cold south to southwest blasts. Frosts are likely, but intense high pressure systems are less likely to dominate so the chances of long periods of freezing conditions are reduced. James Morrison runs Weatherstation Frost Forecasting Ltd

Chris Parke Partner Corporate and Commercial

Marija Batistich Partner Environment and Planning

Jenni Rutter Partner Intellectual Property

Charlotte Henley Partner Intellectual Property

Contact us to find out how we can help you

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   51


Biosecurity

Biosecurity Update A threatening fruit fly SOPHIE BADLAND

SPOTTED WING drosophila (SWD) is a challenging pest with the potential to do significant damage to horticultural industries – and grapes are a key host. While SWD is not yet present in New Zealand or Australia, it has been detected at the border, most recently in a commercial consignment of citrus from the USA. If an incursion takes place, recent modelling work funded by Australia’s Hort Innovation predicts rapid spread to all areas of suitable climate within six years of an initial population

establishing. SW D are sm all f lies (2-3mm), with yellow-brown bodies and red eyes. Adult males have a small black spot near the tip of each wing. Larvae are milky white and can be up to 6mm long. SWD are most likely to come into New Zealand via undeclared fruit carried by air or cruise passengers, yachts, or in commercial consignments of imported produce. Female SWD have a serrated ovipositor at the end of the body, used to push through

Adult male spotted wing drosophila (biosecurity.govt.nz)

the skin of the fruit to lay eggs inside under the skin. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae consume the fruit, destroying it from inside. A small round scar is left on the surface of the fruit after egg-laying, exposing the fruit to secondary infection by bacterial and fungal pathogens. SWD pose a higher risk to New Zealand’s wine industry than other fruit flies because they attack not only rotting fruit

but healthy, ripening fruit on the vine. SWD are small and although they can disperse on their own, human-mediated spread by transfer of infested fruit has greatly assisted their invasion of both the USA and Europe, where they are now found right across the continent. Unlike other species of fruit fly, SWD does not respond strongly to pheromone lures,

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which complicates surveillance. Traps using apple cider vinegar as a lure have had success overseas in areas of heavy infestation. However, these traps do not target SWD specifically and there is a lot of by-catch, making it a difficult, inefficient way to detect SWD at low population levels. A lure and trap combo by BioBest, where the trap design limits the by-catch, is looking more promising. In those countries where SWD is now widespread, more focus has been placed on developing integrated pest management (IPM) tools to help control population numbers and limit damage, as opposed to eradication plans. Traps will catch adult flies, but studies have shown that throughout the summer, a large portion of the population is still in a larval stage so trapping alone will not control SWD populations. SWD is susceptible to insecticides, particularly organophosphate and synthetic pyrethroids which have the unfavourable effect of also knocking out populations of beneficial insects; so in most places overseas Spinosad is preferred due to the lower environmental impact. Others are currently being tested and show promise but do not have a label claim for SWD at this stage. Cultural controls have been shown to be vital in slowing the population growth and reducing infestation by disruption of the SWD lifecycle. Removing dropped fruit from

the ground before it begins to decompose can help prevent infestation, and netting can be used, although this needs to be applied early prior to ripening, so SWD are not trapped inside the nets. Pruning and thinning of the canopy helps to reduce humidity, and irrigation can be managed to minimise fruit splitting.

Are we prepared for this pest? A trans-Tasman collaborative project involving Plant Health Australia, cesar, Plant & Food Research, and Horticulture New Zealand has recently concluded. The purpose of the project was to share knowledge and information on preparedness for SWD, and to improve response and management planning for SWD should it arrive in Australia and New Zealand. While there is still work to be done, the project provides a sound knowledgebase for further readiness work, which could possibly be done through the GovernmentIndustry Agreement (GIA) as multiple industry groups are likely to be affected. In the meantime, grower awareness is crucial. Teach vineyard staff what to look out for and if you think you have found spotted wing drosophila, or see any suspicious larvae in fruit, Catch It; Snap It; and Report It to the Biosecurity NZ hotline on 0800 80 99 66, and get in touch with the NZW biosecurity team at biosecurity@nzwine.com.

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   53


Not on the Label – Legal matters with Dentons Kensington Swan

Legal Matters

Protecting your secret sauce – IP tips

LAUREN ROYERS AND STACEY FLETCHER, ASSOCIATES OF DENTONS KENSINGTON SWAN

Staete Landt Legal Matters

FROM THE cultivation method to the fermentation process, to the distribution strategy winegrowers make a number of important decisions to get their wine from vine to shelf. However, protecting your business’s recipe for success is equally important, to make sure your innovative method, long guarded family technique, or ‘secret ingredient’ doesn’t make its way to your biggest competitor. We lay out below the types of IP you may have in your business, and how best to protect those valuable assets.

Keeping secrets Know-how, trade secrets, confidential information –

these are different words for the same thing. They all cover information relating to any part of your business, that is truly confidential. This sort of IP cannot be registered, but it can last forever, provided the information is kept secret and not disclosed. If you do discuss or share your know-how or trade secrets with others (without a confidentiality agreement), the information won’t be confidential anymore and its value could be seriously compromised. This means you need to make a conscious decision about how to manage your confidential information, and put a process in place to

keep it secret. While this can prove challenging, if done successfully it can be a very effective and cost efficient way of protecting your IP moving forward.

Things to think about W h e n m a k i n g c re a t i v e decisions, including about your winemaking method, process, and even your marketing strategy, it is important to keep control of the information as best you can. It is always a good idea to require those contributing creative input to record it, so it doesn’t live only in their heads. Know-how that lives only in your team member’s head can walk out

the door along with that team member and be gone for good. If you are an employer, it is important to have an employment contract that deals with the ownership of IP in recipes, products and processes created on the job. If you’re an employee, make sure you address these issues up front and at the beginning of a new work relationship. There’s a fine line between the “tools of trade” an employee is entitled to reuse from job to job and the IP he or she creates that is owned by an employer. The line between the two can be unclear, but a good contract will help draw that line. The same applies when outsourcing

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NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

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to contract manufacturers or anyone having input into an end product. Professional employment and/or contractor agreements are key. It is important that confidentiality and IP clauses are carefully drafted with the specific business needs and duties of employees/ contractors in mind, to establish the parties’ rights and obligations at the outset. Time spent on this at the beginning can save many a heartache (not to mention a lawyer’s bill) later when it becomes clear that parties had a different understanding of who owned the valuable IP created for a business. T here is also benefit in clauses which require employees to return company proper ty (including any documents and files) when their employment comes to an end, and restrictions on use of personal devices, accounts and

social media which may pose a security risk to an employer’s confidential information and IP (social media and surveillance policies are also useful in this regard). It is good practice to check older agreement templates with long-standing employees, and update these if the provisions no longer appear adequate or relevant. Unfortunately, theft of confidential information can be difficult to prove, but having strong policies in place means that expectations are clear, helping to avoid any future arguments in relation to what an employee did or did not understand to be confidential or employer information/ property. Where appropriate, enforceable restraint of trade provisions (protecting an employer’s legitimate proprietary interests), including a valid non-compete and nondealing clause, may also assist. These can ensure that, when

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employees and/or contractors are ready to move on from a business, an employer will have time to ensure appropriate protection is in place, and an employee will know exactly where he or she stands in terms of the next role. Practical measures, like strict internal policies and security protocols, are also helpful. If you have external suppliers, you may want to consider non-disclosure agreements, particularly if what they are supplying is unique to you or your product.

How can you keep your secrets secret? • Identify what is special about your methods or processes, and whether they can be kept secret. • Only share your confidential information with those who need to know it, and if possible, only the part relevant to them. • Use confidentiality

agreements with contractors, suppliers and others. • Have robust employment agreements with staff that cover confidential information and ownership of IP. • Control access to your cellar and any areas where your IP is freely available. • Make sure your employees understand your policies and their responsibilities. • Investigate all breaches of confidentiality. • Resist the urge to tell others about your special process or secret ingredient. • If you invent something truly new, or think you may have, talk to an IP lawyer or patent attorney before sharing it with anyone not subject to a confidentiality agreement. Feel free to contact either Lauren in the IP team, or Stacey in the Employment team, at Dentons Kensington Swan if you have any queries or wish to discuss the matters raised in this article further.

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Call us not and ensure your Croplands sprayer and your wind machines are booked for their winter service. We provide NZ’s first and only testing facility for vineyard sprayer nozzles SALES: Jeremy Watts on 021 446 225 | jeremy@agrivit.co.nz SERVICE: Les Boyte on 027 572 8787 | les@agrivit.co.nz 29 High Street, Renwick 7204, Marlborough | 03 572 8787 | info@agrivit.co.nz | www.agrivit.co.nz

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   55


Advocacy Matters

On your Behalf.

Advocacy on matters of vital importance to the industry.

Competition Time! NICKY GRANDORGE

THE 2020 Young Vit and Young Winemaker competitions are set to go ahead, so it’s time to pull out the study books, practice pruning or blending, and generally start preparing. These programmes are incredibly important as they stretch and support our future leaders as well as bringing the wine community together as a whole. This is something we need more than ever this year: to come together, work together, strengthen our industry’s future and have some fun. Corteva Agriscience has come on board as the new naming rights sponsor for the Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition and their team is looking forward to being closely involved with the programme. Their experienced viticulturists will share their knowledge and

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passion with the contestants at the education days and competitions, along with other sponsors and volunteers. This year there will be six re g ional Young Vit competitions followed by the national final. The contestants will be tested on a wide range of skills and knowledge, including pest and disease, trellising, machinery, nutrition, and budgeting, as well as having to give a speech and go head-to-head in the Biostart Hortisports race. The national finalists will also have to complete an AGMARDT research project and give a presentation on this. There are some fantastic prizes for the national winner this year, including a Hyundai Kona car for a year, an Ecotrellis travel grant, a leadership week

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

and an educational trip to Australia with Corteva. All national finalists will also enjoy a visit to Corteva’s research centre in Taranaki. 2020 is extra special for Young Vit as it marks the 15th anniversar y of the competition, which began in 2006. The occasion will be marked with a celebration and small conference in October in Martinborough. The national final will be held in conjunction with this, and the 15th Young Viticulturist of the Year will be announced at the anniversary dinner on 8 October. Tonnellerie de Mercurey are on board again for the sixth year as naming rights sponsor for Young Winemaker of the Year, and many of the other sponsors who have been involved since the start are also

2019 Young Viticulturist of the Year Simon Gourley

continuing their support. The regional competitions will be held throughout September, with the national final held in Hawke’s Bay this year, on 6 November. Contestants will be tested on everything required to be a successful winemaker, including blending, tasting, laborator y trials, public speaking, winemaking laws, and fault finding. Of course, in this Covid-19 age, we will be scrupulously following Government guidelines around gatherings and health precautions. The events will need to be adapted accordingly, but we expect them to be better than ever. For more information and entry forms, please contact Nicky Grandorge, at nicky.grandorge@nzwine.com or 021780948


WE ARE able to run these programmes and continue to see them grow thanks to the generosity of our sponsors. Thank you to: 2020 Corteva Agriscience Young Viticulturist of the Year sponsors: Corteva, AGMARDT, Biostart, Ecotrellis, Hyundai, Constellation, Empak, Fedt, Fruitfed Supplies, Indevin, Klima, Ormond Nurseries, Roots, Shoots & Fruits, Waterforce, and Bahco. Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year sponsors: Tonnellerie de Mercurey, Crown Sheetmetal, Farmlands, Guala Closures NZ, Laffort, O-I Glass, and Programmed Property Services.

Auckland/ Northland, Friday 7 August, Marsden Estate Hawke’s Bay, Thursday 13 August, Te Awa Wairarapa, Thursday 20 August, Craggy Range Te Muna National Final, 7-8 October, Wairarapa

Dates for Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020 Education Days Central Otago, Thursday 18 June Marlborough, Tuesday 23 June Auckland/Northland, Friday 3 July Hawke’s Bay, Wednesday 8 July

We are able to run these programmes and continue to see them grow thanks to the generosity of our sponsors. Thank you to: 2020 Corteva Agriscience Young Viticulturist of the Year sponsors: Corteva, AGMARDT, Biostart, Ecotrellis, Hyundai, Constellation, Empak, Fedt, Fruitfed Supplies, Indevin, Klima, Ormond Nurseries, Roots, Shoots & Fruits, Waterforce, Winejobsonline, and Bahco. Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year sponsors: Tonnellerie de Mercurey, Crown Sheetmetal, Farmlands, Guala Closures NZ, Laffort, O-I Glass, Programmed Property Services and Winejobsonline.

Competitions Central Otago, Thursday 16 July, Otago Polytech Central Marlborough, Thursday 23 July, Giesen South Island Regional, Friday 31 July, Greystone

Dates for Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year 2020 North Island, in Hawke’s Bay, Friday 4 Sept, EIT Central Otago, Thursday 10 Sept, VinPro Marlborough, Weds 16 Sept, NMIT National Final, in Hawke’s Bay, Friday 6 Nov., EIT

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#SauvBlancDay

@COALPITWINE

@TEAWANGAESTATE

@FORRESTWINES

Sauvignon Blanc Day took place on Friday 1 May 2020. It is always a prime opportunity to promote our famous variety and increase awareness of the New Zealand wine category. This year, isolated at home, the campaign became an opportunity to connect to the wine community and collectively celebrate the variety that kickstarted our industry. Our engagements had a 261% increase on the 2019 campaign.

@HANS_HERZOGWINE

@RAPAURASPRINGS

@ GIESENWINES

@ FROMMWINERY

@PYRAMIDVALLEYVINEYARD

@ LAWSONSDRYHILLS

“#sauvblancday 2020 wasn’t about the wine. For me it was about connection. It was about one wine world, reunited online, finding refuge and comfort with each other over a beautiful beverage and reminiscing about what was and finding hope, together, of what will be.” – Paul Mabray

874,858 @CRAGGYRANGE

@TEWHARERAWINESNZ

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E NG AG E ME N TS – T H E NU MB E R O F LI K E S , COMME NTS , S H A RE S

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USE S OF #SAU V B L A N C DAY HASHTAG ON SOCI A L M E DI A

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@VINLINKSMARLBOROUGH

@CANDICEWINECHAT

Discover these posts and more from @nzwinegrowers and #nzwine on Instagram.

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

NZWinegrower.socialmedia.MAY_JUNE_20.indd 1

13/05/20 4:11 PM


Research Reports

Research Supplement Information and updates on Bragato Research Institute research programmes. Editors Dr Matias Kinzurik and Will Kerner, Research Programme Managers A regular feature to inform industry people about research projects being undertaken for their benefit. Newly approved projects (when available) are briefly summarised and longer reports will describe what has been achieved so far. When completed, each project will be reported in full detail, with references, on nzwine.com

Quality Wine Styles Cost Reduction/ for Existing and Increased Developing Markets Profitability Lighter wine (PGP) University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and MPI Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) fund.

Breaking the qualityproductivity seesaw in wine grape production (Pinot Noir Programme)

Precision Grape Yield Analyser Programme 20162021 Lincoln Agritech Limited (A Werner)

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

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

Sustainability/ Organics

Exploring the chemical space in Vineyard Ecosystems (VE) Programme juices and wines

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

University of Auckland

Vineyard Ecosystems Programme

(B Fedrizzi) Prevention of quercetin instability in bottled wine

Cost efficient optimisation of weed management in vineyards

Villa Maria Wines Limited (E Taylor)

Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

The effect of winemaking decisions on polysaccharide content in wine

Optimisation of irrigation and water savings in Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and Merlot

University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi)

Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

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

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

Improving the outcomes of mealybug insecticide use in vineyards

Viticultural treatments for improving Syrah quality

Plant & Food Research (V Bell)

Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)

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

Potential applications of nanotechnology for wine growing in New Zealand

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

Climate Change Climate case study – Managing hail damaged vineyards 

University of Auckland (M Kah)

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

Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)

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

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

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   59


Progress Reports

Pinot Noir at Cloudy Bay in Central Otago

Colour, phenolics and grading of Pinot Noir wines Leandro Dias Araujo, Paul Kilmartin. University of Auckland PHENOLIC COMPOUNDS, mainly free anthocyanins and pigmented tannins, are responsible for the colour of red wine. The colour hue and density are correlated to the concentration of these compounds. Many factors play a role in determining these levels, which are hugely variable between and within varietals. Condensed tannins are also responsible in large part for the mouthfeel of red wines, determining its astringent qualities. The importance of appearance to the quality assessment of food products and beverages is well known. Consumers and experienced professionals alike often make assumptions about flavour, texture and overall quality based on expectations from

60   // 

previous experiences. Colour, among other visual descriptors, is a central factor in these expectations. Indeed, experiments have demonstrated how colour can influence the perception of flavours and its intensity and the perception of quality. The value allocated by commercial wineries to their wines can be closely related to the concentration of phenolics and tannins, and also to the colour density of the wine, at least in regards to studies on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. These studies examined the grade allocation and wine composition of a number of Australian wineries. The results can be extended to wineries around the

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

globe producing bold, full-bodied Bordeauxstyle wines, where the aim is to achieve high colour/tannin levels. On the other hand, the same argument might not be valid for wines produced from thinskin, low-tannin, lowanthocyanins varieties such as Pinot Noir. We have recently analysed 18 New Zealand Pinot Noir wines from five regions, and from affordable to premium grades (NZD13 - NZD140). We measured a series of colour parameters, total tannins, and total phenolics. This set of wine samples, with a more than 10-fold difference in price, had a nearly 3-fold difference in total tannin concentration, ranging from 0.56 to 1.6 g/L with an average of 1 g/L

epicatechin equivalents, as measured by HPLC. As expected, these values lay within the concentration of tannin seen in the lower grade Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah wines. Similarly, the colour density (0.6 to 1.6 AU) and total phenolics (31 to 68 AU) varied significantly among wines. The high variability in phenolic content of Pinot Noir wines has been reported before, reaching a 32-fold difference in a much larger sample set. Unlike the reports with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, the total phenolic content and total tannin did not have a significant correlation with retail price (Figure 1). Due to the low tannin content of Pinot Noir grapes, different maceration


Progress Reports

strategies are used to increase extraction and thus improve the colour intensity and stability and mouthfeel. These include the addition of foreign tannins, non-traditional maceration techniques (ACE, microwave, flash release, among others) and the inclusion of stems. This complicates the straight forward consideration of total tannin content as a predictor of price/ quality, since not all of the tannins are from grape origin, and the tannin boost can not automatically be translated into a higher pigmented material. The colour density and hue were also not significantly correlated to price (Figure 2). However, a trend started to form, with the most expensive wine having a particularly high colour density and the most affordable wines having the lowest values. The chemical age (ratio of total pigments to total phenols) and monomeric anthocyanins (calculated as total pigments minus nonbleachable pigments) were also significantly correlated with price. We can observe a clearer trend correlating the retail price with the total red pigments (Figure 3), which had a statistically significant correlation (p<0.05). The measurement of red pigments is done by acidifying the wine to pH<1 and measuring its absorbance at 520 nm. In contrast, the colour density is the measurement of the absorbance of the wine

at 420 nm (brown) and 520 nm (red) at the original conditions. By acidifying the wine, we can assess the red pigments coming from anthocyanins and part of the pigmented polymeric tannins without interfering effects on the state of pigment equilibria. These effects can be pH, free SO2 level, and co-pigmentation factors which affect the colour density. In this way, the measurement of red pigments is more related to the content of pigments than to the colour of the wine. One observation from this relatively small set of Pinot Noir wines is that the intermediary wines have a high variation in terms of phenolic content and colour so that it would be impractical to use these parameters in the decision making processes regarding commercial grading. In fact, researchers have demonstrated that colour was not a major factor in the quality assessment of Pinot Noir wines by French and New Zealand wine professionals and that perceived balance was more significant. This expert notion on Pinot Noir quality can also explain the lack of a strong correlation between the wine grade, here analysed as retail price, and the phenolic content and colour attributes. The consumer notion, on the other hand, could be different, especially among those less well-versed in wine and the particularity of each variety. Understanding the chemical markers driving

Figure 1 Relationship between total tannin and retail price of New Zealand Pinot Noir wines

Figure 2 Relationship between colour density and retail price of New Zealand Pinot Noir wines

Figure 3 Relationship between total red pigments and retail price of New Zealand Pinot Noir wines

the quality perception of Pinot Noir wines for both experts and consumers can provide a critical tool to viticulture and winemaking. The same set of parameters cannot be used indiscriminately for all varieties. Within the wider Pinot Noir programme, we have aimed at establishing a comprehensive set of methods that will allow us to study in-depth the phenolic composition of Pinot Noir grapes and

wines. These methods, new to the New Zealand wine research scene, have recently been applied to these 18 wines, and comparisons will now be made with the outcomes of sensory studies made within the wider programme. This information will be used to better understand the role that phenolic compounds have in the sensory attributes of Pinot Noir wines. nzwine.com

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   61


Progress Reports

Getting to know ‘Brett’ from New Zealand Chris Curtin1, Kevin Pigao1, Roxana Navarro1, Soon Lee2, Sarah Knight2, Matthew Goddard2,3 1 Department of Food Science & Technology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon USA 2 School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, NZ 3 School of Life Sciences, The University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK 15-112 BRETTANOMYCES YEASTS, responsible for the distinct blend of ‘phenolic, ‘barnyard’ and ‘medicinal’ aromas known as ‘Brett’ character, have been found in wine from all major wine producing regions of the world. In this respect, New Zealand is not special. A 1974 report by Wright and Parle in the New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research described that “the spoilage yeast Brettanomyces intermedius was widespread in New Zealand commercial wine fermentations sampled during the 1971 vintage”. In the years since, research around the world has sought to understand the factors that contribute to ‘Brett’ spoilage of wine. A major finding in large studies from Australia and France was that certain Brettanomyces genetic groups (or strains) were detected more frequently, and that these strains were able to grow in the presence of higher concentrations of sulphite. Worryingly, over time it appeared that sulphite-tolerant strains became more common, an observation that suggested on-going inadvertent selection for this trait in industry. Until now there has been no information available regarding the

62   // 

Strain B

Figure 1. Tree based upon genetic relatedness of New Zealand Brettanomyces isolates. Branches that represent different strains are highlighted and labelled.

Strain A Strain C

Services (PROS) and WineWorks, a total Strain D2 of 208 isolates of the main wine ‘Brett’ species, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, were obtained Strain D1 during 2017 and 2018 from nine windiversity of Brettanoemaking regions across myces in New Zealand. the country. It is very Recently completed important to note that collaborative research the manner of sampling led by Prof. Mat Goddard was not randomised, nor (University of Auckland) corrected for relative and Asst. Prof. Chris Curnumber of wineries per tin (Oregon State Uniregion, and therefore no versity) used the power conclusions can be made of genomic sequencing about the relative size to determine whether of Brettanomyces popuBrettanomyces strains lations in each region. from New Zealand are Nevertheless, with such similar to those observed a large number of samelsewhere in the world. ples, it is possible to gain The primary goal was to insight into the relative find out whether New occurrence of ‘Brett’ Zealand wineries were strains in New Zealand. populated by sulphiteFive different strains tolerant strains. were identified (Figure 1), and through comparison THE NEW ZEALAND to sequence data ‘BRETT’ POPULATION generated in previous In partnership with studies we were able Pacific Rim Oenology to determine that each

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

genetic group found in New Zealand matched those described previously. In other words, New Zealand wine regions are populated by the same ‘Brett’ strains that are found in wine regions across the world. There was, however, a striking difference in their relative abundances (Figure 2). Strain A represented 11% of New Zealand isolates, whereas comparable large-scale studies in Australia and France reported 87% and 37%, respectively. Within New Zealand, strain distribution cannot be robustly analysed due to low sample numbers from some regions. Nevertheless, it is interesting that strain D1 was only isolated from South Island regions (Marlborough and Nelson), despite more isolates being obtained from North Island regions. It is also apparent when


Progress Reports

Matakana

comparing the most highly sampled regions (Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough) that the relative abundance of strains differs substantially. Only strains C and D2 were isolated from Wairarapa, for example, whereas all five strains were found in Marlborough.

Waiheke

Figure 2. Relative abundance of Brettanomyces strains across New Zealand wine regions.

Hawke’s Bay

Nelson

Wairarapa

Marlborough Canterbury/Waipara

Central Otago

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Strain A has previously been linked with sulphitetolerance in research from Australia and France. Sulphite tolerances of New Zealand isolates belonging to the five strain groupings were evaluated, and found to be in line with previous

harbor sulphite-tolerant Brettanomyces strains, but these are found at low frequency relative to Australia and France, and may not be present in all regions. Importantly, no isolates were recovered that exhibited sulphite “super-tolerance”. Why is strain distribution so different in New Zealand? Current winemaking practices and wine composition may favour strains that have different capabilities allowing their proliferation in wine, aside from tolerance to sulphite. Screening of isolates for ethanol tolerance revealed a significant difference between relative growth of isolates representing strains A and C. Strain C, the most prevalent across New Zealand, was found to grow faster. Taken together, we speculate that current sulphite management practices do not enforce a selective pressure (i.e. insufTime after SO2 treatment (hours) ficient sulphite is used to low    mod    high eliminate low-tolerance Figure 3. Decrease in viable cell numbers for Brettanomyces populations growing in Pinot Noir wine over time, following treatment strains), therefore strain with low, moderate (mod) or high suphite dosages. Results shown C, with the fastest growth as log-change relative to controls for each time-point. Dotted lines indicate transition from detectable to non-detectable numbers of cells rate under wine-like conditions, has proliferated. for the sulphite-treated population.

Log-decrease (CFU/ml)

observations – strain A was again found to have the greatest tolerance. This means that New Zealand wine regions do

Testing of New Zealand isolate responses to sulphite additions in Pinot Noir wine reinforced these observations (Figure 3). At high dosage levels (1.1ppm molecular sulphite), strain C lost viability more rapidly than strain A, but both were unable to recover. At moderate dosage (0.44ppm molecular sulphite) strain C again lost viability more rapidly than strain A, but both recovered to near their original population size within two weeks. A Low dosage level (0.18ppm molecular sulphite) was ineffective against both strains. What does this mean for winemakers? In wineries/regions were strain group A has been observed great care should be taken to ensure sufficient levels of free molecular SO2 to control Brettanomyces (>0.6mg/L, ideally >0.8mg/L). In wineries where lower molecular SO2 levels are typically achieved, but to date there have been no issues with ‘Brett’ spoilage, it is possible that this strain has not yet been introduced. Vigilance and careful screening of incoming wine and barrels would be advisable. It may also be advisable that the New Zealand wine industry actively adopt alternative control measures, such as the application of fungal chitosan-based products. If used effectively, this may help avoid an escalation of routine sulphite additions and limit the emergence of sulphitetolerant strains. nzwine.com

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   63


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Palliser Estate

New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre Limited Pinot Noir Programme – Research Aims 2.5 and 2.6 Vine and Wine Ideotypes VINTAGE BY VINE INTERACTIONS MOST STRONGLY INFLUENCE PINOT NOIR GRAPE AND WINE COMPOSITION IN NEW ZEALAND Damian Martin, Franzi Grab, Claire Grose, Lily Stuart. The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, Marlborough. Claire Scofield. The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, Clyde. Tanya Rutan. Bragato Research Institute, Marlborough. AIMS Industry doctrine dictates that Pinot Noir wine quality attributes are predominantly determined by grape composition. Our study attempts to understand the relationship between grape (and ultimately wine) composition and the physical appearance and performance

64   // 

characteristics of a vine (i.e. vine ideotype). The long-term commercial goal is to derive optimised vine specifications tailored to the production of a desired Pinot Noir wine type. METHODS AND RESULTS Vine genetics, fruit maturity, region and vineyard are perceived

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

by producers and consumers as factors that strongly influence Pinot Noir wine composition. Our experimental approach controls these variables by studying within-block differences in vine performance across multiple seasons and vineyards in order to understand how factors such as season and vine

attributes (e.g. yield) affect wine composition. Grapes were sourced at commercial harvest from 20 single-vines from 12 vineyard sites in three Pinot Noir growing regions (Central Otago, Martinborough and Marlborough) of New Zealand. Each season a total of 220 individual Pinot Noir vines of


Progress Reports

a single clone and rootstock combination comprised the study population. Across the 2018 and 2019 vintages the same 20 vines within each vineyard were monitored. A subset of approximately 20% of the vines were selected for winemaking as single-vine lots. The selected vines displayed a wide range of yields and provenances but grape maturity was within a narrow range. Per vine yields ranged from less than 0.1kg to nearly 6.9kg. At the time of commercial harvest there was no general relationship between yield and berry soluble solids, neither within the full sample set nor within each site. On a vine by vine basis the block-normalised yield did not correlate between seasons. In the same way there was no relationship for berry soluble solids between seasons nor was there any relationship for berry colour between seasons on a vine by vine basis. There was a striking increase in phenolic content and colour of the berries between 2018 and 2019, even with the same fruit yield per vine. The total phenolic content increased 2.5-fold and colour was, on average, three-fold higher. From the total population of vines studied in 2019 there were only 12 of 220 (5%) that reached a good technological maturity at yields of approximately 9 t/ha or more. While Pinot Noir grape and wine quality was high in 2019, the performance

Figure 1. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of vine, berry, juice and wine data from the Pinot noir Ideotype Vines singlevine lots selected for small-scale winemaking. The left biplot shows the scores of vine, berry, juice and wine parameters categorised by yield. The right biplot shows the vector loadings of the measured physiological and chemical parameters.

of the vineyards in this study could still be viewed as commercially sub-optimal. Unlike 2018, low vineyard yield was the principal contributor to under-performance, but there is no evidence in our data to suggest that had yield been higher in 2019, other fruit compositional attributes would have suffered. Wines made in 2019 typically showed more than double the colour (both OD520 and colour density) than those made at the same yield by soluble solids band in 2018. Wine total phenolic content was also elevated in 2019, but results indicated that the increase was largely because of an increase in red pigmented phenolics rather than in wine tannins. Differences in berry mass contributed to a large range in the marc:wine ratio (M:W), but our data suggest

other unknown factors also affect M:W. While an average 35% reduction in berry size in 2019 contributed to the more intensely coloured wines, the berry size difference alone does not explain the remarkable lift in colour between vintages. Across the sample set, and unlike 2018, there was a general negative relationship between vine yield and wine colour/phenolic content. This relationship was, however, highly leveraged by wines from a single site, which presented higher yields, large berries and relatively low (but still superior to 2018) wine colour. When sufficient within-site replication was obtained (N ≥ 4) the negative relationship between vine yield and wine colour was not observed between vines within the same block. These results are supported by the berry colour data and suggest

that higher yield and high wine colour are not mutually exclusive. Overall, our data show that, at comparable yields and berry masses, wine total anthocyanin concentrations in 2019 were approximately twice those of 2018. Our data also indicate an antagonistic relationship between wine phenolics and juice primary amino nitrogen, although in 2019 berry size and M:W ratio contributed to large residual variances resulting in a weaker negative correlation than in 2018. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) has shown that vintage is the predominant factor affecting vine parameters and berry, juice and wine compositional attributes. The vintage effect dominates compositional effects that might be associated with yield per vine, region and vineyard,

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020  //   65


Progress Reports

Maude Pinot Noir

albeit that vintage by vineyard interactions are evident. Data indicate an antagonistic relationship between wine phenolics and juice primary amino acid metabolisms, although berry size and juice:marc ratio contribute to large residual variances. CONCLUSIONS The extent of the variation in performance of the same vines between seasons largely excludes factors that are stable between seasons as primary causes. Variation in management of the same vine from year to year (especially bud load) seems the most likely management contributor to performance variation. Vintage is the predominant factor affecting vine parameters and berry, juice and wine compositional attributes, greatly overriding effects that might be associated with yield per vine, region and vineyard.

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SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY Our wider Pinot Noir research effort currently uses in vitro berry growth and controlled environment potted vine studies to unravel the underlying causes of differences in berry composition. After multiple seasons of study we can, however, progress our programme confident in the knowledge than factors such as vine yield, region or vineyard are, in themselves, unlikely to be the principal drivers of major differences in Pinot Noir grape and wine composition. That is not, however, to say that fine differences in wine composition (yet to be measured) are not extremely important in determining the style, quality and price of Pinot Noir wine. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors would like to thank the 11 participating wine companies for

NZ WINEGROWER  JUNE/JULY 2020

Figure 2. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of vine, berry, juice and wine parameters categorised and clustered by vintage.

providing the study sites. This type of research is made possible by the intellectual contributions and passion of winemakers and viticulturists. Thanks also to Mark Langlands of Vinemanagers Ltd

for assistance with data collection in the Wairarapa. This study is funded by Bragato Research Institute through a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Endeavour fund grant. nzwine.com


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New Zealand Winegrower June/July 2020  

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