NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWER THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE NEW ZEALAND WINE INDUSTRY
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OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 ISSUE 130
Stellar demand, sluggish shipping & spiralling labour shortfalls
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 / ISSUE 130
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Issue 130 – October/November 2021
From the CEO
54 Wellness in Wine
58 Women in Wine
86 Advocacy Matters
NZW Levy Vote
88 Social Pages
Pinot Noir Day
F E AT U R E S 18
Change for Good
New Zealand’s wine industry has weathered the storm of Covid-19 remarkably well, adapting to constant challenges. And amidst the headaches and heartaches of shipping delays, labour crises, pandemic protocols, stricken wine tourism, stranded seasonal workers, and short supply for stellar demand, there are silver linings to be found.
New Zealand cellar doors are continuing to adapt while trying to stay optimistic, say operators in a Covid-disrupted market. “It’s very hard to plan, but (we) realise this is the new normal and we need to learn to live in a pandemic world,” says Nicky Hewett of Cloudy Bay.
30 Vintage Recruitment
The wine industry needs to think outside the box when it comes to finding the workforce it needs, say the companies working together to fill peaks in seasonal workload. “Those that move early and think about things differently will win in the long run,” says recruitment expert Kirsty Trolove. COVER PHOTO Weathering the storm of Covid-19 at Escarpment in the Wairarapa. Photo Mike Heydon. Go to page 19
E D I TO R Sophie Preece firstname.lastname@example.org
CO R R E S P O N D ENTS Wellington Wine Country: Joelle Thomson email@example.com Hawke’s Bay: Olly Styles firstname.lastname@example.org Marlborough: Tessa Nicholson email@example.com
From the Editor
Central Otago: Jean Grierson firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophie Preece EDITOR
Canterbury: Jo Burzynska email@example.com
A DV E R T I SI N G Upper North Island: Stephen Pollard firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 021 963 166 Central North Island: Lisa Wise email@example.com Ph: 027 369 9218 Lower North Island: Ron Mackay Ph: 021 453 914 South Island: Kaye Sutherland firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 021 221 1994
C I R C U L AT I O N & SU B S C R I P T I O NS Jodi Blair email@example.com Ph: 09 303 3527, ext 0 Fax: 09 302 2969 Mobile: 027 700 2371 New Zealand Winegrowers PO Box 90 276, Auckland Mail Centre, New Zealand
P U B L I SH I N G & P R E - P R E SS Rural News Group PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 Ph: 09 307 0399 Location: Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Publisher: Brian Hight Managing Editor: Adam Fricker Production: David Ferguson, Rebecca Williams
Tēnā koutou kātoa I AM writing this editorial during te wiki o te reo Māori, and contemplating the number of wine companies looking to the Māori language for their labels. It’s a wonderful way of linking wines to the unique environment of Aotearoa, but needs to be done with respect, including a commitment to tikanga. Happily, there has been a growing energy in the wine industry for learning te reo and mātauranga Māori, ensuring there’s less of a divide between ethos and marketing. Astrolabe co-founder Jane Forrest Waghorn, who is studying through Wānanga o Aotearoa this year, says it is an honour to learn te reo. “It feels so good to be able pronounce words correctly (mostly) and be at the beginning of the journey,” she says. “We make wine from Aotearoa and we tell that unique story overseas. We shouldn’t selectively use Māori culture for promotion. I hope one day this country will be bilingual - we would all be richer for that.” In 2017 a group of Māori-owned wine companies around the country established Tuku, a collective that includes te Pā (page 25) and viticulturist Jeff Sinnott, one of the founders of Ostler (page 66), and celebrates shared values of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) manaakitanga (hospitality) and whanaungatanga (kinship). Jeff welcomes the momentum behind the wine industry embracing te reo and the tikanga woven into it. “We are on a journey, both individually and collectively”, and it’s important to respect each other’s place on that journey, he says. “It is not up to us to judge, it is our responsibility to encourage learning and appropriate use of not just te reo, but the wider issues of multiculturalism.” At Ōhau Wines in Levin, the team added the tohutō to their brand in 2012, and have focussed on improved pronunciation, for them and visitors to their cellar door, for the past decade. They have also forged a relationship with the local iwi, and share the stories and history of the land, from the kainga that once sat along the banks of the Ōhau River, and the moa – and moa hunters - that once roamed here. “It feels like a pretty special place,” says Jo Scully on page 50. “We couldn’t do this without the land and the people who looked after it before we got here.”
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.
Chris is European Marketing Manager for New Zealand Winegrowers. In this edition he discusses the journey of New Zealand wine in that market over the past 10 years.
This month Joelle, a Wairarapa-based wine writer, talks to Katherine Jacobs for the Women in Wine series, hearing about Big Sky Wines and a life lived to the full.
Bob Campbell, MW, is a leading wine specialist, author and educator. In this edition’s Bob’s Blog he explores just how much it might cost to escape to the chateau in Champagne.
Jo is a wine writer and sound artist with a thesis on the multisensory experience of drinking wine. In this edition, she learns about Pinot and place, from organisers of the Whole Bunch.
Go to page 14
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Go to page 76
The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only, and is not intended to address specific circumstances of any particular individual, entity or situation. This publication is not a definitive source, may not be up to date and is not a substitute for legal advice. New Zealand Winegrowers Inc and Rural News Group Ltd disclaim liability for any loss, error or damage resulting from use of/ reliance on this publication.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
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From the CEO Philip Gregan
From the CEO The ongoing challenges of Covid-19 Philip Gregan
AS I write this, the Government has just announced the extension for another week of the Alert Level 4 lockdown in Auckland and Level 2 across the rest of the country. Eighteen months on from the first nationwide lockdown, the impact of Covid-19 continues to linger, long after many of us hoped life would be reasonably back to normal. But in the face of Covid, recent weeks have seen some positive developments. High on the list is the quarantine free travel (QFT) for Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workers from Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu starting October. This development, which New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), the Ethical Employers contractors’ group and other horticulture industry organisations have been advocating for, will be a major boost for growers as it will allow up to 14,400 RSE workers to come into the country, without the necessity of MIQ and all the costs associated with it. This is a big plus for the coming season. Positively, we also saw a strong response to our initiative, following the Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) request, calling for growers and wineries to self-declare their compliance with
the Government’s Covid regulations, and the NZW guidance on operating safely under different alert levels. After two weeks, declarations covering 90 percent of the vineyard area had been received. MPI are delighted with this response, which will serve the industry well in both the current lockdown, and in any future alert level changes. However, the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 continue to challenge the industry - directly and indirectly in terms of both marketing and production. Directly, there are restrictions on the ability of wineries to get offshore and promote their products, given the major difficulties with securing MIQ spots on return. Many wineries have turned to online as an alternative, but this is not a replacement for direct person to person engagement that so many wineries see as critical to their marketing and sales success. Domestically the hospitality trade, including our cellar doors, have been hugely disrupted by the latest lockdown. The additional restrictions placed on Alert Level 2 operations mean far more severe restrictions on the ability to trade and sell our wines to customers. Similarly, events-related activities have been significantly impacted.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
From a NZW perspective, the Pinot Bunch had to defer its event planned for September until February next year when hopefully there will be a more certain Covid operating environment. The Pinot Bunch instead hosted a thought-provoking webinar as a replacement on 10 September, where more than 100 members tuned in. The current lockdown is also bringing into question our planned Wine Business Forum in November. Positively though, it is encouraging to see the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival is scheduled to go ahead next year. From a production perspective, the disruption to global supply chains is impacting shipment of products out of New Zealand, and the import of material into New Zealand. Agcarm has, for example, highlighted the impact of the ongoing logistics issues slowing deliveries into the country. They have also highlighted the inevitable price rises that are likely as a result. From everything we have heard, there are no quick fixes on the horizon for these logistics issues. Border issues, despite the good news of QFT for RSE workers, will continue to impact supply of labour through the new season. When the Government in
August announced its plan for re-opening New Zealand to the world, it was short on detail. With the subsequent Delta outbreak those somewhat ambiguous plans appear to have become even more uncertain. From a NZW perspective, our working assumption is that there will be an ongoing labour shortage throughout the coming season, given the uncertainty around the timing of the opening of the border. As such, labour supply will continue to be the focus of our advocacy efforts in coming months, including restarting the monthly seasonal labour updates and regional labour contact discussions. We are also considering what data we may need to gather to assess the likely shortages, so if you are asked to provide information please do so. Our goal will be simple: ensuring the industry has access to the staff required to complete the time-critical tasks central to the growing and harvesting of grapes, and making of wine over the 2021/22 season, and into the 2022 pruning season. In the meantime, we urge all industry members to do the one thing that we know will help speed the re-opening of the New Zealand domestic economy and our international borders: Get vaccinated!
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Growing Sauvignon Blanc diversity BRAGATO RESEARCH Institute continues to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries and New Zealand Winegrowers members to develop the Sauvignon Blanc Grapevine Improvement programme, sometimes referred to as SB 2.0. At the 2021 Grape Days events, Bragato Research Institute Chief Executive Jeffrey Clarke explained that New Zealand remains the only significant wine-producing country without a grapevine improvement programme to introduce diversity and country-specific resilience into our vines. “Lack of diversity limits our ability to select traits to accommodate a changing environment, market opportunities and biosecurity threats,” says Principal Research Scientist Darrell Lizamore. “It exposes us to significant risk – the vast majority of our Sauvignon Blanc vines are of the same clone. This means that a new pest, disease or environmental change that affects one Sauvignon Blanc vine in New Zealand could affect every one of them.” To fill this gap in Sauvignon Blanc diversity, BRI has designed an accelerated seven-year research programme that will apply modern knowledge to tried and tested tissue culture techniques. There is still an opportunity for members to directly participate in this research programme. Please contact Darrell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical Workshop postponed THE NEW ZEALAND Society for Viticulture and Oenology has put its Alternative Varietals technical workshop on hold until New Zealand is back to Covid-19 Alert Level 1. “It is disappointing of course, but we cannot in good conscience progress our workshop on its original date,” says society Chair Jeff Sinnott. “It is critical that we protect our colleagues and industry from any potential risk.” nzsvo.org.nz
ProWein WITH NO certainty around when New Zealand borders will open, New Zealand Winegrowers have made the “difficult decision” not to attend Prowein in 2022, says New Zealand Winegrowers General Manager Marketing Charlotte Read. “There are so many variables beyond our control, such as the pace of the vaccine roll-out and the status of the virus spread in other parts of the world, so we would rather wait until we have this certainty,” she says. “For 2023 we will begin discussions afresh for our New Zealand stand presence.”
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
COVID-19 IS a hot topic in the recently released 2021 New Zealand Winegrowers Annual Report, including its impacts on the border, markets, and increasingly supply chain. The ongoing impact on the supply of labour is also highlighted. “In the past 12 months, an overriding concern for many growers and wineries has been the availability of overseas workers,” write Chair Clive Jones and Deputy Chair Fabian Yukich in the report. “These workers play a vital role in enabling the industry to meet the critical seasonal work peaks. If those peaks, particularly pruning and harvest, are not met this would put in jeopardy the jobs of the 21,000 Kiwis who work in and supply our sector.” The Annual Report outlines the work being done by New Zealand Winegrowers, in tandem with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and other Government departments, to secure New Zealand workers to fill the roles left by Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) and other overseas workers. To read the annual report go to nzwine.com
Organic Wine Week NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWERS worked with Organic Winegrowers New Zealand to celebrate Organic Wine Week from 20 to 25 September, including a week’s worth of thought-provoking activities around the hero webinar, “The Rise of Organic Wine in New Zealand”. The prerecorded Zoom event was broadcast across two time zones to accommodate an international audience. The panel included Anna Flowerday (Te Whare Ra), Huw Kinch (Pyramid Valley), Jared White (BioGro), with wine writer Emma Jenkins MW leading the discussion. Supporting events included a Walk Around Tasting in London and two Instagram Live sessions, one with Christina Pickard of Wine Enthusiast magazine (United States) and the other with The Social Herbivore (Canada). All the events aim to reach key trade and media across Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom. nzwine.com/organic-wine-week
New Master of Wine NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWERS board member Michael Henley is New Zealand’s latest Master of Wine. Michael started collecting wine while working in a bottle store while at university in Christchurch, and never looked back. Mike’s research paper, required in gaining the Master of Wine, is on The impact of future climate changes on the production of Sauvignon Blanc wines in Marlborough, New Zealand. Read more about Michael on page 62.
Wine Business Forum THE WINE Business Forum
Direct to consumer solution WINE COLLECTIVE Direct, a global marketplace for New Zealand wine producers, has added a Digital Success Programme to its offering. “We’re absolutely thrilled to see producers experiencing high-value direct sales on the platform since launching in May this year,” says Ryann Calder, Wine Collective Direct Manager of Producer Growth. The Digital Success Programme (DSP) addresses the problem of many local wine producers not having the tools, time, or financial resources to reach international consumers via effective digital marketing methods, he says. In 2019, New Zealand Winegrowers reported that 776,599 international wine tourists visited New Zealand and spent $3.26 billion. With borders closed to international visitors, digital promotion is the most effective means of connecting with international customers, Ryann says. “Different to the fast-moving commodity wine category, the craft wine category is characterised by consumers actively looking to connect at a personal level with the actual producer. Despite the decline in international tourists, overseas consumers haven’t lost their passion to discover the premium wines of Aotearoa.” The DSP taps into more than 100,000 detailed data points accumulated by sister company nzwinehome. Combined with Google and Facebook sales analytics, such as attribution, transactional conversion, and behavioural trends, Wine Collective Direct is able to make data-driven decisions for its DSP campaigns, including an upcoming 2021 Collective Christmas Catalogue. “Historically New Zealand winemakers successfully forged their reputation internationally by representing themselves, together, as a group under the ‘Brand NZ’ marquee at key trade and consumer shows around the globe,” says Wine Collective Direct Founder Grant Rimmer. “Wine Collective Direct provides a perfect platform for producers from around our country to keep alive that shared spirit of togetherness. Acting collectively, we are stronger, and will go further globally together.” winecollective.direct
has been postponed until 2022, with a new date to be announced in coming months, says New Zealand Winegrowers General Manager Marketing Charlotte Read. “We need to be at Level 1 for this event to proceed as planned , so we will wait until such time that we have certainty we will be.”
The Whole Bunch T HE W HOLE Bu nc h gat her ing a nd symposium has been postponed until 2022, due to Covid-19 alert levels. The event, which invites New Zealand’s Pinot community to think about and discuss important themes relevant to growing great Pinot Noir in New Zealand, for the world, will now be held 10-11 February 2022. Read more from Jo Burzynska on page 76.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 9
Upcoming Events TO HAVE EVENTS ADDED TO OUR CALENDAR CONTACT
Marlborough Wine & Food Festival
The 36th Marlborough Wine & Food Festival will be held in the “heart of Marlborough wine country” next year, with a move from Brancott Vineyard to the Renwick Domain. Tickets for this iconic event go on sale in October. See more on page 74.
Regenerative Viticulture On 5 October, the Bragato Research Institute will run a webinar on regenerative agriculture, based on consumer research undertaken with Beef + Lamb.
Weed Management In partnership with Dr Trevor James of AgResearch (pictured), the Bragato Research Institute is holding a spring workshop on weed management. Knowledge shared will include an update on the distribution of resistant weed species, based on a physical survey of nearly 80 vineyards in Marlborough and North Canterbury. Speakers will also discuss best practice for managing herbicide resistance and problematic weeds through chemical and cultural approaches.
Marlborough 5 October or online nzwine.com/members/research
Locals only tickets: 18 – 24 October General Ticket sales: 28 October marlboroughwinefestival.com
Marlborough Wine Show The Marlborough Wine Show, sponsored by QuayConnect, is run by Wine Marlborough to promote subregionality and diversity of wines grown in New Zealand’s largest wine region. The Marlborough Wine Show wraps up with a Celebration Lunch on 29 October.
Celebration Lunch: 29 October marlboroughwineshow.com
Car Boot Party The F.A.W.C.! Hawke’s Bay Wine Car Boot Party is back on this spring, with more than 40 Hawke’s Bay wineries ready to park up and pour some of the region’s finest wines. Head to the gardens at the A&P Showground between 5 and 8pm on 5 November.
5 November hawkesbaywine.co.nz
Young Viticulturist of the Year
Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker New dates have been set for the Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year, with winemakers around the country testing themselves against their peers in the lead-up to the national final, which will be held in Central Otago on 26 November. Central Otago already has its finalist ready to go, having competed on 16 September. Remaining competition dates are:
Marlborough 6 October North Island 27 October Final 26 November nzwine.com/young-winemaker
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
The Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final 2021 will now be held at Indevin Bankhouse Estate in Marlborough on 9 November. The National Final Awards Dinner will be held on 10 November at the Clubs of Marlborough in Blenheim.
9 – 10 November nzwine.com/young-vit
Toitu & Technology The inaugural Young Viticulturist of the Year Viticulture conference - Toitu & Technology - Preparing for the Future will include discussions around climate change and how the wine industry can reach carbon zero by 2050, as well as new technologies and innovations geared up to help the industry thrive.
10 November nzwine.com/members/events/workshops/young-viticulturist
NZW Blind Tasting After a year’s hiatus due to Covid-19, the New Zealand Winegrowers Blind Tasting will take place on 16 November in Auckland. This tasting is used as a primary resource for the selection of wines for international seminars, masterclasses, education programmes and feature tables that make up the International Education Programme. While our physical New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) masterclasses have been impacted by Covid, our virtual tasting events still allow us to share exemplars of the New Zealand wine category and it is important that we keep our offering current and relevant. The Blind Tasting is able to address two of the themes from the New Zealand Wine of the Year review, which NZW committed to pursue:
benchmarking and mentorship. Benchmarking will be achieved via feedback to entrants on wine varieties and style. Individual scores will also be sent to entrants on request. Associate judge positions will be introduced this year, and expressions of interest for these roles will be open to all members. We are delighted that Jo Gear will be leading this for NZW. Jo is an experienced winemaker, judge, and wine show organiser and is seen running the back room at many of New Zealand’s wine competitions. We are also very pleased to welcome Emma Jenkins MW to the new position of chair of judges. She will oversee the judging team, providing leadership and rigour to the process, as well as very valuable mentorship.
Entries open – Monday 20 September Entries close – Friday 22 October Sample deadline – Monday 8 November Judging – Tuesday 16 November Results notified to entrants – Friday 19 November
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 11
The Marketing Place
The Marketing Place
Taking NZ wine to the world: Bringing the world to NZ wine
CORONA-COASTER is a term that perfectly sums up the highs and lows of the past 18 months. Just when lockdowns became a distant memory, and we were living relatively normal lives within New Zealand’s borders where events could take place, Delta entered the fold, plunging us back into lockdown. The Whole Bunch Pinot Noir event scheduled for 9 to 10 September 2021 will now take place on 10 to 11 February 2022. The Wine Business Forum planned for this November is also looking for a new date in 2022. We have also just confirmed that New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) will next return to the major ProWein Wine expo in March 2023 and not be present in 2022. However, we will continue to find innovative ways in the virtual world, and NZW will help continue to ‘turn heads’ to what’s happening in the New Zealand wine scene with our collaborative campaigns across our major markets. Charlotte Read is General Manager Marketing at NZW
Intel and Insights PROVIDING OUR membership with relevant and timely information in an ever-changing global wine landscape has remained a key driver for NZW, and ‘intel and insights’ continues to be the major focus area. The signature piece of work for 2021 has been a comprehensive research study of the US market, co-funded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and NZW, and led by the USA NZTE market research team. The major driver for this work was the US being the largest importer of New Zealand wine since 2015. While research has been done on the overall US wine market and trends, very little has been able to specifically address the questions around New Zealand wines in the US. This research speaks to what is driving the growth of New Zealand wine in the US, who the consumers are and why they are drinking our wine. It also asks why New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is capturing such a large market share, while other New Zealand varietals have less success. The study provides qualitative and quantitative elements, and involves consumers, distributors, importers and retailers/ buyers. Videos capture some of the interviews and are a true highlight. This research was presented recently by NZTE’s North America Market Analyst, Ashtar Boulos. Find slides and recordings at nzwine.com/members/marketing/webinars-events
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
Speaking of NZ Wine...
Red, red wine IN THE lead-up to Pinot Noir Day 2021, NZW ran a PR and social media campaign to celebrate the day, in conjunction with the provision of a toolkit for members and wider trade and media use.
The Marketing Place
Staying centre stage AWARENESS AND perception of ‘Brand New Zealand’ has never been stronger, according to the 2021 New Zealand Winegrowers Annual Report. “Our premium wine story of sustainably produced and diverse wines resonates more powerfully now than ever,” reads the marketing section of the recently released report. Charlotte Read, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) General Manager Marketing says 2021 has been about identifying new ways to keep New Zealand wine top of mind, despite the border closures and lockdowns carried with the Covid-19 pandemic. “Our market managers are collaborating on digital campaigns, which magnify impact and reach, as well as
sharing successful approaches of what works in one market with another.” The annual report says there is unique and “time-bound” opportunity to promote New Zealand’s “outstanding food and beverage products”, while its borders are closed to the world. The Made with Care campaign, led by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), helped the industry tap into that opportunity and “aligns perfectly with our industry’s core focus on sustainability, valuing our people and looking after our land for future generations”, says the report. The inaugural virtual New Zealand Wine Week was another tool to frame New Zealand on the
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global stage, and included panel discussions with New Zealand winemakers, exploring themes ranging from new and impending developments to Pinot Noir soils. The wine week also included a sustainability webinar challenging the myths around food miles, run in collaboration with the Harpers Wine & Spirit publication. Nearly 7,000 people tuned into activities during the week, while media coverage reached 111 million people. Next year the week will extend into Asia. The annual report also looks at work done by NZW to
“increase the discoverability of New Zealand wines”, including the opportunity for members to have their wines listed in the New Zealand Wine Catalogue, operated by Bottlebooks, an online platform used by retailers and events such as the London Wine Fair and ProWein. “Creating platforms for our members to make global connections, especially when borders are closed, remains an important part of our role,” says Charlotte. “We look forward to when it is feasible to return to face-to-face interactions once again.”
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The Marketing Place
Europe Update CHRIS STROUD has been New Zealand Winegrower Market Manager in Europe for 10 years, and also covers the Middle East. In this Winegrower Magazine Q&A, he gives some insights into how these markets have changed, and what’s in store for New Zealand wine in Europe.
What changes have you seen for New Zealand wine in Europe over the past decade? When I first began at New Zealand Winegrowers in 2011, New Zealand wines were already well known and established in the United Kingdom, but less so in Europe. The initial focus was a wine programme in partnership with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) to develop awareness of New Zealand wines in mainland Europe, focussing on Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, and latterly it has been maintaining our position and reputation in the UK. The growth across all markets has been phenomenal, even in the UK where New Zealand is now the most popular white wine in market, selling well above the average bottle price in the UK. Much of the growth has occurred as new markets have discovered the unique qualities of New Zealand Sauvignon for the first time, or established
markets have broadened their New Zealand range and explored the diversity across styles, the varietal range and the different regional characteristics.
How has Covid-19 impacted on New Zealand wine sales over the past 18 months? In the initial lockdown, alcohol sales grew strongly in the off-trade, including wine. The trends we saw were that consumers stuck with brands they trusted, and wines they knew and loved. New Zealand wines were already extremely popular and with the on-trade and other entertainment facilities shut, consumers found they had more disposable income and were willing to trade up and spend more on a bottle of wine, so our sales were boosted. New Zealand wines outperformed the market throughout the year following the first lockdown, with growth of more than 20 percent in volume and value. Has the lifting of restrictions in England impacted on demand for New Zealand wine? As restrictions have eased and the on-premise has opened, the growth in the off-trade has inevitably slowed. Despite this, New Zealand wines continue to perform well, with the hope
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
that the positive sentiment for New Zealand will transfer to the on-trade, so the future is bright. However, there are some challenges ahead, including the availability of the 2021 vintage, supply chain and logistics issues, and the impact of Brexit.
What wine trends are you seeing in the market, and are there further opportunities for New Zealand producers to tap into them? During the lockdown, one of the biggest impacts on the industry was the phenomenal growth
aromatic varieties. There are also increasingly more opportunities for alternative packaging formats such as cans.
Tell us about Expo 2020 Dubai, and the opportunity for New Zealand wine Expo 2020 Dubai provides an unparalleled opportunity to promote New Zealand as a progressive, innovative and trusted partner to a global audience, especially with the borders being closed. New Zealand has a pavilion at the event where exporters have a distinct platform to hold
New Zealand wines outperformed the market throughout the year following the first lockdown, with growth of more than 20 percent in volume and value. in online sales, which presents another route to market for producers. Specifically on wine, however, the main trend we have seen recently is the demand for dry Rosés and this is certainly an area I think New Zealand producers can take advantage of. We have already seen strong growth in this area. With the potential shortage of Sauvignon Blanc from the 2021 vintage, there could also be an opportunity to further showcase our
events, product launches and activities. Indeed, we are looking to hold a wine education session for buyers and local sommeliers and trade. The Pavilion restaurant will also be serving premium New Zealand food and beverages, including a wide selection of New Zealand wines, providing the international guests with the opportunity to taste and explore our products in a relaxed and welcoming environment.
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Tools for your Business
Using digital tools to enhance your cellar door SARAH ROWLEY ADAMS
ALTHOUGH NEW ZEALAND’S borders are currently closed, there are plenty of domestic tourists who will be looking to travel around New Zealand this summer. Many of them will want to experience our outstanding cellar doors and winery restaurants. During lockdown, we saw consumers supporting their favourite businesses to make sure they survived, and businesses that had already invested time in building digital loyalty and ecommerce systems reaped the rewards. Likewise, if you start investing in your cellar door’s digital presence now, you will see the return in the coming months. Here are some tips to make sure you’re making the most of your digital tools for the cellar door:
Get the basics right With so much change over the past 18 months, many cellar doors have changed their regular opening hours several times. Everyone knows it’s a disappointing experience to arrive at a closed venue, so make sure to update your hours online – add your opening hours to your website, Google and Facebook. If you have lots of people contacting you with the same questions, consider adding a visitors’ FAQ or booking page to your website. Most people
will go there first before they contact you directly – it will save you and your visitor time.
Look the part It’s important to make sure your content reflects your business. Think of your social media channels and website as your digital shop window. Social media is a powerful tool to promote food and beverages to a millennial audience. A UK study once estimated that 30 percent of millennials would avoid a restaurant if they had a bad Instagram presence. Want to deliver a premium cellar door experience? Your everyday iPhone photos might not convey that online, so you may want to invest in some professional digital assets. Trying to share your unique winery tour? Consider short videos, such as reels, which let you create dynamic content with music and filters. Make sure you’re comfortable with the format and its trends before you start. Get discovered Now that you’ve updated your social media, you want those new photos to be seen. Try tagging other people in your posts and get tagged in return. You’ll show up on their profiles, which will create more discovery pathways to your profile. Use natural
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
Poppies; Photo from Jet Production
collaborators – regional bodies, tourism operators, accommodation providers or events people you work with. Share the posts you are tagged in on Instagram stories to show your appreciation. On Instagram, the more hashtags you use, the more chances there are to be found. Use #nzwine so New Zealand Winegrowers will see your post and #DoSomethingNewNZ so Tourism New Zealand sees it. Check what your local tourism or regional body’s tag is.
Create a digital/IRL experience Word of mouth works in the digital space – if people like your cellar door they will share it to their friends online. You can encourage it by creating an “Instagram-worthy” space, somewhere people will want to take photos. Look for an area in your cellar door or restaurant – it could be a feature wall or an outdoor area with an amazing view. Put your brand name or logo in the area, this will give you free brand
awareness when someone shares a photo at your cellar door – it may even give their friends enough FOMO they book a trip in. Stay in touch You can only follow up with visitors if you collect their email address. Whether you want to do this the old school way, with a visitors’ book, or something more modern like an iPad, give them the option to subscribe to your mailing list or wine club. Let them know why they should sign up - for example, if you offer wine club deals - and let them know how frequently you’re going to email them. It’s a good idea to send a thank you email a day or two after their visit – consider adding a discount code or saying where your wines are available if you don’t have an online store. Most email clients will let you set up an automated email for whenever someone signs up, the hard work is done for you. Sarah Rowley Adams is Communications and Digital Advisor at New Zealand Winegrowers
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The Focus Covid Challenges Change for good Pg 19
Cellar Doors Doors open Pg 26
Recruitment challenge Pg 30
Pruning shortfall Labour woes Pg 34
Seasonal Workers A long haul Pg 35 Tiffani Graydon
Change for Good New Zealand’s latest lockdown was a reminder of how well the wine industry has dealt with one crisis after another over the past 20 months. From logisticians grappling with shipping schmozzles, to seasonal workers stranded on these shores, the industry has evolved to survive. And despite labour crises, pandemic protocols, stricken wine tourism, and short supply for stellar demand, there are silver linings to be found amongst the constant Covid-pivots. Short supply and stellar demand SOPHIE PREECE
SLOW SHIPPING, low yields and labour shortages have made 2021 even more challenging than 2020, says Nautilus General Manager Clive Jones. Sustained high demand for New Zealand wine, dr iven by stell ar Sauvignon Blanc sales worldwide, has been stymied by sluggish shipping schedules and a short vintage, he says, with national 2021 Sauvignon yields down 18 percent on the previous year. The combination of limited supply and increased timeline to market has resulted in a change in buying behaviour by distributors, from a steady regular buying pattern over 12 months, to increased frequency of orders early
on. That means companies could be further through their allocations than expected, with six months of concentrated ordering depleting stock levels. “If you
empty the pipeline, you have to refill it again,” he says. “We are starting to think, ‘okay, how much do we have to make next year?’” The change in behaviour
also means companies are bottling sooner, to get wine on the water. In the past, Nautilus has had the luxury of bottling over a nine to 11 month period, but in 2022 will
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“We have weathered the storm better than we ever expected to, particularly from an export point of view.” Larry McKenna have all its Sauvignon bottled by Christmas, Clive says. The source of the increased demand may in par t be customers shifting to new products because others are not available, while shipping issues may also be “clouding” the market trends, he says. “How much of the opportunity is the depletion in market, or just the ability to get product to market? Is it overall market g row th or s ubst i tut ion because other wines are not available? It is probably a bit of both.” T h e re ce n t e x te n d e d lockdowns in hospitality in the closer markets of Auckland and Australia is increasing the challenge faced by companies in on-premise, Clive adds. “We are definitely seeing some negative effects on the hospitality sector.” But the industry is “broadly in good shape”, despite severe labour shortages that mean some vines were un-pruned by budburst this year, while companies are already concerned about having enough hands on deck for the 2022 vintage. Yealands Wine Group Chief Executive Tiffani Graydon says keeping up with the demand from global markets for Sauvignon Blanc has been challenging, “albeit it’s a great challenge to have”. Combined with the short vintage and supply chain disruptions, “it has certainly put a closer lens on forecasting and the impor tance of customer communication”, she says. Yealands Sauvignon Blanc is the fastest growing New
Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in the United Kingdom and is doing so while maintaining price, she says. Meanwhile, markets in the United States and parts of Europe, with relatively high levels of Covid19 vaccination, are seeing a lift in on-premise channels, “which is fantastic for getting our premium brands back into the hands of consumers”. Tiffani says the company has sought to meet customer
good wine at home instead, soaking up some of the loss of hospitality sales, says Fraser, who has welcomed the
“It’s a really fortunate industry to be in.” Fraser McLachlan
needs by being transparent in terms of availability, while growing the distribution footprint of the branded portfolio. “With the short vintage and increased costs to produce associated with Covid-19, this has presented an opportunity for all New Zealand producers to accelerate their premiumisation strategies and we’ve certainly done that.” Peregrine Wines Chief Executive Fraser McLachlan says having New Zealand’s biggest market in lockdown takes a toll on Central Otago wineries with a domestic focus. But the rebound
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
after previous national and regional lockdowns has more than compensated for the dip, and Peregrine has seen a significant lift in sales over the past two years. “We have seen double digit growth over the past 18 months,” says Fraser. “We were amazed at how well that market rebounded and went further forwards than before.” He is “optimistic” that domestic resilience will come into play again when Auckland farewells Aler t L evel 4. Meanwhile, even in lockdown t h e r e ’s a “ r e m a r k a b l e balancing act” where people not dining out choose to drink
additional spend of Kiwis who might otherwise be overseas. Peregrine made plans early on in the pandemic to ensure they were prepared for a multitude of scenarios, including national or regional lockdowns. They have since worked to develop the sales channels they can utilise for each. And he notes that for every scenario, the wine industry benefits from having a product with a shelf life that outlasts a lockdown. “It’s a really fortunate industry to be in.” “We have weathered the storm better than we ever expected to, particularly from an export point of vie w,” says Escar pment V i n e y a rd D i re c t o r a n d Winemaker Larry McKenna.
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The Wairarapa company has worked to get more of its wine into retail outlets, rather than hospitality, and has increased its exports to the UK and Australia, where off-premise sales are going “very very well”. However, he remains concerned about the hospitality industry around New Zealand, which is s uffer ing from b o th lockdowns and a shortage of staff. That has subsequent
impacts for wine companies with an on-premise focus, he says. On the flipside, hospitality in Martinborough has gone from strength to strength over recent years. New Zealanders have made an effort to get out and support local, shining a light on the wine reg ion, which has three major winer y expansions underway, he says. “Wine tourism is alive and well.”
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“Unprecedented interest” in Kumeu River NEW ZEALAND WINE’S reputation for high quality and good value has been key to its success in overseas markets in recent years, says Michael Brajkovich of Kumeu River Wines. “When a UK customer is faced with a ‘mission shopping’ expedition under lockdown, they tend to go for the tried-and-true good-value option, rather than something too expensive, or too adventurous,” says the winemaker and Master of Wine. Certainly, the loyalty of Kumeu River’s customers, combined with excellent reviews for its 2019 and 2020 vintages, has seen the company perform better than ever before on the export market, with “unprecedented” interest in the UK market. Michael says New Zealand’s first lockdown last year came in the wake of a harvest of “exceptional” quality for the West Auckland winery. They worked with
a “bare minimum” of staff – mostly family – to run the business, and wondered what would happen next. “Of course, all of our restaurant sales stopped, and the cellar door was shut for the duration,” says Michael. But online sales and wine deliveries grew at a strong rate when customers cottoned on to online options, “and we were permitted to continue with our core function of making people happy”. Export trade, which makes up 55 percent of Kumeu River’s sales volume, continued as normal, apart from the shipping delays they’re still dealing with now. That global marketplace was “critical” for the company in making up for lost local revenue, he says. Staff came back in time to bottle the 2019 vintage wines and prepare them for the various markets in New Zealand and around the world, says Michael.
“We already knew that 2019 was one of our best vintages ever, and had started communicating that to our customers.” The response was an online clamour for more information, and when Kumeu arranged delivery to Jancis Robinson MW, followed by “more than very favourable” reviews from her and others, they saw all their single-vineyard wines rapidly sell out, while other levels of Chardonnay enjoyed buoyant sales. Kumeu River followed the 2019 success with an “extraordinary” 2020 vintage, he says. With another swathe of excellent reviews, then their first-ever 100-point score, for the 2020 Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay, on jamessuckling.com, it was the company’s “maiden century”, says Michael. “Everything went crazy for a while after that, especially in the UK where our merchants have all reported unprecedented interest in our wines.”
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Business view W I N E C OM PA N I E S a re utilising a range of solutions to manage low supply and high global demand, says a Marlborough business advisor. WK Director Hamish Morrow, who works with several wine companies and growers, says in the wake of the low-yielding 2021 vintage, mediumsized wineries, with fewer opportunities to boost fruit intake than bigger players, are getting “more creative” in how they access product. That might mean increasing yield restrictions or buying in bulk wine instead of grapes “and we are starting to see a bit more of that of late”. Some growers, facing increased costs and an excellent price for bulk wine, are looking to “squeeze a bit more revenue out of their business model”, he
says. That’s a good short-term gain but could present risks in the long term, if contracts fall through. “Chasing prices on a short-term basis can be a bit dangerous.” Limited supply has also seen some companies rationalise their customer base and drop off lower tier labels to prioritise higher priced wines, he says. “This is a good opportunity to move out some of the lower performing product lines on the back of focussing on the higher value margin.” Meanwhile, buoyant global demand has seen price increases for some labels in some markets, he adds. With inventory and logistics an ongoing challenge, Hamish says companies are talking to customers and explaining the need for a much longer
lead-in time for ordering wine. “They are being as proactive as possible.” In general, companies have adapted “really well” over the past 18 months, says Hamish. “They have bedded in changes, with lower performing parts or less profitable parts either mothballed or discontinued.” Cellar doors, for example, may be hibernating while companies focus on parts of the business that offer more
bang for buck. “I think for the most part people are doing pretty well. They are going back and looking at processes within the winery and wider business.” With less time and money invested in travel, companies are able to invest in the likes of software that increases efficiency, he says. “The profitability is still there, so they can still invest and be a bit more innovative.”
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Sam Bennett and Haysley MacDonald
Building brand at te Pā TE PĀ HAS turned Covid-19 challenges into opportunities, thrusting a foot in the door of major pub and supermarket chains in the UK. Winemaker Sam Bennett says demand has been booming over the past 18 months, so the short 2021 vintage, with low yields in Marlborough, was an unwelcome shift. “But we have bottled more wine than we ever have before.” The company usually splits its business between supplying wine for buyer-own brands and its own branded products, “so we are able to increase by changing a percentage of that split”. Sam says with high prices on offer, the company “certainly” would have made more money by selling its wine on the open market. “But we have doubled down on building our brands and trying to support our customers.” There’s a lot of opportunity in international markets for companies with bottled product to sell, he says. The branded te Pā Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc is now in Tesco - which also carries the label’s Pinot Noir – as well as in Morrisons and Asda. Meanwhile, the Montford Estate Sauvignon Blanc was recently taken on by Greene King, which is the UK’s largest pub chain. Owner and founder Haysley MacDonald says the first te Pā wine was bottled in October 2011, after the one-time potato country was transformed into vineyard. “Who’d have thought I’d be here, 10 years later?” It’s taken a long time to build the business up, he says, and “every day is like starting all over again, because we’re always wanting to do better so there’s no rest”. The 10-year anniversary is a reason to pause, “and reflect on how far we’ve come, and where we’ve still got to go in the future”.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 25
Pivotal Times Challenging season for wine hospitality BRENDA WEBB Wairau River
NEW ZEALAND CELLAR doors are continuing to adapt while trying to stay optimistic, say operators in a Covid-disrupted market. Nicky Hewett, Guest Relations Manager at Cloudy Bay, says her team remains positive, but the recent Delta lockdown resulted in a conservative return to business, while bookings and events were cancelled or postponed. “We’ve reduced our cellar door hours to five days a week while Auckland - our largest source of domestic visitors - is in lockdown,” she says. “We
are also aware we need to be flexible, particularly around cancellations and refunds, and put more emphasis on growing our direct to customer market channels through our new Wine Club. We cannot be certain when levels are going to change, so it’s very hard to plan, but realise this is the new normal and we need to learn to live in a pandemic world.” C loudy B ay ’s Central Otago cellar door, The Shed, was severely impacted with cancellations, including large group bookings. The closing
of the Australian bubble and the New Zealand lockdown was a double whammy in the middle of the busy winter ski season. Meg Soper, The Shed’s Customer Experience Manager, says when borders closed last year, they shifted focus to connect with the local market. “I remain optimistic, but I am also a realist and last summer was so busy, which gave us the confidence to plan for growth going forward – all that exciting growth which we now have to dial back on,” she says. “It’s super disappointing.”
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
Before the Delta lockdown, the winter had been tracking really well with local visitors, domestic tourists and Australian travellers. “We worked hard over the summer to connect with and support our local community,” says Meg. “We hosted charity events and adapted our menu to be more appealing to locals. And the response was great, with lots of repeat business which was really encouraging.” While changing to meet the market was essential, Meg says there was only so much that could be done. “How much re-pivoting can you do? I accept we have to adapt, but when you are dealing with smaller margins and fewer tourists it can be hard – especially for small businesses – I feel particularly sorry for them.” In such times it’s important for wineries and cellar doors to collaborate and network, says Meg. “We don’t see other cellar doors as competitors. We support them, recommend them to visitors and learn about them to enhance the customer experience. It’s great to be able to relate to other cellar doors,
Walk this Way HAWKE’S BAY’S wine industry is taking pandemic restrictions in its stride, with plans for a second series of Wine Walks in the region. Maxime Cavey from Hawke’s Bay Wine says attendees follow a map to taste and buy their way around an array of local wine producers ‘popping-up’ in hospitality establishments. And the Wine Walks are just one of the ways the region has adapted to thrive in the uncertain times of Covid-19, she says. They also plan to go ahead with the Hawke’s Bay Wine Car Boot Party on 5 November, following on from the success of the inaugural event last year, held to mitigate the loss of international visitors to the region’s wineries. The event, which is part of the Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C.!) gives consumers the chance to discover, taste and purchase from local producers, “many of whom do not have cellar doors”, she says. Both the Wine Walks and the Car Boot Party are designed to be adaptable to alert levels by being easily postponed, and have proven an excellent tool to give wine
companies exposure when they need it most. That said, Maxime says companies have reported great sales in the latest lockdowns, with the digital tools developed after New Zealand’s first Level 4 lockdown standing the region in good stead this time around. Maxime says direct to customer sales have gone “through the roof”, according to some of the local producers. “Much higher than they were last time, and people are geared up to do them.” She believes that’s down to consumers being more relaxed about online wine purchases, and companies making their wines far more accessible. Many have improved their branding, established Shopify accounts, and ensured their websites work well for the consumer, “so it’s easy to find the product and it’s easy to buy and have delivered”. Companies she has spoken to have reported really strong sales, “and it’s ever yone from small to large”. Refined marketing has been backed up by “four cracking vintages on the go”, she says, happy to see “fantastic” 2021 wines already on the market.
Chelsea Abramoff and Al McDonald from Church Road, left to right front, with Mitch Hyndman, Church Road, back left, and James McMenamin of The Farm at Cape Kidnappers at the 2020 Winter Wine Walk in Napier. Photo by Kirsten Simcox
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as there are mutual benefits.” General feeling in the region was much flatter than after last year’s lockdown, she says. “We are just trying to make the best of a not so good situation.” In Gisborne, last winter was one of Millton Vineyard and Winery’s busiest ever, says Bobby Clark, Marketing and Sales Manager. “Gisborne has never had a huge international tourist presence, but it’s a really popular holiday spot for domestic travellers,” he says. “We became the place to come to and we were much busier last winter than normal. In fact, we weren’t quite ready for how busy it was.” This time around Millton isn’t expecting that same domestic influx, particularly as 90 percent of their visitors come from Auckland and Wellington. Bobby thinks people will be more reluctant to travel after this lockdown, whereas last time they couldn’t wait to get
Nicky Hewett and Joyce Tang
on the road. “It seemed that every second vehicle on the road was a campervan, but I’m feeling that people are going to be staying put this time. If I put myself in their position, I certainly wouldn’t be risking a weekend away.” Millton’s cellar door would be open as
normal and Bobby predicted Labour Weekend would be a key time for visitors and a good indicator of the season ahead. “Cellar door is an important part of our business, but we are certainly not as big as others. We will open as normal and ask people to book in advance,
but we’re not hopeful of seeing loads of people.” Down in the Waitaki Valley, Jim Jerram from Ostler Wines is grateful his cellar door, The Vintner’s Drop, is in a unique position on one of the country’s best known and popular cycle trails, the Alps 2 Ocean, which attracts thousands of cyclists a year. “Lucky for us the Alps 2 Ocean is a wonderful trail that has developed a real name, and we are in a unique position to capitalise on that,” he says. “We worked hard to develop ourselves as a place with presence, and a cellar door to stop at, offering wine tastings and food.” Reopening after last year’s lockdown, The Vintner’s Retreat was busy with Kiwis travelling and spending. Jim says he noticed New Zealanders who would normally holiday overseas were embracing the opportunity to explore their own country and, in particularly, travel around
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the South Island. “We certainly had a really busy season over summer, especially with big groups of Aussies – we will miss the Aussies.” This time around Jim is a little more reluctant to predict how things will pan out. “The whole feeling I am getting is that things are a little flat we are all a bit nervous this time around.”
Auckland wine writer and tour guide Phil Parker says the ongoing Auckland lockdowns have been a huge blow to his business. “It could be years before we are anything approaching normal, but I am retirement age so opting to keep the business going as a hobby, even though my business is way down.” While
locals had been supportive, he predicted they would soon start heading to the beaches and boats and without the Australian travellers to rely on, things could be bleak, especially for cellar doors. Last winter Palliser Estate, in the heart of the Wairarapa, had one of its strongest seasons ever. Chief Executive Pip Goodwin was amazed at how tourism bounced back so quickly after lockdown. “We could never have predicted how busy our cellar door would be,” she says. The Wairarapa benefitted from its proximity to Wellington, with regular weekend visitors as well as picking up on a huge number of domestic tourists, visiting
the region or passing through and choosing to stop and visit wineries. “Domestic visitors can take wine with them so the spend was up,” says Pip. “We put on lots of events, had a restaurant and did seated tastings, and people seem to really enjoy the premium oneon-one experience.” This time around Pip is not predicting things to bounce back quite as quickly. “We are cautiously hopeful and I think come summer people are going to be ready to travel and have a nice experience,” she says. “But I don’t think it will be like last year – it’s a very unknown market and I think people are going to be a lot more careful this time around.”
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Early Recruits Turning seasonal work into full time employment SOPHIE PREECE From left, Dan Campbell, Kirsty Trolove, Alistair McIntosh and Marcus Wickham
THE WINE industry needs a more collaborative approach to labour, says New Zealand Wineries Chief Executive Lou Miller, as she stares down the barrel of a labour-short vintage in Marlborough. “There are so many variables and everyone is fighting for the same staff,” she says. “I really think there needs to be some industry thought in how we move together as a region, because there’s no point in getting the grapes grown if we can’t process them.” The contract wine company joined forces with Ormond Nurser ies and vineyard contracting company SLT last year to introduce a vine to wine intern scheme, offering a full year’s work across the
three businesses. Those four 2021 interns will remain this year, bringing their experience to higher level roles, and four new interns will be recruited to start this summer, in the vines and winery. “What this does is create full-time work for people across the industry,” says Lou. “It also gives them a chance to try different parts of the industry and get a feeling for what they would prefer.” She is happy that each of the interns remarked on a similar culture across the three businesses. “We are all family oriented and treat all our people equally, which is important.” Kirsty Trolove, owner of Only Human - HR &
Recruitment, developed the scheme last year, and is excited to see it rolled out again as a model of how industry can evolve. She says Covid has “fast tracked” responses to both labour shortages and the gig economy, and the wine industry has to start thinking differently. “Those that move early and think about things differently will win in the long run.” Lou agrees, saying the wine industr y has been heavily reliant on a transient workforce for vintage, “and it only takes what has happened with Covid to upset the apple cart and make you think creatively about how you can reduce your reliance on that labour”. Many of the
backpackers and international cellar hands who were still in the country for vintage 2021 have left, reducing a labour pool already hit hard by border closures. “It’s incredibly difficult,” she says. While welcomed, the intern scheme will provide only a fraction of the staff New Zealand Wineries requires for the next vintage, and as well as recruiting via “every angle we can”, the company will utilise the technology of a new winery to reduce labour needs. And the level of labour will dictate what can and cannot be done, with handpicking, for example, a possible casualty of labour shortages. “We have multiple plans depending on how many staff we can recruit.”
Hybrid workforce in Hawke’s Bay PERNOD RICARD Winemakers are trialling a “hybrid” role in Hawke’s Bay, split between vineyard work and the cellar over peak periods, says Peter Hurlstone, Operations Manager for the region. “For the vineyard, this is over the peak growing season from spring through until harvest, and then supplementing the winery
resource over vintage, and the busy period which follows vintage, bedding down the new season’s wines.” The employee gets to “try out” two key elements of the wine industry, he says, calling it a “win-win situation”. Then, when permanent roles arise in Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay, those in hybrid roles ideally
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move to permanent positions. The model will provide a more sustainable solution to cover peak periods and ensure Pernod Ricard has experienced team members who can competently transition between roles, Peter says. “It also provides a unique opportunity for our team to develop a broad range of skills.”
Desperately seeking cellar hands SOPHIE PREECE
GROWING A stronger culture in the winery is one of the ways Whitehaven Wines in Marlborough is hoping to increase its appeal for 2022 cellar hands. Winemaker Peter Jackson says the company is working on ways to engage vintage staff in the big picture, including visual cues on which blocks are being harvested, and celebrations like “ferment of the day,” where everyone tries a particular tank. The company will also increase hourly rates, compared with 2021 harvest, and adopt a six-day harvest week, based on a survey of 2021 vintage crew. “Many of the people who were new did comment on the fatigue element of harvest,” says Peter. “So that’s also something we are really focussing in on. How do we manage
that fatigue and make sure people aren’t for vintage, will also add to the appeal, as burning themselves out?” well as a “fairly traditional” approach to The company started advertising for winemaking, with care taken of individual vintage 2022 staff in August, and has also stayed in contact with “It is probably going to be team members from the last vintage, “and where possible try trickier again to find a full to recruit them to come back”. complement of workers.” However, with some moving to fulltime work and a number of Peter Jackson international cellar hands having returned to their home nations, the company is under “no illusions” as parcels. “Another part of the philosophy to the challenge of recruitment. “It is is making sure we have very strong probably going to be trickier again to find full-timers as supervisors,” Peter adds. a full complement of workers,” he says. “If you have those supervisors in place I He hopes the company’s brand new think that makes the job a lot easier with receival area, which will be in place in time newbies.”
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Wine School Pandemic propels School of Winegrowing SOPHIE PREECE
Spencer Hill Estate Photo by Chocolate Dog Studio
A TASTE of vintage has fuelled the career plans of a group of Marlborough college students, keen to rapidly return to the cellar floor. “There was a passion and light in their eyes when they came back,” says Rebecca Kane, head of the New Zealand School of Winegrowing. “They are so focussed and adamant now that that’s where they are going.” “It was amazing”, says 17-year-old Marlborough Boys’ College student Jack Fransen, who worked a full vintage at Wither Hills winery this year. “It opened my eyes to the fact that this is what I really want to do. It really confirmed ever ything for me,” says Jack, admitting that he was reluctant to return to school after the work, because “it was that much fun”. But with plans to become a winemaker, he’ll be back at college next year, doing his full curriculum of study through the wine school, including time spent studying cellar operations at the Nelson
Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), pruning in a working vineyard, and working the pumps and lines at a winery through vintage. “I’ll hopefully be at a bigger winery again”, he says, keen on his harvest lasting as long as possible. T he wine school was established in 2018 as a collaboration between the Marlborough Girls ’ and Marlborough Boys’ Colleges, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), Wine Marlborough, and several Marlborough businesses, vineyards and wineries. This year it received an additional $25,000 in sponsorship from NZW, as well as financial support from Cloudy Bay winery, says Rebecca, who has seen the wine school go from strength to strength over the past four years. Industry has been “amazingly supportive”, she says. “If I need anything, everyone is happy to help out, with knowledge, time and experience.” That means the
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students got hands-on with pruning in a local vineyard this winter, where they cut up a vine to look at trunk disease, and learned first-hand how pruning impacts plant health and yields. It also means that when it comes time to make and package their own wines, a wine company ensures they have grapes. A strengthening relationship with NMI T means some students visit the tertiary provider once a week, to undertake the Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Cellar Operations, with those student numbers well up on expectation, says Rebecca. The wine school was previously a full-time programme for students, and they would undertake all their classes via the course, from maths and science to English and accounting. But this year they adapted the programme to be more inclusive, allowing students to take a few papers through the wine school as part of their standard year,
which has resulted in a leap in student numbers. Rebecca says there’ll be more students than ever wanting to tackle vintage work in 2022, and more opportunities as well, due to the labour constraints while borders are closed. Some, like Jack, will work full-time, while others will do part-time vintage work alongside studies, or choose to remain in the classroom throughout vintage. Cloudy Bay Wine Communications Manager Kat Mason says the company wants to support the local community and play a role in showing Marlborough students the array of career pathways in the industry, from winemaking, and viticulture to marketing and hospitality. “It’s something that could offer a real future for them.” She says in the past the wine industry may have been perceived as an industry that sourced its people from outside of the region, “but that’s been a default setting rather than a desired setting”.
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Pruning Pressures Pruning window cut short by Covid SOPHIE PREECE
BETWEEN 1,100 and 2,450 hectares of Marlborough vineyard area were unlikely to be pruned before budburst this year, according to new modelling. “A cross this vineyard area there could be a potential loss in yield and income of between 10 to 30 percent,” Wine Marlborough Advocacy Manager Nicci Armour reported to a New Zealand Winegrowers board meeting in August. Guy Lissaman, Chair of the Marlborough Labour Governance Group, estimated the potential economic impac t o f the pr uning shortfall after consultation with several viticulturists. He says the depleted winter labour force was exacerbated by early budburst, reducing the window for pruning within dormancy. “The risk of pruning after budburst is that a percentage of buds will
be damaged, leading to a loss of shoots and bunches that subsequently grow from these buds, leading to a drop in yield and income,” he says. Nicci says with budburst even earlier than anticipated, the economic impact is expected to be higher than that predicted in August. Wine Marlborough undertook two grower surveys in July and August, with swift responses from members giving a view to 16,000ha and painting a dire picture of pruning progress. Nicci used the survey information, teamed with forecasts provided by New Zealand Ethical Employers - an organisation made up of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme contractors - to build a model the industry can use to better understand labour requirements. “Capturing this information
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on the pruning progress proved valuable to Marlborough growers this season,” she says. “It helped our industry members make informed decisions and offered a critical level of insight into a complex
growing issue for the industry before the pandemic closed borders, and would continue to pose a problem when they reopened. She hopes to see the model developed further, including the use of geographic
“Capturing this information on the pruning progress proved valuable to Marlborough growers this season.”
situation that no single business had responsibility for. The model was turned around quickly to respond to industry needs, and while it isn’t perfect, it did the job.” Covid-19 - which drastically reduced access to RSE workers over the winter pruning season - shone a light on the labour crisis, says Nicci. But it was a
information system (GIS) technology to create a realtime tool with improved accuracy, efficiency, and broader applicability. “With the start of an agritech sector emerging in Marlborough there is a huge opportunity to develop technology enabled tools for improved decision support on vineyard.”
Welcome help from long-staying RSE SOPHIE PREECE
KWANRUEAN PHAKDIROT arrived in New Zealand in October 2019, planning for six months of work in Marlborough vines. Two years on, I find her pruning in Renwick on a fresh spring morning, part of a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workforce who’ve stayed in the country while borders are closed. Kwanruean, who has worked 10 seasons with Alapa Viticultural Services in Marlborough, says she is grateful for the work in New Zealand, allowing her to send money to her family in Thailand. And while 12 of the 70 Alapa workers from Thailand have decided to travel home in October, Kawnruean will stay as long as she can. Alapa owner Alan Wilkinson says it’s been a stressful season for contractors, struggling with less labour and more rain days this winter. And it has been tough for some of the long-stay RSE workers he employs from Thailand, Samoa and Papua New Guinea, he says, noting that there have been many more
stay and work in New Zealand, “because things aren’t easy in Thailand, with Covid there and lack of employment”. But he understands why some have decided to go home, many of whom have kids waiting for them. Alan is grateful that a one-way RSE bubble announced by the Government means he will be able to bring in new workers from Samoa for the upcoming summer season. The Government confirmed in September that quarantine free travel (QFT) for RSE workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu would start in October. The announcement was welcomed by New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), with Chief Executive Philip Gregan saying it would provide certainty for growers. “Confirmation of QFT travel for RSE workers is a significant boost for our sector,” he says. “Labour supply has been very tight over the winter pruning season. The start of QFT will help to provide more security of labour as we start the growing season.”
Seasonal worker Kwanruean Phakdirot harvesting at Cloudy Bay Photo Richard Briggs
days off than a normal season. “That is understandable”, he says. “They have been working a long time.” Alan says many of the RSE workers are content to
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The Science BA in Wines
Exploring wine intolerance Pg 39
Feasting at budburst Pg 42
Marama Labs New wine tech Pg 46
Regenerative Viticulture Reading the market Pg 48
Sophie Parker-Thomson (MW) Photo By Richard Briggs
Looking at the role of BA in wine intolerance SOPHIE PREECE
SULPHITES SHOULD be seen as a solution to wine sensitivity, rather than a source, says New Zealand Master of Wine Sophie Parker-Thomson. A research paper, recently published as part of Sophie’s Master of Wine exam, explores the role of biogenic amines (BAs) in wine intolerance, and the use of sulphur dioxide (S02) in winemaking to mitigate that issue. Addressing levels of BA could see some people “re-engage” with wine, she concludes in her study. “The argument for establishing a low BA category of wine is compelling.” A substantial literature review revealed that while S02
is frequently blamed for wine intolerance, clinical studies demonstrate that sulphites are a health risk to three to 10 percent of diagnosed acute asthmatics, with their reaction almost always respiratory. Meanwhile, symptoms of BA toxicity “mirror” those of wine intolerance, “including headaches, nausea, rashes, and flushing”, the report says. BAs are bacterially created chemical compounds decarboxylated from amino acid precursors, that play a role in normal human physiological function, but can create adverse reactions in cases of excessive oral intake. And that issue is heightened
when it comes to levels in wine, because ethanol and acetaldehyde inhibit enzymatic detoxification, and compound the hazard, the report continues. “While the high ethanol/acid environment of wine makes it inhospitable to the most per nicious microorganisms, it is evident that BA presence in wine is indeed a demonstrable threat to human health and safety that needs consideration and management,” Sophie writes. “The issue of BAs needs to be brought into the open, and the industry needs to do its part to ensure that wines being sold are safe for consumers to drink.”
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Numerous factors influence BA levels in wine, but it has been established that the most quantitatively and qualitatively important are winemaking practices, says the paper, with Sophie’s research revealing that wines with zero and low-SO2 regimes had the highest BA levels, and that timing of SO2 additions was crucial. Sophie analysed 100 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines for three BAs - histamine, tyramine and putrescine - using a cross section of wine styles under classic, alternative, low and zero- S0 2 regimes. The report shows there were highly statistically significant differences between S0 2
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New Zealand has an opportunity to promote wines that are low in biogenic amines, says Sophie Parker-Thomson MW Photo by Jim Tannock
regimes and BA levels, “with very high BA concentrations recorded in zero and lowS0 2 wines while the lowest concentrations were recorded in the classic style”. The
negative correlations between S02 and BAs demonstrate that both S02 amount and timing of addition, and specifically pre alcoholic fermentation, are of “critical importance” to ensure
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BA levels remain below toxic thresholds in wines, she writes, noting the “irony” of SO2 being blamed for wine intolerance. The research established that as little as the 30ppm
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equivalent of sulphur dioxide added to the grape juice before alcoholic fermentation (AF) begins is enough to make the environment “hostile” to the lactic acid bacteria that
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can produce BAs. Having undertaken that step, the winemaker can use techniques that might other wise contribute to elevated BA concentrations, such as malolactic fermentation, skin contact and lees ageing, says Sophie. “For winemakers it is reassuring that a relatively modest S0 2 regime, commencing with a pre-AF addition, will moderate resulting BA levels in wine, allowing freedom of winemaking style and creative expression in the cellar.” Her paper concludes that there is a strong argument that wines with very high BA levels should carry a warning “as these toxic levels pose a risk even to healthy individuals when moderate amounts of these wines are consumed”. She would also like to see an increase in public education to ensure industry and consumers are aware of BAs in food and
beverage, “and their likely role in wine intolerance”. In the seven months since the research paper was published, Sophie has had many people contact her, with most responses from winemakers and wine professionals “overwhelmingly positive”. She has also been contacted by wine drinkers pleased to understand why they may be suffering adverse reactions not related to overindulgence. And wine communicators have been par t ic ul arl y intereste d, “because they come up against discussion and questions from consumers about this all the time”, she says. T he work reveals a “potential opportunity for New Zealand wine”, with Sophie proposing consideration of a collective body of companies that can have their wines certified as being low BA. There would be cost associated, but
also the chance to capture the 10 percent of people who regularly suffer from wine intolerance, “which is highly likely to be biogenic amine driven”, she says. Meanwhile, New Zealand is fortunate that the production method of its classic style Sauvignon Blanc, which includes a field S02 addition before machine harvest (the report notes that due to oxidisation this needs to be a higher addition rate than that to juice) results in naturally very low BAs, she adds. Sophie hopes there will be further research on the topic, including BA toxicity thresholds, the specific bacteria involved in BAs, and a more nuanced understanding of SO2 additions on BA concentrations by using micro-ferments. L o ok ing back at the demonisation of sulphur dioxide, Sophie says there was unregulated use prior to 1988,
which was particularly an issue in America, where it was essentially “shovelled on” in the likes of salad bars, leading to serious health consequences for asthmatics. The subsequent use of S02 warnings on labels was a “warranted move” but resulted in an overcorrection, she says. “Regulated and appropriate use of S02 is a very useful winemaking tool and is far less toxic than bacterial by-products that result from its absence. In addition, it helps to preserve sense of place, which is arguably what fine wine is all about.” T he timing for her research is par ticularly relevant, “because there is a pervasive public opinion that all preservatives are bad and natural is good”, Sophie says. “But we have to remind ourselves that not everything in nature is good for us and that some bacteria can produce toxins that are harmful. ”
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Wine Weta Native insect a vineyard headache SOPHIE PREECE
AWATERE VALLEY vineyards are proving a happy habitat for an endemic species, with the ‘wine wētā’ burrowing amid the rows, dangling off the wires and dining on fresh buds and sap, while also devouring pest insects in the vines. A paper published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology explains the findings of Massey University research at Cable Bay Vineyard on the coastal Awatere Valley, including the ability of the ground wētā (part of the genus Hemiandrus) to climb over plastic vine guards, up vines and along vineyard wires. “Rarely in New Zealand are native
animal populations influenced positively by anthropogenic habitat modification, but in the Awatere Valley the irrigation of vines seems to provide Hemiandrus bilobatus with suitable conditions to thrive,” says the paper. “Further work on the biology of this species throughout the year would be useful to elucidate its role as predator within this system, and indeed to learn about the evolution, ecology and resilience of endemic biodiversity in a rapidly changing world.” Mary Morgan-Richards, Professor in Wildlife Evolution at Massey University and
co-author of Ecolog y and systematics of the wine wētā and allied species, with description of four new Hemiandrus species, says it was clear from nocturnal observations on the vineyard, as well as analysis of gut content, that the wētā are omnivorous, feasting on insects, including exotic species of harvestmen, flies and weevils, as well as grapevine and other plant matter. “We think that they probably eat everything that they can find,” she says, noting that interrow plants such as clover will also appeal to the wētā. “But it’s not really the food they like the best; they are more carnivores
and scavengers. So when there is a lot of other insect activity around, probably the wētā will be feeding on other insects.” The paper notes that past observations of many Hemiandrus species suggest a diet that is primarily carnivore, scavenger or omnivore, so “the potential role of wine wētā as predators of other pest species should not be ignored”. However, in spring, perhaps with a shortfall in insects and the abundance of fresh growth, the wētā are proving destructive in the vines, says Mary. Within an area of 480m2 they calculated
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there were approximately 1,700 ground wētā, with an estimated density of 3.4 individuals per square metre. The researchers observed adult females hiding in their burrows during the day, in which the insects also lay eggs. Most of the active wētā were on the ground, but they also observed wētā climbing vines and eating buds, while others were feeding on sap or were moving and not feeding. “We understand the numbers are higher than what they would be if you were not irrigating, and it would be nice if there were fewer in the spring,” she says. Future research might help mitigate the impact, perhaps by finding alternative foods at certain times of the year, when vines are sensitive to the wētā, she adds. “It will take quite a while to establish which tools will work best.” Pernod Ricard Winemakers South Island Viticulturist Andrew Naylor says wine wētā present a “significant challenge” to grape growers, complicated by the fact that they ’ll hit one area unexpectedly, and then another in other years. “You are not sure which part of your vineyard they’re going to hit next.” And the impact can be catastrophic for the crop, with the insects able to wipe out 90 to 100 percent of the buds in the area where they are active,
says Andrew. One example was an 11-hectare block in a coastal vineyard in the Awatere Valley that was “nice and green as buds burst and leaves unfurled, then a week later there was a bald patch of two to three hectares that was brown”. The wētā climb the trunk and “graze” the newly emerging buds at “popcorn” size, says Andrew. “They are relatively big critters and it doesn’t take them many bites to chew that bud off completely, which is this year’s crop gone from that bud. They just basically go along and nuke your budburst.” He has weathered wētā in Pernod Ricard vineyards since 2005, when he thought a portion of the vineyard was slow to hit budburst, while the rest of the block transformed with a “lovely green tinge”. A closer look revealed that the buds had burst and been eaten, leading to a recognition of the wētā as a crop-stopper, he says. “There’ll be a green ring along the outside of the block, but the middle is completely nuked.” Andrew says the wētā are active all year round – “we have seen them on gondolas in the middle of harvest, because they’ve been shaken off the vines” – but the yield is only impacted at the vulnerable budburst stage. Vineyards in the affected area typically
have plastic sleeves over vine trunks, akin to the strips used to stop possums from climbing power poles. When new, shiny and slippery, the sleeves do present an obstacle to the wētā, but the solution is far from ideal, says Andrew, who hopes affected industry members can collaborate to produce a more environmentally sustainable, robust and effective guard for the vines. “If that was a frostaffected area we would put a frost fan up… So you have got to invest in some sort of prevention strategy.” M a s s e y U n i v e r s i t y ’s n o c t u r n a l o b s e r vat i o n s saw wētā almost entirely undeterred by the plastic sleeves erected as a barrier on Pinot Noir vines, with wētā on vines with and without sleeves. When it came to Sauvignon Blanc, the sleeves acted as a partial deterrent, with fewer wētā on guarded plants. But Mary is more surprised by the sleeves’ success than she is their failure. “They’re amazing climbers and able to climb up very shiny slippery leaves, as well as plastic,” she says of the wētā. “We don’t know why the sleeves work at all because we could see, by looking at night,
that they were able climb over them.” Mary and Steve Trewick, who is also of Massey’s Wildlife and Ecolog y Group, will present some of their findings at a Wētā Information Day in Seddon on 19 October. They are keen to hear more from people affected by the wine wētā, says Mary. “We want to know what the winegrowers are experiencing, as much as we want to tell them what we know.” Much can be learned by going out at night with a head torch and seeing what the wētā are doing, she adds “So if you are putting on plastic sleeves, you can see if it is working and if wētā are climbing up them or not.” With more anecdotal observations, researchers will be able to start “firming up what to do next… and what we can do to try and help people”.
New Zealand Winegrowers is holding a Weta Information Day on Tuesday 19 October, from 1pm at the Awatere Memorial Hall in Seddon. For more information, contact Bridget Ennals at Bridget.Ennals@swnz.org.nz or register at nzwine.com/members/events/workshops/
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Lab Life REBECCA WILSON
IN SIX years, Rebecca Allen has transitioned from being a lab technician to director and owner of Pacific Rim Oenology Services Ltd. And while adjusting to her new role, she also pushed the company from a testing lab into an ISO accredited service. Pacific Rim Oenolog y Services has been in the wine industry since 1992 and next February will celebrate its 30th birthday, but there are plenty of other milestones to celebrate, with the company having gained their ISO 17025 and Wine Export accreditation from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in the last two years. Rebecca worked in the Pacific Rim laboratory for 10 years before buying the business in January 2018. Having achieved a Diploma in Science from Otago Polytechnic in 1998, Rebecca’s original calling was microbiology, and her career started in a meat processing plant. She moved on to water testing at Dunedin’s sewage treatment plant and then to the Cawthron Institute in Nelson. When Cawthron opened a lab
in Blenheim in 2004, they asked Rebecca to set it up. “I managed the lab for a couple of years, and was planning to go back to Dunedin and finish my degree, but a short-term harvest testing contract had me stay here a little longer.” As it turned out, it was just long enough for her to meet her husband. The return to Dunedin was postponed, and Rebecca embarked on her Pacific Rim Oenology journey. Being in the lab for a decade, getting to grips with the industry, she also helped out in 2016 by doing a stint as general manager, and then months later had the opportunity to purchase the company. “While I’d been in the industry for 10 years, it was a big step for me to be running the business. It was a real eye opener, needing completely different skills from those needed as a lab tech. I realised pretty quickly that management didn’t sit in their offices twiddling their thumbs.” The steepest learning cur ves were to do with
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
finance, budgets and people management, Rebecca says. A timely scholarship from Assets Insurance Brokers saw her tackling the Icehouse Leadership Development Programme. “I’ve struggled at times along the way, and certainly made mistakes, but I’ve learnt from those too.” One of the first things Rebecca did as owner was to respond to customers’ requests for the lab to be an internationally recognised laboratory, accredited either for the British Retail Consortium Global Standards or ISO 17025. “This required a lot of blood, sweat and tears from me and the staff. We had to shift from the way the lab was running – testing – to having the systems and processes in place for a global standard. We were always good at what we did, but proving it was a challenging process. And it doesn’t stop, there is an ongoing requirement for staff training and equipment required. We finally achieved that accreditation in 2019 and in the last eight months we were
approved by MPI to do wine export analysis.” Rebecca says it has been a period of growth and development. “Now we are taking a breath to consolidate the changes while we look towards getting accreditation in other markets.” The company now offers analysis of grapes and wine, wine microbiology and fermentation, blending and wine adjustments, troubleshooting and wine quality improvement. “We really have become a one stop shop for analysis,” Rebecca says. “We are also distributors for Enologica Vason and Chr. Hansen. These two companies are perfectly matched to what we do, providing our customers with a comprehensive range of products for general winemaking as well as troubleshooting.” Rebecca now prefers her business role as a key part of the wine industry, but still appreciates the solid basis of her science background. “I still enjoy going into the lab and getting on the bench, making a mess. It’s what I love doing.”
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Marama Labs co-founders Dr Matthias Meyer and Dr Brendan Darby
A DEEP tech startup using ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy technology to give wineries unique chemical insights has received $1.25 million in new funding to enter its next growth phase. Wellington-based Marama Labs was founded by three physicists in 2019, following a Victoria University research programme. “The science behind our sensors is pretty groundbreaking,” says co-founder Dr Brendan Darby. “We’re using light to track colour and flavour characteristics from essentially the grape to the bottle. This gives winemakers the best science right when they need it - in the loop between wine producer and wine consumer.” Wineries have told them they are “unlocking new value” since adopting the platform, which combines the
ultraviolet–visible (UV-Vis) technology with a cloud-based data-analytics platform, to help wineries control and optimise production processes, save money, and build products and brands that connect with consumer demand, says Brendan. “It’s allowing them to respond proactively to the changes in the global wine landscape in ways they just couldn’t before.” The new funding - gained from a round co-led by United States-based venture capital firm Quidnet Ventures and New Zealand Growth Capital Par tners (NZGCP), with support from several New Zealand investors - will allow Marama Labs to continue to expand its reach to international customers and markets in the US and Europe. Marcus Henderson, Investment Director of NZGCP,
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
says co-investing alongside the likes of Quidnet Ventures allows global experience and connection opportunities that help foster Kiwi innovation. “We’re excited to be backing Marama Labs via our Aspire fund and supporting them on their next phase of growth,” he says.
their customers,” he says. “Brendan and the team’s vision to transform process control in liquid production systems is both brave and refreshing… Many wine companies rely on the inertia of consumer demand and very traditional prestige brand positioning,” he says. “Marama
“We’re using light to track colour and flavour characteristics from essentially the grape to the bottle.” Quidnet Ventures Founder and General Par tner Dr Mark Bregman says the New Zealand venture capital firm immediately saw the potential for Marama Labs’ technology platform. “I see Marama Labs revolutionising the way winemakers characterise their wine and target the desires of
Labs is right on the frontier of the changing models being driven by technology adoption in this market, both on the production and consumer sides, and is fast-tracking the winemaking experience into the digital era. I am excited to be supporting their growth.”
Drought resistant rootstock A CHRISTCHURCH-BASED viticulturist and grapevine researcher and developer believes drought resistant rootstocks could play a key role in New Zealand’s wine industry. In 2011, Dr Gerald Atkinson of Grapevine Research and Development (GRAD) began an experiment with a hybrid of two drought resistant rootstocks he had been propagating and developing in his Christchurch nursery for several years. Using pollen from the male Malegue hybrid 44-53 rootstock (a cross of Vitis rupestris with Vitis cordifolia, crossed back with Vitis riparia), Gerald fertilised the flowers of the Millardet et de Grasset hybrid stock 106-8 (also a cross of Vitis rupestris with Vitis cordifolia, crossed back with Vitis riparia). “Special care was taken to ensure that no other pollen than the introduced 44-53 could get to the emasculated 106-8 flowers, and in due course about 10 berries set on two of the pollinated inflorescences,” Gerald says. The berries were prepared as seed for germination, and planted in late spring in a cold frame at his nursery. The seeds were slow to germinate and only three emerged, “with just two of the very small plantlets surviving through to the end of the season”, he says. These survivors went through robustness trials, with “minimal water” and little care, he says. “The intention was to ensure that the seedlings could survive only if they were very robust and distinctly drought resistant. Their growth was slow and the plants remained small for the first five years, but they survived prolonged very dry conditions, incidental weed competition, and (deliberately) very poor soil,” he says. Over the next five years the plants’ progress was further monitored, with growth extending to about half a metre of thin cane per season, before pruning back to two buds in winter. He believes the “Atkinson 1-1 hybrid”, is the more robust and highly drought resistant of the two seedlings, and also appears to be more tolerant of depleted soil, including decreased magnesium availability, “and appears to show even greater robustness than either of its parents when exposed to prolonged water deficit and varying hot dry summer and cold autumn conditions”. Cuttings have been sent to Stanmore Farm Nursery at Te Horo, where the Atkinson 1-1 hybrid rootstock will be grown-on and then planted out with a growing range of GRAD drought resistant rootstocks, developed over the past 20 years, says Gerald. “From there, material will be grafted for field trials and, all going well, eventual commercial release of Atkinson 1-1 rootstock through Stanmore Farm.” He believes the hybrid is the first 100 percent New Zealand-bred highly drought resistant cool climate adapted vine rootstock, “if not, indeed, simply the first ever New Zealand-produced hybrid grapevine rootstock of any kind”. He intends to apply for plant patent rights to the Atkinson 1-1 stock if it performs satisfactorily in its grafting and field trials. grapevines.co.nz
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Regenerative Agriculture Global Market Potential MICHELLE BARRY
IN FEBRUARY 2020 Bragato R es earch Inst i tute and New Zealand Winegrowers collaborated with Beef + Lamb New Zealand to explore the global market potential for regeneratively produced red meat and wine products from Aotearoa. A successful funding application to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) via the Sustainable Food and Fibres Future fund secured an additional $390,000 to support the research. The project aims to identify market opportunities for New Zealand red meat and wine products by developing an understanding of perceptions and expressions of regenerative agriculture in our key export markets, to develop initial positions for regeneratively produced food and beverage products from Aotearoa, and to explore global consumer perspectives
of regenerative agriculture. The research was undertaken by an independent market research company based in the United States of America, Alpha Food Labs, and focussed on three key export markets: the United Kingdom, USA and Germany. Stage one of the research consisted of two phases. The first was an initial market scan to understand the current state of regenerative agriculture from the perspective of food brands, retailers, scientists, producers, food service, other leaders, and constituents in market. This was followed by a consumer insights study, to understand the attitudes, awareness and behaviours of everyday food and beverage consumers when it comes to sustainable food and regenerative agriculture. This consumer study investigated the degree to which consumers make food choices with
sustainability issues in mind, and how their awareness of those issues impacts decision making. The reports highlight that regenerative agriculture is a farmer and grower-led movement, with brands and consumers lagging behind. While consumers may not be overly familiar with regenerative agriculture, they are ready to be engaged on the topic. But to do this effectively there needs to be a united narrative of what regenerative agriculture in Aotearoa is, the report says. Certification of practices will also be useful in communicating this to consumers, as will the need to clearly and simply communicate the outcomes of our practices on people and place. While consumers are willing to pay 20 percent more for regeneratively produced products, realising this opportunity could be
challenged by consumer preference to purchase locally produced products. The project will conclude with a final stage of research focussed on New Zealand’s agricultural stakeholders (farmers, growers, processors) and gaining an understanding of their impression of the implications of changing our growing systems to meet consumer expectations identified in phase one. The reports from study and a summary will be available on nzwine.com/members from 5 October. Julia Jones of NZX will host a webinar on the same day to discuss the findings of the reports with representatives from the red meat and wine sectors. Go to nzwine.com for more details. Michelle Barry is a Research Programme Manager at Bragato Research Institute
Visual Soil Assessment Workshops NEW ZEALAND’S WINEGROWERS know where the roots of their industry lie, with 88 percent rating research in improving soil health as ‘very important’ or ‘critical must-do’ in the 2019 Bragato Research Institute research strategy survey, placing it in the top three items of concern. In May 2020 soil was instated as a sustainability focus area by New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), yet again highlighting the importance of the resource to the industry. To support winegrowers in better managing our
vineyard soils, Bragato Research Institute (BRI), Organic Winegrowers New Zealand and NZW teamed up with eight regional associations and nine vineyard owners to deliver nine Visual Soil Assessment (VSA) workshops across New Zealand. The workshops were delivered by Graham Shepherd, a leader in the field of soil observation. Graham worked as a soil scientist at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research (MWLR) for over 20 years. After leaving MWLR he started his own consulting company, where he works
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
directly with farmers and growers and was contracted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (part of the UN) to develop the VSA tool. The full-day workshops, held in November 2020 and May 2021, focussed on showing growers how to assess the physical, chemical, and biological components of soil health in the field. BRI would like to thank all of the workshop collaborators and look forward to delivering more soil management research and extension activities into the future.
Cover Crops REBECCA WILSON
ONCE UPON a time, a cover crop could be a “fruit salad” of species, says Jeremy Oswald, Managing Director and lead agronomist at Osgro in Marlborough. “But now we know what different plants bring to the soil; through trial and error, through collaboration and talking with researchers.” A decade ago, a Blenheimbased opportunity brought Jeremy back to his home town from Gisborne. When the job fell through, he and his wife Alice set up Osgro, a bespoke seed production service working throughout the primary sector, from horticulture - with the likes of Puro in Kekerengu - to forestry, farming and viticulture. Over time, as their expertise developed, a corresponding interest in cover crops across the viticulture sector was also growing. “In the early 70s there was a huge amount of work done in this area,” says Jeremy. “I spent two days with a retired researcher from the old DSIR whose work
has never really been used, it just sat on the shelf – but now that knowledge is valuable.” The key to success is understanding the setting, he says. “Of course, people can buy off the shelf, but if vineyards want a specific outcome, they can get a crop designed for that, taking into account their soil needs, neighbouring vineyards, what their desired outcome is. We sit down with the grower to understand the landscape, and what their expectations are. Some are focussed on flavour, others want tonnage; all are driven by the soil.” As well as cover crops, Jeremy is keen to find a way to solve the problem of what to plant under the vines, helping vineyards move away from spraying. “We know that grass under vines compromises the yield - there’s no two ways about it. In the perfect world we would have living mulches, not competing with the vines, not compromising yield
and delivering organic matter.” After talking with Australian counterparts, Jeremy imported some potential living mulch species into New Zealand to trial. “For example, we brought in a variety called Angel Medic which is a low growing annual legume that is used in Australian vineyards. It’s early days and it’s a work in progress but it’s looking very promising.” Jeremy and Alice are conscious that the environmental spotlight is on the entire primary sector, so are focussed on continuous innovation across all parts of their business. “The writing was on the wall with plastic bags going out of use. We knew there had to be a better way. We talked to our supplier, and they came back to us with a seven-ply paper bag for packaging our seeds. Recently we gave up our polypropylene seed sacks for paper bags. We are the first seed retailer in New Zealand to do this. We’ve taken that leap of faith and are giving it a crack.”
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 49
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Homegrown The bespoke business of Ōhau Wines SOPHIE PREECE
NESTLED BETWEEN the west coast and Tararua Range, Ōhau Wines is “seriously unusual”, says Marketing Manager Jo Scully. “Everything we do is a bit of a risk and a bit of a challenge, and figuring things out for this site.” “ T here ’s just nothing normal about us,” agrees Chief Executive Donna Riley, talking of bespoke solutions to growing grapes just outside Levin, from recruiting and training local labour, to navigating abundant rainfall, salty sea breezes, and fertile soil amid the gravel and boulder remnants of a glacial river. The Horowhenua region
is known for its rich Māori history, moa hunting and flax mills; for market gardens and fertile farms; and, increasingly, for real estate within commute of Wellington. These days it’s also home to a 36-hectare vineyard, separated from its closest wine regions by the Cook Strait on one side and a mountain range on the other. Ōhau Wines’ story begins around 2006, with the development of a dairy farm for housing, and the desire for a green crop amid the sections, to lend the feeling of rural idyll. The developers called on viticulturist Kate Gibbs, who has a rootstock
nursery at nearby Te Horo, and she recommended fewer houses and more grapes, seeing great potential in the soil and microclimate, says Jo. Kate recommended Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for the first 10ha of vines, and the Gris immediately exceeded expectations, with the first vintage in 2009 winning Pinot Gris of the Show at the Bragato Wine Awards. That first Ōhau Gravels Pinot Gris was made by Jane Cooper in the Wairarapa, who remains the company’s winemaker, and Ōhau continues to achieve high accolades for the variety each vintage, says Donna. “It
has been a consistent winner for us.” Jo says they have unique soils, thanks to the Ōhau River that once rolled through, leaving gravel and boulders and “interesting terroir” in its wake. “And we have a little microclimate here which is good for grapes.” They also have “very, very fertile land” and high rainfall, with crop levels that are somewhat “naturally equalised” by coastal winds over flowering, says Donna. “We have learned to manage our canopy to suit the vigour and the rainfall. Facing page; Donna Riley and Luna at Ōhau Wines
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We have to do a lot more work in the vineyard than a lot of other areas.” That workload is another sphere in which Ōhau has innovated out of necessity, with results they believe could provide a template for others in the industry. “Everyone in our vineyard team are locals,” says Jo. “We didn’t bring anyone in and none of them had any viticultural experience… They have all been in training since the very beginning.” When Donna joined the team in 2012, she looked at getting a pruning crew over from the Wairarapa, before travel and accommodation challenges derailed the plan. “At some stage in my very diverse career I had been a schoolteacher, so I sort of took that and looked at how we could create process to quickly onboard people, so we could get productive employees at a high skill level really quickly from the local community.” Two of their current core team were stay -at-home mums before they came to the company. Libby Brick started off weed-eating around the cellar door, as part of her job with a local gardening contractor, then moved on to pruning in winter. When her youngest child was settled at primary school, she joined the company as a casual, says Donna. “We put her through
the Primary ITO programme, and now she’s the vineyard manager.” Another full-time employee, Gill Jamieson, did her apprenticeship in her 50s, after all her children had left home, and her son Jordan is now another full-time member of the team. All the full-time staff are from the area and have been trained on the job, understanding the unique challenges and opportunities of the site. And come pruning season they train a team of 30 casuals. “Some of them will have been with us in previous years and some are new,” says Jo, explaining that the processes they have in place mean those with no experience get trained up quickly to do the job to a good standard. That’s good for locals looking for seasonal work between other horticulture crops like strawberries and cabbages (“we have to get our pruning done before we lose people to the asparagus,” says Donna) and it’s good for the full-time staff, who grow skills every time they share their knowledge. “Every year they have learned more and more and more, and developed expertise on our individual site,” says Jo. That’s become very necessary at a vineyard isolated in its location and its issues, because no-one else faces the particular challenges
Gill Jamieson at Ōhau Wines
they have, she adds. And it seems the team takes the “seriously unusual” status very seriously indeed. Within the vineyard, the crew talk about “thoughtfulness” in their work with the vines, and operate under a tender loving care (TLC) programme of rainbow design. As well as numbering vineyard rows, they mark their vines using bright markers, with one of the colours of the rainbow on every fifth post. That means they can easily record the location of individual plants that look lacklustre, so they can be given some TLC, says Donna. “That’s quite against the mainstream normal as well,” she says. “They’re our babies - every single one of them - and you want to get every plant through.” They take as much care with the place those plants grow in, always looking to
“acknowledge the whenua”, says Jo. That started with adding the macron - or tohutō – to their brand in 2012, and focussing on correct pronunciation. It continues with their relationship with the local iwi, and desire to celebrate the stories and history of the place they now call home. When they look to the stand of old tōtara amid the vineyard, for example, they think of Ngāti Toa rangatira Te Rauparaha, who is said to have gifted timber from the forest at Ōhau for a missionary church at Ōtaki, says Donna. They talk to cellar door visitors about the kainga that sat along the banks of the Ōhau River, and the moa – and moa hunters - that once roamed here. “It feels like a pretty special place,” says Jo. “We couldn’t do this without the land and the people who looked after it before we got here.”
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Wellness in Wine
Four-ward thinking SOPHIE PREECE THE WORLD is moving towards
much more “hybrid” ways of working, and New Zealand is being left behind, says a Kiwi champion of the four-day working week. Many people overseas emerged from Covid lockdowns with a new mindset, “rethinking” their perception of work, says Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes, who moved the company to a
“Productivity went up, and that seems to be consistent not just in our trial but around the world.” –Andrew Barnes four-day week in 2018. As an example, he references the “great resignation” in America, as employees resist the call to return to their workplace. “People are saying ‘no thanks, we have experienced working from home and we are not going back.’” Covid-19 has essentially fuelled the movement towards a “different way of working; a much more hybrid way of working”. But New Zealand, less impacted by Covid-19, has yet to experience that drive, and is “going on much as we did before”, says Andrew from the United Kingdom, where he has
a tech firm that’s also on a fourday week. He and his partner Charlotte Lockhart also own vineyards on Waiheke Island, trading under Postage Stamp Wines, and run the not-forprofit 4-Day-Week-Global. Andrew’s focus on a flexible company culture and shorter working week began after reading a wealth of research that showed most of the hours in a typical working week are sucked up by distractions, not working, and ‘busy-work’ that achieves little. A UK study, for example, found the average time spent working is two hours and 53 minutes each day. His continued curiosity was driven by a desire for greater productivity, but he also wondered whether staff would be “fresher, healthier, happier” with a paid day off each week. The change began with Andrew asking his staff what they could do differently in order to offer the same level of productivity and customer service in a 30-hour week. That would require changes to process (“how do I do my work better?”) and to behaviour (“how do I stop surfing the internet at work?”), he says. They then set off on an eightweek trial for all 240 staff around New Zealand, testing productivity, motivation and output. The results (see sidebox) were compelling, says Andrew. “Productivity went up, and that seems to be consistent not just in our trial, but around
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
4-Day-Week Top Tips • Give employees time to think about how they can work differently and encourage them to come up with measures of productivity. • Encourage staff to consider how they can organise time off within teams while still meeting customer and business imperatives. • Begin with a trial and engage outside consultants/ academics to evaluate qualitative and quantitative measures of success. • Consider introducing an opt-in policy for employees/ departments on an annualised basis. • Establish clear personal and team business goals and objectives. • Consider seasonal workflow differences and ensure the policy can flex appropriately. • Be clear that the aim of the initiative is to improve things not just in the context of the company, but also in relation to wider social obligations. Source – Four-Day-Week White Paper (4dayweek.com)
the world.” The increase comes with eliminating the diversions and “busyness”, he says. “You get more focus and people stop wasting each other’s time.” They also saw stress levels reduce and work life balance improve, as well as some unintended outcomes,
including some staff opting for full five day weeks, and a reduction in sick days, which have halved since the change at Perpetual Guardian. If those results are not motivation enough, the impact of Covid-19 on global workforces should be providing
Welcoming the four-day week L AU N C H I N G A fo u r- d ay
working week is about bringing more balance to life, says Marlborough winemaker Jules Taylor. “We think it’s been a great success.” Jules and her husband George Elworthy, founders and owners of Jules Taylor Wines, decided to trial a shorter working week earlier this year, recognising that their staff have young families and partners with jobs, “so time in their lives is really precious”. In July they assessed the outcomes, and decided to “forge ahead”, she says, noting that sustainability is a hot topic in the wine industry, and the “people pillar” is a key part of that for the company. “If our staff aren’t well, how
are they going to do their job well? This is part of us trying to get some more balance into everyone’s lives and thereby hopefully having happy and motivated staff.” She says the day off – when kids are at school or pre-school and partners are working – allows for personal time, to do
something for themselves or their community. “Completing personal admin during the week means weekends can be dedicated to family. Or a round of golf can be had guiltfree.” Everyone in the team comes to work on Mondays, enabling a “whole team
meeting” when necessary. And the small team is flexible enough to schedule meetings around the days off, and to complete important tasks on their designated day off if necessary. Jules reckons there’s greater efficiency in the shorter number of hours worked. “It’s not like we are in a production facility churning out a widget, so it’s really hard for us to measure whether they are more productive. For us it’s more ‘is your job getting done and to a high standard?’” There are several wine companies offering flexible time as another way of bringing balance, says Jules, “and any initiative that brings flexibility to people’s lives has to be a good thing”.
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food for thought for New Zealand businesses, says Andrew. It’s inevitable that trends for more flexible work will “trickle down” to New Zealand and it’s also inevitable that borders will eventually open, he adds. Then employers will have to think more about how they work in a Covid era, with far more sensitivity about employee health in the workplace. “You have got to build into your business going forward a resilience that enables you to deal with these issues.”
The paper also references Parkinson’s Law, that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. The four-day week is also a tool for businesses struggling to attract and retain staff, Andrew says. “If your competitor goes to four days a week, your staff are going there.” Hospitality in particular, including that in cellar doors, has a lot to gain from a shift to fewer hours worked more productively, he adds. Research cited by 4-DayWeek-Global indicated that 63
The numbers PERPETUAL GUARDIAN engaged the University
of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to measure the outcomes of the four-day working week trial in 2018. They found that job performance was maintained in a 30-hour week, while staff stress levels were lowered, from 45 percent before the trial to 38 percent afterwards. Meanwhile, work life balance improved significantly, from 54 percent in a 2017 survey, to 78 percent post trial. Team engagement levels also increased, including commitment (from 68 percent in 2017 survey and 88 percent post trial) and empowerment (from 68 percent in 2017 to 86 percent after the fourday working week trial). A subsequent white paper on the fourday working week notes that a UK study of nearly 2,000 full-time office workers found the average time spent working is two hours
percent of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a four-day week, and 78 percent of employees with four-day weeks are happier and less stressed. In late July, United States Democratic Congressman Mark Takano introduced legislation that would reduce the standard work week from 40 hours to 32 hours. Andrew says that shows the energy of the trend, because “the Americans are probably the very last people on the planet who would go to shorter working hours”.
and 53 minutes each day, with workers also spending time using social media and reading news websites, making personal calls and texts, talking to co-workers about non-work related matters, searching for new jobs, and taking smoke breaks and preparing food and drinks. The white paper refers to the UK-based New Economics Foundation, which says a ‘normal’ working week of 21 hours could help address a “range of urgent, interlinked problems”, including “overwork, unemployment, over consumption, high carbon emissions, low wellbeing, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life”. The paper also references Parkinson’s Law, that work expands to fill the time available for its completion, along with the 80/20 Principle, “that says 80 percent of productivity is achieved in 20 percent of our time”.
The congressman said a shorter work week would benefit both employers and employees alike. Pilot programmes run by governments and businesses across the globe had shown promising results as productivity climbed and workers repor ted better work life balance, less need to take sick days, heightened morale, and lower childcare expenses, he said in a release. “At a time when the nature of work is rapidly changing, it’s incumbent upon us to explore
all possible means of ensuring our modern business model prioritises productivity, fair pay, and an improved quality of life for workers.” Andrew and Charlotte’s n a s c e n t Wa i h e k e w i n e operation is largely staffed by contractors, so not yet under a four-day week protocol. There are some complexities in taking the model to an agricultural environment, but “you have to walk the talk”, Andrew says. “I haven’t yet turned my attention to how I will give the opportunity to staff to do it.”
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Rest & Recharge SOPHIE PREECE
WHEN KATHRYN Walker saw
data around the mental health pressures of working in the wine industry, she was shocked. “We wanted to break the mould and reduce the expectations of long hours and stressful work as much as we could,” says the Chief Executive of Marlborough Vintners, which introduced a four-day working week in August 2020. Staff now work four ninehour days a week, from July to January, but are paid for a full 40-hour week. That’s about protecting staff wellbeing “and giving back to them and their families”, says Kathryn, who was fully supported in the move by owner Ant Moore and General Manager Andrew Blake, who’ve got 60 years of wine industry experience between them. A roster system means the contract winery remains open to its 22 clients five days a week, says Kathryn. “It’s a winwin. We don’t think there is anything being compromised; there are only benefits.” T he focus is “overall wellbeing”, she adds. “Studies show us that people can work hard and intensely for short periods of time, but you have to have downtimes.” And staff have responded positively to having a quieter period of the year in which to recover from a more “intense” six months, including the onslaught of vintage. “I have had staff say ‘this had been quite life changing for me’,” she says. “They are effectively recharging their batteries in those six months.” The leadership team was already discussing working hours when they saw the results of a Wine Marlborough survey in early 2020, which
Andrew Blake, Kathryn Walker and Ant Moore
showed some people were working 100 days straight over vintage, as well as high levels of winemaker burnout. Thirty of the 99 survey respondents worked 85 to 96 hours a week over the vintage period, while another 16 worked more than 96 hours, with a handful toppling into 100 plus. The majority of respondents worked three weeks or more at a stretch during vintage. That reflected the reality experienced by Andrew and Ant throughout their careers, familiar with working up to 15 hours a day, seven days a week during long vintages, says Kathryn. “Although we knew from experience, we were still shocked when we reviewed the data.” Earlier in Ant’s career he worked in a large Australian winery, where a relentless five month vintage push was
followed by a period of shorter weeks, giving exhausted teams a chance to rest and recover. That was an informal and successful arrangement, which provided inspiration for the model now being used at Marlborough Vintners, he says. Kathryn notes that many of the company’s “amazing employees” have been there a long time, and frequently go “beyond the call of duty”. Following the November 2016 earthquake, the company had to undertake a major rebuild quickly, to meet the expectations of the 2017 vintage. “Our staff banded together, worked long hours and without them we wouldn’t have got through,” she says. During last year’s Covid vintage, staff once again rallied, she says. “Some having to live away from their families, in caravans on the
winery site. They did all this with a smile on their faces and a great attitude.” While those major events shone a light on their staff commitment, every vintage sees them put their “heart and soul” into their roles, with long hours and continued commitment, she says, pleased that the company is acting to improve quality of life for the people that give it so much. Business has to evolve, “and this needs to include re-organisation of how we do things, remote working, flexible hours, working smarter not harder, and fostering a productive internal culture”, says Kathryn. And she hopes it will help the company continue to sustain a workforce. “If they are happy we are going to retain them for longer, which is of benefit to us of course. We want everyone happy.”
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 57
Women in Wine Katherine Jacobs of Big Sky Wines JOELLE THOMSON
K AT H ER I N E JACOB S sure
knows how to fit a lot into life. She describes herself as a bit of a rebel who didn’t thrive academically at school, but she climbs mountains, co-owns a winery, has a viticulture diploma and, perhaps most importantly to her, a BA in Public Policy and Women’s Studies. “Growing up in New Zealand in the 70s, it was so sexist and there was just no presence for women in sport,” says the founder of Big Sky Wines in the Wairarapa. “It was so male dominated. I used to get so
angry about how sexist New Zealand was and always wanted to do something for women.” Katherine and her par tner Jeremy Corban make a formidable couple, professionally and personally. She was born in Māngere and he in West Auckland. He is from one of New Zealand’s best known wine families and has always harboured a desire to make wine, while she forged her career empowering women, a role she has played with gusto everywhere from Zimbabwe to New Zealand.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
When she travelled to Zimbabwe alone in 1993 it was a relatively good time to be there, she says, although security did plague her. “I lived in a nice house in a little town called Gwanda of 10,000 people, all black, and me. I was worried about security, but the Zimbabwean people are really peaceful. And as I worked with women to help them start small businesses, I wasn’t seen as a threat, but rather as a potential way to help people out of poverty.” Jeremy arrived about a
year later, having finished his master’s degree in public policy, and they both stayed in Africa for another three years, travelling extensively and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, among other adventures. When they returned to Wellington, Katherine moved into notfor-profit work, initially at the YWCA to set up a programme for young women looking at their career choices when they left school. She went on to work for the Red Cross, married Jeremy, had their first child - a daughter
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called Grace - and worked parttime. The family then moved to Paris for three years, where Jeremy worked as the New Zealand Representative for the OECD while she studied
viticulture and winemaking remotely via the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke’s Bay, which involved travel back to New Zealand for block courses. “I learnt that
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viticulture is really where wine starts,” she says. “There are so many decisions about how you approach viticulture, so having that base knowledge is something I was really thankful
for. It’s good to know why you’re making decisions about how the vines are managed and to develop your approach from there.” B a c k i n F ra n ce , s h e
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Katherine Jacobs and Jeremy Corban, with their son Gabriel
supplemented studies with work as a cellar hand at Chateau de Seuil in Bordeaux. “There were so many different grape varieties there and I lived with the family who owned the winery, learning about the logistics of running it and being immersed in the culture.” She and Jeremy poured their personal time into visiting cellar doors, wine regions, and eating French food. “We had the Michelin Guide and used it, but a lot of the food was terribly indigestible for me. I preferred the more rustic food.” When they returned to New Zealand, they went straight to Martinborough. “We came over here in the 1990s and liked what we saw. Jeremy had been driven to have land and grow grapes. It’s about being a guardian of the land for him, a kaitiaki.” It took them four years to land on Te Muna Road, nine kilometres out of town, where they called their vineyard Big Sky. It’s an apt description of how it feels to stand and look at the vastness of the sky from their remote spot, outside the Martinborough village community. T h i s ye a r, B i g S k y ’s vineyards became certified organic, with the wind and lack of humidity of Te Muna making it a relatively smooth
transition, says Katherine. The vast majority of their production is Pinot Noir, which reflects both the region and the vineyard make up when they first arrived. When they initially bought their eighthectare site, 5ha were planted - four in Pinot Noir and one in Sauvignon Blanc. They have since added more grapes, but remain undecided on whether to plant additional vineyard land in front of their home. “We are currently selling all our wine, so we’re working towards being a bigger company,” says Katherine. “But it’s also important to make the best wine we can, with incremental changes each year.” She retains a love of viticulture and being outside, but her main focus today is building Big Sky’s sales. It’s a “luxury” to live in Martinborough, she says. “It’s fun. Jeremy and I have such different skills. He’s so good at winemaking and looking at the finance of the business. I’m good at building up the export side of the business.” And it’s a community she cherishes. “I had an amazing conversation at the tip the other day with a winemaker; a deep conversation about life. Being part of the wine community here is really nice.”
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Master of Wine Michael Henley’s yearning for learning SOPHIE PREECE
A UNIVER SI T Y job in a suburban bottle shop kicked off an incredible journey for Michael Henley. New Zealand’s newest Master of Wine says the Christchurch store was more focussed on flagons of beer than its small wine selection. But he studied the back labels and began to take $20 to work each week, growing a cellar in his last year of a
science degree. “It caught my imagination,” he says. Four years later, with a Lincoln University diploma in viticulture and oenology, vintages spent in South Africa, California, Marlborough, Oregon, Barossa Valley and Spain, and an unabated “yearning for learning” about wine, Michael found himself working at Christie’s Auction House in London.
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Michael Henley. Photo by Warren Buckland of NZMe
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About as far as possible from the three metres of shelves in a Christchurch booze shop, he began travelling to dusty cellars around Europe, one week assessing bottles of 1950s Bordeaux with the labels peeling off, and the next in a two car garage “full of great Italian wines”. He would dust off and box up the bottles to send back for auction, then await a tasting of “the most amazing wines”, he says, recalling pre-sale pours of the likes of a 1959
“I loved tasting these really incredible wines.”
Petrus and 1961 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. “We had a sherry tasting once that was all 1800 and 1900 sherries,” he says. “It was just mind boggling.” Michael meanwhile did his WSET diploma in London, thirsty for more knowledge. “I loved making it; loved being around people with it,” he says. “I loved tasting these really incredible wines. I thought, ‘you come from little old New Zealand.’ I needed to know more.” He went on to Christie’s in L os Angeles, valuing more extraordinary cellars, including one with $10 million worth of wine. In 2001 Michael and his wife moved back to New Zealand, and in 2003 he took up a role with the newly opened Craggy Range Winery, which included a three year stint in London. Then in 2012 he became Chief Executive with Trinity Hill
Winery, before taking the lead at Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates (AONZ) when it was established in 2017. Michael, who is a director of New Zealand Winegrowers, Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers and Hawke’s Bay Tourism, began his Master of Wine study in Auckland in 2004 and continued in London while working for Craggy Range. Having hibernated the process for several years, due to work and family obligations, he dug into his research paper full time this year, exploring The impact of future climate changes on the production of Sauvignon Blanc wines in Marlborough, New Zealand. He’d seen NIWA figures that drove home the impact climate change was set to have on New Z ealand ’s wine industry, and realised more Marlborough-focussed research was required, he says. “How is this going to affect New Zealand’s ability to make, not even Sauvignon Blanc, but fresh, crisp, aciddriven, clean wines that the world wants from us?” With the MW now achieved, Michael is looking at his next opportunity in the wine industry, including helping smaller wineries sell their wine. Running AONZ during the challenges of Covid, he realised that smaller companies without “massive” distribution networks, have to think more readily outside the square. “There are so many great wine stories out there. I think it’s been something throughout my whole career that really pushes my buttons,” he says. “There’s always great wine, but is there a great story to go with that wine? The wines that really resonate are the ones I can remember for a reason, because of a story.”
IT WOULD BE STINK IF THESE GOT INTO NEW ZEALAND The brown marmorated stink bug is a pest that infests homes, ruins gardens, stinks when crushed, and is almost impossible to get rid of. It could also destroy our fruit and vegetable industries. It’s not in New Zealand yet, and we want to keep it that way. So if you see one, don’t kill it. Catch it, take a photo, and call us on 0800 80 99 66.
Look for black & white banding on the antennae
For more information (including how to identify the bug) visit biosecurity.govt.nz/stinkbug
Look for black & white banding on the sides of the abdomen
Stink Bugs not shown actual size. (Actual size approx. 1.7cm long)
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 63
Postcard Letters from abroad
Matt Thomson in Soave, northeast Italy
Matt Thomson writes from Italy CIAO RAGAZZI!
I’ve just started my 58th harvest following 29 years of continuous northern and southern hemisphere harvests. I haven’t missed one, but the last two years have been quite challenging with the complexity of international travel. Usually, I travel to Europe four times and South America twice a year. For the last two years I’ve been down to one European trip for around seven weeks, with two additional weeks in MIQ. I’ve been asked many times by colleagues when I’m going to stop travelling and I’ve always answered, “when the negatives outweigh the positives”. The restaurants are pretty good over here, but during the last two years there has been a significant increase in the negatives! Last year felt scary. I left my family (who normally travel with me for the longer harvest trip) in New Zealand, where it felt relatively safe 64 //
from the frightening effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. I was leaving all that I loved to venture off, facing the risk of contracting Covid without the security of our New Zealand health system. I worried about catching it and being denied a return home, stranded sick and alone overseas. It felt pretty raw as I said goodbye in the darkness of Blenheim airport’s set-down area. At that time the airport was closed to all but passengers, a change that had occurred overnight, which was a very unwelcome surprise. Why would I take that risk? This is a 23-year-old project, launched by David Gleave MW (whom I had also worked with on a prior separate project). He was my best man at our wedding and is godfather of my eldest daughter Gianna. You can’t send samples during vintage. You need to make immediate calls and fermentations don’t sample well. Not going would have undermined the entire
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
project, that we have spent half a lifetime building together to what it is now. This year feels different. I’ve been vaccinated. Most of Europe has been vaccinated and all the reports from my friends over here were that life was getting back to normal. I’m based in Verona, which is about 80km from Italy’s deadliest epicentre from the first wave that hit in early 2020. Unfortunately, but predictably, the Delta variant found its way to New Zealand - this news breaking 36 hours before my departure. Auckland Airport was back to being a very unusual and very tense place to be as I passed through. Once on the longhaul flight it all changed. The staff were a lot more relaxed than the year before. They are all vaccinated. Gone are the full body coverings and face visors, and back is the friendly service and conversations. On the way to Dubai, I shared the plane with 80 New Zealand Defence Force personnel travelling to Kabul to do their best to extract the
Kiwis there. I got talking to one of the officers who was planning the mission and sitting beside me. I contemplated the nervousness about where I was going in the context of their mission. Paris versus Kabul? It takes a very special person to put themselves in that kind of danger, and we all owe them our gratitude for being ready to do that for us. Eventually I touched down in Paris CDG and entered the end of summer holidays chaos. After a visit to check on last year’s wines and assess the vineyards in Pomerols near Montpellier, I drove across to Verona, Italy, where I’m based now. We’ve harvested some of the best Pinot Grigio I think I’ve made over here at the three wineries we work with in the Veneto. Alana McGettigan joined me here yesterday. Alana and I have worked together on this project since 2005, and we are harvesting in Friuli on Thursday. We might call in to Venice for lunch if we get it all in early enough. Life could be worse over here, I guess.
Handing on a legacy REBECCA WILSON BREAKING DIRT on Waitaki
Valley limestone 20 years ago was a “huge act of faith”, say Jim and Anne Jerram. And as they celebrate the recent sale of Ostler Wines to ACG Wines Ltd, they say they would do it all again “in a heartbeat”, despite myriad challenges. “We were dramatically overoptimistic; we really didn’t know what we were getting into,” says Jim. “Two decades on we know quite a lot about the nuances that go with a new region, and what makes the wine so special - and what’s made it difficult.” Jim, at the time a GP, visited the Waitaki in 1998 with
Anne’s winemaker brother Jeff Sinnott, discovering the “bit of dirt” that would become Clos Ostler. After two years of due diligence, with modelling based on data from three triangulated weather sites, they purchased the land. Jim, with some experience of high country farming in the 1970s, says having Jeff by his side on the vineyard, and Anne keeping her health research role and income, were crucial parts of the mix. They had thought the lie of the land would protect them from the frosts of Central Otago, but the Waitaki frosts
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
were even harder than those of their southern neighbours. Jim remembers many sleepless nights watching the temperature gauge closely, with helicopters on standby. When they eventually did get frost machines on the land the climate had star ted to change, with the valley warming up. C o m m e r c i a l l y, t h e area’s yield has always been a challenge, which meant that finding investment in the brand was als o difficult. However, Ostler Wines overcame the hardships to produce a standout range of wines, including the much-
medalled Ostler Caroline’s Pinot Noir. “People talk about Central Otago being viticulture on the edge; I think we are just over the edge,” says Jim. “But it’s that edge which is perhaps also the magic line.” The wines are “liquid geography”, he says. “They are different from everywhere else; not big fruit-driven wines, but very distinct. You can pick them in a line-up from anywhere in New Zealand.” Jeff told them from the start to expect the wines, stylistically different to Central Otago Pinot Noirs, would not initially be understood, says Jim. “And he was right. It’s
taken many years to get that recognition.” The couple feel “incredibly privileged” to have pioneered a new region, talking of getting their hands in the dirt one day, and in front of sommeliers in Sydney the next. “We’ve worn out a lot of shoe leather, kissed a lot of frogs, and made a lot of magnificent friends along the way.” And they are “thrilled” that ACG Wines plans to take the company to the next level. Ostler Wines will be operated by ACG Wines Ltd’s Lindis Group, a luxury hospitality company with three lodges in New Zealand, including the Lindis Lodge in Ahuriri Valley. The company bought all the Ostler Caroline’s Pinot Noir wine stock, the Ostler and Caroline’s brands, and the vineyard on which the grapes for that wine were grown. Anne says the new
owner’s connection to the Waitaki Valley “really matters”, given the effort they have collectively made to build the region’s profile. “To be passing the baton on to people who really do care about this region, have good wine sense and palates,
and for the ability, as they say, to ‘polish the diamond’ of the Caroline’s Pinot Noir.” But the Jerrams are not entirely off the hook, retaining their cellar door, The Vintners Drop, in Kurow, along with a small Lake Waitaki vineyard. They
look forward to the region’s continued growth. “It has been a wonderful ride alongside the other Waitaki stalwarts,” says Jim. “And it is timely for us to ease back with the recognition of the valley as a tiny part of New Zealand’s best.”
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 67
The battle against bogus wine labels AUSTRALIA HAS just launched a new weapon in the fight against counterfeit wine
labels, according to Blake Gray in Wine Searcher’s online magazine. Wine Australia
now has a database of wine label images and information that allows anyone to check the authenticity of a potential purchase. The system, called Export Label Image Search System (ELISS), is a database of wines that have been legitimately exported. Rachel Triggs, General Manager of Corporate Affairs and Regulations for Wine Australia, told Wine Searcher that many fake labels are often badly
designed, making them easy to spot when matched against the images stored on ELISS. If I were a wine counterfeiter, ELISS would be my “go to” website. Not only would it give me a precise image upon which to base my dodgy wine packaging, it would also reveal the vintages that had been exported to my target market. Or am I missing something...? eliss.wineaustralia.com/eliss/ search
Cooking with wine COOKING, EATING, and drinking help take the sting out of lockdown. I’ve turned the clocks forward an hour to change our drinking curfew and have pre-recorded our favourite cooking shows. Cooking shows stimulate the appetite and add extra pleasure to meal preparation. In an ideal world we would watch a demonstration, then prepare and eat the same meal immediately afterwards. Bliss! I have a small niggle when the celebrity chefs cook with wine. They tell us to only use wine that we would be happy to drink - preferably the wine we plan to drink with the meal. That makes sense when you are adding a splash to the dish before serving, but makes no sense to me when you need half a bottle of something for slowcooked stews and casseroles. If you can’t taste the wine in the finished dish, why would you want to sacrifice an expensive and tasty wine?
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Escape to the Chateau IF YOU have watched the television programme Escape to the Chateau you may, like me, have been tempted to put your house on the market and trade up to a magnificent chateau in a desirable corner of France. The T V show reveals that behind the grand facade often lies a crumbling structure that partly explains why the property appears to be a bargain. French real estate company Safer has published a report on vineyard land prices that range from tempting to eye-watering. The average cost of vineyard land in France in 2020 was NZD$252,476 per hectare. That is about the same price as a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in Marlborough. In 2020, 14,600ha of vineyard land was sold, which represents 1.87 percent of France’s total vineyard area.
Perhaps you would like a plot of land in Champagne. In 2020 the average price per hectare of productive vineyard land was NZD$1,847,726, but if you are relying on your crop of grapes to provide an income you should be aware that prices have been falling since 2019 because of exporting difficulties and a drop in domestic consumption. The Cote d’Or in Burgundy is a safer option insofar as land values are concerned. Land prices in Burgundy have been steadily rising for the past 10 years. During a visit to Puligny in 2014 I talked about land prices with the head of the local appellation. A recent sale of half a row of grapes in the Grand Cru Montrachet vineyard fetched many millions of dollars for the equivalent of one hectare. “If you pay such a high price for the vineyard you will never be able
to make a profit,” he explained. vineyard sites where the owner “Premier Cru vineyards are is struggling to find a buyer. now so expensive that it could Don’t expect a chateau at this take as much as 30 years before end of the market. you could make a profit.” Both Vineyards in the soughthave become trophies like after appellations of Pauillac, a large yacht or jet aircraft, Saint-Julien and Margaux are although they have the distinct advantage of appreciating rather “Premier Cru than depreciating in vineyards are now value. so expensive that it Bordeaux will appeal to many Australasians could take as much as as it is close to the sea 30 years before you and has a temperate climate that has could make a profit.” been compared to that of Hawke’s Bay. Vineyard prices in the Gironde seriously expensive, especially are a reasonably affordable when they are on top sites. They NZD$215,276 per hectare, might fetch as much as NZD$4 although that figure disguises million/ha. These properties are a large variation. You can pay seen as safe havens, for the rich as little as NZD$6,700/ha and famous at least. for unfavourable frost-prone le-prix-des-terres.fr/carte/vigne/
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LARGE AREAS of regenerating native bush have helped The Landing – a Bay of Islands vineyard, winery and luxury accommodation business – achieve Toitū carbonzero certification. Director Peter Jones says the 125 hectares of native plantings, including more than 1.2 million trees planted by The Landing team over the past 20 years, absorbs more carbon than is emitted by all the operations on the 400ha coastal property. The Landing is the first luxury lodge in New Zealand to be certified carbonzero by Toitū, while its vineyard and winery join a small group of New Zealand winegrowers and wineries certified as carbonzero. Achieving net zero carbon emissions over the entire country by 2050 is a team effort involving everyone in New Zealand, says Peter. “We are committed to working with Toitū Envirocare to ensure we’re doing our part.” To gain carbonzero certification a business is required to measure all activities that produce greenhouse gases each year, including waste production, travel, fertilisers and use of electricity and fossil fuels, to find the business’s total gross annual greenhouse emissions. Those emissions can be offset either by investing in carbon credits from third parties or, as in The Landings case, via its very own carbon sink. As well as regenerating forest, the area is home to one of the most abundant populations of Northland brown kiwi in the country, along with many other native birds, says Peter. “At The Landing, we are honoured to be kaitiaki of the unique natural landscape, native wildlife and cultural heritage that lie within this property.” As well as offsetting through the native plantings, The Landing has worked to reduce its emissions. A 2021 sustainability report outlines six local environmental projects for the 2020/2021 year, including reducing non-renewable electricity consumption and reduced use of chemicals in the vineyard. The projects also including continued reforestation - with over 100,000 native seedlings grown on site, and 12,200 planted at The Landing over the course of the year - and biodiversity protection, including pest control. Meanwhile a “Green Christmas” initiative saw 4000 native seedlings raised at The Landing given away at Auckland’s Britomart in 2020, in exchange for a gold coin donation to the Motutapu Island Restoration Project, raising more than $6000 for the project. The company’s 2022 targets include working towards the carbon reduction commitments of the Toitū carbonreduce programme, progressing a solar panel installation project and investigating the feasibility of electric vehicle charging points for work vehicles, staff and visitors.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 71
Point of View
Driving an electric revolution STEPHEN LEITCH
Stephen Leitch Photo Richard Briggs
BACK IN 2017 we purchased our
first two electric bikes for SWE, and as a consequence reduced our use of company cars. In the first year alone, those bikes travelled over 4,500 kilometres – journeys which otherwise would have been made in a petrol or diesel vehicle. We have since made the commitment to purchase company e-bikes for any staff who want one, and a number have taken us up on the offer of an e-bike or a pushbike. We have also tried to encourage others to try our e-bikes for themselves, to see them as a viable alternative for some jour neys. We have organised loans to the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough team, to teachers, clients, and others. Even one of the local vicars is currently riding an SWE e-bike! People are often surprised how quick and
easy it is to go by e-bike. Biking from Blenheim’s centre to the Riverlands Industrial Estate, 5km away, is often faster than by car. My own travel by e-bike has notched up more than 10,000km since 2017. When it comes to replacing petrol or diesel vehicles with electric or hybrid models, it’s not quite so simple. However, we (like all businesses) used to have a certain way of doing things, and have learned to challenge them. As part of our carbonzero accreditation process we threw out all previous assumptions and looked at everything again with fresh eyes. This has included looking at which work lends itself to using different transportation options. One example is the contract we have supporting a large client with electrical and
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
technical work located around 60km from SWE headquarters in Blenheim, necessitating approximately 120km of travelling per day. For that work we previously used a ute to transport the staff member and equipment to site. Admittedly, it was working perfectly from a functional point of view. But when we looked at it in terms of emissions, we hoped we could do better. So, with a review of what we transported, and how we structured the job, we were able to get rid of the ute and use a plug-in hybrid electrical vehicle instead. We’ve been tracking and analysing the impact across all our fleet, but with that one change alone we’ve seen a reduction of 44 percent of total energy costs for that work vehicle. That amounts to a reduction of 51 percent of direct emissions, in contrast to
the use of a straight petrol or diesel vehicle. The default thinking was that we needed a ute for that job, and functionally it was great – but environmentally, not so much. And having trialled the hybrid now for a year, we can see with some small changes we were able to make that change work effectively, with no downside to functionality, and a positive environmental upside. There are some great electric and hybrid vehicles now that have higher clearance, making them more viable for vineyard terrain. But it’s often about thinking bigger than a straight substitute. For example, can you get to site in a different way (vehicle sharing, smaller vehicle, etc) and then if you need to, swap onto a rugged terrain vehicle on site? Can we have ‘pods’ where we store
equipment on site to reduce wind drag on vehicles enroute, for example. It’s when we “think bigger” that there’s the opportunity for real innovation and bigger impact. It’s a bit like our Covid response in some ways. Before Covid struck New Zealand last year, many businesses had never considered how they
“It’s when we ‘think bigger’ that there’s the opportunity for real innovation and bigger impact.” would work under a lockdown scenario, where most work had to be remote, or in bubbles and so on. In the process, as a nation we had to reconsider how we did almost everything, and there’s been some amazing innovation fall out of that. Well, if we were told tomorrow that our petrol and diesel had run out, or now cost $10 a litre, we’d have to rethink everything too. At SWE we’d rather do that now, instead of wait for the equivalent of an environmental ‘lockdown’ to be announced. When it comes to reducing our carbon footprint, we are all about the data. As we tell our clients, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, so we very much walk the talk on that front and track a huge number of metrics. In terms of transportation, we track distance travelled in every vehicle, vehicle weight and wind drag. We look at fuel economy and driver behaviour, and we cross-reference it against client work, so we understand opportunities to do better.
Reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions from our work vehicles is only one aspect of what we track and work on. We have nine active “shift projects” and another half dozen already completed, that shift SWE from its current emissions output to a reduced one. They shift us from where we are now, to a place that better meets our mission. An example of another active shift project is to have zero waste to landfill. In 2019 we set a company goal to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 percent, against base year level, by 2030. So far, we are tracking to meet that goal, but we fully acknowledge we have work to do, and more to learn. It’s not just something we pay lip service to either. Environmental sustainability is a core value included in our mission statement. Consideration is given to environmental practices within SWE, and the impact it can have on clients’ environmental sustainability. I t ’s wr itten into our strategic plan, and we evolved a company ‘quadrant’ by which we constantly measure our performance in four key areas. We are so serious about this commitment that we focus on it throughout each year, followed by a formal annual review with which we report back to our Board of Directors on our performance across all four cornerstones of our quadrant. Stephen is Managing Director of SWE, a Marlborough-based specialist in water engineering, electrical and automation solutions and irrigation. SWE became Toitū carbonzero certified in 2017.
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Marlborough Wine & Food Festival
MARLBOROUGH’S ICONIC Wine
& Food Festival is heading to the “heart of Marlborough wine country” for its 2022 event. After 33 years held on Brancott Vineyard, the festival will move to the Renwick Domain on 12 February next year, with organisers determined to hold their best festival yet, having had to cancel in 2021 due to Covid-19. Wine Marlborough General Manager Marcus Pickens says Brancott Estate helped generate the legacy of the event, but
development at the vineyard meant the site would not be suitable for the festival in February. He says that while the location is new , the unique atmosphere of the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival will remain the same. “Having attendees who have been to more than 20, or even 30 events reminds us how important the festival is, and that it is key to recreate the magic at a new site. We are up for the challenge and think it’s an exciting time for the event.”
Marlborou g h Distr ict Councillor Cynthia Brooks says she is thrilled that Renwick will play host to the festival. “We identify as the heart of wine country, and this is where the recent wine industry started in the 70s,” she says. “Within a stone’s throw of Renwick is where the original plantings and wine companies began. So many people involved in the industry live in the village, and Renwick is the service town for the industry. The people here will really embrace this festival.”
Cynthia says the festival is one of the most important events in the Marlborough calendar. “It is a celebration of who we are and what we have achieved as a wine region. I know everyone was gutted when it was cancelled this year, so hearing planning is underway for next year is fantastic news.” Locals only tickets on sale 18 to 24 October All tickets on sale 28 October 2021
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The Whole Bunch A virtual kōrero about Pinot
COVID-19 ALERT levels have
seen The Whole Bunch Pinot Noir symposium shifted from September to February 2022, but the ideas kept flowing via a virtual kōrero. Keynote speakers Professor Tim Flannery and Nicole Manawatu-Brennan joined Bunch members Aaron Drummond and Nick Mills in a September webinar, to talk place, both ecological and cultural. The Pinot Noir NZ celebration began in 2001,
with possibly premature over-confidence, according to Nick, before evolving in 2017 to become more of a space in which “to reflect on our identity”. That approach was to be continued at Pinot NZ 2021, initially planned for February this year, and through the subsequent Whole Bunch event designed to provide a space for national introspection before re-engagement with the world. Nick noted that the conversations started in the
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
webinar and The Whole Bunch event would permit “us to be so much further ahead concerning how we’re relating to our land and our people”.
Culture P i n o t No i r p ro d u c t i o n in New Zealand may be largely “a borrowed culture” from Burgundy, as Nick acknowledged in the webinar, but “many of the shared values that we have as Pinot Noir growers sit here as part of an
indigenous framework”. How to learn from those relationships was explored by Nicole, who is of Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Kati Huikai and English descent, with a background in renewable energy and cultural education. She explained how whanaungatanga - the Māori concept concerning forming and maintaining relationships - was not only an attitude, but must translate into practice. “History connects us. It’s about wanting to create a genuine
par tnership and having meaningful conversations at the beginning of the process, not when you’ve predetermined where you’re going.” This shouldn’t be intimidating, she said. “Approach this like the learning you do when you’re making your wines; there are always things you don’t know.”
Nature Tim, an Australian ecologist, considers what New Zealand’s Pinot makers are doing as “incredibly exciting”, in being at the start of “fitting people to land” and applying prior Māori knowledge to this process. Drawing on examples from his experience working with indigenous Australian and Pacific communities, who have maintained a light imprint on their environments, he warned that humans could conversely have such a large impact that consequent extinctions shrink the space available to
“Approach this like the learning you do when you’re making your wines; there are always things you don’t know.” an entire ecosystem. “When I think of winegrowing, planting vineyards in an ecological space you can have a monstrously large impact, using pesticides and herbicides. These create a fertile vineyard, but has shrunk the total ecospace around it,” Tim observed. “To me ecological sustainability is premised around the idea that we can grow the whole ecospace at the same time we can prosper. That takes deep knowledge, and a view of the land that’s not entirely legalistic, and more about belief.”
Future “In the future I’d imagine that New Zealand Pinot is grown
in a way that increases the ecospace of New Zealand; that gives home to more species, diversity, stability and richness,” proposed Tim when asked for his vision of its ideal future. “And that this does the same for New Zealand culture; that it acts as the great universal solvent for the culture to come together to activate and mobilise in a uniquely New Zealand way, giving people a living, but also a sense of purpose and pride making the best, but working with nature.” For Nicole, relationships n e e d t o b e c o m e m o re relational than transactional. “Pinot Noir comes from a unique place where history
connects us; where we care for environment and relationships with people; and that the profit is of purpose,” she said of her view of its future. “We tell that story on the world stage, that we are a benchmark in the way we’ve created a partnership and understand the importance of indigenous people.” “Mainstream New Zealanders can feel uncomfortable claiming New Zealand as the place that they’re from, but everybody has a culture,” Nicole said. “Learn your histor y and connect yourself back to your whakapapa, your heritage, so you can connect yourself back to land, back to whenua, which is a powerful thing.”
The Whole Bunch, which promises to be “joyful, as well as geeky”, will now be held 10-11 February 2022.
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New World Wine Awards Standout vintages impress judges
IT’S IMPORTANT to constantly
foster the next generation of winemakers and judges, s a y s N e w Wo r l d W i n e Awards Co-Chair of Judges Jen Par r. “Giving them opportunities to grow, but also in an environment with great mentors. Which you certainly see here.” The 2020 Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine New Zealand Winemaker of the Year was part of a stellar line up of New Zealand judges in Blenheim in July, alongside associate judges that included two Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology students.
Co-Chair of Judges Jen Parr and Sam Kim
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Highly experienced judges, who’ve chaired here and abroad, give their time and expertise to help the associates, who can be “really nervous” when judging for the first time, Jen says. “As the day moves on, they start to breathe deeply and understand they can do this.” Participating in the event was a great opportunity, says wine student Finn Horsfield, who works as a vineyard operator at Marisco and tackled the Corteva Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition a week before judging. He enjoyed seeing the diversity of opinion between the judges. “Some of them had completely polar opposite scores and so did we as well,” he says. “Just being honest is the biggest thing.” Competition Director R achel Touhey says the comp e tition is a g reat opportunity for associate
Low yields lighten entries NEW ZEALAND’S light 2021 vintage, paired with high global
demand, meant entries in the New World Wine Award were down this year. The competition has a minimum stock requirement of 4,000 bottles, but made a temporary adjustment to 3,000 bottles for Sauvignon Blanc, in recognition of the low yields this year. Competition Director Rachel Touhey says international wines were also down a little due to shipping issues.
judges to be mentored, but also for seasoned judges to learn from their peers. As an example, panels were paired in the assessment of the emerging varieties category, which made up around 60 of the 1,100 entries. Having two panels assess the wines together ensures a “cross pollination” among judges, who have varying levels of experience with those lessfamiliar varieties, says Rachel. Wine is always evolving
and the climate is changing, “so we’re in a constant flux of change,” says Jen. “To continue to grow, you have to continue to expose yourself to familiar and new things, and amongst peers and people you respect and learn from as well.” As well as assessing emerging varieties, the competition took a deeper look into zero alcohol wines, for entries containing less than 0.5 percent alcohol. Jen says the low and no alcohol trend is real, and the industry has made
a significant investment in the category, “that we have to take seriously”. The majority of the entries in this year’s competition were wines harvested and made in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and “each of these vintages was a standout in its own right”, she says. “They are combining to make this year’s field of entries a particularly exciting one to taste our way through.” Jen says she became a winemaker because of her love of wine and discovering new wines. “So I am a consumer first, a winemaker second and a judge third,” she says. “For me there is excitement with how I first embraced wine and what I saw in a glass, and to me judging something blind goes back to that innocence of not knowing, and you can’t really get it wrong, because you just say what you believe.” Full results in early October at newworld.co.nz/discover/wine-awards
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Wine Weather Another La Niña JAMES MORRISON
Richmond Plains Vineyards Photo by Chocolate Dog Studio
SPRING WEATHER, as we all know, is a time of huge transition. Increased daylight hours mean growing days kick in, temperatures are milder, and those annoying westerlies return. It is also a time when winter can still give
us a reminder that we are not in summer yet and the climatic contrast from day to day or even hour by hour can be very stark. A warm two or three days with temperatures climbing into the 20s can easily be followed by a southerly blast that rivals the
coldest winter outbreaks, which in turn is followed by frosty mornings until the next warm northwesterly airstream arrives. The sun reached the spring equinox on 20 September and now continues its march south until late December. By contrast,
sea surface temperatures reach their coldest point in early September and begin the slow warming that will peak in March. Statistics will also show us that over history, the coldest southerly of the year has happened in September
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or even October. On a few rare occasions, snow and a taste of winter can follow us right into November. Climate patterns such as the Southern Oscillation, MaddenJulian Oscillation (MJO) and Southern Annular Mode all have an effect on the frequency or probability of certain types of weather, and this spring we are still talking about La Niña developing and being the main driver of our climate through summer in 2022. It is likely that the effects of a developing La Niña are likely to be less noticeable through October, but we may see more signs as we move through November. The commentary from climate scientists is that this la Niña may be weak to moderate once again. The northwest gales that have pummelled several regions in August and September should ease and an increase
in a milder northerly flow is expected later in October and through November. High pressure is expected to become more dominant in November and help to keep day time temperatures above average across the country. At the same time there is a chance that rainfall may end up a little below average.
Outlook for August and September Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay Temperatures have run near or above average all year and this does not look like changing as we approach the end of 2021. Mean temperatures are likely to continue to run above average. If we do see an increase in northeasterlies then night time minimums are likely to increase
in November. Sunshine and rainfall totals remain close to average. Wairarapa Similar to Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. A drop in wind speed is on the cards if La Niña strengthens. Strong northwest gales can feature at any time but the chances are reduced from mid-October onwards. Mean temperatures are near or above average and rainfall totals are likely to be close to average. Nelson Temperatures follow the national trend of running above average. Rainfall totals are expected to be near or a little below average. Marlborough/North Canterbury Mean temperatures continue to run above average. The chance
of frost decreases sharply if la Niña conditions develop by late October. Rainfall totals are likely to remain near or a little below average across the region. Strong northwest winds may return at times, but lighter northeasterlies are expected as we move into November. Central Otago La Niña conditions can bring more settled conditions to the far south. Above average temperatures are expected and rainfall is likely to be close to average. Night time temperatures may remain near average thanks to an increase in clear nights. The far south is likely to see a few more cold outbreaks before the end of the year, but these are likely to become few and far between as we move into November. James Morrison runs Weatherstation Frost Forecasting Ltd – weatherstation.net.nz
Frost forecasting in spring SPRING GROWTH has been early this year and, as a forecaster, I have noted that in 15 years I am now starting frost forecasts for areas such as Hawke’s Bay nearly two weeks earlier than when I started out in 2006. Looking back 10 years or so ago, I noted that frost forecasts would begin around 1 September in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne and a little later in Marlborough.
Central Otago would round things off with a start in late September or even the start of October. This year I began frost forecasts on 7 August in Hawke’s Bay and 25 August for Marlborough. A w a r m i n g c l i m a te d o e s n ’ t necessarily mean fewer frosts in spring. With early growth in August, the risk of frost is still high due in part to the longer nights and relatively long period
of cooling. An increase in large, slow moving high pressure systems can also create a number of cool, clear nights with conditions that are conducive for the development of frost. Not every spring will commence as early as this year, but these are just some of the things we need to factor in to a changing climate if the past 15 years is anything to go by.
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Biosecurity update Warding off Lepidoptera SOPHIE BADLAND
HOW READY are we for a Lepidopteran incursion? This is a question currently being addressed by a group of Government-Industr y Agreement partners, with the
Lobesia botrana (the European grapevine moth), is one of the most unwanted exotic pests for the New Zealand wine industry. Image from Bugwood.org
establishment of a working group tasked with reviewing the successes and failures of previous responses alongside the current risks posed to New Zealand by exotic
Lepidopteran pests. Lepidoptera is an order of insects that (notably) includes butterflies and moths. There are more than 180,000 different species included and it is one
of the most widespread insect orders in the world. Lepidoptera regularly arrive in New Zealand via a variety of pathways, and several biosecurity responses have taken place previously for
Introducing the Biosecurity Network JIM HERDMAN
THE BIOSECURITY team at New Zealand Winegrowers are initiating the setup of a Biosecurity Network. The purpose of the network is to connect a group of likeminded industry members to ensure the wine industry is doing all it can to prevent or respond to a new biosecurity incursion. It would also assist in helping to prevent the avoidable spread of vineyard pests and diseases that already exist within New Zealand. The network will also endeavour to ensure buy-in and behavioural change to align with best practices across the wine industry. We envisage the network will be made up of two parts - general members, and a smaller group of regional representatives. General members will receive biosecurity information via email and social media and will be invited to attend two meetings a year, one virtually and one in person in conjunction with Spray Days and/or a similar industry event held within the region. The regional representatives we hope to attract will be wine industry ‘biosecurity champions’. Training will be provided to ensure they are up to date with biosecurity best practices and are able to serve as key regional contacts/liaisons in biosecurity incursions or responses. The intention is
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
to include members from large, medium, and small organisations, at least two from the larger wine regions and one or two from the smaller regions, depending on availability. The number of regional members will not be limited and could increase if there was sufficient interest. Once again, it is hoped that the regional representatives can meet in person at least once a year and also arrange regular virtual meetings. The in-person meetings will be arranged and funded by the New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) biosecurity team and held at a time and place that would suit the majority. The regional representatives will also help ensure biosecurity issues and resources are visible among the members of their region, and provide member feedback on biosecurity issues to the NZW biosecurity team to better inform the member-facing component in NZW’s biosecurity work programme. Training may include roles relating to and processes that exist during a biosecurity response, the continual development and review of biosecurity resources, and upskilling network members on the use and implementation of existing NZW biosecurity resources. There will also be time at the meetings to brainstorm
ideas, discuss biosecurity projects and set agendas. The group may also be invited to KiwiNet meetings and other biosecurity events from time to time.
Possible initial projects: • Reviewing and possibly updating the vineyard biosecurity resources. • Assist with developing training packages for the implementation of best practice. • Developing biosecurity advocacy initiatives. • Biosecurity response training and forming a network in preparation for a response • Defining possible roles within a response • Developing a industry communication plan for use in a biosecurity response and understanding/confirming the roles and responsibilities of network members in an incursion situation. • Simulations/response scenario to build on training and troubleshoot. The biosecurity team would be interested in hearing from any NZW member interested in being part of the network. To register interest, please email email@example.com
the likes of gypsy moth, painted apple moth and the great white butterfly. While many Lepidoptera are important pollinators, several exotic species present significant biosecurity risks to New Zealand’s forestry, horticulture and viticulture industries as well as to the natural estate and urban parks and gardens. More than 100 lepidoptera species have arrived and established in New Zealand in the last century, most arriving from Australia but some as hitchhikers on imported goods from other countries. The majority have had little to no impact on forestry and the native estate, but some have required management in arable, pastoral or fruit crops (such as grass webworm and codling moth). Biosecurity responses have occurred for the most damaging pests where populations have been deemed small enough
to have a reasonable chance of eradication, and a few species have been successfully eradicated (e.g, white-spotted tussock moth, painted apple moth, fall webworm, Asian gypsy moth and great white butterfly). While ultimately successful, some of these responses used tools and methods which may now b e c o n s i d e re d s o c i a l l y unacceptable (such as aerial pesticide spraying in urban areas). There are questions around whether such methods could or should be used again in response to future incursions. The highest risk exotic Lepidopteran pests for the New Zealand wine industry include Lobesia botrana, the European grapevine moth, and Polychrosis viteana, the grape berry moth. The European grapevine moth is a quarantine pest worldwide. It could come into New Zealand as larvae or pupae on infested propagation
OF EX W H AT LE V EL N O M AT TER
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material, via the import of table grapes for consumption, or on imported machinery. Originally from southern Europe, where it is relatively widespread, it has also invaded several African nations, much of Asia, North
several other industry groups, and Biosecurity New Zealand have formed a GovernmentIndustry Agreement (GIA) working group, reviewing New Zealand’s readiness for an incursion of a serious
More than 100 Lepidoptera species have arrived and established in New Zealand in the last century. America (however, eradication was achieved there in 2016) and two South American nations (Chile and Argentina). The grape berry moth is currently only known to be present in Canada and the United States. Several other exotic Lepidoptera may impact winegrapes in New Zealand, particularly if other, more preferred hosts are absent or difficult to locate. New Zealand Winegrowers,
U H AV E
Lepidopteran biosecurity threat. The group is currently compiling a report that considers the current risks to New Zealand’s productive and natural estates, lessons learned from previous responses in New Zealand and globally, tools and strategies available, and the state of existing readiness and response plans. This report should be able to be shared with members via nzwine.com once finalised.
Alena Kamper, student, Bachelor of Viticulture and Wine Science concurrent degree and 2020 Bragato Trust Undergraduate Scholarship winner.
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Graduate Diplomas in Viticulture Science or Wine Science Considering a career change? These qualifications can open up many career pathways for a future in the grape growing (viticulture) and wine-making (wine science) industries at a technical, supervisory or management level. Study full-time on campus or part-time via distance learning. Starts January 31st 2022. Free for 2022*
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NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 83
On your Behalf
Advocacy on matters of vital importance to the industry
Levy Vote 2021: have your say THIS COMING October, growers and wineries will be asked to cast their votes on the future of the grape and wine levies which fund New Zealand Winegrowers. The dates have been postponed
grapes) remains unchanged. • There is no change to the maximum levy rates allowed – these rates are above the current rates that are actually payable by members. • The levy rates will be set
The board has now decided to increase the maximum payable under the wine levy from 20 million litres to 24 million litres. from September to October – more information is available below.
What am I being asked to vote on? There are two votes being held simultaneously – one on the grape levy and another on the wine levy. Some New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) members will be eligible to vote for one levy, and others will be eligible to vote in both. The key levy parameters will be the same or similar to those which members have been familiar with over the past five years. This means it is proposed that: • Separate levies on grapes and wine are retained. • The basis of the levies (volume for wine and value for
annually by the NZW Board. • A maximum payment for large levy payers is retained, as is the fact there is no minimum payment by any member. The board has now decided to increase the maximum payable under the wine levy from 20 million litres to 24 million litres.
Why was the vote delayed? The vote was originally scheduled for September. Following a consultation period on the proposal to increase the wine levy cap, the board received feedback from a number of members. The board concluded that additional time was required to respond to the issues raised in some of that feedback and to discuss the proposal with members who had questions.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
How will the vote work? Voting will open on Monday 18 October at 10am and will run for three weeks (closing on Friday 5 November at 12pm). The timeframe for approval of a new levy order means this is the latest time the vote can be held. As with the referendum held in October 2015, this referendum will primarily be held electronically and administered by Electionz.com, an independent organisation. Your voting forms will come from Electionz.com rather than from NZW, so keep an eye out for these in your inbox. To get a positive result in the grape levy referendum requires that, of those members who vote, 50 percent by number and 50 percent by value of levy payment must vote in favour of the levy. For wine, the requirement is 60 percent by number and 60 percent by volume of product sold voting in favour. What happens after the vote? If the industry votes to renew the levy orders, NZW will apply to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a further levy order. This will take effect on 1 July 2022 for a further six years. Following
industry feedback, the board has also agreed to review the structure of the levy orders more broadly, given the time that has passed since the last levy orders were set and the changes that have taken place in the industry since then. This process will take time to get right and will not be able to be completed before the levy vote as it will require comprehensive consultation with members. The board will consider the scope and timeframe for any review at its strategic planning meeting in November. If the industry votes not to renew the levy orders, then steps will need to be taken to wind up NZW as the current industry organisation.
Questions and feedback If you have any questions regarding the process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact NZW CEO Philip Gregan on 021 964 564. The referendum website is also updated regularly: nzwine.com/ levy-vote
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17/09/21 12:30 PM
On your Behalf
Advocacy on matters of vital importance to the industry
Advocacy: Representing NZ wine on the world stage SARAH WILSON
YOU PROBABLY know that the New Zealand Winegrowers advocac y team provides support to members and liaises with the New Zealand Government on regulatory matters related to wine. However, you may not know about the work New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) does
with various international organisations and groups related to grape growing and winemaking. Our engagement with these organisations has looked a little different due to Covid-19 (meaning lots of Zoom calls at odd hours), but nevertheless this work to support New Zealand
wine continues. Sometimes the work may be monitoring (for example, gathering information on potential barriers to trade) or other times it may be proactive (for example, engaging on potential regulatory changes).
Organisations NZW engages with include the following: World Wine Trade Group (WWTG): The WWTG is a group of government and
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industry representatives from nine wine-producing countries (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Georgia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, and Uruguay). One of the core foundations of the organisation is agreement on mutual acceptance of winemaking practices. This means that wines made in accordance with New Zealand winemaking practices may legally be sold in all of these countries. New Zealand is currently chairing the WWTG. The WWTG has a working group dedicated to expanding its membership, so watch this space. International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV): The OIV is an inter-governmental organisation which focusses on scientific and technical matters related to winemaking. Currently headquartered in Paris, the organisation has 48 member states , including New Zealand. It also
collects and publishes global statistics on wine. As well as engaging on OIV resolutions, NZW contributes national data. International Federation of Wines and Spirits (FIVS): FIVS is an international federation that works for the overall sustainability of the global alcohol beverage sector (this includes economic, environmental and social sustainability, as well as work on scientific and technical matters). FIVS members are a mix of industry associations, companies and other organisations across the alcohol sector.
NZW is working closely with New Zealand Government representatives to communicate the industry’s views on the negotiations and how different proposals could impact on the wine trade in these markets. Other wine industr y bodies: NZW also works closely with similar industry organisations in other countries. For example, as New Zealand and Australia share a Food Standards Code, we engage closely with our Australian counterparts on
Other forms of engagement: Upcoming free trade agreements: New Zealand is in the midst of negotiations with both the United Kingdom and the European Union for a possible free trade agreement.
matters covered by the code. Consultations: NZW also engages with international consultations. In the past, this has included submissions directly to the UK Government around Brexit. Most recently, NZW (along with Spirits New Zealand and the Brewers Association) submitted on a World Health Organisation consultation on its draft Action Plan to Implement the Global Strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
Where can I find more information? Please contact the advocacy team if you want to know more about NZW’s work in any of these areas, or to discuss any regulations affecting the sale of your wine internationally. You can email the team at Advocacy@nzwine.com. You can also look at a list of current consultations NZW is engaging in, and review copies of recent submissions made, at nzwine.com/government-consultations
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Pinot Noir Day @WSETGLOBAL
We could all do with a little celebration right now, and Pinot Noir Day on Wednesday 18 August was the perfect excuse. We asked Pinot fans to support their favourite New Zealand Pinot producer and share how much they love New Zealand Pinot Noir on #lovenzpinot.
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Contact Chris Henry on 027 294 1490 or firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to your local technical advisor.
Nuts and Bolts
Mark Daniel’s updates on Machinery and Technology
Working in the vines
Plastic Fantastic MARK DANIELS
WORKING AS a farmer and fencing contractor for 15 years meant Jerome Wenzlick was about as happy as one could be with wooden fence posts. But over that time, he saw quality was slipping and wastage was high because of breakages, and at times availability could be hit and miss. Jerome had a “eureka moment” when working on a fencing job next to an old rubbish dump, and breaking posts on plastic hidden below the surface. “Surely, if plastics are this tough, we should be making fence posts from them?” he thought. A chance meeting with farmer and recycling guru Bindi Ground led to a business partnership being formed, with a commitment to producing premium fencing products, and Future Post was born. Travel to the United States to research plastics recycling was followed with a period of research
and development, the construction of a production plant with the help of South Waikato Precision Engineering in Tokoroa, and the eventual setting up of a factory in Waiuku, south of Auckland. Today, that factory takes in bales of recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastics, including milk bottles and a range of soft plastics sourced from supermarkets. More recently the bales include used face masks from the likes of Air New Zealand. Broken down into “chips”, the plastics are blended to a secret recipe, then pushed through an extrusion plant, emerging as a largely solid black post. The items are then ‘cured’ by passing through a water bath to become the finished product. Currently, posts are made in 125 millimetre diameter rounds up to 2.4 metres in length, 200mm diameter rounds for use as strainers up to 2.7m
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
VILLA MARIA Estate is exploring the use of Future Post on vineyards throughout New Zealand. Chief Viticulturist Ollie Powrie confirms that the product has been on trial across vineyards in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough, installed using conventional post driving equipment and easily fitted with standard clips for wire retention. “For me, this is a great piece of Kiwi innovation that is proving to be very robust and durable,” he says. “Typically, even a small percentage of wooden posts getting broken in a season results in lost time and significant costs required to replace them. Compared to wooden posts that might get a knock from the harvester and break through knots or splits, the Future Posts seem to have a little more flex in them under the same conditions. This means they should be more durable than a conventional post by a considerable amount.” Karen Titulaer, Head of Legal, Risk and Sustainability for the Group, explains that Villa Maria is working towards a zero waste to landfill target by 2025, so is always on the lookout for new technologies or innovation to help meet this goal. “When we first started heading down the road to more efficient recycling, we began by talking to our vineyard managers, who surprised me by saying broken posts were one of the biggest issues,” she says. This led to a trial establishing two rows of Future Posts at the Māngere vineyard to test suitability and durability for the task. “As a business we believe that we should be supporting startups, particularly in the area of new technology, more so if it’s a good fit for our operations,” says Karen. “Future Post made a great deal of sense on several fronts. Firstly, it’s made from recycled materials, it looked like it would offer us much greater durability and reduced failure rates and recyclability at the end of its life. Add to that, the factory is just down the road from us at Waiuku, then it really was a no-brainer. It would be great to see a manufacturing plant open up in the Marlborough region or nearby, where there is undoubtedly demand for the product, but sees usage being constrained by high transport costs.”
in length, and 135mm square section posts up to 2.4m long. Offering a number of performance benefits over traditional wooden posts, the Future Posts are impenetrable to moisture, frosts, insects or fungi, while also free from splitting, cracking or rotting. Said to be as strong as timber, they can be worked with the same
tools, being sawn easily, drilled, using standard staples in the normal manner and suitable for driving with mechanical post-hitters - and don’t expose fencers to any splinters. Offering a maximum life in excess of 50 years, compared to the more typical 15 to 20 years for timber, the posts should also
prove useful in harsh environments such as on the coast, where wooden posts suffer premature failure after being continually exposed to sea spray. The product is fully BioGro New Zealand certified and currently available through many rural supply stores at a slight premium over its wooden equivalent.
Norwood’s Viticulture Day NORWOOD’S INAUGURAL Viticulture Day, recently held at the Marlborough A&P Showgrounds, was a hit with winegrowers and agriculturalists from around the Marlborough region, with more than 200 people attending the event. Staff from the company’s Blenheim dealership were on site to showcase their range of excavators, ride-on mowers, speciality tractors and grape harvesters from brands that included New
Holland, Kubota, Ferrari, Breviglieri, MX, and Provitis. Blenheim Dealership Manager Trent Lindsay says the team was “absolutely thrilled” to see so much interest in the products on display. “Our New Holland T4 tractor was particularly popular, offering the latest technolog y in terms of operator comfort, power and efficiency, encapsulated in a compact frame, making it ideal for operating in vineyards with narrow row
spacing, without disturbing the vines.” Providing a great deal of amusement for onlookers, a digger speed ball competition allowed operators to test their skill
and the precise handling of a Kubota excavator, with the winner “dunking” the ball in a time of 11 seconds, taking home some merchandise for their effort.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 91
FOR STATISTICS QUERIES CONTACT EMILY AT EMILY.TUNNICLIFFE@NZWINE.COM
Key Performance Indicators
JUN JULY 2021 2020
Keep an eye on how New Zealand wine is performing both domestically and internationally.
Total Value of Exports
$391.1m 6% $114.1m 16% $54.6m 15% $29.6m 9% $24.0m 9% $17.0m 17%
Packaged Wine Export
Unpackaged Wine Export
Unpackaged white wine price
Domestic Sales, Volume
All figures are for the 12 months to the date specified, figures are in $NZD unless otherwise specified
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
NZWine KPIs_JPEG_PRINT_ongoing_2021.indd 5
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A regular feature to inform industry people about research projects being undertaken for their benefit. Newly approved projects (when available) are briefly summarised and longer reports will describe what has been achieved so far. When completed, each project will be reported in full detail with references, on nzwine.com
Research Supplement Information and updates on Bragato Research Institute research programmes. Millton Vineyards
CONTRACTED RESEARCH PROJECTS Quality Wine Styles for Existing and Developing Markets Breaking the quality-productivity seesaw in wine grape production (Pinot Noir Programme) University of Auckland, Plant & Food Research and Lincoln University (Various) jointly funded by NZW and MBIE Exploring the chemical space in Vineyard Ecosystems (VE) Programme juices and wines University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi) Prevention of quercetin instability in bottled wine Villa Maria Wines Limited (E Taylor) The effect of winemaking decisions on polysaccharide content in wine University of Auckland (B Fedrizzi) Understanding green character in Pinot Noir wine Lincoln University (A Borssato)
Pests and Disease Improving remedial surgery practices for control of grapevine trunk disease to increase vineyard longevity Linnaeus (E van Zijll de Jong) Improving the outcomes of mealybug insecticide use in vineyards Plant & Food Research (V Bell) Harlequin ladybird in vineyards: monitoring a potentially invasive insect. Plant & Food Research (V Bell)
Central Otago mealybug and grapevine leafroll virus management Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)
A comparison of physical means to reduce rot versus chemical means in New Zealand vineyards Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)
Weevils in New Zealand vineyards Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)
Understanding the global market potential for the adoption of Regenerative Agriculture (RA) in New Zealand. Beef and Lamb NZ
Trunk Disease: Applied research and extension FY22 Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)
Cost Reduction/Increased Profitability Precision Grape Yield Analyser Programme 2016-2021 Lincoln Agritech Limited (A Werner) Long spur pruning as an alternative to cane pruning for Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)
Sustainability/Organics Vineyard Ecosystems Programme University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research (Various) Jointly funded by NZW and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Optimisation of irrigation and water savings in Marlborough Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and Merlot Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow) Viticultural treatments for improving Syrah quality Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow)
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
Investigation of subsurface drip irrigation in vineyards Thoughtful Viticulture (M Krasnow) The effect of herbicide, buffered herbicide and under-vine weeding on soil biological communities and other measures of soil health. Bragato Research Institute (M Barry) Science review of cover-cropping in vineyards Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)
Climate Change Climate case study – Managing hail damaged vineyards Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson) Microbial community and vine responses to increasing temperatures in the New Zealand context University of Auckland (S Knight) Assessing foliar fertiliser for grapevine frost recovery Bragato Research Institute (L Ibbotson)
Harlequin ladybirds: using images to help search efforts Vaughn Bell, Tara Taylor, Roger Wallis The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
Background THE HARLEQUIN LADYBIRD WAS first formally recorded in New Zealand in 2016. In the years since, it has become well established across much of the country. Differing life stages of this insect can be found in and around the vineyard: larvae (up to 10 mm long), pupae and adults (both about 8 mm long). An association between harlequin ladybird and grapevines at harvest could be detrimental to wine quality. Specifically, harlequin ladybirds release alkaloid compounds when defending themselves against predators. Researchers in Canada found alkaloids negatively altered wine aroma and flavour profiles. A tolerance threshold of 200–400 individuals per tonne of fruit was proposed to minimise the risk of ladybird taint in wine. However, in reality, most Canadian wineries have no tolerance for this insect. Harlequin ladybird monitoring in commercial vineyards has been undertaken by Plant and Food Research on behalf of New Zealand Winegrowers for several years. Searches of vines (cordons, canes, leaves, and bunches) have typically resulted in low numbers being found. Indeed, there has been no evidence from research or from reports from wineries to New Zealand Winegrowers of the insect infesting vines in the lead-up to or during harvest. Nevertheless, searching has confirmed they are present in the broader vineyard environment for much of the year. They overwinter inside vineyard offices, portable toilets, pump houses, implement/storage sheds, and on
Harlequin ladybirds are often present in willows by mid-summer, where they attack a preferred prey species, the giant willow aphid.
At present, it is widely assumed that the combination of cooling temperatures and fewer aphids in autumn will see harlequin ladybirds leave the willows and begin looking for overwintering shelter.
The goal of this article Ladybird taint adversely alters wine quality. To minimise this risk, New Zealand wineries should consider regularly inspecting the vines, especially pre-harvest, together with the broader vineyard environment plus the winery. Without insecticides registered for use against this insect, the emphasis of this article is to aid understanding of what to look for when searching for harlequin ladybirds. Hence, we present an array of photographs depicting different life stages of harlequin ladybirds – an egg cluster, larvae, pupae (and pupal remnants), and examples of adult ladybirds’ wide colour variation. Images of the giant willow aphid are also presented. Knowing if, where, and when either of these insects are in or near the vineyard environment is an important step to preserving wine quality standards.
water tanks, where many dozens to hundreds of individuals cluster together. They emerge from these sites in spring, but where they disperse to remains unclear for the most part. However, evidence from one vineyard highlighted their presence in the vines in December, but it was likely they had arrived many weeks earlier but remained unseen. Although newly emerged adults could not be found in the vines or anywhere else in the vineyard beyond lateJanuary, the numbers of empty pupal cases indicated there had been an equivalent of 600 individuals per tonne of fruit, which was well over the Canadian tolerance threshold. Harlequin ladybirds are often present in willows by mid-summer, where they attack a preferred prey species, the giant willow aphid. The presence of predator and prey in willows is often characterised by trees blackened by sooty mould growing on honeydew waste from aphids. Sooty mouldaffected groundcover plants under aphid-infested willows can also be found with harlequin ladybirds at differing life stages. With aphidinfested willows growing in or near vineyards being a likely attractant to harlequin ladybird, this habitat is often a good starting point for monitoring.
Where can I share information? You are urged to report sightings of harlequin ladybirds within the vineyard environment if they are in numbers of concern or if they are observed in the vines or in the winery at or around harvest. firstname.lastname@example.org Additional Information: Harlequin ladybird Fact Sheet, Bragato Research Institute, June 2021 nzwine.com/members/ sustainability/biosecurity/pestand-disease-information/hlb/
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 95
EGGS Acknowledgements We are grateful to our Plant and Food Research colleagues, Robert Lamberts and Tony Corbett, for their assistance with managing and formatting the many images of insects.
Figure 1. Cluster of harlequin ladybird eggs.
Figure 2. Harlequin ladybird larvae. A larva is pictured with a harlequin ladybird pupa (top and bottom left).
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
LARVAE WITH APHID
Figure 3. Harlequin ladybird larva attacking the giant willow aphid. Note the presence of some black sooty mould on a leaf (bottom left) and on willow wood.
Figure 4. Once the harlequin ladybird larval life stage is complete, it will transition to a pupa before becoming a sexually mature adult.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 97
Figure 5. Adult harlequin ladybirds seen on different plants and/ or locations in and around the vineyard. Adults and larvae are often present on groundcover plants growing below willows. If the willows are infested with giant willow aphid, the weedy species below are often covered in black sooty mould, which develops on aphid honeydew waste.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
Figure 6. Adult harlequin ladybirds are notable for the wide colour variation and the variability in the number and colour of spots on the dorsal surface of the insect.
Figure 7. In autumn and throughout winter, adult harlequin ladybirds can be found in clusters of 50 or more individuals. They settle on a range of vineyard structures, including on water tanks and inside a portable toilet. The centre image (top) shows dead adult harlequin ladybirds after an insecticide was applied inside a vineyard outbuilding situated near grapevines.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 99
GIANT WILLOW APHID
Figure 8. The giant willow aphid, seen aggregating in these images, are a preferred prey species of larval and adult harlequin ladybirds. Willows situated in or near vineyards can be infested with the aphid during summer and into the early weeks of autumn. It is thought that aphids surviving predation by the ladybird migrate to groundcover plants below the willows.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
FUNDED BY INDUSTRY; UNDERTAKEN BY BRAGATO RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Assessing foliar fertiliser for grapevine frost recovery Len Ibbotson, Yuichi Ando and Fang Gou
SPRING FROST DAMAGE TO vines can cause a reduction in yield and quality, mostly due to a complete or partial loss of primary shoots and the subsequent growth of less fruitful replacement shoots with mixed fruit maturity. Severe frost damage can also reduce the productivity of grapevines in the following season. After a severe frost event, and often facing a reduction in income, growers must continue to invest in their vines to support the production of healthy fruiting wood and reduce disease inoculum levels for the following season. Various foliar fertilisers are often applied by growers hoping to support vine recovery. While there are many different fertiliser products on the market, there has been very little independent research to inform growers of the effectiveness of these products when
applied to vines after frost damage.
THE TRIAL The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of three different foliar fertiliser programmes on the growth and yield of heavily frosted Sauvignon blanc vines in a North Canterbury vineyard (Figure 1). The series of frosts, which occurred between late September and midOctober 2020, destroyed almost all the primary shoots, meaning there was insufficient yield for a commercial harvest. Yield however, was assessed in the first season to report the effect of the frost and to quantify any treatment effects on yield in the season immediately following the frost. In this trial, there was little to no expectation that any of the foliar fertiliser treatments would have a direct effect on fruit production on
such severely frosted vines in the first (frosted) season. By the time the fertiliser programmes were being planned, the severity of the damage was clear and a decision not to crop the vineyard had already been made. Instead, the products were applied with a view to supporting the vegetative recovery of the vines and to improve the availability of essential nutrients during the bud initiation period to minimise the risk of the frost impacting on yields in the subsequent (2021-2022) season. Each programme was designed based on advice from the product supplier, and products were selected that were commercially available and recommended to support the rehabilitation of frosted vines. Three different treatments were applied between late November and mid December 2021 and were
Figure 1: Trial block 17 November 2020. Long-spur pruned Sauvignon blanc clone 317 grafted to rootstock Riparia Gloire. Note the lack of secondary bud growth from count nodes on spurs a month after the final frost event on 16 October 2020.
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 // 101
Figure 2: Yield related observations at harvest, April 2021. Yield per vine is the average total weight per vine. Bunches with >25% pest or disease damage were excluded. Error bar and numbers follow “+” are standard error (n=6). The same letter denotes no statistically significant difference between treatments at P = 0.05. T2 was significantly different to the control at P = 0.10.
compared to an untreated control which did not receive any foliar fertiliser sprays after the trial commenced. Treatment one (T1) represented a simple, low cost option to boost nitrogen using ‘Agritrade’ Safe N300, containing approximately 30% nitrogen, which was applied over two sprays. Treatment two (T2) represented a comprehensive programme, with products supplied by ‘Valagro’. Five different products were applied over the three sprays with active ingredients including seaweed extracts (MC Extra and MC Cream), macronutrients (Plantafol), micronutrients (Brexil mix) and biostimulants (MC Extra, MC Cream & Kendal). Treatment three (T3) comprised of a mix of three organically certified products supplied by ‘Roots, Shoots and Fruits’, applied over three sprays. Active ingredients included nitrogen (Biomin N), macronutrients and trace elements (Biomin Booster V) and fulvic acid, also considered a
Figure 3: Shoot fruitfulness is the average number of bunches produced per shoot when vines were assessed in April 2021. Most primary shoots were destroyed by frost and fruit was subsequently produced from noncount primary, secondary and tertiary shoots. Error bar and numbers follow “+” are standard error (n=6). The same letter denotes no statistically significant difference between treatments at P = 0.05.
The series of frosts, which occurred between late September and mid-October 2020, destroyed almost all the primary shoots, meaning there was insufficient yield for a commercial harvest.
validated the decision made by the vineyard management team not to commercially harvest the vineyard. While not significantly different at 95%, in the season immediately following the frost, T2 had the highest yield per vine, shoot fruitfulness and bunch weight (Figures 2, 3 & 4). T2 appeared to improve yield, although this was only significant at a 90% confidence level (P = 0.1). It should be emphasised that a 95% confidence level (P = 0.05) is regarded as the standard for research studies.
biostimulant (Mobiliser). A Croplands Quantum Mist single row sprayer with a 500-litre tank capacity was used for spray applications.
PRELIMINARY RESULTS The yields across the entire trial block at harvest 2021 were extremely low. The crop harvested ranged from approximately 0.24 kg/vine in the control to 0.48 kg/vine in T2 (Figure 2). These very low yields
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
T2 had a significantly higher concentration of zinc in leaf blade tissues, when assessed in midJanuary 2021 (P = 0.05). In the first season of this study, there were no observed significant differences in vine vegetative growth, fruit composition or any other leaf nutrient concentrations. We can only speculate as to which individual component has led to the
Figure 4: Bunch weight is the average weight of bunches with <25% pest or disease damage, assessed at harvest in April 2021. Error bar and numbers follow “+” are standard error (n=6). The same letter denotes no statistically significant difference between treatments at P = 0.05.
yield effect, or whether it was an interaction of the various components of the T2 programme. The difference may have been linked to improved zinc availability, as zinc was significantly higher in T2 leaf samples compared to the control. Zinc is an essential element for grapevines and is directly linked to yield outcomes by the role it plays in promoting pollen formation during flowering and in the synthesis of proteins responsible for cell division and cell differentiation during berry growth. Other studies have reported
increases in grapevine yield after foliar zinc applications.
WHAT’S NEXT? Except for a higher level of zinc measured in the leaves of T2 vines when compared to the control, the foliar fertiliser treatments have not resulted in significant differences in vine nutrient status or vegetative growth and it is too early to say whether they have improved vine productivity for next season. Based on the results to date, it is not possible to state categorically that the investment in the foliar fertiliser products has
generated an obvious return in the first season. For the investment to truly pay dividends, it will be important to see an improvement in productivity when trial vines are assessed in the second season of this trial.
MORE INFORMATION We encourage you to view the full report and the Frost Handbook, which is an excellent source of information relating to the management of frost in vineyards.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The trial was a collaboration between the host vineyard, Bragato Research Institute and the Fruitfed Supplies technical team (Jon Peet and Georgia Cridge). The product suppliers were consulted prior to the trial commencing. Representatives gave expert advice on product selection and provided the products free of charge, knowing that trial results would be communicated to the wine industry irrespective of trial outcomes. Link: nzwine.com/frost-hail-resources
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PINOT NOIR PROGRAMME
Insights into drivers of Pinot noir quality through the integration of consumer and expert sensory data with chemical analyses Rebecca Deed and Lisa Pilkington; University of Auckland HIGH QUALITY PINOT NOIR wines are loved by wine consumers and critics alike. This is due to their ability to age in spite of their light colour, as well as their fragrant, complex, and distinctive aromas, typified by red fruit, floral, spice and savoury notes. In addition, they show harmonious integration of strength and power through deft use of grape and oak tannins, combined with the elegance and lightness derived from a tight acid line. As for wines in general, Pinot noir wine quality depends on factors intrinsic to the wine itself, such as appearance, nose and palate, as well as external cues, such as price and branding. For intrinsic factors, consumers and wine experts differ in their approaches to rating quality, with potential implications for how a wine is marketed. Consumers rate quality based on how much they like a wine, while experts rate quality based on holistic concepts including varietal typicity and complexity. High quality Pinot noir wines require time and expense to produce, with lower yielding vines traditionally considered to produce better quality wines. Elucidating whether there is an unbreakable relationship between yield and quality, and pinpointing chemical determinants of wine quality for consumers and wine experts, could help New Zealand Pinot noir producers increase their profits, while still maintaining high quality wines that can compete at an international level.
Figure 1. Line plot comparing data on vine yield (kg/vine) with expert and consumer ratings of quality (ex_overall_quality and cons_quality_rating) for six 2019 Pinot noir wines, highlighting two instances where consumers and experts disagreed (OM and MGC wines).
To carry out this task, sensory data, which had been gathered from 150 consumers and 20 wine experts, were compared to a range of chemical data, including wine colour, phenolics (tannins), sugars (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides), and aroma compounds, obtained for six 2019 New Zealand Pinot noir wines from Central Otago, Marlborough or Martinborough. These Pinot noir wines were characterised by very different sensory and chemical features, which corresponded to diversity in style. Wines were also chosen to include an example from each region with a lower price point and moderate-high vine yield, and a higher price point and low vine yield, as well as use of organic or conventional management
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
practices, different proportions of whole cluster, new oak percentage, and presence of green and/or herbaceous characters. Multivariate analysis showed that the chemical data did not cluster the wines into groups that could be traced back to similarities based on price/yield, region, or management regime, due to the selection of only six stylistically diverse wines. Sensory data indicated that consumers and wine experts assessed wines in a similar way for body and mouthfeel when the wines were considered to have high scores but differed in their ratings at the lower end of the spectrum. There was some degree of correlation between
(DMS). DMS was the only compound with a moderately positive correlation with floral aromas, suggesting that this compound could be important for Pinot noir, as has been shown for other wine styles, such as red Bordeaux blends. Benzothiazole appeared to be a marker for wines with ‘aroma liking’, high quality and low yield, but its role in wine aroma has not yet been investigated. Other compounds were associated with lower quality and negative attributes, such as ‘unripe green’. Unripe green may arise from the use of whole clusters and stems during winemaking, particularly where the stems within bunches are not completely lignified. Figure 2. Correlogram comparing chemical data to vine yield (kg/vine) for six 2019 Pinot noir wines.
higher scores for weightier mouthfeel and sugar concentrations, but this was not always the case. Higher ethanol concentrations in wines were perceived by consumers as a negative characteristic in Pinot noir wines and may have resulted in the perception of a more aggressive or bitter palate. In general, consumers and experts rated the same wines as being of high quality; however, there were two instances where consumers and experts disagreed (Figure 1). For the wine rated highly by consumers and less so by experts, the experts did not appear to appreciate the high concentrations of phenolics in the wine and gave a lower score for ‘overall structure’ and ‘tannin profile’. The wine may have also had high levels of reductive off-flavours, as it had the highest total concentration of volatile sulfur compounds, which are responsible for these types of faults. This wine also had high ratings for ‘unripe green’, resulting in a lower score for varietal typicity by experts. Consumers, on the other hand, appreciated the deep colour intensity of this wine, and in general did not have any issues with the structure or body.
For the Pinot noir wine that was given a low-quality score by consumers, but a high score for experts, the consumers did not like the pale colour or light body of this wine. In contrast, experts were not swayed by the lighter body or mouthfeel of this wine. This wine was also characterised by the presence of aroma compounds formed during malolactic fermentation; and a compound called acetic acid, which can contribute to volatile acidity (VA) when present at high levels. Interestingly, acetic acid was shown to be related to varietal typicity by experts in this study, which does link in with this variety being prone to having high VA. Overall, there are key differences between consumers and wine experts for Pinot noir preference, which is important for Pinot noir producers to note. This dataset showed that there were specific aroma compounds that were associated with higher quality, with potential to be used as chemical markers for high quality New Zealand Pinot noir (Figure 2). These compounds included those known in the literature to enhance red fruit characters such as ‘red cherry’, including benzaldehyde, betadamascenone and dimethyl sulfide
A sulfur compound called carbon disulfide (CS2) was associated with ‘unripe green’ but the role of other volatiles typically associated with green notes, such as C6 compounds and methoxypyrazines, cannot be excluded. Herbaceous was not rated as a negative ‘green’ character and was more neutral in terms of its association with quality. Use of whole clusters, rather than destemmed fruit, can be used by winemakers to enhance freshness and structure, hence, determining the difference between types of ‘green’ characters in terms of their sensory impact, alongside the volatile compounds that differentiate each, would be worthwhile. Surprisingly, this study showed that terpene and norisoprenoid aroma compounds, which are usually associated with floral notes, were linked to lower varietal typicity - and these volatiles did not seem to have any impact on the expert panellists’ perception of floral notes in the Pinot noir wines studied. Instead, these compounds may contribute a woody/pine/oak character to Pinot noir wines, but this will need to be investigated further. As is typical for volatile sulfur compounds, their contribution to Pinot noir quality was complex. Relationships were shown between
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certain compounds and desirable characters, such as DMS with enhanced red fruit and floral notes; and negative characters, such as methanethiol with pungent reductive aromas when present in combination with high levels of other sulfur compounds. Volatile sulfur compounds may also be key contributors to savouriness in Pinot noir wines, as could the fatty acid aroma compounds.
clusters during winemaking. This research clearly shows that wine is a complex and dynamic chemical system, with many interactions between chemical species. These interactions directly influence the sensory perception of these wines. We have started to uncover key chemical determinants of Pinot noir quality and those which could be responsible for important sensory attributes, such as ‘green’ and ‘floral’.
There was also a suggestion that fatty acids may balance out any ‘green’ notes derived from usage of whole
Future work should investigate how vintage affects, as well as different viticultural and winemaking
NZ WINEGROWER OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021
techniques, can modulate key chemical compounds, and how these impact on wine quality. Moreover, the impact of vine yield on wine quality is still an area that requires further work to break the yield-quality seesaw. In most cases, there was a relationship between higher yield and lower quality, and vice versa. Regardless, the wines which buck this trend are worth investigating further and can serve as model examples to learn how to produce Pinot noir wines at lower cost, while still maintaining high quality.
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New Zealand Winegrower October/November 2021