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ISSUE NO. 295 / JULY 2019



Photo: Jim Tannock




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10 Vintage Preview

6 18 20 22 24 26 28

Editorial - Sophie Preece

From the Board - Nick Entwistle Tasman Crop Met Report - Rob Agnew Forgotten Corners - Taimate Industry Pioneer - Mark Nobilo

Vintage 2019 brought Marlborough excellent quality in less-than-expected volumes, reflecting the national harvest story. With exports increasing and crops below target three years running, the wine industry is facing more supply and demand tension.


14 Organic Conference

Generation Y-ine - Kate Macreadie Biosecurity Watch - Sophie Badland Industry News Wine Happenings

Cover: Over the winter months, sheep and steers are brought onto the Dog Point property to keep the grass and weeds down, and add organic matter to the soil. Dog Point was one of the companies involved in last month’s Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference (pg 14). Photo by Jim Tannock


Last month’s Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference sold out two weeks early, and 350 audience members soaked up three days of inspiring stories, alarming warnings, exciting science and heartening opportunities. “I truly believe the tide has turned,” said Clive Dougall in introducing the event.

20 Industry Pioneer


“I tell people I have a QBE,” says Mark Nobilo, a man truly Qualified By Experience. “I have learned everything by observation and common sense.”

Winepress July 2019 / 1


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General Manager: Marcus Pickens 03 577 9299 Editor: Sophie Preece 027 308 4455 Advertising: Harriet Wadworth 03 577 9299 Wine Marlborough Board: Ben Ensor Callum Linklater Jack Glover Nick Entwistle Simon Bishell Stuart Dudley (Deputy Chair) Tom Trolove (Chair) Tracy Johnston Jamie Marfell Beth Forrest

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Disclaimer: The views and articles that are expressed and appear in Winepress are entirely those of contributors and in no way reflect the policy of the Marlborough Winegrowers. Any advice given, implied or suggested should be considered on its merits, and no responsibility can be taken for problems arising from the use of such information.

From the Editor I have been told that when the wine times are good the industry events are empty, but Marlborough certainly bucked that trend last month. Despite an excellent vintage, albeit short on yields (see pg10), more than 800 people attended the Grape Days 2019 events, to hear about the vintage, climate change research, the Vineyard Ecosystems project, and warnings about the increasing use of hard chemicals in Marlborough vineyards. Not only do those pesticides kill off beneficial insects, kick starting a downward spiral in which pests like mealybugs thrive, but they may also result in negative perceptions among consumers and regulators, Dr Vaughn Bell told attendees. “We have this trajectory that is slowly climbing and we have to try and reverse that,” he said. “Hard chemicals have no long term future in this industry.” Vaughn also spoke at the Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference the following week, to a sell-out crowd of 350 people, including conventional, organic and biodynamic growers and winemakers. It was a remarkable conference packed with inspirational stories, global science, and hard-learned advice, all of which made a compelling case for change. Some of it was alarming, including work by Epidemiologist Dr Andrea ’t Mannetje, an associate professor at Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research, number crunching the links between pesticides and cancer. She was followed by a sobering talk from Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth, on a broken food system, absence of transparency and burgeoning rates of allergies. Soil microbiology was a major focus, with Dr Ash Martin, managing director of Microbe Labs in Australia, running two information-packed talks on analysing soil and acting to improve it. Shanna Hickling from Linnaeus Laboratory in Gisborne outlined Riversun’s project to measure soil health over a six-year trial comparing conventional and organic fertilizers, and Dr Shaun Forgie talked a lot of shit, outlining the tireless work of the dung beetle to improve soil health. (see pg 15) The ability to sequester carbon to soil came up in several sessions, making climate change not just a story of the industry adjusting, but of organic growers with healthy soils being part of the battle to combat it. Talks on the marketing and sales of organics showed how much the conversation has shifted in recent years, with consumers and retailers demanding organic and ethical products. “Organic and biodynamic wine by volume makes up about 6% of the total wine made in New Zealand, but it seems to make up 100% of the marketing material New Zealand winegrowers pump out,” said Clive Dougall on introducing the conference (pg 14). “That says a lot. That’s the image we want for New Zealand. That’s what we deserve. That’s what Kiwis want too. I truly believe the tide is turning.”

“I truly believe the tide is turning.” Clive Dougall


Winepress July 2019 / 3


FROM A winemaker’s perspective, vintage 2019 was a dream. Having the ability to make picking decisions based on physiological ripeness and flavour development, rather than on impending weather events, made for a nice change from previous years. The concentration of flavours and clarity of site expression evident within the grapes this year has translated into some exceptional wines within cellars across the region. Consumers are certainly in for a treat as these wines start to head down the bottling lines and enter the market in the coming months. The vintage was, however, not without its challenges, most notably the significantly lower than average yields for some varieties and the reduced access to sustainable water at key times during the growing season. Even though the total tonnage of Sauvignon Blanc harvested increased by 1%, the overall Marlborough harvest was down by 2% on 2018 figures. Most significantly, Chardonnay was down 20%, Pinot Gris was down 22% and Pinot Noir was down a staggering 34% across the region. The naturally lower yields for these varieties caused by poor flowering was only compounded by the long hot summer, meaning that Marlborough experienced its third consecutive harvest with lower than expected volumes. This has caused some commentators to question what effect this will have on our ability to supply key markets, and whether there is a risk that buyers will look elsewhere to source the required volumes. Early indications are, however, that the exceptional quality of the 2019 wines will offset the reduced volumes, with

4 / Winepress July 2019

wineries and retailers alike excited about the opportunity to promote more premium offerings. Traditionally, surplus bulk wine has played a significant role in low-price high-volume blends destined for large overseas retailers. However, given the lack of availability and high price of bulk wine parcels advertised, this model looks increasingly unsustainable. With currently listed bulk wine prices ranging from $3.85 per litre to $4.60 per litre, and with an average price in excess of $4.00 per litre, it will be a difficult proposition for those looking to create bulk blends at low price points. Some large retailers are already looking at alternative ways in which they can secure uninterrupted supply in the future, with many considering the potential for joint venture investment opportunities and exclusive long-term supply contracts with Marlborough producers. This shift in supply and demand dynamics opens the opportunity for growers and wineries to secure increased profitability by choosing to service their most important and profitable customers and markets, rather than having to continually search for buyers of surplus grapes or wine. Recent market trends indicate that total volume of alcohol consumed worldwide is still in decline, but that there is increased consumer interest in more expensive premium products, such that the total spend on alcoholic beverages continues to grow. Consumers are willing to spend more on beverages and experiences that fit with their lifestyles, something that is

well illustrated by the expansion of the premium gin market in recent years. Marlborough producers too can take advantage of these trends, leveraging the high quality produced in 2019 to meet this demand for exciting wines that create a sense of occasion. Our diversity of wines styles and varieties will become increasingly important in supporting this growth, highlighted most dramatically by the continued explosive success of premium Rosé worldwide. The demand for premium Marlborough Pinot Noir is also growing, along with that of Pinot Gris and alternative styles of Sauvignon Blanc, which are playing an increasingly important role in telling Marlborough’s wine story. It’s a story that consumers are increasingly relating to, as they come to discover and understand our diverse soils, our incredible climate, our talented growers and winemakers, and the unique and exciting wines we produce. The success of Marlborough was built on Sauvignon Blanc, but the longevity of our success will be built on our ability to achieve premiumisation. Vintage 2019 has the potential to act as a catalyst to focus growers and wineries to achieve increased profitability, not through increased volume, but through increased quality .

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MET REPORT Table 1: Blenheim Weather Data – June 2019 June June 2019 2019 compared to LTA GDD’s for month -Max/Min¹ 82. 42% GDD’s for month – Mean² 28.3 82% Growing Degree Days Total July 18 to June 19-Max/Min¹ 1599.0 119% July 18 to June 19 – Mean² 1660.6 113% Mean Maximum (°C) 14.2 +0.4°C Mean Minimum (°C) 2.8 -0.7°C Mean Temp (°C) 8.5 -0.2°C Ground Frosts (<= -1.0°C) 15 +3 Air Frosts (<0.0°C) 7 +2 Sunshine hours 170.1 112% Sunshine hours – lowest Sunshine hours – highest Sunshine hours total – 2019 1428.9 116% Rainfall (mm) 18.0 27% Rainfall (mm) – lowest Rainfall (mm) – highest Rainfall total (mm) – 2019 259.6 84% Evapotranspiration – mm 32.7 98% Avg. Daily Windrun (km) 186.0 83% Mean soil temp – 10cm 6.3 +0.3°C Mean soil temp – 30cm 8.9 +0.7°C

June LTA

Period of LTA

June 2018

19.3 34.6

(1996-2018) (1996-2018)

11.6 25.8

1346.9 1473.9 13.8 3.5 8.7 12.0 5.1 151.4 91.8 205.2 1236.2 66.4 8.0 154.9 309.8 33.2 223.8 6.0 8.2

(1996-2018) (1996-2018) (1986-2018) (1986-2018) (1986-2018) 1986-2018) (1986-2018) (1986-2018) 1981 1959 (1986-2018) (1986-2018) 1974 1943 (1986-2018) (1996-2018) (1996-2018) (1986-2018) (1986-2018)

1637.5 1680.8 13.5 3.7 8.6 13 5 150.9 1218.4 39.4 492.2 32.5 209.5 7.2 9.2

¹GDD’s Max/Min are calculated from absolute daily maximum and minimum temperatures ²GDD’s Mean are calculated from average hourly temperatures Long-term average time periods for Blenheim’s weather records Blenheim’s temperature, rainfall and sunshine records date back to the early 1930s. For most of the 55 years 1930 to 1985 the weather station was located in Parker Street at what previously used to be the Marlborough Catchment Board site. In late 1985 the

weather station was moved to its current location at the Grovetown Park campus of the Marlborough Research Centre. You may have noticed that over the last year I have been using the period 1986 to 2018 as the long-term period for comparison, for temperature, rainfall and sunshine. In previous years I had used the long-term records from 1930 onwards. However, the nearly 34 years that the weather station has been in its current location is a long enough time period for a long-term average (LTA). NIWA generally regard 30 years as a LTA. The 1986 to 2019 time period is also of more relevance to the Marlborough wine industry, than the period 1930 to 1985. Temperatures, especially over winter, are now a lot warmer than they were in the period 1930 to 1980. June 2019 mean temperature, rainfall and wind-run were all below average. Sunshine hours were well above average. The number of ground and air frosts was slightly above average. Temperature and Frosts June 2019 had a cool beginning and end, but was warm in the middle of the month (Table 2). The first and fourth weeks were below average. However, the second week was a lot warmer than average and the third week was close to average. The June mean temperature of 8.5°C was 0.2°C below the long-term

Table 2: Weekly temperatures, rainfall, sunshine and frosts recorded in Blenheim during June 2019 Rainfall Sunshine Total Total (mm) (hours) Ground Air Mean Max Mean Min Mean. Diff. Frosts Frosts 1-7 June 13.8 2.3 8.1 -0.6 11.4 37.4 4 2 8-14 June 15.7 5.3 10.5 +2.0 1.2 19.9 1 0 15-21 June 14.0 3.4 8.7 +0.2 5.4 45.8 3 0 22-28 June 13.2 0.9 7.1 -1.4 0.0 49.5 5 3 29-30 June 15.0 -0.5 7.2 -1.3 0.0 17.5 2 2 1-30 June 14.2 (+0.4°C) 2.8 (-0.7°C) 8.5 (-0.2°C) 18.0 170.1 15 7 LTA 1986-2018 13.8 3.5 8.7 66.4 151.4 12.0 5.1 6 / Winepress July 2019

average (LTA). However, the mean maximum temperature was 0.4°C above average indicating slightly warmer daytime maximum temperatures, while the mean minimum temperature was 0.7°C below average indicating that the overnight minimum temperatures were well below average; i.e. the daily range in temperature for June was 1.1°C greater than average. The coldest ground frost in June 2019 was -5.4°C recorded on 3 June. The coldest air frost was -1.4°C recorded on 28 June. The average number of ground frosts for June is 12.0 and air frosts is 5.1 (1986-2018); i.e. Blenheim recorded slightly more frosts than average in June 2019. This is the first year since 2012 to have recorded an above average number of frosts in June. The higher number of frosts in June 2019 is undoubtedly related to fairly clear skies associated with lower than average rainfall and above average sunshine. Rainfall Total rainfall in June 2019 of 18.0 mm was Table 3: Ground and air frost in Blenheim during June Year Ground frosts Air frosts (<=-1.0°C) (<0.0°C) 2019 15 7 2018 13 5 2017 10 1 2014 2 0 2012 15 7 2009 19 14 L.T.A. 12 5.1

only 27% of the LTA. This is the third year in a row to have recorded below average June rainfall. June 2018 = 39.4 mm and June 2017 = 18.4 mm. Total rainfall for the six months January to June 2019 was 259.6 mm, 89% of the LTA total. This is in marked contrast to the January to June 2018 total of 492.2 mm, 159% of the LTA. Rainfall for the 12 months July 2018 to June 2019 As is often the case over a 12-month period, monthly rainfall from July 2018 to June 2019 was quite variable (Figure 1). Three months recorded low rainfall (January, February and June). Two further months recorded between 57 and 70% of average rainfall (September and October). Three months recorded close to average rainfall (August, December and May). Two months recorded slightly above Table 4: Monthly sunshine hours for Blenheim for the 12-months July 2018 to June 2019 Month Sunshine % of LTA hours July 174.2 107% August 179.7 98% September 231.8 120% October 266.1 116% November 219.4 91% December 213.2 85% January 317.9 121% February 289.4 127% March 225.7 98% April 211.2 111% May 214.6 123% June 170.1 112% Total 2713.3 109%

Figure 1: Blenheim rainfall for the 12 months July 2018 to June 2019 compared to the long-term average

average rainfall (July and November). Two months recorded well above average rainfall (March and April). Total rainfall for the 12 months July 2018 to June 2019 was 577.0 mm. This is 90% of the longterm average (641.8 mm). Sunshine Total sunshine for June 2019 was 170.1 hours, 112% of the LTA of 151.4 hours. Eight of the 12 months, July 2018 to June 2019 recorded above average sunshine hours. The twelve month period July 2018 to June 2019 is now the second sunniest July to June period on record for the 89 years 1930-31 to 2018-19 (Tables 4 & 5). It is rather interesting to note that the three sunniest July to June years on record since 1930, have all been within the last five years. Table 5: Highest July to June 12-month sunshine totals for Blenheim Year Sunshine Rank hours 2015-16 2781.0 1st 2018-19 2713.3 2nd 2014-15 2691.8 3rd 1972-73 2687.4 4th 2002-03 2655.9 5th L.T.A. 1930-2018 2460.1 Total sunshine for the first six months of 2019 is 1428.9 hours. This is 192.7 hours more sunshine than average in this six month period. This is by far the sunniest first six months on record for the 90 years 1930 to 2019. The total of 1428.9 hours is 73 hours higher than the second highest six month total recorded in 2015. Wind Average daily wind run for June 2019 was 186.0 km, with an average wind speed of 7.8 km/hr. This was well below the longterm average wind-run for June of 223.8 km and wind speed of 9.3 km/hr (19962018). Over the last few years it seems that almost every month I report that the average daily wind-run for a month has been below average. It has been a fairly rare event to report a month with above average wind-run. Figure 2 summarises the average daily wind-run over the 12 years 1996-2007, compared with the 11 years 2008 to 2018. Average daily windrun over the 12-month period 1996-2007 Winepress July 2019 / 7

was 272 km. In contrast average daily wind-run over the 12-month period 2008-2018 was 234 km. Those of us who have lived in Marlborough for many years remember the strong northwest winds that were often experienced from October to December. The number of days each month with these strong winds has been a lot lower over the last decade.

Why there has been less wind-run over the last decade is open to conjecture. There are some climate cycles that can last in the order of decades, such as the inter-decadal pacific oscillation (IPO). However, finding a correlation between wind-run and a positive or negative phase of the IPO is apparently not an easy task. Presumably at some stage in

the next decade we will see a swing back towards windier days in Marlborough. Rob Agnew Plant & Food Research â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Marlborough Research Centre

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Figure 2: Average daily wind-run (km) for Blenheim

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The Good Oil Pernod Ricard shaking the tree SOPHIE PREECE

IT USUALLY takes Marlborough’s RSA four days of hard work to harvest its Burleigh Memorial Olive Grove, resulting in olive oil to bankroll a welfare fund. But last month’s 15 tonne harvest took less than a day, with an army of Pernod Ricard Marlborough wine workers on the job as part of the company’s global Responsib’ALL Day initiative. Every year the company’s employees take part in the initiative across the globe, which this year saw more than 100 local community projects in 85 countries benefit from a massive labour boost. Pernod Ricard Winemakers South Island operations manager Tony Robb says this is the second year Marlborough staff have jumped in to the olive harvest, relishing the chance to help. “Everyone knows someone involved in the RSA, or someone who has benefited from the welfare fund in a small town like this, and people really enjoy doing it.” It’s also a good way of connecting, he says. “We are a big team and spread

out across the region, so it’s a chance to get together.” As well as harvesting the olives, Pernod Ricard sells the resulting oil at its cellar door and restaurant on behalf of the RSA, and helps tell the story of the organisation while they do it. Memorial Olive Grove committee chairman John Cragg says the help is “tremendous”, and the involvement of the team allows the RSA to expand its community. “That’s even more important than picking the olives, quite frankly.” The welfare fund is principally used to help retired service people and their families. Tony says as well as the Responsib’ALL Day initiative, Pernod Ricard employees can take another day off work to volunteer in the community. “Initially it was a small number of people, but more and more people are getting into the idea that they can go and do something in the

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community and the business supports that.” The sustainable and responsible approach also has an impact on Pernod’s ability to find the employees they need, he says. “Marlborough has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and everyone is fishing in the same pool to find staff. More and more we find younger people wanting to join our company because they have heard about the culture and they have heard about some of the social responsibility stuff we do, and they want to be involved in that.”

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Vintage 2019 Harvest brings excellent quality wines in smaller volumes SOPHIE PREECE

Constellation harvest. Photo Jim Tannock

VINTAGE 2019’s lower-than-expected grape harvest will see a shortage of supply for the third year running, putting pressure on wine producers to meet market demand. This year’s national grape harvest of 413,000 tonnes was down 1% on 2018 and a good chunk lower than the 450,000-plus tonnes predicted in New Zealand Winegrowers’ (NZW) pre-vintage survey. “Smaller vintages in 2017 and 2018 meant wineries had to work to manage product shortages, and many of our members hoped for a larger harvest this year,” NZW chief executive Philip Gregan told the Grape Days Marlborough audience last month. “Another smaller-thanexpected vintage will mean more supply and demand tension overall.” The high quality of the harvest is good news for the industry as export growth continues, with an increase of 4% to $1.8 billion over the past year, he said. “We have an international reputation for premium quality and innovation. Every vintage is different, but winemakers are excited about the

10 / Winepress July 2019

calibre of wine that will be delivered to the bottle and we are confident 2019 vintage wines will be enjoyed by consumers around the world.” However, it did little to address cellar stocks depleted over the past two years, he said. Wine companies’ ability to draw down on stocks are diminishing, “but sales from the next 12 months are definitely going to be higher than what has been produced in this vintage”.

“Winemakers are excited about the calibre of wine that will be delivered to the bottle.” Philip Gregan

According to the NZW Vintage Survey 2019, the national Sauvignon Blanc crop was 5,583 tonnes higher than vintage 2018, but Pinot Noir dropped by 8,151 tonnes (23%) and Pinot Gris was 1,871 tonnes (8%) lower than 2018. Marlborough made up 76.6% of the national harvest, with 305,467 tonnes of grapes harvested. The region’s Sauvignon Blanc harvest lifted by 1%, from 269,411 tonnes in 2018 to 272,334 tonnes in 2019. But the Chardonnay harvest dropped from 9,565 to 7,687, a decline of 1,878 tonnes or 20%, and Pinot Gris dropped 22% to 8,684 tonnes. Pinot Noir was hardest hit, with a 34% decline in crop to 12,338 tonnes. Nautilus winemaker and NZW board member Clive Jones (see sidebox) says the constricted harvest will likely result in “a little bit less bulk wine traded” and companies looking more to the management of their stocks. “People will probably focus on their most supported and profitable markets… you might see less of the

opportunistic deals going down, where you are taking a little bit of a punt,” he says. “You want to make sure you can supply those important markets.” The industry could be approaching a “tipping point” in terms of supply, he adds. “If we get another short vintage next year, I expect there will be a bit of a scramble.” Marisco winery general manager Matthew Mitchell says crops were down between 15% and 20% on what they would consider normal, “across the board”. But it was the cleanest fruit they have seen since 2015 and quality was “fantastic” for all varieties, with Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir “outstanding”, he says. They had typical production out of 2018, so will roll out the 2019 vintage slightly later to manage the lower crops this year. “So long as 2020 dials up at

Constellation harvest. Photo Jim Tannock

least an average, if not slightly above average, it will all be fine.” Matthew says there is enough product around that people can meet the market, “but

there’s no doubt about it, we will go into the 2020 vintage with probably the lowest stock holdings we have had in many, many years.”

Regional Round Up Harvest numbers may have been down for vintage 2019, but it was a “cracker of a season”, said viticulturist Matt Fox in a regional roundup at Grape Days. “For the first time in a little while it was nice to be able to pick when you wanted to rather than when you had to,” said the vineyard manager at Rapaura Springs’ Blind River vineyard. The season began with good soil moisture and warm, even springtime temperatures, “upset at times with intermittent rainfalls” cooling the soil temperature. “Overall, bud burst was fairly even and spring growth saw a steady development, with only a few minor frost events occurring.” Above average temperatures during the growing season provided strong, even growth leading into flowering, with low disease pressure seen by most. However, adverse weather events during flowering saw

early varieties suffer. Sauvignon Blanc was struck by hen and chicken as a result, although the Awatere Valley had more favourable flowering conditions. Extended hot and dry periods after flowering caused problems for some, with irrigation schemes shut off due to low river flows, said Matt. “Region-wide, this wreaked havoc as many blocks showed water stress and, in worst cases scenarios, caused vines to defoliate.” Overall, comparing this season to the long-term average, harvest dates ranged from 4-14 days earlier, bunch weights were 60% to 80% of the long-term average and the lowest of the past five seasons, and total yield was between 60% and 80% of last year’s harvest, he said. “What this translates to, is a vintage that was a little more relaxed with exceptional quality all round,” he concluded. “Let there be many more seasons like this to come.”

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Great things in small parcels SOPHIE PREECE

Nautilus Estate will produce its largest ever volume of premium Sauvignon Blanc this year, due to increased demand at a US$16-20 price point. Winemaker Clive Jones says the lower yields and excellent quality of vintage 2019 make it the perfect time to tackle that shift in demand. “It has been a great year to commit to making that little bit extra volume.” Nautilus normally grows more Sauvignon Blanc than it needs, but this year soaked up its surplus, “which could mean a bit of tension next year”, says Clive. The company is meeting increased demand across the board by bottling one of its products early, with the other two Sauvignon Blanc labels released as normal. He is very happy with the 2019 quality, with Sauvignon Blanc reflecting the warmer season in a style that’s pushing towards the riper end of the spectrum, but “still distinctly Marlborough” thanks to the decision to pick a little earlier than is typical. Clive says Sauvignon crops were lower in the Rapaura area near the winery, where fruit set was not as good as a typical year, or as good as some other parts of the region. Those vines were also affected by the dry weather in the lead-up to harvest. “We didn’t run out of water, but that very dry period meant that the bunches didn’t get as big as they had in the past few years, when we had significant rainfall.” Pinot Noir in that area was also down on expectation, while there was “plenty” from the hillside vineyards on the south side of the Wairau Valley. Overall, Nautilus’ Pinot Noir intake was a third down on expectation, but the resulting wine is “outstanding” Clive says. “And I think that’s a pretty common theme.” He says lower Pinot Noir crops are not much of an issue, partly because cellars run one to two years behind in terms of stock holdings, so there is more ability to manage the timing of vintage releases to meet the market. He does not foresee pain for Pinot producers in meeting demand, “unless you are running really tight with existing stock, and don’t have that buffer”. Chardonnay, however, was “way down”, with only half the crops they have expected. The quality is “superb”, but the volume disappointing, despite having a new Chardonnay block for the vintage. Clive says he and his team rather relished the challenging vintages that preceded 2019, when frequent deluges increased disease and forced picking decisions, calling on more skill and experience in vineyard and winery. “In a good season it is easy to make good wine in Marlborough, which is why this region is so special.” But it was “certainly nice” to be able to make 2019

12 / Winepress July 2019

decisions based on the best fruit and timing, unpressured by the looming threat of the ex-tropical cyclones they dealt with last harvest, he adds. Unlike 2018 and 2017, the benign weather leading into and accompanying harvest 2019 meant they could be selective in picking, and take multiple portions of vineyards, instead of having their hand forced to “take the lot”, he says. “This year you could do a lot more fine tuning in terms of picking smaller parcels, so you have more chance to get more fruit in optimum condition. This in turn leads to more blending options and better wine.”

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Organic Growth The “tide is turning” for organics and biodynamics SOPHIE PREECE

The Gala Dinner. Photo Jessica Jones Photography

THE CONTENT of the fourth Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference was diverse and deep, ranging from soil microbiology and carbon sequestration to burgeoning food allergies and growing markets. Clive Dougall, owner of Organic Wine Solutions and part of the Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (OWNZ) organising committee, said earlier conferences had focussed on speaking candidly about how to be organic, with practitioners sharing knowledge and experiences. “Now we have three days of speakers talking about the intricacies of the health of our soil, our environment and people, our pathways to the market and messaging and opportunities. That’s a really great indication of how far we have come.” While organic and biodynamic wine by volume makes up about 6% of the total wine made in New Zealand, “it seems to make up 100% of the marketing material New Zealand Winegrowers pump out”, he told the audience when opening the conference. “That says a lot. That’s the image we want for New Zealand; that’s what we deserve; that’s what Kiwis

want too. I truly believe the tide is turning.” There was talk of vineyard pests, beneficial insects and dung beetles (see pg 15) at the sold out conference, along with long-term research comparing conventional, organic and biodynamic practices, and guidance from market experts on consumer demand, supplier transparency and short attention spans. There were also practical and inspirational talks from vineyard and winery practitioners, outlining their route to organic success. They ranged from small New Zealand growers, knee deep in organics, to representatives from Emiliana Organic Vineyards, the largest biodynamic and organic winegrowers in the world, with 20 years of experience working at scale. Clive described the Chilean company as a “utopia” when introducing the sustainability manager Sebastian Tramon, who talked to the audience about organics being “an opportunity, not a slogan”. Emiliana has 1,300 hectares of vineyard over six valleys in Chile, 283 employees, and exports to 60 countries. At one stage

organics was niche, said Emiliana chief executive Cristian Rodriguez, but “it’s not niche any more”. OWNZ marketing and events manager Stephanie McIntyre says demand for the conference exceeded expectation, with a Taste and Tunes evening event at 5Tapped sold out two months in advance, followed soon after by the International Wine Bunker tasting that wrapped up the event. The conference itself, which had increased capacity from 300 in 2017 to 350 this year, sold out two weeks before the speakers landed in Marlborough. She says the audience was a good mix of conventional and organic, so it wasn’t simply a case of preaching to the (literally) converted. “For us ultimately, the goal is to encourage more people to convert. Even if it’s not to become certified, it’s about changing one process,” Stephanie says. After the 2017 event, OWNZ surveyed attendees and asked conventional growers if they would change at least one thing after attending the sessions, “and 82% of them said ‘yes’.

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14 / Winepress July 2019

Dung and Dusted SOPHIE PREECE

BURYING POO isn’t a job for everyone, but there are workers who literally live for it. Dr Shaun Forgie told the Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference how a team of dung beetles could find manure on a vineyard and bury it deep in the soil, making the nutrients more available to plants while improving soil health. The co-founder and director of production at Dung Beetle Innovations has introduced 11 different kinds of dung beetles into New Zealand, helping deal with issues of animal manure on farms through rapid burial and bioturbation. Unlike the roller dung beetles seen bowling elephant effluent in nature documentaries, the farm workers are tunnellers, and

excavate under livestock manure, for example, creating galleries and back filling them with balls. Each ball has an egg inside, and with quick generation turnaround, dung beetle populations grow exponentially, Shaun told the audience. The Bubas bison is one of the 7,000 different types of dung beetle, “which owe their existence to playing around in excrement of all shapes and sizes”, Shaun told the audience. The medium sized tunnelling beetle from Europe is a specialist in wintertime when the other beetles available in New Zealand are hibernating, which means it could be used in vineyards, which often use sheep and sometimes use cattle to graze blocks between harvest and bud burst. The beetle emerges around March and “prolifically” buries anything from cow

manure to sheep manure, he said. Dung beetles do occur naturally in New Zealand, but the 15 different species found here are small, flightless ball rollers, and confined to native forests and enclosed canopy environments, making them of little use in farm environments. Dog Point Vineyards viticulturist Nigel Sowman is keen to try out a team of dung beetles to utilise the “gold” of organic matter left by cattle and sheep in the company’s vineyards and paddocks. They run a mob of steers through their Section 94 block every year and have 3,500 sheep amid the vines this winter, resulting in piles of poo both there and in the holding paddocks. Having dung beetles bury it down “will only be better for the soil,” he says. “Dung beetles could be amazing.”

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Winepress July 2019 / 15

The Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference Gala Dinner

Sebastian Tramon

Tastes & Tunes

Organic Conference

16 / Winepress July 2019

Emma Jenkins MW

Mayor John Leggett, Gareth Hughes & Bart Arnst

Michael Glover and Marcel Giesen

Richard Lees, Huckleberry

Robyn O'Brien

Karaka in the kitchen

Photos by Jessica Jones Photography

Pesticides and Cancer What is and isn’t known MORE THAN half of all pesticides used in New Zealand have been classified as suspected carcinogens by at least one regulator, says a scientist focussed on occupational causes of cancer. Epidemiologist Dr Andrea ‘t Mannetje, an associate professor at Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research, spoke at the Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference last month, on what is, and isn’t, known about the links between pesticides and cancer. More than 1,000 chemical products are licenced for use in New Zealand, dominated by herbicides and fungicides. New Zealand pesticides do not include any known human carcinogens, and 4 % are classified by the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency (NZ EPA) as a suspected human carcinogen. However, the classification from other agencies paints “quite a different picture”, with 24% of New Zealand’s pesticides classified as suspected carcinogens bythe US EPA, and 8% by the EU regulator. Taken together, 30% of the pesticides used in New Zealand are classified as a suspected human carcinogen. If the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer are included, that number jumps to 51%, she said. Cancer studies in New Zealand since the 1980s have shown an increased risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma for people working in agriculture, and pesticides are the most “plausible hypothesis” to explain that relationship, she said. Pesticides affect “basically everyone” to differing degrees, Andrea told the audience, using a pyramid to show approved handlers at the top, followed by other users, then farm workers that spend time in the field after spraying. Next down were family members who can be exposed via the clothes and shoes of a pesticide user, with “lots of studies that show that pesticides can be found in the dust in houses”, she said. The general population sat at the bottom of the pyramid, exposed via food, spray drift or their own use of pesticides. Tests showed that people working directly with pesticides had much higher levels in their urine, but the general public was also exposed, she said. “The overall conclusion for me is that although no known human carcinogens are used as pesticides, which is of course good news, New Zealand’s high use of pesticides that are suspected carcinogens requires a greater awareness of the presence of potential carcinogens in the agricultural sector, and we really need to develop intervention strategies to reduce cancer risk.”


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Winepress July 2019 / 17

Forgotten Corners A vine view to Lake Elterwater SOPHIE PREECE

John Hickman with new plantings at Lake Elterwater, including locally sourced lowland totara.

“I WAS never more struck than upon this occasion with the beauty of the Flaxbourne Lakes covered with wild-fowl,” wrote Sir Frederick Weld to his sister in 1849, referring to Lakes Elterwater and Grassmere on Marlborough’s east coast. “You have no idea what a glorious sight it is in the early morning when the mist is just clearing off the waters. Unseen one creeps along the banks, and poking one’s head up over a tuft of flax one beholds thousands (no exaggeration!) of ducks floating on the shadowy surface of the Lake.” These musings came a few years after Weld and his cousin Charles Clifford established Flaxbourne Station, the first great pastoral station in the South Island, with 23,000 hectares and more than 70,000 sheep. Human settlement took its toll on Lake Elterwater, which lost much of its surrounding habitat to burning, clearing and then farming, while cracked willows planted at the lake’s edges spread quickly, crowding out native species. Now, more than 150 years after Weld marvelled at the wildlife on the

18 / Winepress July 2019

lake, Paul and John Hickman, the fourth generation of their family on the land, have undertaken a restoration plan that has seen 1.5km of the lakeside fenced, hundreds of willows eradicated and thousands of native trees planted, including lowland totara sourced from a nearby farm. “Our kids are the fifth generation growing up here and we want the work we do today, and the work they do with their own children, to make a real difference,” says John, who manages the family’s growing vineyard operation. A long history Flaxbourne Station was broken up into smaller parcels of land from 1905, so that 300 people could move on to smaller holdings, thanks to the government’s Lands for Settlement Act. Among them was the Hickmans’ great uncle on their father’s side, who acquired 170ha in the ballot process, then gifted the land to their great grandparents, Osborne and Mabel Hickman, in 1914. The family has bought more land over the years, including the block that

holds Lake Elterwater. It was known as the Ram Paddock when this was Flaxbourne Station and as Block 111 in the ballot, when it was acquired by Michael Casey, John and Paul’s great uncle on their mother’s side. These days State Highway 1 courses through the farm, along with the railway line built soon after the ballot. Paul continues Taimate’s traditional sheep and beef operation, along with the angus stud established by his grandfather and uncle in 1956. Meanwhile, John manages the grape business, which began in 2006 with 11ha of Sauvignon Blanc and now has 42ha of vines, a new 300,000m3 dam, and plans for another 43ha of vineyard development this year. Taimate is tapping into the global success of Marlborough wine, the increasingly sought after grapes of the Awatere sub-region, and the potential of this south east terroir to make its own name. Mudhouse takes most of the grapes, but some go to Mike Eaton’s single vineyard Thistle Hill Sauvignon Blanc, which proclaims its Flaxbourne roots, something John expects to see more of.

Restoring the lake As a boy, John loved spending time on Lake Elterwater, which retained heavy areas of carex and flax and an abundance of eels and birds. “My grandfather Jack used to take us swan egging there when we were kids. We would take a couple of eggs back to my grandmother, Nancy, and she would cook a huge feed of pancakes.” But he knew the bare grass edges and crowds of willows were not the natural ecosystem, and imagined what it would have looked like in the past, when Māori used Lakes Elterwater and Grassmere, Kapara Te Hau, as an abundant food source. Trying to nudge the wetland back to pre-colonial health is a massive undertaking, thanks to saline soil, strong winds, a shallow lake and Elterwater’s oscillation between flood and drought, all of which make for tough nursery conditions. The lake dries out completely every 15 years on average, and in recent times the Hickmans have hosted a community cricket match on its dry cracked surface, offering lighter moments to drought-affected farmers. In the past, the family also planted crops and grazed stock when the lake was dry, until realising the negative environmental ramifications. “To be honest, it’s only in the past 10 or 15 years that people have become more aware of the importance of wetlands,” says John, who has a letter from the late 1950s in which the Awatere County Council enquired about using

the then-dry lake as a rubbish dump. “That is such a contrast over 60 years.” The restoration began in 2012, with funding from the Marlborough District Council’s (MDC) Significant Natural Areas fund and central A cricket match on the dry lake bed. Photo supplied government’s Biodiversity meters of fencing planned and a public Fund, with the final third paid for by Taimate farm. That saw stage one kick- walkway through a small area next to State Highway 1, so that people driving started, with fences installed along past can get to a viewing platform. the northern side of the lake, willows In his entry to the 2018 Cawthron poisoned and 7,000 native seedlings Marlborough Environment Awards, planted. John said that was a way off, due to Half of the new plants died funding and time constraints, “but is some after heavy rain swamped the still strongly emblazoned in our hearts emerging trees and shrubs in debris, and will happen”. and others when a severe drought The MDC regards the lake as followed the wet. But good rainfall over the past few years has been a shot a very significant habitat, with “astounding” birdlife, “thousands in the arm for the project. Surviving of waterfowl and very significant plants are now thriving, the locally populations of grebes”, says sourced totara stand out above the long grass, and stands of cabbage trees biodiversity coordinator Mike Aviss. It hopes to continue its relationship and raupo are already self-seeding. with the Hickmans, so that the entire While the funded project is lake edge of their farm can be made complete, John still plants a few stock proof. Council would also like hundred trees each year, making a to engage with other landowners on significant mark on the lake’s ecology. the edge of the lake, “with a view to In return, he is seeing native species restoring the lake’s condition and push up around the skeletal remains indigenous vegetation in it and around of willows, and a broadening of the the edge”, he says. birdlife, including spoonbills that stir John hopes other wine companies the sediment with their spatulate will also get involved, tapping into the beaks. “Now we have a lot more plants opportunity to enhance an area seen by coming up, we will be able to plant a so many driving by, and helping return lot more in their shade,” he says. Elterwater to the “glorious sight” Sir Taimate is now looking at stage Frederick Weld once marvelled at. two, with another several hundred

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Winepress July 2019 / 19

Industry Pioneer Mark Nobilo has spent 50 years trouble-shooting in New Zealand’s vineyards SOPHIE PREECE

“I TELL people I have a QBE,” says Mark Nobilo, a man truly Qualified By Experience. “I have learned everything by observation and common sense.” The wine industry stalwart grew up on the land his parents had bought in Huapai, northwest of Auckland, in 1943. From an early age he helped tend the farm, its 200 chickens, eight cows, crops, vineyard and farm gate stall, serving customers from the age of 7. “We were raised in a generation where idle hands were an embarrassment to their owner,” he says, quoting his onetime mentor Joe Corban. Mark was several years younger than his big brothers, and when not in school or doing chores, would head out to explore with a slingshot and a sense adventure. He was happiest outdoors, so when he left school in 1966 - aged 17 and with his now trademark moustache already in place - it seemed natural to take up a role in the vines. In the 50 years since, Mark has seldom had idle hands, with a lifetime of learning - and teaching - from hard work and experience. He has been a pioneering force in the evolution of the country’s wine industry, helping improve its vineyards and spread its footprint to areas others were afraid to tread. Late last year Mark was named a New Zealand Winegrowers Fellow, in acknowledgement of his influence on vineyards from Northland to Rarangi. “It is like a wine industry knighthood,” says Mark, chuffed to be recognised by his peers. “To me that really made me 20 / Winepress July 2019

feel proud of the contribution that Mark Nobilo at Muriwai. Photo Zoe Smith I had made and was recognised how other cultures treated wine as a for.” food beverage.” However, it wasn’t a Growing up on the land quick transition, with New Zealand Nikola Nobilo came to New Zealand indoctrinated in the culture of beers from Croatia in 1937 and worked for until 6pm, Mark says. Small cellar his uncle for a number of years, before doors like theirs offered free tastings, he and his wife Zuva purchased and trying to add momentum to the shift. planted their 14 acre Huapai farm, “A wall of stigma had to be broken growing food for themselves, the down and it was a slow evolution.” stall, and the Auckland restaurants of The Corban family led the move Croatian friends. They also planted an to table wine in the late ‘60s and in acre of grapes, maintaining a 300-year the 1970s Cooks New Zealand Wine family tradition, says Mark. “It wasn’t Company made Chasseur, “and it from a commercial sense; it was just to took off”, says Mark. A few years provide wine to have with their food in later, Nobilo made a splash with a the typical Mediterranean way. Wine Müller-Thurgau table wine, and in was never far from our table.” 1974 Montana produced Wohnseidler They did sell a little at the farm Riesling, with a sweetness the market gate, and later from a small cellar door, loved, he says. “mostly in flagons or half gallon jars”, Müller-Thurgau was king for a he recalls. “We had a fixed price of 10 number of years, but in the mid-1980s shillings a flagon.” Back then the law there were surpluses, with more wine dictated that wine be sold in quantities than consumption on the domestic of two gallons or more, and police market. “Scoldings” led producers to would come and inspect the books to “get off their backsides, pack their make sure every sale was recorded, suitcases and start knocking on doors”, he says. Like others, the Nobilo family says Mark, calling it “the birth of the sold only fortified wines, to meet the export industry”. It was also the birth tastes of English settlers, while making of Nobilo White Cloud, which became table wine for themselves. the largest wine export from New That changed in the 1960s, when Zealand at the time. a Gisborne restaurant gained a licence There were other changes afoot to sell wine by the bottle, coinciding in the vines, as the maturing industry with the advent of regular air travel. recognised the shortcomings of its “That’s my spin on it. People were viticulture material, so Mark helped going around the world and seeing establish the Vine Improvement

Group. Meanwhile, Ross Spence had been caught by the Californian Sauvignon Blanc bug, and came back to plant the variety, producing a wine that was a far cry from the Germanic sweet wines the country was getting used to, says Mark. “In those days it was truly cats’ pee on a gooseberry bush.” Stepping into Marlborough Montana had already pioneered Marlborough as a wine region, growing Müller-Thurgau and Palamino, but when Sauvignon vines started producing in the clay soils the result was attention grabbing, “and the rest is history really”, says Mark. In 1984, a hailstorm wiped out Nobilo’s Auckland crop, forcing them to buy grapes from Ruatoria and Renwick in 1985, kick-starting a journey south. A few years later, Nobilo entered into a joint venture with Selaks in Marlborough, with each company taking a share of Sauvignon Blanc fruit from John Webber’s Matador Estate. Mark grew the plants in Auckland and shipped them down for planting. “We were then heavily involved in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough, so my life became about travelling with Air New Zealand, staying in hotels and visiting growers.” He saw vulnerability in Marlborough’s monoculture of varieties and pushed into sub-regions, ensuring a range of ripening dates. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s he focussed on strategic expansions, including emerging areas such as the Awatere Valley and Waihopai. In the mid-1990s Nobilo also delved into Rarangi, leaping the challenges of saline water and coastal soil as they went. “We had to boldly go where no man had gone before, to quote Star Trek,” says Mark. “People shied away from it.” The site was tough, beginning with the difficulty of anchoring posts in such loose soil structure, but Mark met with fencing contractors and developed big concrete blocks for the sites. Then came the issue of planting

vines in soil that would blow out to sea if disturbed, so he and his viticulture manager sought machinery that allowed them to cultivate only a narrow planting strip, leaving the majority of Mark in the 1970s the soil intact. To combat the salinity of the water in Rarangi’s shallow aquifer, they irrigated little and often directly under the vines, so the roots didn’t dig deep in search of water, he says. “The water went down a couple of feet and the vines developed a root sausage and didn’t go down any deeper.” Nobilo Vintners purchased Selaks in 1998 and two years later the Nobilo Wine Group was sold to BRL Hardy, one of Australia’s largest winemakers, before being merged into Constellation Brands wines in 2003. That same year Nobilo Wines was named New Zealand’s wine producer of the year. Mark stayed on as viticulture manager after the sale, helping Constellation continue a 10-year expansion programme, with more than 3,000 hectares of vineyard planted over seven years, much of it in the Awatere Valley. Nailing the targets with three years to spare was a satisfying period, as was watching Nobilo gain traction in many overseas markets. But when plans arose for another growth push, Mark decided it was time to step back. “That was when a friend in Kerikeri said ‘will you come up and advise the growers up here?’” Now he runs four workshops a year for growers in Northland, volunteering his time to give them practical advice on their vineyards. Mark looks back fondly on his life in the vines, and the “buzz” he received from “trouble-shooting and getting problems sorted out”. In awarding him the fellowship last year, New Zealand Winegrowers chair John Clarke said

Mark, front left at the 1987 planting of Matador Vineyard

Mark had been a “tireless advocate” for the grape and wine industry for more than 50 years. “His advice has always been sought in both the good times and the bad.” These days, when not with Northland growers, Mark is likely to be at home in Muriwai, or fishing and hunting in some far-flung corner of the country. His opinion of some retirement pastimes seems perfectly aligned with Joe Corban’s admonishment of idle hands. “I was with a guy yesterday and he plays golf,” he remarks, somewhat bemused. “I said to him ‘you cannot eat golf balls’.”

Winepress July 2019 / 21

Generation Y-ine From Melbourne fashion to Marlborough vines SOPHIE PREECE

KATE MACREADIE had been immersed in the Melbourne fashion retail industry for six years when that fast-paced, desk-based existence began to lose its gloss. Fast forward two years and she’s living in Marlborough and thriving in her second year studying at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), while working full-time in the winery at Spring Creek Vintners. “It’s such a nice welcoming industry,” says the winner of Wine Marlborough’s NMIT Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking scholarship. “I have come from the city, where it is quite competitive and fast paced. You come here and it is so welcoming and people want to share everything they know.” Kate says working in the wine industry appealed to her when she was growing up in Queensland, thanks to visits to her grandparents in Blenheim, a love of chemistry at school, and the idea of working outside. “But in the end, all my friends were moving to Brisbane to study commerce, so that’s what I did.” Once there she fell into what she calls “a fashion retail bubble”, which took her on to Melbourne to manage stores for a fashion chain, before becoming a national retail manager, then working in merchandising and as a buying assistant for a big department store. “But I think I realised that fashion retail wasn’t for me anymore, so I decided to quit my job and take a break.” A three-week visit to her grandparents in Blenheim was

22 / Winepress July 2019

extended to three months, over which time she started work on a vineyard managed by her aunt. “I Kate with one of the steel posts put in by her class at NMIT was doing inflorescence with so much going on. “They have counts and general vineyard stuff and really loved it, so I just didn’t go home,” so many wines and so many clients that there is heaps to learn.” And she says. “I really liked being outside while she had thought her future was and doing something practical after in viticulture, the winery experience spending so much time inside and on has changed her focus. “I am really the phone in an office.” confused now... But I am lucky I am Within a few weeks, Kate was getting a taste of both, so I know which enrolled in full-time study at NMIT, direction to veer in.” with the first semester focussed on Her studies are giving her plenty basic winemaking and viticulture to think about too, with this semester theory, and the second honing in on those subjects in more detail, including focussing on pest and disease in the vineyards, and the next looking at work on the chemistry and plant winery chemistry in more depth. “Next and soil science behind growing and year we get to start choosing electives, making wine. where we specialise more on what we Over the summer break she had want to learn.” a job as technical assistant for Craggy Wine Marlborough general Range in Marlborough, which was manager Marcus Pickens says he a fantastic opportunity, she says. “I was impressed by Kate’s considered was working full-time, then studying application. “She struck me as full-time as well. Then the day we clever, honest, deserving and in, finished harvesting I went to Spring boots and all.” Kate says winning the Creek Vintners to do vintage.” The contract winemaking facility asked her scholarship, which helps pay for fees, is a great support. Once her study is to stay on after harvest, so she’s now over she plans to keep on learning, balancing full-time work and study, taking opportunities overseas in both while learning in cellar and “seeing vineyards and wineries, large and behind the scenes” in the lab. small, “because obviously it’s different Kate says that while some people recommended she seek work in a small everywhere”. winery for a broad experience, she’s been happy to cut her teeth in a facility

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Biosecurity Watch Georgia: A small country fighting a global threat SOPHIE BADLAND

IN MAY, New Zealand Winegrowers had the privilege of being part of a small delegation from New Zealand and Australia to visit the beautiful country of Georgia, in the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia. Georgia claims to be the birthplace of wine; historical evidence of wine making uncovered dates to 6000 BC. Some wine producers still utilise traditional methods of wine production, including the use of qvevri, large clay pots used for underground fermentation. They also use grape marc to make chacha, an eye-wateringly strong distillate taken as a shot with lunch (or breakfast to cure a hangover). While it was fascinating to visit the Wine Museum, see some of these ancient artefacts and learn about traditional Georgian wine making technique, biosecurity was the true purpose of our visit. In 2016, western Georgia was invaded by Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB), and we were there to learn about how they are managing it. The situation in Georgia “Georgia has been plagued by this pest for three years now. We just want it to be over, so that we might once again have time to focus on other important issues for our country.” This was the closing statement of an address to our group by the Georgian Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Giorgi Khanishvili.

It was a message we heard time and again as we visited different regions. Central and local government, growers’ associations, industry organisations, village leaders, farmers and growers, backyard gardeners and all residents of affected areas have experienced the devastating effects of this rapidly breeding, highly polyphagous insect which destroyed USD$24 million worth of hazelnut crops from the 2016 harvest alone, and then invaded the homes of the western region villages in swarms of thousands to wait out the winter. It got so bad that some farmers abandoned their land and houses altogether and moved to the cities, or even other European countries to search for work. “It is absolutely the worst plant pest that we have ever faced,” stated Nikoloz Meskhi, head of the Georgian National Food Agency’s Plant Protection division and one of the hosts of our trip. Originating in China and Korea, BMSB has spread to many countries around the world, causing significant production losses to horticultural industries during the growing season and becoming a social nuisance over winter. The east coast of the US, Japan, and Italy have all been hit particularly badly at times within the last two decades – but in western Georgia, a region full of organic crops and plenty of non-crop host species besides, the spread and growth of the

BMSB population has been faster than anywhere else in the world. After a disastrous harvest in 2016, the government knew it had to act to help the farmers, and quickly. Establishment of State Programme BMSB was an unknown entity to Georgia when it first arrived. USAid, working with the Georgians on other agricultural programmes at the time, were able to link them with US and Italian scientists working with BMSB. They provided the Georgian government with some recommendations for waging a war against the pest. In 2017, the stateimplemented intervention programme was rolled out and is now in its third year. The 2019 budget for the programme is a massive USD$20m. The state programme has four main directions: • Monitoring - setting up monitoring stations (sticky traps) and collecting comprehensive data about BMSB population levels across the entire country (upwards of 200,000 monitoring/trapping sites established). These are regularly checked between March and October, and information is fed into a database the enable programme co-ordinators to prioritise areas for treatment and appropriately allocate resource.


CATCH IT . SNAP IT . REPORT IT . Call MPI biosecurity hotline 0800 80 99 66 24 / Winepress July 2019

• Management - the use of pesticides, specifically bifenthrin and deltamethrin, to control and reduce BMSB numbers. Pheromone lures are used to draw BMSB to sites that can then be sprayed with insecticide to kill them in large numbers. Heavily infested villages are thermo-fogged with deltamethrin at night. At the current time, with high-density BMSB populations remaining, the Georgians see no feasible alternative to the use of hard chemistry to gain control of pest numbers. • Public awareness - active, ongoing communication to the Georgian population, from government right down to individual farmers, and even villagers who may not necessarily have crops on their land. Local councils, medical professionals, plant pathologists, industry and growers’ associations, and schools are all

involved in the communication of information. Mainstream media coverage and ongoing social media campaigns have been key in helping to educate and inform the people about the pest, and what they need to do. • Scientific research – looking for biological control options, such as parasitoids, and bio-organic pesticides. Two species already present in Georgia have been shown to parasitise BMSB to some extent; however wellknown parasitoid, the samurai wasp, is unlikely to be approved for use in Georgia, which has a high number of native stink bug species. Future outlook Three years after BMSB arrived in Georgia, the news seems positive. Early indications this season are that BMSB numbers are significantly reduced in many areas. Farmers who are making use of the pesticides provided are seeing much less damage to their

crops; those who haven’t been using them are swiftly getting on board. So far, BMSB have not spread in large numbers to the eastern regions, where most vineyards are located and where pesticide programmes are already well-established. The government hopes to be able to leave BMSB control solely in the hands of the farmers within the next few years. It is clear, however, that a labour-intensive, heavy pesticide programme and the current costs of management are not sustainable long-term, nor desirable; there is a real need for cost-effective, user-friendly and environmentally sustainable alternatives in the ongoing war against BMSB. If you think you see BMSB or anything else unusual in the vineyard, Catch It; Snap It; and Report It to the Biosecurity NZ hotline on 0800 80 99 66, and get in touch with the New Zealand Winegrowers Biosecurity team (

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Winepress July 2019 / 25

Industry News Silver Secateurs Next month’s Wine Marlborough Silver Secateurs Competition will involve around 300 competitors from 10 contracting companies, with 22 judges assessing their speed, skill and decision-making. Viticulturist Jeremy Hyland has helped organise the competition since it began in 1995, and the Reigning Silver Secateurs champ Finau Laga 24 intervening years have done nothing to dampen the buzz of event day for him. “It is very rewarding to see the joy that comes across the faces of all the contestants,” he says, also motivated by the increasing levels of skill seen every year, both in the competition and in everyday vineyard pruning work, “which is what it was all set up for”. Silver Secateurs is on at the Yealands Estate Vineyard in Grovetown on August 25. Bastille Day at Clos Henri Join the team from Clos Henri on Bastille Day, Sunday July 14, for an authentic French experience and family open day. Starting at 11am, wine and food is available to purchase and a gold coin donation is welcome for entry.

Future of Work Marlborough viticulturist Jaimee Whitehead and Constellation cadet Katie Bruce spoke to 160 Marlborough senior college students at last month’s Future of Work conference in Blenheim, sharing insights into the breadth of opportunities for young people wanting to join the wine industry. The day-long conference, organised by the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough and the Marlborough District Council was

26 / Winepress July 2019

tasked with helping senior students from the region’s colleges better understand the opportunities and challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. Photo Brya Ingram. Wine Marlborough Update VANCE KERSLAKE

It was great to see positive media coverage of WM’s Annual Plan submission on Stuff and the Marlborough App. Our submission supported investment in Environmental Science and Monitoring, Biosecurity, Consents and Compliance, and the Flaxbourne Irrigation Scheme. We requested an annual update of the vineyard coverage map, a project to estimate the land area available for vineyard development, developing a housing strategy for Marlborough, and support for future events. Te Tauihu is an economic development strategy for the top of the South being led by Wakatū Incorporation in partnership with the Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman councils. We encourage members to get involved with the

development of the strategy. You can register your interest at www.tetauihu. nz. The next regular Marlborough Winegrowers meeting with Council is August 27, if you have any issues you want us to raise with Council email Vance Kerslake, advocacy manager at Harvest Remuneration Survey 2019 Wine Marlborough is running a survey of wineries about remuneration (pay and benefits) for harvest staff in Marlborough. The purpose of the survey is to help Marlborough wineries benchmark local industry remuneration rates and trends. It’s a small investment of your time - the 2018 survey was only 10 questions and took less than 10 minutes to complete. The survey is confidential and the only person who will see your individual responses is Vance Kerslake, advocacy manager at Wine Marlborough. The answers are collated, averaged and sent back to the contributing companies, in an anonymous format - no company names appear in the results. If you are interested in taking part in the survey, please contact Vance Kerslake advocacy@ Vintage staff – AIPs and Essential Skills Visas Do you have Approval in Principal (AIP) for vintage staff? Are you a winery that uses Essential Skills visas for vintage cellar hands or winemakers? If so, Wine Marlborough encourages you to attend an informal discussion with Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and the Ministry for Social Development (MSD). The focus is on understanding INZ’s and MSD’s requirements and timeframes, improving your chances of successful applications when you need them. The event is from 9.30am to 11am on Wednesday July 31 at the Marlborough Research Centre, 85 Budge Street

Blenheim. Please RSVP to Vance at by 2pm on Tuesday July 30.

Rock Ferry Winter Solstice Rock Ferry celebrated the winter solstice in style last month, with a starlit, fire-lit and delicious homage to nature. This is the second winter solstice event Rockferry has held, with the intervening spring equinox, summer solstice and autumn equinox also celebrated in the cellar door grounds. Owners Tom Hutchison and Fiona Harvey (pictured) say the event has been a “roaring success” from the first winter solstice held last year. “Our events manager Sarah came up with the idea to see if there was any interest from the locals in sharing a glass of wine, with a bite to eat, over a bonfire while listening to some great music,” says Tom. “Now with our fifth incarnation of this

quarterly celebration we have gone from strength to strength. It’s become a really great night out, in all seasons.” New World Wine Awards The 17th New World Wine Awards are underway, with a focus on wines that retail for $25 or less. Entrants must also have at least 4,000 bottles available to meet consumer demand, with 2,000 for niche varietals. Harwood Hall co-founder Corey Hall says a win in 2018 has seen the emerging brand go well beyond its initial distribution

Innovative Nozzle Test Marlborough business Agrivit has designed and established New Zealand’s first testing facility for vineyard sprayer nozzles, to ensure precision spray results for crops using the ideal volume of product. “Because of the time involved and the complexity of accurately testing nozzles, many growers have either put it in the ‘too hard’ basket or just relied on the naked eye”, says Agrivit coowner Clare Kilty. “This is a haphazard approach to the maintenance of expensive and critical equipment.” The innovative testing programme precisely measures each nozzle’s spray functionality, taking into account the nozzle types, recommended spray rating and replacement timeline. It produces a report that identifies which nozzles are in need of replacement. “Coverage is king when it comes to canopy and crop spraying,” says co-owner Jeremy Watts, who designed the programme. “Optimum coverage of the target zone is mandatory to ensure correct spray usage and results.” opportunity. “As a new name in a very competitive market, the attention that surrounded the awards results was invaluable to growing awareness of our brand. Not only are consumers now more confident to purchase our winning Sauvignon Blanc, they are intrigued to try other varietals in our range.” Chair of Judges Jim Harré will return to the awards for his 12th year to oversee a panel of 16 experts. “The New World Wine Awards has built a strong reputation around its judging, which is evidenced in the strength of the talent we attract back to the panel each year,” he says. The New World Wine Awards judging will take place over three days at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium late this month, with results to be announced later in the year. Real Estate Update Vineyard sales are few and far between, continuing the trend of low volumes, says Joe Blakiston of PGG Wrightson Real Estate. “Values of smaller blocks with large residences are under pressure with any buyers being very selective,” he says. “Vendor expectation on price and

current grape supply agreement are the two main stumbling blocks for purchasers. However, he is confident the viticulture market will regain some sales volume in the spring, “as the whole horticulture/viticulture sector is very positive at present with increased investor focus”. Sydney International Wine Competition This year’s Sydney International Wine Competition has a new judging panel with 12 judges and six Masters of Wine, including five women, the highest ever number of women in the competition’s 40 year history. The competition is open for entries until September 2 and judging will take place in October, with provisional award and trophy winners announced at the start of November. Half a century of IWSC The International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a number of new developments this year, including new high-profile judges, chosen for their expertise and commercial buying experience.

Winepress July 2019 / 27

Wine Happenings A monthly list of events within the New Zealand wine industry.

To have your event included in next month’s Wine Happenings or Industry News pages, please email details to by July 20. For more information on these events, email Harriet Wadworth at harriet@wine–

JULY 8 14 19 31

New Zealand Winegrowers Diversity and Inclusion Seminar Bastille Day at Clos Henri, 11am to 3pm, Local body elections candidate nominations open AIPs and Essential Skills visas information session. See pg 26

AUGUST 7 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker Marlborough Competition 8 NZW Marketing and Events Roadshow 16 Local body elections candidate nominations close at midday 23 Pinot Noir 2021 Regional Roadshow 25 Wine Marlborough Silver Secateurs competition, Yealands Estate Vineyard, Grovetown 27 Women in Wine National Event, Hawke’s Bay, 28-29 Bragato 2019, Hawke’s Bay, SEPTEMBER 25-27 Marlborough Wine Show judging. Entries open 12 August and close 6 September. OCTOBER 25 Marlborough Wine Show Long Lunch

Young Winemaker Marlborough - August 7

28 / Winepress July 2019

Silver Secateurs - August 25

Marlborough Wine Show - September 25-27

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