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ISSUE NO. 292 / MAY 2019



Photo: Jim Tannock




this issue... REGULARS


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6 20 21 22 24 26 28



From the Board - Simon Bishell Tasman Crop Met Report - Rob Agnew Industry Pioneer - Neal and Judy Ibbotson


Women in Wine - Spring Timlin Generation Y-ine - Vilma Martikainen Biosecurity Watch - Sophie Badland Industry News ANZ Wine Happenings

Cover: A Mixed Bunch - We recruited a handful of Cloudy Bay’s vintage crew for this month’s cover. Clockwise from bottom left, Maria de Pardo Onielfa (Spain), Andrew Holve (United States), Wenpeng Duan (China), Magdalena Gromann (Germany), Violeta Santis Véliz (Chile), Adrienn Sebok (Hungary), Nina Keyser (South Africa). Photo Jim Tannock. See story pg 10.


A good exchange The manager of Japan’s largest vineyard spent the summer in Marlborough, learning about cool climate Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, as a changing climate calls for new varieties in Hokkaido.


Water ways A “community” approach to water use could help cushion grape growers from dry seasons and the impacts of new environment plan rules, say those supporting the formation of water user groups in Marlborough.

16 Vineyard innovation

Industrial hemp could be a brilliant new cover crop for Marlborough vineyards says Dr Mark Krasnow, who is writing a research paper on the three plots Kirsty Harkness trialled over summer.


Winepress May 2019 / 1

Service agents for Amarillo

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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

Printed by: Blenheim Print Ltd 03 578 1322

From the Editor MUCH OF this month’s Winepress was written amid a cacophony of birdsong, as tui and bellbird clicked, chimed, warbled and swooped just metres away from my laptop. That wasn’t from a desk in the bush-clad Marlborough Sounds, in the bird belt of the Nelson Lakes National Park, or even the tui-habitat of Hunter’s Wines cellar door, but settled on a deck in suburban Auckland. I’m writing this editorial back in suburban Blenheim, where I’ve never heard a tui and regret the occasional visit of fantails, given the number of town cats on the prowl and the scarcity of sanctuary trees. That’s pretty depressing, because a place once named Te Waiharakeke, the waters of flax, would surely have been thick with tui, but is now impossible for them to get to, because they lack a corridor of trees across the plains. Rather than lamenting the monoculture of the Wairau and the tui-free Te Waiharakeke, this editorial is a shout out to all those growers who are doing their bit to redress it. It’s a hooray for the likes of Dog Point, Auntsfield, Pernod Ricard, Dayvinleigh, Delegat, and Wither Hills, who have planted streams, restored wetlands, or transformed unused corners into viable habitats, in order to relieve relentless rows. In this edition, Winepress looks at the efforts at Mount Base Vineyards, where Kirsty Harkness has planted orchards and natives, installed beehives and welcomed birdlife. This year her biodiversity programme extended to trials of industrial hemp amid the vines, nurturing beneficial insects and heralding an exciting potential cover crop for the region. Dr Mark Krasnow is writing a research paper on the trial and says the hemp has potential to add back organic matter and create a mulch when mowed down, in order to maintain soil moisture and improve soil structure. It is “certainly exciting times”, he says. “I cannot wait for next season to really ratchet up our trials and assess the viability of a new cover crop for New Zealand viticulture.” For several months, Winepress’s Forgotten Corners series has sought to shine a light on some of the biodiversity, pest eradication and planting projects being undertaken in the region, and it’s been a heartening task. There are plenty of people perturbed by monoculture, and doing their bit to ensure New Zealand natives, whether they be iconic tui and fantail or unsung insects and galaxiids, have a home throughout Marlborough. Hopefully, that effort is contagious and more people will make the effort to plant their stream edges, unused corners, vineyard rows, or wide swathes of land, helping protect Marlborough’s environment while also enhancing their brand story and the reputation of Marlborough wine. Please let me know if you have a corner, large or small, worth celebrating. And one day, perhaps I’ll see tui in Te Waiharakeke. SOPHIE PREECE

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.

Winepress May 2019 / 3

From the Board SIMON BISHELL

VINTAGE 2019 is done and dusted. The harvest period itself will go down as a dream run in comparison to previous years, although the growing season provided plenty of challenges, as they often seem to now. Some growers are satisfied with their yields; others disappointed from either poor fruit set, water stress or a combination of both. As growers we need to remind ourselves that the ongoing success of our industry is intrinsically linked to quality. Our wines need to over-deliver in the market so we can trade up price points and keep demand trending upwards. If we can achieve this on a consistent basis, it will have a positive influence on grape pricing in the vineyard. Those growers feeling disappointed after harvest should take heart that we are now in a stronger position for 2020 and beyond. The lower industry yield will create competition for contract pricing; there will be a trend away from bulk exports to bottle, and the stunning quality of fruit

4 / Winepress May 2019

will be a big positive when V19 wines hit the shelves. Add in a stable but favourable NZD/USD exchange rate, and this situation may allow more winemakers an opportunity to increase bottle prices in market - all of which will help increase returns to the vineyard gate. This would be well received to help offset the pending additional cost of labour which is set to increase by around $1,500 per hectare from the period 2018 to 2021. Speaking of which, the increasing cost of labour will be evident once we get stuck into pruning. By the time you are reading this, pruning will be well underway around the region. If you have not prepared and communicated your plans to your contractor, then you should do so quickly. Clear communication to your contractor outlining specifications and expectations for the job will help ensure you have your work completed in a timely manner. Defined instructions also give clarity to your contractor prior to the job starting. A handful of bullet points explaining the fundamentals across your vineyard, and then a few more defined points for each block depending on varietal, vine age, target use, etc, is all that is required. It does not need to be a rambling document – short, sharp and easy to interpret by supervisors. If you are unsure of what to write, contact your wine company liaison or viticulturist for advice and they will only be happy to help. A good pruning plan will improve the quality of the work you receive and reduce the chance of disagreements between you and your contractor. Responsibility can be easily apportioned when instructions are clear. And finally, please be aware of our industry reputation when you are selecting your contractor. Wine Marlborough advocacy manager Vance Kerslake has covered this well in his piece (pg 5) regarding verified contractors. We all have a responsibility to ensure we behave in an ethically acceptable manner. Discuss and compare pricing with your neighbours and other industry colleagues and remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Verified Contractors Contractor certification on the rise VANCE KERSLAKE Photo by Richard Briggs

A MARLBOROUGH vineyard contractor has been ordered to pay $140,000 for exploiting migrant workers and failing to pay the minimum wage. Double Seven Services and owner Qin Zhang failed to pay minimum wage and holiday pay, failed to pay people for working public holidays, failed to provide employment contracts and failed to keep records for nearly 200 vineyard workers. The labour inspector asked the wine industry to check its supply chains and thereby protect their reputations and investors. Standards are generally high in Marlborough and it is disappointing that somebody allowed these dodgy contractors on their vineyard, which means grapes tainted by exploitation are in somebody’s wine - that’s not the reputation Marlborough wants. The good news is it is relatively easy to ensure contractors are reputable if you use verified contractors and make the effort to check their practices. Verified contractors have gone through an independent audit process, and there are an increasing number of verified contractors in Marlborough. Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) go through a rigorous process to become accredited. They must be in a sound financial position, have good workplace and human resource practices, their accommodation is inspected and they must provide pastoral care for workers. The initial audit is pretty much gold standard, and it’s valid for two years. Afterwards, an RSE contractor is only audited every three years. But a lot can happen in a business in three years. Mergers or acquisitions can occur, key staff might

come or go, growth might put pressure on systems and processes that worked fine for a smaller business. So, it’s a good idea to check compliance, even with an RSE contractor. New Zealand Master Contractors Inc (NZMCI) is another verification system. Members of NZMCI must demonstrate they are financially viable, comply with relevant New Zealand employment legislation and have good employment practices. An NZMCI auditor conducts a full audit to GlobalGAP and GRASP standards every year. Other companies such as AsureQuality, Telarc, SGS and others also conduct independent audits. Whatever contractors you work with, it’s important to ask questions, talk to their staff, and sign a contract. New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) produce the Working for You Guide and Checklist for Engaging Contractors with questions to ask your contractor. There is a list of Marlborough

verified contractors on the news page of the Wine Marlborough website. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has a list of most RSE on their website and NZMCI lists their members on their website. MBIE also publishes a list of companies who have been found to be in breach of employment obligations and may be subject to stand down periods affecting their ability to hire migrant workers. Check these lists and ask around to make sure any contractor you are thinking of engaging will be good for your business. While standards in Marlborough are high, we have to be vigilant to maintain these standards. The first combined slavery and human trafficking charges have been laid by Immigration New Zealand on what they allege is a major scam involving Samoan migrants working in Hawke’s Bay orchards. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it can’t happen here.

Checklist – an extract from the NZW Guide What questions should I ask a contractor? To protect your business it’s a good idea to satisfy yourself that the contractor: • Can demonstrate they will comply with employment obligations. • Can demonstrate their workers are allowed to work in New Zealand – you can ask to see passports and permits or use the tool VisaView to check. • Can demonstrate they will comply with health and safety requirements. • Are properly set up as a company, sole trader or other legal entity. • Have public liability insurance. • Have complied with all Inland Revenue obligations – ask to see a current Certificate of Exemption and/or a letter of compliance. • Have not had actions taken against them for breaches of employment obligations – check the MBIE website. If the contractor does not provide the information or is evasive you should reconsider whether to engage their services. The full checklist is available at compliance/people/working-for-you/

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MET REPORT Table 1: Blenheim Weather Data – April 2019 April April 2019 2019 compared to LTA GDD’s for: Month - Max/Min¹ 99.0 89% Month – Mean² 99.0 86% Growing Degree Days Total Jul 18 - Apr 19 – Max/Min 1500.8 112% Jul 18 - Apr 19 – Mean 1532.0 112% Mean Maximum (°C) 18.4 -0.4°C Mean Minimum (°C) 8.1 +0.1°C Mean Temp (°C) 13.2 -0.3°C Grass Frosts (<= -1.0°C) 0 1 less Air Frosts (<0.0°C) 0 - Sunshine hours 211.2 111% Sunshine hours – lowest Sunshine hours – highest Sunshine hours total – 2019 1044.2 115% Rainfall (mm) 80.2 158% Rainfall (mm) – lowest Rainfall (mm) – highest Rainfall total (mm) – 2019 186.6 101% Evapotranspiration – mm 58.1 92% Avg. Daily Windrun (km) 167.8 76% Mean soil temp – 10cm 13.2 +1.1°C Mean soil temp – 30cm 15.1 +0.5°C

April LTA

Period of LTA

April 2018

110.9 114.2

(1996-2018) (1996-2018)

115.3 117.5

1335.4 1367.1 18.8 8.0 13.5 1.15 0.15 189. 92.1 238.5 909.7 50.8 0.6 173.0 185.3 63.4 220.5 12.1 14.6

(1996-2018) 1563.1 (1996-2018) 1582.0 (1986-2018) 18.9 (1986-2018) 8.5 (1986-2018) 13.7 (1986-2018) 2 (1986-2018) 0 (1986-2018) 188.0 1938 1958 (1986-2018) 896.4 (1986-2018) 52.2 1992 1962 (1986-2018) 367.6 (1996-2018) 75.0 (1996-2018) 223.3 (1986-2018) 12.1 (1986-2018) 15.0

¹GDD’s Max/Min are calculated from absolute daily maximum and minimum temperatures ²GDD’s Mean are calculated from average hourly temperatures Temperature April’s mean temperature of 13.2°C was 0.3°C below the long-term average (LTA). This is the first year since 2011 that April has recorded a below average mean temperature. The data in Table 2 indicate that the first, second and third

weeks of April recorded below average temperatures. The fourth week of the month was well above average and dragged the overall mean temperature for the month back up. No ground frosts were recorded during April 2019, compared with two in April 2018. Sunshine April recorded 211.2 hours sunshine, 111% of the LTA. Daily sunshine hours during April varied quite markedly as is often the case in a month with high rainfall. Eight days recorded between 10 and 11 hour’s sunshine. 10 hours sunshine in April is a high total considering that the average daily sunshine for April is 6.3 hours. In contrast there were four days that each recorded less than one hour of sunshine. Unsurprisingly these were all days when it was raining. Total sunshine for Blenheim from January to April 2019 was 1044.2 hours, 115% of the LTA. Rainfall April recorded 80.2 mm rain, 158% of the LTA. January (3.8 mm) and February (8.0 mm) both recorded very low rainfall totals. However, March (94.6 mm) and April (80.2 mm) both recorded well above average rainfall totals. Total rainfall for Blenheim from January to April 2019 was 186.6 mm, 101% of the LTA. In contrast total rainfall from January to April 2018 was 367.6 mm, 198% of the LTA.

Table 2: Weekly weather data for Blenheim during April 2019 1 – 7 April 8 – 14 April 15 – 21 April 22 – 28 April 29 – 30 April (2 days) April 2019 Long-term Average 1986-2018 6 / Winepress May 2019

Mean Minimum 18.3 (-0.5) 18.6 (-0.2) 17.6 (-1.2) 19.2 (+0.4) 17.4 (-1.4) 18.4 (-0.4°C)

Mean Mean Minimum 8.0 (=) 13.1 7.5 (-0.5) 13.1 6.8 (-1.2) 12.2 10.5 (+2.5) 14.9 7.3 (-0.7) 12.3 8.1 (+0.1°C) 13.2



Rainfall (mm) (hours) (-0.4) 14.8 (-0.4) 21.0 (-1.3) 11.0 (+1.4) 33.2 (-1.2) 0.0 (-0.3°C) 80.2 (158%)


50.8 mm

Sunshine 44.4 52.9 53.8 43.2 16.9 211.2 (111%) 189.8 hours

Soil Moisture Average shallow (0-35 cm depth) soil moisture for April was 32.8%. Shallow soil moisture was already fairly high at the start of April (27.9%) after high rainfall in March. With further high rainfall in April the soil moisture rose to 36.1% by the end of April. This is close to saturation level for this soil. Wind-run April 2019 average daily wind-run of 167.8 km was only 76% of the LTA of 220.5 km. This is the lowest April average daily wind-run during April for the 24 years 1996 to 2019. There were only five days during April 2019 when daily wind-run exceeded the LTA. Season Weather Summary (September 2018 to April 2019) Table 3 is a regular feature in the Met Report at the beginning of May. It summarises the eight months of the growing season, September to April. Further daily data or monthly summaries for the Blenheim and Dashwood weather stations can be found on the Marlborough Research Centre website: The data in Table 3 indicate that six of the eight months of the 201819 growing season recorded mean temperatures that were above average. The first and last months of the season, September and April, were average and slightly below average.

One year ago it was reported that the 2017-18 season had recorded a mean temperature of 16.24°C and that it was the warmest season that Marlborough had experienced since grapevines were first planted in 1973. The just completed 2018-19 season recorded a mean temperature of 15.97°C. It is the sixth warmest season on record since 1973-74. Figure 1 presents the seasonal temperatures for the 31 seasons 1988-89 to 2018-19. Presenting all seasons since 1973-74 on the graph would become a bit cluttered and hard to distinguish between years. Two very warm seasons not included on the graph are 1973/74 = 16.16°C and 1979/80 = 16.00°C. The graph highlights that during the latter part of the 1980s and through the 1990s there was quite marked variation in seasonal temperatures. There has been less variation in the seasonal mean temperatures since the year 2000 than in prior years. Of the 27 seasons from 1973-74 through until 1999-00, only 11 of those seasons recorded a mean temperature either equal to or above the LTA; 16 out of the 27 seasons were cooler than the LTA. In contrast, of the 19 seasons from 2000-01 though until 2018-19, 15 of those seasons recorded a mean temperature above the LTA and only 4 seasons were cooler than the LTA. The cool seasons have definitely become fewer and farther between than they used to be.

Figure 2 compares the growing degree day (GDD) deviation line for the 2018-19 season (black line) with a number of previous warm seasons. The GDD lines for 2017-18 and 2018-19 stand out as different from the other warm seasons included on the graph in that these two seasons were consistently warm for almost all months during the season. The other seasons in Figure 2 were only warm for part of the season; e.g. 1988-89 was exceptionally warm from September 1988 to January 1989, but then below average to average over ripening during February and March 1989. 199798 was below average to average from September 1997 to mid-January 1998. From late January through until early April 1998 it was exceptionally hot and this period of very hot temperatures over ripening is still remembered for its effects on Sauvignon blanc wines in 1998. This season is often referred to when the potential of climate change effects on Sauvignon blanc wine characteristics are mentioned. The GDD lines for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons are remarkably similar in shape. The major point of divergence of the two lines occurred during December. December 2017 was the third warmest on record (+1.8°C) and the GDD line shot up. December 2018 was only slightly above average (+0.5°C) and the GDD line was much flatter. However, the GDD lines during January and February 2018 and 2019

Table 3: Monthly weather summary for Blenheim, for the 2018-19 growing season in comparison to the long-term average LTA 18/19 LTA 18/19 LTA 18/19 LTA 18/19 LTA 18/19 LTA 18/19 LTA 18/19 Rain Rain Mean Mean Mean Mean Mean Mean GDD GDD ET ET Sun Max Max Min Min mm mm °C °C °C °C °C °C mm mm hours hours Sep 52.2 36.2 16.2 16.4 6.0 5.8 11.1 11.1 (=) 56.1 51.4 71.8 75.0 192.7 231.8 Oct 58.7 33.8 18.3 19.0 7.9 8.4 13.1 13.7 (+0.6) 103.7 118.3 102.4 107.7 230.2 266.1 Nov 49.9 62.6 19.9 19.9 9.5 10.3 14.7 15.1 (+0.4) 145.1 152.3 122.5 109.1 240.4 219.4 Dec 46.7 53.6 21.9 21.7 11.7 13.1 16.9 17.4 (+0.5) 216.1 229.4 140.3 114.9 249.9 213.2 Jan 45.7 3.8 23.4 26.8 12.8 14.5 18.2 20.7 (+2.5) 252.4 330.6 141.9 186.9 261.9 317.9 Feb 48.9 8.0 23.2 25.0 12.4 12.7 17.8 18.9 (+1.1) 225.2 248 112.4 151.0 227.5 289.4 Mar 39.9 94.6 21.5 22.6 10.6 12.6 16.1 17.6 (+1.5) 197.7 235.7 99.7 94.5 230.6 225.7 Apr 50.8 80.2 18.8 18.4 8.0 13.5 13.2 (-0.3) 110.9 99.0 63.4 58.1 189.8 211.2 Total 392.8 372.8 1307.3 1464.7 854.4 897.2 1823.0 1974.7 Mean 20.4 21.2 9.9 10.7 15.2 16.0 % of LTA or deviation 95% +0.8°C +0.8°C +0.8°C 112% 105% 108% Long-term average (LTA) – 1986-2018 Winepress May 2019 / 7

are very similar. Although the GDD lines are similar this doesn’t reveal the differences in maximum and minimum temperature in the two years. The data in Table 4 should help to provide some understanding of the major climatic differences that occurred between the two years. Although the mean monthly temperatures for January and February

2018 and 2019 (Table 4) were almost identical, the mean maximum and mean minimum temperatures were quite different. January and February 2019 recorded much higher daily maximum temperatures and also lower night time minimum temperatures. There were also 15 days over 30°C in 2019 compared to only four in 2018. 2019 rainfall was the fourth

Figure 1: Mean seasonal temperatures (September to April) for the 31 seasons 1988-89 to 2018-19

lowest on record (1930-2018), in comparison to 2018 when rainfall was the highest on record. Total potential evapotranspiration (ET) in 2019 was the highest on record for the 22 years 1997-2019. Total moisture deficit for 2019 was also by far the highest on record for the same 22 year period. Total solar radiation in 2019 was a lot higher than in 2018. Total wind-run was also much higher in January 2019 than in January 2018. It is obvious from a quick examination of these weather parameters for 2019 that the grapevines would have been under a lot more stress in January and February 2019. The higher degree of vine stress in 2019 was a major causal factor that led to lower vine yields in much of Marlborough’s vineyard area in 2019.

Rob Agnew Plant & Food Research / Marlborough Research Centre

Figure 2: Normalized Growing degree days for Blenheim: days above (+) or below (-) the long-term average for the period 1 September to 30 April

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Table 4: Comparison of weather parameters in January and February 2018 and 2019 January 2018 January 2019 February 2018 February 2019 8 / Winepress May 2019

Mean Max. (°C) 25.4 26.8 23.6 25.0

Mean Mean Days Rainfall ET Min. (°C) 30°C (mm) (mm) (°C) or above 16.0 20.7 2 80.4 135.6 14.5 20.7 10 3.8 186.9 13.9 18.8 2 181.4 122.4 12.7 18.9 5 8.0 151.0

Moisture Deficit (mm) -52.2 -183.1 +59.0 -143.0

Solar Wind Radiation Run (mj/m2) (km) 657.4 190.6 784.4 263.6 545.0 236.9 635.4 237.5

Organic Conference Q&A with Kurt Simcic IN 2017, organic viticulturist Kurt Simcic was tempted away from Marlborough to work in Okanagan Valley, Canada. Over the past two years the senior northern viticulturist for Sebastian Farms has been working hard to convert Mission Hill Family Estate, Cedar Creek Estate Winery and Martin’s Lane Winery to organics. Sebastian Farms currently grow 13% of the Okanagan’s wine and, once certified, will result in 17% of the wine region being organic certified. This July, Kurt will return to Marlborough for the Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference to discuss that journey.

constant between growing grapes in New Zealand or Canada or, I suspect, anywhere.

What tempted you to the role in Canada? I knew very little about the wine regions in Canada and the opportunity to lead the change to organics and grow wine in an extreme environment, half a world away, was professionally something I couldn’t turn down. On a personal level, this role has given my family and I the ability to live in a country that is not ours and we have all loved this new life experience.

What’s the biggest myth around organic or biodynamic winegrowing or wine? That we are all toga-wearing hippies. It is too cold to wear a toga in Canada!

“The biggest myth about organic winegrowing is that we are all toga-wearing hippies.”

Do you see an increasing appetite for organic wine? No. Canada I think is at the beginning of the change towards a more active sustainable lifestyle. Organic wine is in its infancy here but we are starting to see a large range of beautiful fresh organic fruit and vegetables on our supermarket shelves, competitively priced.

What will you be speaking about at the conference? The unique challenges of growing wine in an extreme environment.

What does the role involve? I work for the farming arm of the company, growing tiered fruit for three separate wineries with very distinct identities, from a brand perspective and stylistically. My brief on arrival was to convert all the North Okanagan Valley vineyards to organics and pursue certification, as well as develop the quality of their current fruit crops by employing single vine focus. I am also responsible for developing our new highdensity organic vineyards of which I currently have five – all land that has been purchased in the two years I have been in Canada.

Kurt Simcic

How has it evolved your understanding of organic grape growing? I think the challenges are the same no matter where you are. The pests, diseases and climates may differ dramatically, but for me organics has always been about finding a natural, efficient and effective solution to any issue and that remains

Winepress May 2019 / 9

A mixed bunch A multicultural meeting of minds at vintage 2019 SOPHIE PREECE

MARLBOROUGH’S DIVERSITY levels soar at harvest, as vintage workers from around the world descend on the region’s wineries. “It’s cool to see so many people who are passionate about the wine industry, who have come from all over the world to be a part of our harvest,” says Saint Clair Family Estate winery production assistant Joanne Blakely. The company’s 37 vintage staff hailed from 15 different countries this year, including six from the United States, four from France, three from the Czech Republic, two from Argentina, and one each from Finland, Romania, Spain, India and Malaysia. Seven of the 37 were Kiwis. Joanne loves the “buzz” of the winery during vintage. “The place really comes alive”, with something happening at all times, she says. Over at Constellation Brands New Zealand there were well over 100 cellar hands from all over the world for the Marlborough 2019 vintage, covering the Drylands and Riverlands wineries. Winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst says that makes for a fantastic workplace, with plenty of lessons learned, but also some language-related challenges along the way. “The one worry is when you get this blank look and a nod of ‘yes’, and you can tell they don’t understand. Over the years we have developed standard operating procedures with pictures all over them…And we are lucky because we have a Uruguayan winemaker who speaks Spanish, and a Peruvian winemaker who covers Spanish, but

10 / Winepress May 2019

also speaks French.” Originally from Australia, Anthony came to Marlborough for a vintage 14 years ago and fell for the area and its lifestyle, so stayed. And just as he was essentially recruited over harvest, he sees vintage as great chance to cherry A handful of the Cloudy Bay vintage crew, clockwise from bottom left, Maria de Pardo Onielfa (Spain), Andrew Holve (United States), pick the best people. If he has Wenpeng Duan (China), Magdalena Gromann (Germany), Violeta a vacancy at the Santis Véliz (Chile), Adrienn Sebok (Hungary), Nina Keyser (South Africa). Photo Jim Tannock winery he tends to sit on it until after harvest, and then approach the Magdalena Gromann is from people with the best skill sets and fit Germany and came to Marlborough for his winery. “To my mind harvest is for vintage at Cloudy Bay because she the perfect opportunity to see people loves the wines, but also because of under pressure and how they perform, New Zealand’s reputation for friendly and whether they can step up to lead people and good travel opportunities. teams or supervise.” Magdalena has just finished her beverage technology studies, “and now it’s about getting the practical stuff done and getting more experience.” Wenpeng Duan, 26, also came to Cloudy Bay for vintage, travelling from a winery in China that is also owned by LVMH. She says vintage at the sister winery has been a good experience, with the language barrier her biggest challenge. She swiftly stepped up her understanding from around 50% to 80%, she says with a laugh. “Everyone

“I don’t want to leave this place and definitely I will come back.” Adrienn Sebok

has been very patient and explained things very clearly for me.” Adrienn Sebok is from southern Hungary, close to the border with Croatia, and works in a small winery in Hungary, having finished her winemaking and viticulture studies. She now plans to head back to study as a winemaker engineer. 2019 was her

second vintage in Marlborough, having worked with Matua in 2018. “I don’t want to leave this place and definitely I will come back,” she says. Maria de Pardo Onielfa, from Spain, is on her fifth harvest, but the first one in a winery, having been in the lab or technology side in the past. The switch to a full winery experience

has been challenging and rewarding, “because I am learning so much”. Language has been a big challenge, because the Kiwi accent is so hard to understand, she says. “For the first two weeks I was always asking ‘sorry, what did you say?’… I kept asking, ‘what do I have to do exactly?’”

From Hokkaido to Marlborough for Pinot and Sauvignon SOPHIE PREECE

The manager of Japan’s largest vineyard has travelled to Marlborough to learn about cool climate Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, as a changing climate calls for new varieties in Hokkaido. The Hokkaido Wine Company, with support from the government, sponsored Naofumi (Nao) Imamura to spend six months at Churton in the Waihopai Valley, allowing him to research the growing season, vintage and wine tourism, before returning to the Hokkaido growing season in mid-April. While the Hokkaido Wine Company’s Tsurunuma Winery - which has 100 of its 447 hectares planted in vines - was established in 1974, just a year after Montana planted its first grapes in Marlborough, it is well behind the development of New Zealand’s wine industry, Ben Weaver and Naofumi Imamura at Churton Nao says. Hokkaido is the second largest and northernmost of Japan’s main islands, with extremely cold flowering, grape maturity and yield. He was also impressed winters and summers less humid than other parts of Japan. by Marlborough’s tourism offering, noting how easy it is Nao’s father Naoru Imamura was an establishing member for visitors to experience a number of wineries, cellars of Tsurunuma and the vineyard manager until 10 years doors and restaurants. In contrast, Japanese companies ago, when he retired and Nao took over. The vineyard has don’t tend to have cellar doors, making it difficult for the traditionally focussed on German-style varieties, including public to access wineries, he says. Müller-Thurgau and Gewürztraminer, but they have 40 Ben Weaver, Churton’s vineyard and winery varieties in total, including many experimental wines. production manager, says it was a “bloody marvellous Nao says they trialled Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc vintage” for Nao to be part of, with an early Pinot Noir around 20 years ago, but both proved a poor choice for the harvest and concentrated flavours across the board, site and climate. More recently, climate change has led thanks to the dry summer. The sharing of ideas and the company to adapt to plantings more suited to warmer ethos with different cultures helps ensure Churton’s crew seasons, “and we are starting to again grow Pinot Noir and doesn’t “pigeon-hole” itself, Ben says. “It means you think Sauvignon Blanc”, explains Nao. “So my company said, everything through and you’re constantly asking, ‘what do ‘let’s go to New Zealand’.” you think we should be doing and why?’ ” Nao says he’s had a great many learnings at Churton, Churton co-owner Mandy Weaver says the team where he found grapevines in better health than any he considers itself lucky to have had Nao on site for the past has seen before. He says the take-home learnings include six months. “This is a great illustration of international cothe careful use of irrigation at pinpointed times, instead operation and sharing of wine growing ideas.” of continual irrigation, and the subsequent impact on

Winepress May 2019 / 11

Pipe Dreams Tapping into water users SOPHIE PREECE

A “COMMUNITY” approach to water use could help cushion grape growers from dry seasons and the impacts of new environment plan rules, says Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens. “This summer has been a stark reminder of how much we rely on water, how rapidly the situation can change and how long a dry run can last. We believe growers using the same resource for the same purpose in the same community should be working together to safeguard their common interests.” Wine Marlborough hopes to help establish water user groups in certain areas of Marlborough to help “initiate conversations and collect information, share knowledge, deepen understanding of water resources, and improve engagement with the Marlborough District Council (MDC) to improve water management”, he says. Wine Marlborough advocacy manager Vance Kerslake says the groups are particularly important in light of changes to water management under the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan (PMEP), which sets trigger levels for ground water, as there

12 / Winepress May 2019

The Springs area is known for its abundance of water, says Marcus Wickham

are for surface water. The rule changes have already affected growers seeking renewed or new consents for artesian water, which came as a “nasty shock” to some this summer, says Vance. The adoption of the plan will see all consents governed by the new rules, regardless of the original conditions. “Whatever the minimum levels are, they will apply to everyone.” The MDC is required to set and impose the low aquifer trigger levels as per the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPSFM). “So the better informed they are, the more data they have to work with and the

more input they have from growers, then the better the outcome is likely to be,” says Vance. He notes that water users groups will not be successful or supported if they form simply to seek more access to water once the trigger level is reached. Some water user groups might opt for an organised scheme of voluntary rationing, ensuring the resource is available to all users for longer in the season. Or they may simply be formed to gather information and represent users in dealings with council, Vance says. “No one would wish for the drought conditions we had leading up

Springing to Action An ad hoc Springs Water Group was formed this year to argue against changes that would see some users face “untenable” dry. The Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan (PMEP) includes trigger levels on artesian water, as required by the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPSFM). Triggers for the Springs area were initiated before this summer’s drought, so that users on new or renewed consents came close to a 100% shut down. That would be “untenable” for a nursery, Ormond Nurseries director Marcus Wickham told the PMEP hearings committee. Should the water turn off, he would need to explain to growers that not only would they have no new vines this season, but none next season either, he said. “We understand that by law they have to have those trigger levels. But why pick on the Springs area and forget about the bigger elephant in the room, which is the Wairau Aquifer, which is over allocated?” Marcus believes council should have investigated, then communicated and consulted, to ensure a better understanding of all the Springs before initiating trigger levels. There is a lack of knowledge about the risings, where they are, how they work and whether the monitor bores correctly represent the Springs resource, he says. That meant Springs users did not have confidence in the trigger levels set. “What the plan says is, if a monitor bore drops below a certain level, then everyone in our area has to shut their water off.” Had council consulted with a Springs water group, there may have been a more reasonable solution, such as a rationing system to keep the vines alive, as was implemented in Tasman orchards this summer, he says. “Stock water is exempt and household water is exempt - why can’t there be a ration to keep root stock alive? Our argument is ‘sure, put restrictions on the bores, but you need to make sure that people who need water have enough to make sure their business survives’.” The Springs area may have been seen as “low hanging fruit” because of the soil type and generally abundant water resource, says Marcus. But those elements, along with the complication of digging into the water table, made it “ludicrous” to build water storage in the area. He laments a lack of communication about the changes, given the “massive” impact on those in the area. Details about Springs users was “buried deep” within the plan and only discovered late in the piece, he says. “We would have been blissfully unaware and yet perilously close to being shut down.”

Formalised water user groups could ensure better information going to and coming from council, Marcus says. “At the moment it’s a whole bunch of individuals and no kind of representation conduit to go through. The easiest way for everyone is to form user groups for the particular areas.” Grower James Jones also welcomes water user groups, based on the Freshwater Management Units defined within the PMEP. He says Springs users have never before needed a coordinated group or even much say in consultation, as their water resource has historically been so reliable. The formation of an unofficial group of around 60 users, in order to progress a powerful argument to the PMEP hearing, has been a positive outcome, he says. James says water users agree the resource has to be managed for the ecology, but better consultation would likely have enabled a finer tool to do so, protecting both business and environment. In his submission against the proposed groundwater cut-off to users in the central, northern and urban Spring sectors, he argued it was “very unfair” to limit Springs sector ground water users when Wairau groundwater users west of the proposed restriction area were not limited. “These western Wairau Aquifer water users have a direct impact on the level of the Wairau Aquifer and therefore Spring flows.” James noted that in 2015, the Wratts Rd well 3009 reached 11.84 metres above mean sea level, which was the lowest recorded level since records began, and only 4cm away from the new proposed limit of 11.8m for the Northern Springs sector. “The trend over the past 20 years at well 3009 is showing a slow decline in aquifer level,” he said. “Who knows how often this cut-off level of 11.8m will be reached in the future?” Further knowledge and understanding of the recharge process to the Wairau Aquifer and the relationship between the aquifer and the spring system was required before any limits to groundwater users were implemented, he said in the submission. Marlborough District Council groundwater scientist Pete Davidson says government requires limits for all water resources and council have defined these for most aquifer management zones. He says the MDC has applied cut-offs in many areas outside of the Springs sector, including coastal Wairau Plain, Rarangi Springs and Deep Southern Valleys Aquifers, and the methodology is different for each.

“We would have been blissfully unaware and yet perilously close to being shut down.” Marcus Wickham

Winepress May 2019 / 13

“We believe growers using the same resource for the same purpose in the same community should be working together to safeguard their common interests.” Marcus Pickens to the 2019 harvest, but if you are going to have a crisis, you may as well use it to effect change.” MDC groundwater scientist Pete Davidson supports the call for water user groups, which would allow for a two-way flow of information. Council hydrologists would be able to offer the groups data on the status of ground and surface water, while also tapping into user insights to bounce ideas off, or through consultation on policy, he says. As an example, those reliant on Springs water (see pg13) could be

part of the conversation on recent modelling looking at how abstraction from the Wairau Aquifer impacts on the Springs that rise in the mid-plains, says Pete. “If we pump in certain areas and restrict in certain areas, what are the benefits to the Springs? If we turned off, how long would they take to accrue? Do we need to do it 60 days out of a drought and rising? Those are the sort of questions that model is very good at answering.” The Awatere Water Users Group was formed in 1994 with support from the MDC. Its purpose was to liaise with or submit to council on water related matters, which recently included making submissions on the PMEP. The group has worked steadily on various water related issues over its lifetime, a period of significant vineyard growth in the Awatere Valley. Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth says that group is an example of how a community of water users can work together and with council to ensure better outcomes. The Awatere group is not directly involved in day-to-

The curious case of the Wairau Aquifer The Wairau Aquifer has dropped by about a metre since 1973, but Marlborough District Council (MDC) hydrologists are still researching the causes. Staff are working with scientists in New Zealand and Germany to investigate the relationship between the aquifer and the Wairau River, and how the latter seeps into and recharges the aquifer. MDC groundwater scientist Pete Davidson says they do not know whether the drop in the aquifer is a natural phenomenon or due to human intervention, including flood control and drainage, gravel quarrying and the increase in water taken from the river or pumped from the aquifer. Monitoring shows that the aquifer level continues to drop during the winter, when irrigation is turned off.

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day water management as groups in other regions are, he says. “But there is opportunity for them to assist council with determining management strategies, such as advising on the relative effects of different water rationing strategies”. Grape growers keen to get involved in water user groups, or to learn more, can contact Vance Kerslake at

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Forgotten Corners Native trees, healthy vines and an innovative cover crop SOPHIE PREECE

SHINY BLUE stilettos nudge mudcrusted gumboots at Kirsty Harkness’s front door, in a high-heeled homage to their owner’s double life. The managing director and co-owner of Mount Base Vineyards spends much of her time in Auckland, where she’s known as a photographer, and the rest at their Waihopai Valley vineyard, where she transforms into a grower. But these days that’s the least of this businesswoman’s double ups. Because over summer, she watched leafy green hemp flourish amid Sauvignon Blanc rows, in a trial to boost vineyard health and income. Kirsty is the first grape grower in New Zealand licensed to grow industrial hemp, thanks to legislation passed in November 2018 allowing the seed to be grown as a food product. That’s a potential extra income, but she’s just

as interested in hemp as a cover crop, attracting insects while it stands, and nurturing the soil when it is mulched in on site. Kirsty was reluctant to talk of the three trial sites over summer, concerned that people wouldn’t understand the vast difference between the high-inducing marijuana and its quiet cousin hemp, which contains negligible amounts of THC (see sidebox). However, the success of three trial sites has led to plans to apply for permission to plant out more than 60 hectares of vineyard in Marlborough next season, making Kirsty a significant player in New Zealand’s hemp production. The industrial hemp is just the latest example of her commitment to Mount Base, which was seriously ailing when she took over its management

in 2010. What she lacked in knowledge about horticulture she made up for with stubborn determination, nurturing the vines and soil back to health. The trained nurse says she didn’t know much about vines, but knew that the healthier a human body, the more resilient it is. She and her vineyard team called on plenty of advice and help, then used seaweed fertilisers, effective microorganisms and estate-made compost to bolster the redeemable vines, while replanting those beyond help. “This block was 70% dead. It’s been hard yards to get it looking like this,” she says, looking over rosy-cheeked rows of Sauvignon Blanc. Over the past nine years she has trialled alyssum, mustard seed and buckwheat as cover crops for her vines, but last year became intrigued by the

Staying grounded with industrial hemp While hemp and marijuana are both varieties of Cannabis sativa, they each pack a wildly different punch. Marijuana can contain up to 30% THC, the intoxicating substance that gives users a high, while hemp will keep you grounded, with less than 0.3% (per dry weight) THC. Some strains of hemp, on the other hand, contain much more CBD, a non-intoxicating compound with medical applications.

16 / Winepress May 2019

Hemp has been grown in the United States for centuries and over that time has been bred to purpose. It can be used to make rope, clothes, and other textiles, and is also being used in construction material and medicines. The seeds are edible, and that is what Kirsty is licensed to grow for, with a strain that is low in both CBD (around 2%) and THC (around 0.3%) but bred for fibre and seeds.

potential of hemp. “I thought, ‘why not trial something that could potentially give us a second income down the track?’”. Getting a licence was easier said than done, with a “thousand hoops” to jump through. Two attempts were denied before Kirsty brought together the “best team” she could, including a regulatory consultant from California, the vice president of New Zealand’s hemp association, and scientist Dr Mark Krasnow, who has funding from Callaghan Innovation to write a research paper on the trials. The rigmarole was absolutely worth the effort, she says. “So far it’s incredible. The insect life is far superior to what we expected.” The hemp gets a little caterpillar that attracts Trichogramma wasps, a natural predator of the light brown apple moth, and was covered in ladybugs and praying mantes over the growing season, along with all other manner of beneficial insects. There were significantly more insects among the rows with hemp than in the rest of the vines, she says. Once the seed was harvested in March, the remaining plant matter was mulched into the vineyard, putting valuable resource back into the soil that grew it. “Our first soil samples are positive, and the first wine trials had very exciting results,” says Kirsty. The symbiotic planting is capturing the attention of others as well, and a number of organic growers have asked Kirsty to help get them licences for the year ahead. Thoughtful Viticulture’s Mark Krasnow says the real benefit he sees for vineyards is the ease of growing hemp. “Even in this outrageously dry season, when the seeds were put in rather late, after the soil moisture was pretty much depleted, Kirsty was still able to grow a crop,” he says. “The hemp and the vines were the only green things in her vineyard. They were remarkably self-sufficient, unlike other mid-row cover crops used in New Zealand vineyards, such as buckwheat, phacelia, and clover, which all dried off during the drought.” Mark says growing the hemp as

a cover crop has potential to add back organic matter and create a mulch when mowed down, in order to maintain soil moisture and improve soil structure. “Next season we will do a standardised study to investigate further whether the hemp competes with grapes for water or nutrients, what effect the hemp has on grape ripening and health, and whether having the hemp in the vineyard negatively impacts wine quality.” It is “certainly exciting times”, he adds. “I cannot wait for next season to really ratchet up our trials and assess the viability of a new cover crop for New Zealand viticulture.” Mount Base Vineyards is about far more than vines and hemp, with Kirsty determined to create a diverse environment on the land. Until she built Base Camp last year - now home to her boots and heels - she lived in a 1976 Bedford bus by the river, with an outdoor shower sprouting from a tree just beyond. An orchard went in nearby, as did an olive grove, beehives, and hundreds of natives along the stone walls that mark the Waihopai River boundary. “What we are trying to do is get the tui,” she says. “The waxeyes, which love to eat the grapes, we want gone and the tui are territorial, so when they move in the wax-eyes move out.” She loves the pheasants that have made their home there too, along with 80 or so quails that scamper along by the river. “I wanted it to be about more than a monoculture of vines.” Nine years into her double life, Kirsty is as comfortable with her hemp as she is her vines, and in her

gumboots as she is her stilettos. On the day we talk, she is helping drench lambs in the neighbour’s yards, before releasing them to graze the vineyards. Staff get a sheep each when the flock leaves at budburst, and the rest are sold, with the staff having a hand in deciding what the profits will be spent on around the property. But it’s been an arduous journey, “and I think had I known what I was in for I probably would have said no”, she admits. “One of my friends said to me at the beginning ‘you have taken on a dog, but set yourself a 10 year plan and just take it one year at a time’. That was the best advice,” she says. “It would have been too overwhelming otherwise, and I hit my target in eight years.” Forgotten Corners is a Winepress series on boosting biodiversity by planting out unused parts of your vineyard. Winepress is keen to showcase Forgotten Corners, whether they’re modest or vast. If you have one, please email Sophie at

The Whaling Tree at Base Camp A gnarled old macrocarpa - named the Whaling Tree - stands on a ridgeline above Mount Base Vineyards. Kirsty’s neighbour explained that in the old days its boughs were draped with big slabs of whale meat, which workers would carve dog tucker from each night. The tree is full of lead, thanks to the same workers using it for target practice, but these days it is a treasured part of the property, used only to host birds, cast shade on ‘Base Camp’, and hold a couple of hanging chairs. Native grasses and trees flourish on the bank below, once dominated by gorse, interspersed with picturesque pathways that Kirsty created by lugging rocks up from the river boundary.

Winepress May 2019 / 17

Industry Pioneer Neal and Judy Ibbotson have helped transform Marlborough’s wine industy


BACK IN 1978, Neal and Judy Ibbotson dipped a tentative toe into the world of wine when they answered the call from Montana for contract grape growers. “We were among the original nine growers,” says Neal, recalling how Judy, with the support of her father Harry and a small team of helpers, began hand-planting Müller-Thurgau on the couple’s New Renwick Rd property. They planted about two hectares each year. Neal, who was still working as a farm consultant, pitched in to help at weekends. “We had the 15ha here and saw this as an opportunity to farm the land more profitably,” he says. “We really happened to be in the right place at the right time.” Their timing was certainly spot on. Fast-forward 40 years and these two viticulture pioneers now oversee Saint Clair Family Estate, one of New Zealand’s largest family-owned wineries. They have 16 vineyards in Marlborough – mostly owned but also leased – plus one in Hawke’s Bay. The flagship wine is Saint Clair, though they bought the Delta Wine Company 18 / Winepress May 2019

in 2014 and added Lake Chalice two years later. The company has had its own winery at Riverlands since 2006, while the Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen, restaurant and cellar door, is on Selmes Rd, just off Rapaura Rd. They employ about 40 staff, including five winemakers, among them Hamish Clark, who has been there since the 2000 vintage. And although most of their wine is sold in New Zealand, they have opened up numerous export markets, notably in Britain, Sweden, Australia, the United States and, surprisingly, the Ukraine. The success story won’t end there. The Ibbotsons’ three adult children are all directors of the company and involved in various roles, ensuring the Saint Clair legacy will continue when Neal and Judy eventually step aside. Daughters Sarina, who trained as a teacher, and Julie, a nurse, have since graduated in wine business marketing in Adelaide and are involved in the day-to-day running of Saint Clair. Son Tony, who has his own design business

in Sydney, handles all aspects of design for the company. Establishing a dynasty like this didn’t seem so likely when Neal and Judy first arrived independently in Blenheim. They met and married in the late 1960s. Neal was born and raised in Dunedin. He worked on farms in Southland before studying valuation and farm management at Lincoln College (now University). In 1967 he moved to Marlborough as a rural valuer and farm consultant. Judy was following a similar arc about a year behind Neal. Originally from the West Coast, she trained for two years as a school dental nurse in Christchurch before jobs in South Westland and Kaikoura finally led to a school clinic in Blenheim in 1968. Their relationship began in a slightly unorthodox fashion, with each dating the other’s flatmate. Once they got that sorted out, they married at Greymouth in April 1968, meaning the Ibbotsons celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last April. Like many couples just starting out

in those days, they didn’t have much money – Neal laughs as he recalls going to the bank for a loan to buy the engagement ring. Judy continued dental nursing at schools in the Wairau Valley, Renwick and Blenheim until the children came along, while Neal worked as a farm adviser and rural valuer. At the same time, this enterprising couple set their sights on buying their own slice of paradise – the New Renwick Rd property where they built the house they still live in today. But to make that initial purchase they first tackled three do-ups: houses in Hospital Rd, Brewer St and Maxwell Rd. “We brought the children up saying, ‘mind the paintbrush’,” Judy quips. They lived about two years in each of those houses before they could afford what they really wanted. “I was always keen to buy a farm but had no money,” says Neal. “So this was bought initially as a stepping stone to a farm.” Although they ended up staying on this property, adding another 5ha along the way, the couple’s entrepreneurial spirit continued to shine bright. At one stage they ran 100 fattening pigs on their 15ha, then they had a cattle grazing company, and after that they joined forces with a local farmer leasing out three high-fertility Booroola merino rams. They also

borrowed money to buy rental properties in Blenheim, which they kept for about seven years before selling them to free up capital needed to launch themselves into the grape-growing A family firm business. Montana began planting vines in Marlborough in 1973 and five years later they put out the call for contract growers. “I think only nine applied because it was a new enterprise and at the time there were lots of people who wondered whether the industry would ever be successful,” says Neal. He concedes there was an element of risk but reckons his knowledge of farming conditions in Marlborough probably helped his decision to go with Montana. “We knew other horticultural crops did well here and we thought the grapes would too.” The couple also tried to minimise any risk by soaking up all the information they could about grape growing. “It was a big learning curve,” Judy admits. “We used to take ourselves off to Lincoln the odd weekend to learn more.” Neal says Montana was also very good at making information available and at

the first growers’ meeting they were fortunate to meet fellow contractor Henk Ruesink, already a successful horticulturist. “He taught us more about growing grapes than anyone else and was also the first grape grower to introduce trickle irrigation into Marlborough – and probably New Zealand,” says Neal. “People laughed at that. They thought it would dilute the wine.” After making research trips to Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, the Ibbotsons were convinced that Marlborough soils would be suitable for grape growing. They also tapped into the experience and knowledge of Nelson pioneer grape grower Hermann Seifried, establishing a friendship with him and his wife Agnes that has endured across four decades. Hermann advised the Ibbotsons to use grafted cuttings because of the risk of phylloxera, a microscopic pest

Naming sponsors walk the talk at Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon Judy Ibbotson (pictured) has crossed the finish line of the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon 13 years in a row, since Saint Clair became naming sponsor of the very first event in 2006. Her husband Neal has taken a little longer to warm up; this month he will hit the trail for the first time, and says he’s looking forward to a “different view” of the half marathon. “While I enjoy what I’ve been doing for previous years, welcoming everyone on the day and watching and supporting others, it will be good to actually enjoy the amazing scenery Marlborough has to offer and be a part of this ‘must do’ event.” Julie Ibbotson says the company and family are proud to be part of an event that brings people together from all over New Zealand and overseas for a “showcase” of Marlborough. Event co-owner and organiser Anna Polson says the support from the Ibbotsons has been

brilliant since day one. “They offer their venue, the winners’ wine, and ongoing support and encouragement. We couldn’t do it without them.” Beyond the naming sponsor, the wine industry is key to the event’s success, with the course cutting through 22 vineyard properties which are polished and preened for the big day, so that runners and walkers get a postcard perfect view of Marlborough’s autumnal vines. “They get on board because the vineyard half showcases the Marlborough region in a unique way – people get right in amongst the vines and alongside the river to places that they normally can’t get to.”

Winepress May 2019 / 19

that eats away the vine roots. However, they’d never heard of the disease and, like others in Marlborough’s fledgling grape industry, ignored the advice. Ten years later phylloxera blasted the province, forcing growers to replant using grafted rootstock. Everyone took a financial hit but the dark phylloxera cloud had an unexpected silver lining. “Prior to this the local industry had been growing Müller-Thurgau for the domestic ‘bag-and-box’ market,” says Neal. “Phylloxera came along just as the first Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs were receiving awards overseas, so the industry was becoming aware that Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was something special.” Accordingly, the Ibbotsons joined many other growers in taking out diseased or vulnerable Müller-Thurgau and replanting with Sauvignon Blanc, the variety that has since cemented New Zealand’s reputation as a leading global wine producer. That change also triggered another major decision: to leave Montana

and strike out on their own under the Neal says they still enjoy the banner of Saint Clair, a name based on challenge of finding new markets, and James Sinclair, one of the early settlers although they have cut down on their in Marlborough, whose family once globetrotting, they continue to attend owned the land where the Ibbotsons Düsseldorf’s ProWein Fair in Germany now live. “That was the start of us each year. However, these days they moving from being a contract grower are equally focused on making time to to becoming a wine producer. But that enjoy their seven grandchildren and didn’t happen overnight. We started a family bach they bought three years small. Our first year, 1994, we made ago at Kaiteriteri. 4,000 cases. We were very fortunate to The Ibbotsons believe their be able to employ Kim Crawford [who success over the past 40 years was with Saint Clair for about eight reflects the general performance of years] as a consultant winemaker and the Marlborough wine industry and that year the three wines we produced mirrors the success of other local all won medals.” family wineries such as Allan Scott, Neal says that early success gave Hunter’s and Wairau River. “Our aim them the confidence to increase has never been to be the biggest,” says production, and in 1995 they went to Neal. “Our aim has always been to the London Wine Trade Fair and began be the best, and we’re still working at to find overseas distributors. That has that.” proved an ongoing process that now This story ran in Wild Tomato gives them a foothold in more than magazine and is published with their 70 markets. “Distribution is one of the permission most important keys to a successful winery. Without good distribution, it’s PCL AD extremely difficult to get the wine onWinepress 2016.pdf 1 15/07/16 3:21 PM the shelf.”


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Women in Wine Spring Timlin knows firsthand the value of workplace mentoring

WHEN SPRING Timlin first became aware of the Women in Wine New Zealand Mentoring Programme, she thought about applying to become a mentee. With just eight years in the wine industry, the young winemaker viewed herself a fairly young player in the game. But her career has been one of quick development, and saw her make her way up the ranks from cellar to lab to winemaking and most recently into the role of winemaker, New Zealand, at Matua Wines. So when she told friends she was keen to apply to the Women in Wine Programme, “they asked ‘why are you only being a mentee?’” Spring says. “I realised that so many women aren’t stepping up into those [mentor] roles and I realised I had fallen into that trap myself, so I decided to put my name down and see if I got chosen.” Spring was one of 10 women throughout the country to be selected as a mentor for the 2019 programme, which runs for six months. “We do a check-up every month and at the start it really depends on what the mentee wants out of it. They have signed up

for a reason and they may have a very clear path, or they may not, so it’s our job to help them get there and help them set goals and to face any challenges they have on the way.” Spring’s entire career in the wine industry has been with Matua Wines, where she feels lucky to have had supportive mentors and managers to help her progress. Volunteering as a mentor has given her a chance to reflect on her career in the wine industry, which was originally inspired by her work in restaurants and bars. Spring began studying winemaking at the age of 25, and while landing a role as a winemaker was always the ultimate goal, it was through the backing of her own superiors and colleagues that she felt she was able to move through the ranks so quickly. “I was given a lot of opportunities by my company. When I look back I feel like they saw more in me than I saw in myself,” she says. “My managers have been really good at focusing on talent rather than age and experience… I definitely had a couple of managers along the way that really

backed me and I felt confident to take risks because I knew they would be there for me.” Managing and guiding her colleagues is now one of the best parts of the job for Spring. “For me, managing people and coaching people is the most challenging but also the most rewarding part of my role; it’s what I most enjoy and I wanted to expand that out of the company,” she says. Spring feels lucky to work for a company which has been an advocate for equality in the workplace, saying they have a good balance of both men and women on the team in a variety of roles. Industry wide, she believes there is more work to be done in terms of promoting the wine industry as a career option for women, and that programmes like the Women in Wine New Zealand Mentoring Programme will only help. “Giving the young females the confidence to move into the industry and into those leadership roles later on, it’s crucial,” Spring says. “It’s a privilege to be involved.” Winepress May 2019 / 21

Generation Y-ine A global pursuit of fine wine

A CAREER in winemaking and viticulture was not high on the agenda for Vilma Martikainen as a child. Growing up in Finland meant the industry was not one she had much knowledge of. Wine, on the other hand, was a different story. “I love wine. My parents have always been really big wine enthusiasts and my dad used to order wines from Italy,” Vilma says. “When I was younger we travelled quite a lot of Europe and wine was something kind of like water, they would drink it with dinner and things like that.” Like fine wines, Vilma fell in love with travelling and for the past two years has been able to combine her two passions here in Marlborough, where she’s studying towards a Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT). Her first taste of New Zealand came during an exchange to Motueka High School in 2010, where a careers expo opened her eyes to the possibility of pursuing winemaking as a career. During a stint working in hospitality in Motueka after leaving school, Vilma 22 / Winepress May 2019

learned a lot about Marlborough wines and decided it would be the ideal place to gain her qualifications. “I realised how big Sauvignon Blanc was here… I contacted several wineries to see if they would take me on board as an apprentice, but they nearly all replied that nowadays you need a degree.” So she signed up for NMIT’s course, attracted to its location in New Zealand’s wine capital, and has been thankful for the opportunity to get some real-world experience in the industry. “I thought it was going to be 8 ‘til 4 [classes] but it’s a lot of independent working and there’s a lot of practical work which is good.” During the first year of her studies, Vilma learned the art of pruning, and her second year required her to complete a vintage. Now in her third year, Vilma has to complete a research project, meaning she spends much of her time outside of class in the newly established Bragato Research Institute. Housed for now at the Marlborough Research Centre, the institute is set to be fully operational by 2020, and is being formed on a vision of an integrated national hub

for viticulture and oenology. Vilma and her colleagues at the research centre are in the process of testing out the hub’s brand new custom-designed experimental wine tanks. “There are three 200 litre tanks and another two 200l tanks with 17l inserts. All the inserts are in a water bath so they can be temperature controlled in the same way so that it reduces the variables and we’re comparing them with commercial scale tanks.” Vilma also works part-time at Delegat Wines and hopes to continue working in Marlborough after completing her studies, which she is looking forward to doing this year. She’s glad she took a chance on pursuing a career based on her love of wine. ”It’s really amazing when you decide to study something and get to apply your knowledge in the industry, so that every month and year you realise you are in the right industry and it is exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life,” she says. “It’s really cool and it’s rewarding, especially after doing all the study.”

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Biosecurity Watch Grape Days preview SOPHIE BADLAND

THE NEW Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) biosecurity team will be at the regional Grape Days events next month. We will provide an update on the recently arrived industry pest Harmonia axyridis (the harlequin ladybird), and a rundown of some easy steps growers can take towards good biosecurity practices in the vineyard. This month’s column is a preview of these presentations, so you’ve got time to think about any questions you might have for us after the sessions. Harlequin ladybird update The harlequin ladybird first arrived in Auckland in 2016. Since then it has spread rapidly and can now be found throughout the North Island and in regions of the upper South Island. The harlequin ladybird is a generalist predator (with aphids being its preferred prey) that is known to feed on damaged fruit, including wine grapes when other food sources are limited. Larger than other ladybirds, it will prey on these too, so has the potential to reduce populations of beneficial insects in New Zealand vineyards. Overseas, grape clusters infested with harlequin ladybird have been linked to taint and unpleasant odours in wine. When under attack or crushed, the harlequin releases an odour made up of several methoxypyrazines. If the ladybirds

aggregate in the vines at harvest, they may be harvested along with the grapes and contaminate any wine produced with ‘ladybird taint’. As the days get cooler, the ladybirds head into outbuildings and other vineyard structures. In 2018, NZW received several reports of harlequin aggregations inside vineyard buildings and frost-fighting equipment, mostly from the Hawke’s Bay region. Learning more about the pest During 2018, NZW contracted Plant & Food Research to undertake a literature review about harlequin ladybird, to get a better idea of the potential impact it could have on the New Zealand wine industry. The review report was received in December 2018 and can be found on the NZW members’ website, along with a summary document. It highlighted several opportunities for further research, as much remains unknown in the New Zealand context. NZW also asked growers to keep an eye out for aggregations of harlequin ladybird in the vines and fruit clusters prior to harvest. We received reports of sightings of low numbers of adults, larvae and egg clusters from several sites, but there were no issues with aggregations in the fruit prior to harvest that we are aware of – good news! We encourage members to report further sightings of harlequin ladybird to us over the

winter period. NZW and the Bragato Research Institute have again engaged Plant & Food Research to monitor the movement of harlequin ladybird in the vineyard and nearby habitat throughout the autumn harvest period and into winter. A better understanding of when and where aggregation is occurring will help to determine the potential risk of taint to wine, as well as the best opportunities to implement control strategies. Four Hawke’s Bay vineyards close to riverbanks with willow trees (habitat of giant willow aphid, a preferred food of the harlequin) are taking part in the monitoring project. All life stages of the harlequin have been detected in the willows, along with many aphids, but very few have been found in vineyards so far. This suggests that while there is plenty of prey available, there is little need for the ladybirds to move into the vineyards. At the time of writing (midApril), no ladybirds have been found inside vineyard outbuildings. However, they are expected to begin searching for overwintering sites shortly. A more detailed update will be presented at Grape Days. Vineyard biosecurity – what does it mean for you? The recent biosecurity responses to PSA, Mycoplasma bovis, potato mop top virus and myrtle rust have really


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

highlighted the need for primary producers to ensure good biosecurity practice is taking place on their sites. Having a biosecurity plan in place and maintaining good hygiene practices will help to protect your vineyard and minimise the impact of an incursion of a serious pest or disease. Getting started is easy Understandably, lack of time, expense, and lack of tools are the most cited reasons for wine industry participants not having a biosecurity plan in place. While lack of time is always going to be a difficult issue to overcome, it is better to spend some time embedding a good biosecurity culture on your site now as opposed to trying to do it hurriedly when a new pest or disease arrives. NZW is committed to helping growers put good biosecurity practices into place in the vineyard and recommend a few simple things that can be easily done without major expense. Site assessment Use our Biosecurity Site Assessment to understand where your site is currently

at with biosecurity best practice. This tool will also help you identify priority areas for improvement and links in with the ‘Ensuring Vineyard Biosecurity’ guidelines. Both the Site Assessment and the guidelines are available at www.nzwine. com/members/grow/biosecurity/ protecting-your-vineyards/. Signage Getting biosecurity signage in place is easy and can be relatively cheap at up to $45 per sign through online sites such as The Signmaker, who now have specific signage for vineyard gates. Go to to see their range. Jacson Cube Jacson3 have designed a footwear biosecurity system specifically for use in vineyards, orchards, forests and farms. It comes as a portable plastic cube complete with hose attachments and brushes for thoroughly cleaning soil and plant material off footwear which may be contaminated and likely to spread pests, disease or weeds.

Giant willow aphid; preferred prey of the harlequin ladybird. Image credit: Vaughn Bell and Tara Taylor, Plant & Food Research

Check out https://www.cleanboots. for more information. Contact the team The NZW biosecurity team is always happy to visit members on-site to discuss biosecurity plans, issues, talk to staff and contractors, or run a workshop or training session. Get in touch with us on biosecurity@nzwine. com or give Ed (021 192 4924) or Sophie (027 700 4142) a call. Most importantly, if you see anything unusual, Catch it; Snap it; Report it – call the Biosecurity New Zealand hotline 0800 80 99 66 to report your find.

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Winepress May 2019 / 25

Industry News Wine company has grape marc challenge covered Yealands Estate has put a lid on its grape marc pressures, thanks to an 80-metre long grape marc pad protected by a gable roof. Chief operating officer Michael Wentworth says the pad can contain up to 6,000 tonnes of grape marc, along with the necessary wood chip or green waste required for composting, while the roof protects it from more than a million litres of rainfall. “Composting is something we have been doing for quite some time, but traditionally we have done it outside on five engineered marc pads,” says Michael. “The challenge there is you are always competing with the elements.” Composting grape marc is “fraught with challenges”, including leachate and how it is managed, especially when it gets wet. Those challenges saw several companies fall foul of the law in 2016, and the wine industry take a fresh look at its grape marc. Last year Yealands Estate decided to take control of the situation by investing in a facility that can manage the winery’s entire production of grape marc, which is the skin, pulp, stalks and seeds left over from wine production, without the risk of polluting through leachates. The roof is 10 metres above the concrete pad, which has partial walls, allowing for plenty of circulation through the building. Any moisture that comes from the marc runs into channels at the side of the building and is captured in storage tanks, then recirculated over the compost. Water

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from the roof will be harvested into a large bladder that can later be used for cleaning and general operations. Michael says the roofed pad stood up well to the challenge of its first vintage, with no odour or leachate issues. The company is working closely with the Marlborough District Council on scientific analysis, to establish how and when the product starts breaking down, and the water and juice turns into leachate. “Council have been fantastic and very proactive in terms of helping us determine what it is we will measure and how frequently, and setting up the testing protocol,” he says. “We will look to make that information available to the wider industry at some stage, once we have our heads around it.” In the pad’s first run this vintage, Yealands brought in wood shavings to add carbon content to the compost. However, Michael says in the future it will work with council facilities to utilise the surplus of green waste. “If we can: a) find an economical source; and b) relieve another issue, then it’s a win win.” He says Yealands sees the marc compost as a valuable resource, especially in areas like Seaview, which has “challenging soil conditions”. The contained facility will allow the company to develop the compost over a six to nine month period and then return it to the land at the right time, reducing the need for irrigation and herbicide while nurturing the soil.

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we worry, how self-talk can lead to negative self-talk, and how to beat rural challenges like isolation and change. Working for You 2019: A refresher on employing and contracting labour

Photo Richard Briggs

Grape Days Grape Days is on at the ASB Theatre in Blenheim on June 19. Climate change, biosecurity and vineyard health are the themes for the 2019 New Zealand Winegrowers’ event. The programme includes a vintage 2019 update by Philip Gregan, a vineyard ecosystems programme update, mealy bug control, climate change and what it means for your region, and a biosecurity update that includes the harlequin ladybird. Safety, wellness and resilience Following a packed tour of the North Island rural communities, Lance Burdett is coming to Marlborough with the Rural Support Trust to talk about resilience in the face of stress and pressure. The talk, on at the ASB Theatre Marlborough from 5pm on May 21 will look at why we remember and exaggerate negative things, why

Are you an employer? Do you have staff who work in vineyards or wineries in Marlborough? Do you use contractors in your vineyard or winery? If so, Wine Marlborough encourages you to attend an informal discussion with labour inspectors Laurie Norton, David O’Shea, Vanessa Dobber and Cate Fisher. The focus is on practical information relating to employing a labour force that works on a vineyard or in a winery. The event is from 2pm to 3.30pm on Wednesday 15 May at the Marlborough Research Centre theatre. Please RSVP to Vance at by 2.00pm on Tuesday 14 May. Wine Marlborough update The situation with the processing and storage of grape marc is much improved this vintage according to feedback from the Marlborough District Council and members. Wine Marlborough visited the Indevin grape marc spreading operation at Bankhouse and the Pacific Rim Environmental Services Ltd grape marc drying operation located out at Riverlands. Wine Marlborough worked with Aaron Jay (Hortus and elected RSE representative) and Tanya Pouwhare

(Grapeworx and elected RSE representative) to update our regional numbers and forecast for the next RSE cap increase. The Marlborough Labour Governance Group met on May 1 to discuss and endorse the recommendation to the Ministry for Social Development. We also worked with New Zealand Winegrowers to provide updated content for the MBIE Labour Supply and Demand model, which is a key input to the RSE cap increase process. Wine Marlborough has been part of the establishment group for the successful cross-industry Smart+Connected for Labour and Skills. This has already paid dividends with a regional submission on proposed changes to employer-assisted work visas and regional workforce planning and a ‘Marlborough Inc.’ submission on reform of vocational education. Wine Marlborough is working with council to investigate how we establish water users groups for key catchments (see pg 12). Working collaboratively with council will be key for future management of our precious freshwater resources. The next regular Marlborough Winegrowers meeting with Council is May 21, if you have any issues you want us to raise with Council email Vance Kerslake, Advocacy Manager

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Winepress May 2019 / 27

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

To have your event included in next monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wine Happenings or Industry News pages, please email details to by May 20. For more information on these events, email Harriet Wadworth at harriet@wineâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;

MAY 3 9-12 11 15 16 21 30

International Sauvignon Blanc Day #sauvblanc #nzwine #winemarlborough Feast Marlborough, at various venues - Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon - Working for You 2019: A refresher on employing and contracting labour (see pg 26) Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition Education Day Lance Burdett talks safety, wellness and resilience for Rural Support Trust. ASB Theatre, 5pm. (see pg 26) Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year Information Evening

JUNE 19 NZW Grape Days, ASB Theatre, Blenheim 25-27 Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference, Marlborough JULY 4 5-7 8

Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition Marlborough Book Festival - New Zealand Winegrowers Diversity and Inclusion Seminar

Sauvignon Blanc Day - May 3

Feast Marlborough - May 9-12

Marlborough Book Festival - July 5-7

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Winepress - May 2019  

This edition of Winepress magazine looks into the insights of industrial hemp, waterways, labour laws and vintage2019 in Marlborough. 

Winepress - May 2019  

This edition of Winepress magazine looks into the insights of industrial hemp, waterways, labour laws and vintage2019 in Marlborough.