The first juice arrived at the research winery in March, just before the uncertainty of lockdown and Covid restrictions. While the research winery wasn’t deemed an essential service, as a primary industry or a research organisation, we were given permission to operate as our staff worked and lived in the same bubble. Research Winery Manager Tanya Rutan and her trusty assistant, Viticulture Extension Manager Len Ibbotson, worked tirelessly through harvest to complete the trials that had begun before lockdown.
Now in Level 2, with the bottling equipment commissioned, we are excited to bottle trials from our inaugural vintage. From exploring aromas in Pinot Noir to testing yeast and enzyme products in Sauvignon Blanc, all commercial trials were successfully completed this first year.
This doesn’t mean our work is done, with more trials and research set to begin with frozen juice and grape marc. One of the most exciting is the recent investment from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to study grape marc’s potential in making hand sanitiser. At the office, the rest of our people—from Auckland to Canterbury—continued to operate from their bedrooms, kitchens and home offices during Level 4 and Level 3. Now well into Level 2, many of our staff are still working from home (a standard way of working for one-quarter of our staff), with others rotating into the office at the Marlborough Research Centre campus. While we are taking all precautions and aren’t inviting visitors to the office just yet, we are available via phone or email for the industry’s research needs.