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Vintage 2022: harvesting for BRI viticulture research trials 

Vintage 2022 for BRI’s viticulture extension team meant harvesting fruit from trials across multiple vineyards, taking the next step in research which covers the entire cycle from viticulture to finished wine. 

Trial harvests were for both commercial clients and levy-funded research initiatives, including remedial surgery for grapevine trunk disease, a comparison of long spur with 4-cane pruning, and the influence on foliar applied fertiliser on vine recovery after frost. 

Vintage for all growers is effectively one bunch at a time but for BRI it’s slow, detailed work.  Harvesting means handpicking each vine, keeping those grapes separate so bunches can be counted, the production of each vine weighed, and sometimes berries individually counted and assessed for disease.

At this harvest on the Templar Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Sauvignon Blanc grapes were picked for research into the use of remedial surgery as a management tool for grapevine trunk disease. The study is a collaboration, led by researchers from Linnaeus Laboratories in Gisborne and the South Australian Research and Development Institute and the Villa Maria viticulture team. The multi-year investigation is considering the economic recovery, how quickly the vines return to accepted cropping levels and longevity of remediated vines. This year, BRI is also assessing the effect of remedial surgery on wine quality. 

Vines from four different vineyards were also harvested as part of research into long-spur pruning of Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough, comparing it with the 4-cane pruning option.  Research is considering cost and yield, as well as looking at the incidence of disease, and wine quality. The trial is a collaboration between BRI, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and Mark Allen Vineyard Advisory Services.

Extension manager Len Ibbotson says the exciting part of this year’s harvest is seeing the whole team involved in the Applied Viticulture trials, learning alongside growers and other researchers.

The 2021 report on remedial surgery practices for control of grapevine trunk disease, to increase vineyard longevity is below:

PDF link

Come along to Grape Days 2022 for the latest updates on both projects: