CURRENT RESEARCH

Research Programmes


 

The wine industry has three major programmes under way and more in the pipeline. Each of these programmes comprise multiple projects and research partners, over several years.

Lighter Wines

Vineyard Ecosystems

Pinot Noir

2019-2020 Projects

Lighter Wines: Diversification and new wine styles


Objective: Position New Zealand as the world leader for high-quality, naturally grown lower-alcohol wines. The programme started in 2014 and runs to December 2020.

Total Funding: $16.97m, comprising $8.84m from industry levies and participating companies and $8.13m from Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

Research: Health and wellness consumer trends are not only in clear alignment with the NZ Lighter Wines Programme but look set to continue far beyond its conclusion at the end of 2020. The lower-alcohol wines developed via the New Zealand Winegrowers/PGP research partnership represent a new product category, one that can already be celebrated for market leadership and critical acclaim.

Participating companies now offer 45 products in the no, low, and lower-alcohol niche. Export sales increased by 57% in the year to May 2020, reaching $8.8 million, while annual domestic sales held their own at $31.4 million.

As a result of the R&D investment, NZ Lighter Wines deliver premium, full-flavoured wines that frequently win awards in open-class wine competitions. In the past 12 months, there have been 50 new export trade listings, primarily in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Internationally, New Zealand is now considered the world leader in this rapidly developing wine category.

For more information on the Lighter Wines Programme, click here to visit the members’ login area of the New Zealand Winegrowers’ website. More information is also found on the NZ Lighter Wines website.

Vineyard Ecosystems: Pest and disease, sustainability


Objective: To research and understand how management choices affect New Zealand vineyards, to increase sustainable winegrowing in the future. The programme started in 2015 and runs to December 2021.

Total Funding: $7m comprising $3.5m each from New Zealand Winegrower levies and Ministry Business, Innovation and Employment Partnership Fund.

Research: The Vineyard Ecosystems Programme examines how vineyard management activities can enhance biodiversity and improve grapevine performance. Work now focuses on the complex statistical modelling and analysis needed to verify trends and indicate cause and effect. While these efforts continue through to the end of the programme in 2021, applied research areas are now being summarised for industry uptake, including reduced herbicide applications for weed management, providing alternative habitats for mealybug control, and pruning wound protection against grapevine trunk disease.

For previous reports from the Vineyard Ecosystems programme, visit the members’ section of New Zealand Winegrowers website.

Pinot Noir: Quality and productivity, diversification


Objective: Growing returns through tools enabling high-quality Pinot Noir production at higher yields. The programme began in 2017 and runs to September 2022.

Total Funding: $10.3m comprising $1m from industry levies and $9.3m from MBIE’s Endeavour Fund.

Research: The programme is nearing the end of its third year. Good progress has been made in the research fields of sensory perception, chemistry, and viticultural and winemaking techniques, which have allowed researchers to begin formulating hypotheses around the definitions and measurements of quality for New Zealand Pinot Noir. The past year saw the expansion of the programme with the addition of two projects to examine the effect of macromolecules (polysaccharides) and their content in wine, as well as further understanding of green/herbaceous sensorial perception and implications for product acceptance.

More information about this programme:

  • Parr, W.V., Grose, C., Hedderley, D., Medel Maraboli, M., Masters, O., Araujo, L.D., & Valentin, D. (2020). Perception of quality and complexity in wine and their links to varietal typicality: An investigation involving Pinot noir wine and professional tasters. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2020.109423.
  • For previous reports from the Vineyard Ecosystems programme, visit the members’ section of New Zealand Winegrowers website.

Active projects 2019-2020


Wine research in New Zealand is funded by New Zealand Winegrowers’ levies, Government and individual organisations. Programmes and projects are collaborations, which can include universities, Crown Research Institutes, industry consultants, international researchers and other organisations.

Viticulture

Physical means (mechanical shaking) versus chemicals to reduce rot

Project title: A comparison of physical means to reduce rot versus chemical means in New Zealand vineyards

Objectives: The objectives of this project are to assess the viability of mechanical shaking as an alternative to botyticide sprays and to characterise the effects of mechanical shaking on rot incidence and severity, berry skin toughness, and vine gas exchange and water relations, and to compare shaking practice against commonly used botyticides.

Lead researcher: Dr Mark Krasnow

Research organisation: Thoughtful Viticulture

Years: 2018-2021

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

Viticulture treatments for improving Syrah quality

Project title: Viticultural treatments for improving Syrah quality

Objectives: This project aims to compare the effects of regulated deficit irrigation versus normal irrigation on Syrah vine performance, yield, and wine quality and to quantify the effects of deep root pruning on canopy development, yield, and grape quality. The research will also determine the effects of foliar calcium sprays on grape skin toughness, fruit composition, and rot at harvest.

Lead researcher: Dr Mark Krasnow

Research organisation: Thoughtful Viticulture

Years: 2019-2021

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

Improving grapevine remedial surgery to increase longevity

Project title: Improving remedial surgery practices for control of grapevine trunk disease to increase vineyard longevity

Objectives: The project aims to establish the optimal stage of disease progression and season to conduct remedial surgery; to diagnose the main causal agent of trunk disease and to evaluate vine health and productivity of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines up to four growing seasons following remedial surgery.

Lead researchers:  Mark Sosnowski and Dr Eline van Zijll de Jong

Research organisations: South Australian Research & Development Institute and Linnaeus limited

Years: 2019-2023

Funding source: Bragato Research Institute

Grapevine trunk fungi and hot water-treated planting materials

Project title: Impact of grapevine trunk fungi in hot water-treated planting materials on young vine health.

Objectives: The objectives of this project are to assess Sauvignon blanc vines for young vine decline and trunk disease symptoms, and to evaluate the trunk disease pathogen populations 4-5 years after hot water treatment.

Lead researcher: Dr Eline van Zijll de Jong

Research organisation: Linnaeus limited

Years: 2019-2020

Funding source: Bragato Research Institute

Investigating mealybug parasitoids in Gisborne vineyards

Project title: Investigation into the relative abundance and species of mealybug parasitoids in Gisborne vineyards

Objectives: The objectives of the project are to investigate the effect of different vineyard pesticide spray programmes on mealybug parasitoid populations in Gisborne vineyards and to compare mealybug parasitoid species and level of parasitism in Gisborne vineyards with those already documented in Hawkes Bay and Marlborough vineyards. Pheromone trapping will be used to track and compare adult male mealybug numbers in vineyards with different spray programmes. This study may improve the understanding of what impact pesticide sprays may be having on beneficial parasitoid species in Gisborne vineyards.

Lead researcher: Dr Vaughn Bell

Research organisation: Plant and Food Research

Years: 2019-2020

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

Improving outcomes of mealybug insecticide use in vineyards

Project title: Improving the outcomes of mealybug insecticide use in vineyards

Objectives: With a focus on the mealybug insecticide active ingredients, buprofezin and spirotetramat, the best practice recommendations outlined in New Zealand Winegrowers and commercial fact sheets will be reviewed. An inventory of the recommendations to compare them and identify any inconsistencies between fact sheets for the same active ingredients will be developed. Ten commercial vineyard blocks will be supported to optimise spray management outcomes, including sprayer calibration. Annual vine leaf assessments to estimate mealybug abundance will be a measure of spray management success or a catalyst for change/improvement.

Lead researcher: Dr Vaughn Bell

Research organisation: Plant and Food Research

Years: 2019-2022

Funding sources: New Zealand Winegrowers

Evaluating potential reservoirs of pathogens of grapevines

Project title: Future-proofing the wine sector with innovation: evaluation of ground cover, amenity & native plants as potential reservoirs of pathogens of grapevines.

Objectives:  The objectives of this project are to test if selected clover species/cultivars are alternative host plants for Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 (GLRaV-3) and to determine the period of time over which mealybugs feeding on selected clovers are no longer infected with GLRaV-3. The project also aims to understand what pathogens may be present in ground cover, amenity & natives plants in NZ vineyards and if pathogens are detected in ground cover, amenity or native plants, understand what influence and any potential implications it (they) may have for future vineyard management.

Lead researcher: Dr Vaughn Bell

Research organisation: Plant and Food Research

Years: 2018-2020

Funding source: Bragato Research Institute

Water savings and optimising irrigation for yield and quality

Project title: Optimisation of irrigation and water savings in Marlborough Sauvignon blanc and Pinot Noir and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay and Merlot

Objectives:  The objectives of this project are to produce the same tonnage and quality of fruit from Marlborough Sauvignon blanc and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay vines, but with less water usage and to achieve target yields, improve fruit quality, and reduce water use in Pinot Noir and Merlot by precision vine stress management.

Lead researcher: Dr Mark Krasnow

Research organisation: Thoughtful Viticulture

Years: 2017-2021

Funding sources: New Zealand Winegrowers

Managing hail-damaged vineyards (Hawkes Bay and Canterbury)

Project title: Climate case study – Managing hail damaged vineyards

Objectives: The aim of the project is to document various hail recovery management strategies applied by viticulturists using a case study type approach and to increase the volume of information available to growers, to help inform future decision-making following hail events. A scorecard will be created, and this may offer an industry standard approach to assessing hail and/or frost damage.

Lead researcher: Len Ibbotson

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Years: 2019-2021

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers and Bragato Research Institute

View more details about this project in BRI News.

Cost-efficient weed management

Project title: Cost-efficient optimisation of weed management in vineyards

Objectives: The objectives of the project are to investigate the effects of different under-vine vegetation management practices on vine vigour, health, productivity, and fruit quality.

Lead researcher: Dr Mark Krasnow

Research organisation: Thoughtful Viticulture

Years: 2016-2020

Funding sources: New Zealand Winegrowers

Automation of grape yield estimation

Project title: An automated grape yield estimation system

Objectives:  The objectives of this project are to develop a colour + depth camera system for scanning grapevines and to validate camera performance through lab and field measurements. The system will automatically identify grape bunches from the camera data and an artificial intelligence-based algorithm will be developed and implement it as an application software package to estimate the grape volume/quality from 3D scans.

Lead researchers: Baden Mathew Tully Parr (PhD student); Dr Mathew Legg (Supervisor)

Research organisation: Massey University

Years: 2018-2020

Funding sources: Rod Bonfiglioli Scholarship

Precision grape yield analyser programme

Project title: Precision grape yield analyser programme

Objectives: No single sensor technology can provide the vineyard measurements we require. The first research aim in this project is to study three technologies for sensing grape attributes: microwaves, machine vision and optical NIR. Outputs from these and supplementary sensors, e.g., GPS-derived position & weather station data, will be incorporated in the GYA model.  The second aim of the project is to study the predictive power of integrating on-vine and related measurements with bio-economic models for forecasting yield based on Bayesian approaches.

Lead researcher: Dr Armin Werner

Research organisation: Lincoln Agritech Limited

Years: 2016-2021

Funding sources: New Zealand Winegrowers

View more details about this project in BRI News.

To be involved in this project by providing your data.

Microbial and vine responses to rising temperatures in NZ

Project title: Microbial community and vine responses to increasing temperatures in the New Zealand context

Objectives: This project will quantify how vines and microbial communities sourced from regional wine growing locations respond to increased temperatures as predicted under climate change scenarios and will determine the effects of microbial communities on fruit development and composition. It will ascertain whether changes in microbial communities, due to increases in temperature, translate into differences in wine composition.

Lead researcher: Dr Sarah Knight

Research organisation: University of Auckland

Years: 2020-2023

Funding source: Bragato Research Institute

For more information on this project, visit our news section.

Electronic spray deposition sensor for improved spray coverage

Project title: Electronic spray deposition sensor for improved spray coverage

Objectives: Using an electronic spray deposition sensor will improve coverage of the target surfaces (leaves) by providing instant real-time quantitative feedback to sprayer operators on spray coverage and deposition in vineyards. The objective is to increase the efficacy of fungicide treatments of grape bunches and reduce the amount of pesticide used.

Lead researcher: Scott Post

Research organisation: Lincoln Agritech Limited

Years: 2019-2020

Funding sources: New Zealand Winegrowers

Potential for nanotechnology - wine growing in New Zealand

Project title: Potential applications of nanotechnology for wine growing in New Zealand

Objectives:  The aim of the projects is to identify promising applications of nanotechnology to increase the sustainability of the wine growing sector and to discover the most pressing issues perceived by wine growers in NZ in relation to plant protection, plant nutrition and sustainability. The researcher will analyse how they could be addressed by nanotechnology and the perception of growers about nanotechnology.

Lead researcher: Dr Melaine Kah

Research organisation: University of Auckland

Years: 2020-2023

Funding sources: Bragato Research Institute

Viti-think: a financial calculator for growers

Project title: Viti-think: a financial calculator for growers

Objectives: This project is aim to build a financial calculator that will allow growers to model various pruning scenarios to see the effect on yield and profitability for their vineyard.

Lead researcher: Len Ibbotson

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Years: 2020

Funding source: Bragato Research Institute

Oenology

Prevention of quercetin instability in bottled wine

Project title: Prevention of quercetin instability in bottled wine

Objectives: The objectives of this project are to determine the influence of viticulture, winemaking practices and climate on the stability of quercetin in wine and to develop a set of tools that can be used to  evaluate the risk of precipitate formation and to manage the winemaking process to eliminate the risk of precipitation in bottle. This project is also to examine the climatic conditions over three growing seasons to further our understanding of the impact of temperature and light on quercetin development, as well as on important co-factors (e.g., anthocyanins) that help stabilize quercetin in wine.

Lead researcher: Emma Taylor

Research organisation: Villa Maria Wines Limited

Years: 2019-2023

Funding sources: Villa Maria and Bragato Research Institute

Winemaking decisions and polysaccharides in wine

Project title: The effect of winemaking decisions on polysaccharide content in wine

Objectives: The objectives of this project are to develop an analytical method to measure high, medium, and low molecular weight polysaccharides in wines and to determine the effect of different yeast strains and of different pectolytic enzymes on polysaccharides concentration in Pinot noir wines during winemaking.

Lead researcher: Dr Bruno Fedrizzi

Research organisation: University of Auckland

Years: 2020-2023

Funding sources: MBIE (Pinot Noir programme) and New Zealand Winegrowers

Winemaking decisions and polysaccharides in wine

Project title: The effect of winemaking decisions on polysaccharide content in wine

Objectives: The objectives of this project are to develop an analytical method to measure high, medium, and low molecular weight polysaccharides in wines and to determine the effect of different yeast strains and of different pectolytic enzymes on polysaccharides concentration in Pinot noir wines during winemaking.

Lead researcher: Dr Bruno Fedrizzi

Research organisation: University of Auckland

Years: 2020-2023

Funding sources: MBIE (Pinot Noir programme) and New Zealand Winegrowers

Understanding green character in Pinot noir wine

Project title: The importance of green: understanding ‘green’ and ‘herbaceous’ characters in Pinot noir wine and their role in driving judgements of perceived quality.

Objectives: The aim of the project is to identify key ‘green’ and ‘herbaceous’ notes in NZ Pinot noir wines that drive judgements of high or low quality.  The researchers will work in a complementary fashion with chemistry colleagues investigating components of Pinot noir wine chemical composition associated with nuances of ‘green’ and ‘herbaceous’ notes (e.g., methoxypyrazines; C6 compounds; phenolic compounds).

Lead researcher: Dr Damir Torrico

Research organisation: Lincoln University

Years: 2020-2023

Funding sources: MBIE (Pinot Noir programme) and New Zealand Winegrowers

Effects of various vessel types on Rose wine quality

Project title:  Effects of various vessel types on Rose wine quality

Objectives: Rose wines often lack texture when assessing the mouthfeel. This project is to investigate colour and taste of rose wines from three different vessels, including an Egg which promotes different fermentation kinetics that may enhance textural qualities in Rose wines.

Lead researcher: Dr Tanya Rutan

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Year: 2020

Funding source: Bragato Research Institute

Effects of freezing Sauvignon blanc juice - assessing quality

Project title: Effects of freezing Sauvignon blanc juice – assessing the impact on the quality of subsequent wine

Objectives: Some studies have shown that freezing Sauvignon blanc juice can increase thiol concentrations in the resulting wines. While this is a positive effect, this project is to investigate the effects on other juice components and how this may alter the quality.

Lead researcher: Dr Tanya Rutan

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Year: 2020

Funding source: Bragato Research Institute

Chemistry of Vineyard Ecosystems programme samples

Project title: Exploring the chemical space in Vineyard Ecosystems (VE) programme juice and wine

Objectives: The objectives of this project are to characterize the VE juice and wine chemical composition in depth and to understand the pressure applied by VE programme vineyard management regimes on grape and wine chemical composition.

Lead researcher: Dr Bruno Fedrizzi

Research organisation: University of Auckland

Years: 2018-2020

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

Waste streams to value streams

Ethanol-based hand sanitiser from grape marc waste

Project title:  Efficient ethanol-based hand sanitiser production from wine industry grape marc waste

Objectives: The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has presented the NZ wine industry with an opportunity to help the Marlborough region and community: the production of hand-sanitiser in a green/sustainable way. The product will be based on ethanol produced from grape marc, a currently overlooked industry waste that is rich in fermentable sugars, and/or other winemaking residues such as yeast lees and partially fermented must.

Lead researcher: Dr Tanya Rutan

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Year: 2020

Funding source: MBIE COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund (CIAF)

View more details about this project in BRI News.