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

2021-2022 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


General Introduction

The Vineyard Ecosystems (VE) Programme is a multi-year partnership (2015–2021) between New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) that is managed through the Bragato Research Institute (BRI). The programme is intended to increase the long-term resilience and profitability of the New Zealand wine industry by developing new research-based approaches to pest and disease management that will result in significant increases in vine longevity. The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited (PFR) and the University of Auckland (UoA) are the main research providers additional research providers include Thoughtful viticulture, Linnaeus Laboratories, South Australian Research and Development Institute, and Intecrop Ltd.

The cornerstone VE Programme has three interconnected Research Aims (RA):

RA 1.1: The vineyard as an ecosystem
RA 1.2: Relating under-vine management, biota and leafroll virus
RA 1.3: Pathogen management.

In RA 1.1, the interconnections between physical, chemical and biological properties of vineyard, vines, their management and commercial performance are being described and quantified. Vineyard sites representing the major varieties/regions are being scrutinised over a period of six years. Two contrasting management approaches, ‘Contemporary’ and ‘Future’
(see below), are being compared and their effects on viticultural traits, physical and chemical soil properties, biophysical processes and total surface and sub-soil biota are being assessed.

The two management regimes are as follows:

  • Contemporary (Herbicide) treatment is representative of the way most grapes are being grown in New Zealand. Growers are specifically asked to continue their vineyard management, including small annual variations in practice as considered necessary. The only consistent difference with the ‘Future’ treatments is that these Contemporary vineyards are using herbicides to maintain a bare soil under-vine strip, synthetic fungicides and sprays to combat fungal diseases and insect pests, and synthetic fertilisers to mitigate nutritional deficiencies. Most of these vineyards will be maintaining an inter-row permanent groundcover.
  • Future (No Herbicide) treatment is representative of growers who do not use herbicides to control weeds in the under-vine region. They use alternative means of controlling under-vine weeds, which will be mainly mechanical by cultivation or mowing. They generally try to maintain a semi-permanent groundcover (inter-row) comprising a wide range of plant species. To help combat fungal diseases and insect pests, preferably naturally occurring products will be used (if required) in these vineyards, although some reserve the right to use synthetic chemistry for particular issues; there are no strict rules around the use of fungicides and fertiliser

Acknowledgements

The researchers would like to acknowledge Bragato Research Institute, New Zealand Winegrowers and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment for funding.

The research would not have been possible without the generosity and cooperation from the following vineyards: Babich Wines, Constellation Brands New Zealand, CD & CM Howell Partnership, Craggy Range, D&K Ellin,  Delegat Wine Estate, Dog Point Vineyard, Grapeology, Kokako Farms, Mission Estate Winery, Supernatural Wine Co, Te Mata Estate Winery, Tua Marina Vineyards, Villa Maria, William Murdoch Wines and Wither Hills.

Programme Management

Nick Hoskins, Ruby Andrew

Industry Representatives

Jason Doughty, Jeremy Hyland, Jeff Sinnott, Jonathan Hamlett, Larry Morgan

Advisors

Andrew Blakeman, Emma Taylor

Linnaeus Laboratory Ltd

Eline van Zijll de Jong, Will Kerner

South Australian Research and Development Institute

Mark Sosnowski

Thoughtful Viticulture

Mark Krasnow, Dani McMillan

Plant and Food Research

Brent Clothier, Dion Mundy, Isabelle Sorensen, Grant Morris, Nathan Arnold, Peter Wood, Robin MacDiarmid, Vaughn Bell, Victoria Raw, Linley Jesson, Tara Taylor, Bex Woolley, Andrew McLachlan, Monika Walter, Steve Green, Rebecca Gough, Roberta Gentile, Simon Bulman, Karmun Chooi, Bhanupratap Vanga, Damian Martin

Auckland University

Jelena Cosic, Sarah Knight, Soon Lee, Alex Lowrey, Beatrix Jones, Jed Lennox, Jin Wang, Innocenter Amima, Lucie Jiraska, Bruno Fedrizzi, Rebecca Jelley, Melanie Kah, Tianyi Tang

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 this programme, visit the members’ section of New Zealand Winegrowers website.

Active projects 2021-2022


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

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

Long spur pruning as an alternative to cane pruning for Sauvignon blanc in Marlborough

Objectives: To compare 2-cordon, long spur pruning as an alternative to cane pruning for Sauvignon blanc in Marlborough and collect data to report on the relative cost of each pruning type and the medium.

Lead researcher: Len Ibbotson

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Years: 2021/2022

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

Science review of cover-cropping in vineyards

Objectives: To complete a literature review of published information describing the potential benefits and drawbacks of cover-cropping in vineyards and produce a summary for industry.

Lead researcher: Len Ibbotson

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Years: 2021/2022

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

Central Otago mealybug and grapevine leafroll virus management

Objectives: To investigate mealybug in Central Otago (CO) vineyards by pheromone trapping, vine leaf and ground cover monitoring, increase regional awareness and provide education.

Lead researcher: Len Ibbotson

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Years: 2021/2022

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

Weevils in New Zealand vineyards

Objectives: To investigate the distribution and type of weevil species present in vineyards in three New Zealand (NZ) winegrowing regions and create a resource for industry to enable identification and provide recommendation for next steps.

Lead researcher: Len Ibbotson

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Years: 2021/2022

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

Trunk Disease: Applied research and extension FY22

Objectives: To review and report on soft control options for trunk disease management and produce and compare trial wines from the existing Marlborough based, Sauvignon blanc remedial surgery trial. Support delivery of regionally based extension activities.

Lead researcher: Len Ibbotson

Research organisation: Bragato Research Institute

Years: 2021/2022

Funding source: New Zealand Winegrowers

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 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