New vineyard grasps grape’s great future

by | Sep 29, 2022 | News

A new experimental vineyard in Blenheim will help enhance the supply of quality grapes for New Zealand’s wine sector into the future.

The new Experimental Future Vineyard facility, based at the New Zealand Wine Centre – Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa, will provide a unique resource for research into wine grape production. Operated by Plant & Food Research, the Experimental Future Vineyard will support productivity and quality aspirations of the New Zealand wine sector by developing new growing practices with improved environmental outcomes.

The new facility will be based within a 600m2 shelter, allowing researchers to control the vineyard environment and build knowledge that will ensure the wine sector is prepared for future challenges. The facility will enable research to be conducted within the vine and beneath the soil, and allow researchers to control aspects of the environment such as soil type and temperature and water availability.

“We’re excited to be a part of Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa,” says Dr Damian Martin, Science Group Leader Viticulture and Oenology at Plant & Food Research. “We know climate change will add to challenges facing wine production in New Zealand, with warmer days and more insect pests and diseases able to establish here. We also know that consumer expectations will continue to evolve, with increased focus on sustainability credentials. Being able to understand how best to grow excellent grapes that allow winemakers to meet their environmental, financial and societal requirements will ensure our wine sector can continue to grow.”

“This facility will allow us to develop new research programmes that might not be applicable immediately, but very much look to the future, helping the wine sector navigate potential production risks, protect the environment and mitigate the impact of climate change,” says Julian Theobald, Scientist at Plant & Food Research. “We are also anticipating that technology developers may co-locate and conduct their development alongside the research team, creating new tools that improve efficiency of wine grape production long-term.”

Development of the new $3.3 million EFV will add to Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa supported by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Provincial Growth Fund. Plant & Food Research will operate the facility and develop research programmes in collaboration with the Marlborough Research Centre, national and local government and the New Zealand wine industry, as well as provide student opportunities through the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) Te Pūkenga.

Photo by Maja Petric on Unsplash

 

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