NZWRC Quarterly Newsletter // Issue 01


Kia Ora.

Welcome to the first edition of Grape to Glass. We’ve had a busy few months here at the New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre (NZWRC).

In this issue you’ll learn a little more about the NZWRC and meet the people behind it. We’ll also share some highlights from key industry research projects, plus learnings from visiting winegrowing experts.

Introducing the New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre

The New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre (NZWRC) has been set up to provide cutting-edge science, research and development to benefit New Zealand's entire wine industry. 

Figure 1 Photo courtesy of Giesen Wines

Based in Marlborough, the Centre has a national focus, and global reach. It is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), with additional financial contributions from New Zealand Winegrowers through Member levies, and the Marlborough District Council.

Established in 2017, the first year of operation has been dedicated to strategic planning, and the completion of our annual work-plans, required to be submitted to MBIE in June 2018. The approval of these plans in September 2018 has been a great endorsement of our vision for the future, and the go-ahead for implementation.

Our mission is to deliver world-leading research from grape to glass

You can read more about our vision, mission and goals here.

Who's Who
MJ Loza, CEO

MJ started as CEO at the NZWRC in May 2018. After a year based in California as GM Americas for Accolade Wines, MJ was pleased to return to Marlborough as GM for Putake Honey. Since 2006, MJ has held GM and CEO roles in the wine industry in Marlborough. 

Prior to that MJ held senior innovation management roles with Fonterra, after 10 years with the deer industry, including 4 years as CEO of Deer Industry NZ. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Law from The University of Auckland.  

Tracy Benge, Establishment Manager 

Tracy is a Chartered Accountant with a Business Degree from Victoria University, and qualifications as a Project Manager and Kaizen Lean Process Transformation. Tracy embarked on a career change in 2001, leaving behind a career in Investment Banking to study Grape-growing and Winemaking at EIT.

Tracy has worked in the wine industry for over 10 years, joining NZ Winegrowers in 2014. In January 2018 Tracy relocated to Marlborough to work on the establishment of the new Wine Research Centre, allowing her to combine her broad range of business and management skills with her wine industry and sustainability background. 

Dr. Matias Kinzurik, Research Programme Manager

As a Research Programme Manager, Matias is responsible for oversight of a number of research projects. These include the Lighter Wines project and Pinot Noir project. 

With a background in research science, Dr Kinzurik holds a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as graduate degrees in Chemistry from both Rice University, USA, and the University of Auckland, NZ.

Will Kerner, Research Programme Manager

Will has been involved in the New Zealand wine industry since the late 90s, when his family developed land in the upper Wairau Valley in Marlborough. He oversees a number of research projects, including the Vineyard Eco-systems and pathogens research projects. 

Will has enjoyed working on both sides of wine production, at his family estate, and for premier wineries in the U.S.A and Chile. He holds a BA in philosophy from the University of Colorado and a Master of Science, with a master’s research project focused on the science behind terroir expression.

Janette McKibbin, Research Administrator

Janette McKibbin has worked for New Zealand Winegrowers for more than 10 years. She is the Research Administrator for the NZWRC and based in Auckland. 

Janette holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland.

Research Highlights

Green light for new national research winery in Marlborough
Figure 2 Photo courtesy of UC Davis
In June we submitted annual work-plans to MBIE as part of our funding requirements. This included a business case for an additional $2 million contribution towards developing a new research winery facility in Marlborough. 

We were delighted to be advised in September that this additional funding has been approved, giving us the green light to develop a national research winery.

As well as being used for trials on wine research projects, the new winery will provide many other opportunities.

The opportunities include:

  • A facility where commercial wineries can trial new winemaking methods, techniques or products
  • A centre for education and learning, allowing students to learn about winemaking and research
  • Opportunities for exchanges and secondments with other research institutions and research wineries abroad
  • A technology hub, trialling new winery equipment and technology
  • A drawcard for international and regional visitors
  • Modelling winery and winemaking sustainability
For the first phase of this project, we have designed and commissioned some bespoke fermentation tanks that will be trialled in the 2019 vintage in a host winery. More on this in the next newsletter.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the project working group, spanning both industry and research, who have contributed their time and expertise to bring this to fruition. They are:
  • Andy Frost (Pernod Ricard)
  • Heath Stafford (Indevin Wines)
  • Marcus Wright (Lawsons Dry Hills)
  • Claire Grose and Damian Martin (Plant & Food Research)
  • Peter Mann (ProMann Consulting)
  • Adam Walker and Don McKay (Structex Engineering)
  • Simon Hall (JTB Architects)
  • David Gill (VinWizard)
  • Will Kerner (Research Programme Manager, NZWRC)
  • The research winemaking teams at UC Davis and E&J Gallo, California
Over the next few months we will be looking for companies or individuals who would be interested in sponsoring the new research winery and/or related equipment. If you are interested in being involved or would like further information, please contact NZWRC Establishment Manager, Tracy Benge
Pinot Noir Research Project

The Pinot Noir Research Programme celebrated its one year anniversary with the first annual workshop, held in Blenheim on the 6th and 7th of November. 
More than 30 researchers, as well as winemakers and grape growers involved in the programme’s industry advisory group, got together to discuss progress made as they try to answer the questions: ‘What defines a quality New Zealand pinot noir?’ and ‘How is grape yield and wine quality linked?’

The programme will run for five years and has a budget of $10.3 million. It is co-funded by both the NZWRC and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) through its Endeavour Fund.

For any queries or further information, please contact Research Programme Manager, Matias Kinzurik
Climate change research project
Visiting climate change scientists viewing vineyard site variation in Marlborough. 
From left: Dr Mike Trought (Plant & Food Research), Dr Cyril Tissot (ADVICLIM), Dr Hervé Quénol (ADVICLIM), Professor Andy Sturman (Canterbury University), Tracy Benge (NZWRC Establishment Manager), Will Kerner (NZWRC Research Programme Manager).
Climate change is a priority research area for the NZWRC. Modelling and understanding the impact of climate change, and developing adaptation strategies to manage those impacts, is at the heart of our research theme ‘Protecting our Terroir, Provenance and Eco-systems’.

Our Climate change research programme was launched at the annual Bragato conference in August 2018. For the first phase of this programme we have contracted the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research (NIWA) to model climate change scenarios for each of New Zealand’s wine regions.

The first tranche of reports covers four regions – Marlborough, Central Otago, Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa. The remaining five regions are currently being modelled.

Click here to access the Regional Climate Change reports from NIWA

With the regional modelling from NIWA we will be analysing the potential impact of these climate change scenarios for grape-growing and winemaking in NZ. Our aim is to then develop a toolbox of adaptation strategies to help our industry manage the impact of climate change.

For any queries or further information, please contact NZWRC Establishment Manager, Tracy Benge
Climate change seminars
October saw the NZWRC host two seminars on climate change, with presentations from visiting international experts. The seminars were presented by Dr Iñaki Garcia de Cortazar-Atauri, from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), and Dr. Cyril Tissot, a researcher in the Littoral Environment Remote-Sensing Geomatics (LETG) laboratory.

The first seminar was presented by Dr Iñaki Garcia de Cortazar-Atauri from INRA. His presentation titled “Climate change: impacts and adaptions on grapevines” focused on modelling the impact of climate change on grapevine phenology and included some possible adaptation strategies.

The second seminar was presented by Dr. Cyril Tissot, a researcher in the Littoral Environment Remote-Sensing Geomatics (LETG) laboratory, part of the National Centre for Scientific Research (Brest, France). His presentation, titled “Modelling environmental impacts of climate change on viticultural ecosystems”, looked at the outcome of different climate change models and research across France.

Members can click here to access their presentations on our website.
Grape disease management
We recently invited Wayne F. Wilcox, world-renowned grape fungal pathogen expert, to host a series of workshops around New Zealand. Wayne presented the latest findings in grape disease management, with a focus on Botrytis, Sour Rot, Powdery Mildew and fungicide resistance.

Click here if you’d like to view the presentation. 

For any queries or further information, please contact Research Programme Manager, Will Kerner
Upcoming Events
  • Register for the New Zealand Society for Viticulture & Oenology Conference on January 27th 2019 to hear more about some of our research programmes.
  • Attend the upcoming International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration on January 28th – 30th 2019 to learn about everything sauvignon blanc, including our Lighter Wines Research Programme.
The end of the year is fast approaching!

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has worked with the NZWRC this year.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season from the entire team here at the NZWRC.

Meri Kirihimete ki a koutou.
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