Drought and disease don't mix well with grapes, but they're the issues winemakers are facing more and more and now a newly built centre in Marlborough's about to start trialling solutions for the industry on a scale never seen before.
The Bragato Research Institute brings a wide range of projects under one roof where Chief Executive MJ Loza says the investment will allow them to take vineyard trials through to finished wines.
“We'll also be doing winemaking trials, so how we can make wine differently, more sustainably, new flavours, different ways to process and testing equipment as well.
The scientific approach is becoming more vital for the growing industry, as it experiences more extreme conditions, two years ago Marlborough winegrowers toughed out three ex-cyclones and wet weather.
Rose Family Estate Winery Operations Manager Nick Entwistle says 2019 “was the complete opposite, really dry and this 2020 season is looking similarly dry”.
He’s involved in a research project measuring how much water grapevines really need.
“In the past, a lot of its been done on scheduling and soil moisture probes, but 'pressure bombing', as we call it, actually measures the stem water potential of a grapevine and so you can actually target and say "well this week we don't actually need to water”.
Mr Enwistle welcomes the opening of the new centre and the difference it will make to both large and small companies.
“You can't switch from year to year, from variety to variety and as the climate's warming. We're seeing more stress from water pressure and disease pressure and other things like that”.
The industry-owned institute will carry out both public and privately funded trials and it will use specially designed fermenters to conduct experiments in controlled conditions.
All 84 tanks have already been booked for research and will soon be full up with grapes or juice from this year's vintage fermenting around 15 tonnes.