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Marlborough and Waipara, New Zealand

Location & characteristics

 

Marlborough is the predominant wine-producing region of New Zealand with more than 24,000 ha of vineyards producing about 75% of the country’s wine exports. Initial plantings started in 1973, and following replanting of vineyards from 1992 as a result of Phylloxera infestation, Sauvignon blanc has dominated the area. It is a challenging area to investigate climate variability because of the complexity of the terrain, with the Southern Alps to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east and the vineyards located in two main valleys (Wairau and Awatere) that connect them. Marlborough is a cool climate wine-producing region, with unique environmental characteristics that are ideal for the production of high quality Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir.

More than 30 climate stations have been installed in the region since 2007, most of them managed by the Marlborough Research Centre. Eleven additional climate stations and about 40 temperature loggers (in the Brancott Valley) were installed during a special observation period between 2013 and 2015 to fill in gaps in the network, and provide a dataset for a comprehensive investigation of the fine scale climate variability in the region, and its relationship with grapevine response.

The Waipara Valley lies 200 km south of Marlborough, and 50 km north of Christchurch. The first plantings occurred in the early 1980s with the area under vines recently reaching about 1250 ha. It is known for cool climate wines, especially Pinot noir and Riesling, but also Pinot gris and Gewürztraminer.

The research aims to develop new knowledge and a set of analytical tools and datasets to help wine producers adapt to climate variation, and to ensure future sustainability of the wine industry. High-resolution weather and climate modeling using the WRF model has been validated using a data set obtained from the climate station network, and is helping to provide a better understanding of the relationship between climate and viticulture in the region. Integration of phenological and crop models is also helping the development of appropriate seasonal management and climate change adaptation strategies.

 

Demonstration site managers

 

Andy Sturman

Andy Sturman

Center for Atmospheric Research

University of Canterbury

Christchurch

andrew.sturman@canterbury.ac.nz

Rob Agnew

Rob Agnew

Marlborough Research Centre

Plant & Food Research

Blenheim

Rob.agnew@plantandfood.co.nz

Mike Trought

Mike Trought

Marlborough Research Centre

Plant and Food Research

Blenheim

Mike.trought@plantandfodd.co.nz

Amber Parker

Amber Parker

Lincoln University

Christchurch

 

amber.parker@lincoln.ac.nz

Wine and Climate Research Group wine climate research

Since 2011, the Wine and Climate Research Group has comprised scientists at the Centre for Atmospheric Research, Plant & Food Research and Lincoln University. The Centre for Atmospheric Research at the University of Canterbury conducts research into local and regional weather and climate and applies mesoscale atmospheric numerical modelling to investigate climate-viticulture relationships. Plant & Food Research researches environmental and management effects on composition and sensory properties of Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir grapes, while Lincoln University research involves the development of phenological and grapevine models, and experimentation to investigate physiology responses of the grapevine to climate and management that can lead to further model development.

The main activities of the research group are:

  • Collection of climatic and agronomic observations at vineyard scales
  • Application of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) at fine scale in vineyard regions
  • Spatial modelling of climate variables and vine phenology using WRF data and field observations
  • Analysis of temporal change of climate in New Zealand vineyard regions and development of adaptation strategies
  • Transfer of information to winegrowers via a web page (www.wineclimate.co.nz) and regular workshops
Peyman Zawar-Reza

Peyman Zawar-Reza

Director of Centre for Atmospheric Research

University of Canterbury

Christchurch

Peyman.zawar-reza@canterbury.ac.nz