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What does this mean for the local wine industry and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)'s Viticulture and Winemaking students? NMIT Viticulture and Winemaking Tutor Glenn Kirkwood reveals all.
Being that Marlborough and the majority of New Zealand's wine regions are cool climate regions, we rely very heavily on Pinot Noir as the major red grape for dry red table wine production.
With this being the case we feel there is a need, or a place within the industry, for an alternative variety or varieties that we can develop and market as a premium wine style alongside our current red and white wine styles i.e. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay etc.
We are always looking at ways that we can add value to the industry and this seemed like the obvious choice. When I commenced working at NMIT our little vineyard was primarily planted with Pinot Noir which was not really producing anything of any real benefit for the students so we decided it was time for a change.
Trialling new varieties has a great benefit for our students as it enables them to be exposed to, and involved in, cutting edge research. They are able to follow the progression of these varieties right from the beginning of the season through to harvest. From there they are allocated fruit from these vines and under supervision get to make it into wine.
The students are being exposed to research that is potentially going to have a direct influence on the local wine industry. The Bachelor in Viticulture and Winemaking programme also has a large research component so this also works towards satisfying part of the requirements.
This adds incentives to the students to get involved. It provides the students with the ability to learn about best practice vineyard development, redevelopment and young vine training. These are all things that they would otherwise not be able to do with existing, mature vines.
Keen to find out more? Take a look at NMIT's Viticulture and Winemaking programme.