Located in Blenheim we have 12 permanent staff as well as seasonal workers.
Our site and facilities
The site forms part of a co-campus with the local Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology with whom we share a staff room, cafeteria and other facilities. Many of our trials are located on commercial vineyards and our staff enjoys full support for our workshops and programmes from local viticulturists and winemakers. Our small team is friendly and supportive, enjoying social functions two or three times a year. We generally host a foreign student or two each year which enriches our understanding of other cultures.
The Marlborough site is located in the heart of New Zealand’s wine making and grape growing area. Our emphasis is on understanding different wine styles as well as researching new ways to improve yield and quality for premium wines for the New Zealand wine industry. Our research programmes run in conjunction with New Zealand Winegrowers, Auckland and Lincoln Universities and the local campus of the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. Some of our scientists have teaching responsibilities as part of the Viticulture and Oenology degree course through Lincoln University. Our campus includes four laboratories, a technology transfer theatre, a wine sensory room for conducting specialised tastings, and a small-scale winery for teaching and training viticulture and oenology students. A micro vinification facility is available for research and commercial small batch wine making.
Most staff use their own car to get around. However, living in Blenheim often means you can bike or walk to work and certainly going home for lunch is quite common. Wellington is easily accessed by ferry or plane and Christchurch and Nelson are also within a reasonable driving distance.
Marlborough enjoys high sunshine hours and a temperate climate. Recreational activities include tramping, sea kayaking, sailing, cruising, mountain biking, rafting, scenic flights, fishing, diving, horse trekking, or just relaxing and enjoying the views. Close to the Marlborough Sounds and Rainbow Ski field, it is possible to snow ski and water ski on the same day! There are many local wineries and restaurants catering for all tastes and offering local gourmet foods and superb wines. The Wither Hills are just out of Blenheim and have many attractive walks. Blenheim has a population of approximately 28,000 and offers diverse and specialist shopping with plenty of eatery choices as well as the usual bank and medical facilities. The population is diverse with many different cultures involved in the grape and wine industry so there is a cosmopolitan atmosphere contributing to the ambience of the district. Many community clubs, churches, sports groups, music and theatrical organisations are also active. Primary schools, an intermediate school, and single sex colleges are located in Blenheim. Picton and Rai Valley also offer schooling to Year 13. Renwick and other rural primary schools offer schooling to Year 8 and there are also some tertiary education options available.
Originally a provincial service town to the farming community, Blenheim is the focal point for the Marlborough wine growing region. A number of wineries are located on the town’s edges, with many more just a short drive away. Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest winemaking region. The annual Wine Marlborough festival is held near Blenheim show-casing the region's bounty and draws people from all over the world.
Marlborough is also known for its idyllic Sounds, sunken valleys which create a network of tranquil clear waterways amidst regenerating and virgin native forests. The Sounds are home to treasured bird and sea life terns, shags, herons, blue penguins, dolphins, seals, and native forest birds, all easily viewed by private boat or charter tour. The Queen Charlotte Track, a 3-4 day walk, curls around these coves and inlets and along skyline ridges between Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sounds. Marlborough has a diverse economy, emerging from a base of primary industry including tourism and aquaculture (primarily Greenshell mussels), with wine as a major player, as vineyards have spread over central and southern valleys from traditional cropping, stonefruit orchards and sheep. However, sheep and cattle farming remain a major contributor, including high country stations specialising in finest merino wools.
Marlborough supported a small Maori population possibly as early as the 12th century. Maori in the region cultivated crops, including kumara and exploited marine resources. Although the early history was closely associated with the Nelson settlement, Marlborough became a separate province in 1859. Gold was discovered in the province in the early 1860’s. The boom did not last and, while it helped to expand the region, the development of pastoralism provided the greatest long-term benefits. Marlborough squatters developed huge sheep runs that dominated the countryside, rivalling Canterbury's sheep stations in size and wealth. Today the region's economy is still rurally based with pastoral and horticultural farming, providing a major source of income. The region's inhabitants continue to utilise the marine resources. Lake Grassmere is the country's only source of salt, and fishing and mussel farming are also important in the region. Grape growing has been one of the fastest growing industries and Marlborough is now New Zealand's largest wine producing region.
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