Government investment recognises wine industry success

Auckland 19 July 2010

The Sauvignon Blanc Programme - the world’s most comprehensive research investigation into Sauvignon blanc grapes and wine - is set to build upon the discoveries of recent years and offer new tools to New Zealand’s wine industry thanks to $12 million of new funding.

The research programme, led by Dr Roger Harker, combines the research expertise of Plant & Food Research, The Marlborough Wine Research Centre, The University of Auckland and Lincoln University. It aims to deliver knowledge and tools for manipulating the flavour of Sauvignon Blanc to create distinct wines that excite wine drinkers’ palates and ensure New Zealand Sauvignon blanc continues to earn premium prices globally.

“The wine industry knows that they have only just scratched the surface of the commercial opportunity that New Zealand Sauvignon blanc presents,” says Dr Harker. “With this programme we are providing industry with the ability to create novel flavour combinations and sensory experiences in a way that maintains the quality and consistency of supply needed to consolidate New Zealand’s global reputation as a wine producer.”

The integrated nature of the Sauvignon Blanc Programme is designed to exploit opportunities at all stages of the wine production pathway – from grape growing to winemaking. Areas of research include the interactions between environmental factors (site, canopy, nutrition) and grape harvest maturity; developing new means of predicting the flavour potential of grapes and juice; and developing pre and post-harvest treatments, including NZ-derived yeasts, to deliver new flavours;

“Winemakers have established one of the most entrepreneurial and creative industries within New Zealand’s food and beverage sector,” says Plant & Food Research Business Manager, Dr Claire Hall. “Exports have grown by 24% per annum over the last 20 years, close to $1 billion of wine was sent off-shore in 2009, and more than 80% of that was Sauvignon blanc.”

The Sauvignon Blanc Programme received $12 million over six years in research funding from the Foundation for Research Science and Technology, and is endorsed and supported whole-heartedly by the New Zealand wine industry through significant research partnership and co-funding investment from New Zealand Winegrowers. It is anticipated that over the next six years, this programme will contribute to the further growth of wine exports towards the New Zealand wine industry’s target of $2 billion by 2020.

More about the new programme will be presented at the Romeo Bragato wine industry conference in Blenheim, 26-28 August 2010. Ten speakers will take part in a session presenting the highlights and latest outcomes of the current research programme and plans for the future.

Contact:
Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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