Growing Futures

Controlling botrytis in New Zealand vineyards

Controlling botrytis in New Zealand vineyards

Reducing chemical use to deliver premium residue-free wines

The New Zealand wine industry is recognised for its high-quality products and commitment to environmental sustainability. Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, introduced by New Zealand Winegrowers in the 1990s, is an industry initiative that aims to provide best-practice models for vineyard and winery management, while proving consumers with assurance of environmental sustainability. Currently, 94% of New Zealand’s producing vineyard area is certified under the programme, with a further 7% certified by organic or biodynamic programmes.

Botrytis, a fungus that affects wine grapes, is one of the major challenges for New Zealand growers and winemakers, affecting yield, quality, colour and flavour. Most wineries have a limit of less than 5% of grapes with botrytis infection, with much lower thresholds tolerated in many red varieties.

GrapeFutures was developed by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, in partnership with Plant & Food Research and the wine industry, to provide grower-based strategies to improve the control of botrytis in New Zealand vineyards. The emphasis of the programme was to reduce fungicide use in the production of ‘nil-residue’ wines – wines free of detectable pesticide residues.

An informal survey of viticulturists in 2012 showed that 75% reported changes to vineyard management practices for botrytis control, in many instances as a direct result of the GrapeFutures guidelines. Changes included less reliance on chemical controls and more reliance on sustainable cultural techniques, such as good canopy management. Tools and recommendations from the GrapeFutures programme have also been incorporated into the annual New Zealand Winegrowers Export Wine Grape Spray Schedule.

The GrapeFutures programme was funded by New Zealand Winegrowers and the Ministry for Primary Industries' Sustainable Farming Fund with support from the New Zealand wine industry.

Created: September 2015

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