Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers’ VINE initiative

VINE (viticulture, innovation, networking, and excellence) group aims to identify and share best practices in vineyards.


  Added one year ago

Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers’ VINE initiative

Roughly four years ago Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers set up its VINE (viticulture, innovation, networking, and excellence) initiative group.

Ian Quinn, director Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers explains: “One of the big drivers was to get people out of their own vineyards and together socially, so that people could catch up, network, build their community.

“There's a lot of information that gets shared between people just by providing the opportunity to get together, and share best practice. And then look at how we can improve some of the different aspects of viticulture and collaborate across different vineyards and across different companies.

“Looking at things like how Syrah (a variety that's important here in Hawke's Bay) ripens, particularly in difficult years. And then Chardonnay, another really key varietal. We're looking at ways to improve viticulture, so that we can improve yields and fruit quality, especially when the seasons are a bit more challenging.”

Quinn says that VINE is starting to look more closely at regenerative agriculture, and has established an Under Vine working group, which is looking at ways to reduce or avoid using herbicide.

“In vineyards (normally) we like to get the canopy up and established. And if there's too much competition from weeds and grasses under vine, then that can prevent that happening. And then later in the season, once we've got fruit on the vine, the last thing we want is weeds growing up into the fruit zone.”

Traditionally, growers have used herbicides to keep the weed strip bare. Organic viticulture, which is growing in Hawke's Bay, avoids using any kind of synthetic chemicals. Quinn says there's a few tricks to that, and different tools out there that you can use. He says the idea of the Under Vine group is to share people's experience around getting good results with under vine cultivation.

“A fair number of the people in the group are looking at transitioning from under vine  cultivation to letting stuff grow once the canopy is established, and switching from cultivation to mowing. So it's just some tricks around how to get the surface smooth enough that you can, after you've cultivated, go back and mow.”

Quinn says there are trials happening to find species of plants that can out-compete some of the less desirable weeds and grasses, but don't compete with the vine, and don't grow up into the fruit zone.

“I think it's going to take a little while to get there. There's a few challenges around just identifying the right plants for different soil types and climates. It's not a one size fits all, it's almost sub-region by sub-region, or vineyard by vineyard.”

Anyone involved in wine growing, whether in the vineyard, or the winery, can be part of the VINE group, says Quinn, “but it tends to be vineyard focused. It’s very, very informal. Some popular ones (topics/sub groups) will have 60 or 70 people, and that might drop to 20 or 30, if we're doing something indoors, or it's a really busy time of season.”

To find out more about Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers VINE contact Ian Quinn: ian@towterraces.nz

This is the first of a short series of viticulture stories. More next month!


Join the conversation

Mike Longley - Nov 30, 2022, 4:58 AM

Hi I'm in Gisborne and sell under vine mowers for vineyards would you be interested in trials I sell Fischer mowers, I currently have a 1.6 to 2.6 mtr on demos here, I have just taken an order from Millton Vineyards and Winery for one of these units

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