Thursday, 05 December 2019 10:40

A standout year

Written by  New Zealand Winegrowers Chair John Clarke
New Zealand Winegrowers Chair John Clarke. New Zealand Winegrowers Chair John Clarke.

The past year has been a momentous one for our sector. For me the past 12 months has been marked by two stand out events.

First, of course, our celebration of 200 years of the vine in New Zealand.

In his diary on September 25 1819, Reverend Samuel Marsden recorded - and I quote;

“New Zealand promises to be very favourable to the vine, as far as I can judge at present of the nature of the soil and climate. Should the vine succeed, it will prove of vast importance in this part of the globe.” 

We are very fortunate that Marsden took the time to record the events of that momentous day in his diary. So 200 years later, on the exact same date and in the exact same place we were able to replicate his planting of grapevines at the Stone Store in KeriKeri.

From Marsden’s small beginnings our industry has grown and prospered. We now play a significant role in the social and economic wellbeing of the many regions in which we operate and, in fact, the country as a whole. 

Actually Marsden’s vines did not last that long as they were planted next to his goat paddock. Let’s hope the one we planted does better.

So what was the second event that made its mark this year?

Was it the fact that we have seen a very, very good vintage. Or that exports have grown to new heights as our wines continue to perform so strongly on the world stage? Or even that there is now a feature film the star of which is our industry and our industry personnel?

No not any of those, well not for me anyway. For me the other stand out event has been the building of the new research winery at the Bragato Research Institute.

In a year when we are celebrating our history it is also important to look forward to the next 200 years. 

The new research winery is all about the future we want and need to build. 

BRI will deliver world class research outcomes to support the quality, sustainability and growth ambitions of you our member growers and wineries. 

But there is a qualification associated with that statement. That goal will only become a reality if ……. 

The facility is used and supported by you, the members and supporters of our industry. The platform is there, now it is up to you.

So if you are doing your own grape or wine research, or thinking about it, talk to BRI in the first instance to see if they can help. And there is nothing to stop the BRI doing leading edge research for other primary sectors. 

To that end, if you don’t know them, I urge you to get to know Mark Gilbert, the BRI Chair, and MJ Loza, the CEO and their team of dedicated staff. They are doing a great job  on behalf of the industry.   

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