First there was Grape Days, the annual transfer of information on the research paid for by member levies and government funding. Three days in all, held throughout the country, each event customised in some way to match the region where it was being held.
We all know research is ongoing, but how it impacts on what you do as a winemaker or a grower can often be forgotten in the melee of everyday life. Grape Days changes that. It offers not only a precis of the research, but also the findings so far. Take two of the big issues of the current environment for growers – mealybug and trunk disease. Both subjects were covered and science-based advice provided to be put to use.
The other major information outlet was the Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference. A sell out weeks in advance, showed there is a thirst for knowledge from individuals all over the country. Actually I should amend that. Not just all over the country, but internationally as well. The line-up of speakers was impressive, but perhaps their comments on the event were more telling about New Zealand than their praise of our wine. Speakers from the US, Chile and Australia noted that the conference was unique in terms of its goals and achievements. “Please bring this to America,” said Robin O’Brien – a guru on food that had some chilling facts to deliver in both of her presentations.
Cynthea Semmens from Tasmania told me she was attending the conference to learn more about organics, as Australia provided nothing in comparison. She even suggested that maybe we could rename Tasmania as New Zealand’s West Island, she was so impressed by what is happening in this part of the world.
The ability to learn from such events is immeasurable and maybe it explains why New Zealand wine has been so successful. We want to learn, we want to grow and we know both go together.