VineFacts - seasonal phenology newsletter

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VineFacts is our seasonal, weekly phenology newsletter providing information on:

  • Weekly weather data summaries for each region (growing degree days, rain and evapotranspiration) compared with previous seasons.
  • Seasonal growing degree-day graph for each region, indicating how the current season deviates from the long-term average (fortnightly).
  • Seasonal phenology comparisons for each region as they occur (budburst, flowering, véraison, soluble solids accumulation).
  • Prediction of flowering dates for Sauvignon blanc, after 50% budburst.
  • Early and late season regional Botrytis risk.
  • Disease risk for powdery mildew and botrytis, based on regional weather data and disease risk models.
  • Pest and disease information.
  • Updates on research projects.
  • End of season yield comparisons.

Background to VineFacts

VineFacts Newsletter has operated in Marlborough since 1997. Its roots go back to a grape disease management research project conducted in Marlborough in the mid-1990s. Communication of information from the research project to industry participants led to a permanent fax service being set up. This service was known as Vinefax in its early years. With the advent of email and demise of the fax machine the name was eventually changed to VineFacts.

In the last decade, the scope of VineFacts has widened to report on Sauvignon Blanc phenological information within Marlborough. A detailed record of the annual timing of budburst, flowering, véraison and harvest has been compiled. Additionally, monitored vines are harvested by hand and yield components measured (bunch number per vine, average bunch weight, berry number per bunch, average berry weight, yield per vine). These data have become a valuable reference to assist with the evaluation of temperature on the timing of phenological events and yield each season.

The success of the VineFacts Newsletter in Marlborough led to requests to extend the services to other New Zealand wine regions. A three-year co-funded project between New Zealand Winegrowers, Sustainable Farming Fund and the Marlborough Research Centre began in July 2014. This project is now monitoring the phenology of grapevines in five regions: Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago.