Virus-Free Vineyards – The Blog

Summer strategies

Monitoring for the visual symptoms of infection from leafroll 3 virus – and  tagging vines for postharvest treatment and removal – is an important part of any vineyard management programme.

Early symptom expression may already be visible on red varieties but March is typically the best time to schedule symptom monitoring in the vineyard.

New Zealand Winegrowers’ Flickr photo library shows leafroll 3 symptoms on individual red varieties, including:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Syrah
  • Malbec

This will be the fourth vintage that growers have had the Flickr library as a resource, and the photos have already received more than 20,000 views. That number is likely to climb much further as the season progresses.

New Zealand Winegrowers' Virus Elimination Project concluded in August 2015, but the resources created to guide vineyard management of leafroll 3 remain available:

  • Fact sheets can be accessed from this page (see the box on the lower right)
  • How-to video instruction can be viewed by following this link to the members area of, and
  • Our 'Leafroll 3 App' can still be downloaded for free from iPhone and Android App stores (search for 'Leafroll3' on your mobile device).

Launching the leafroll 3 'toolkit'

 For more than a decade, New Zealand Winegrowers has consistently dedicated a portion of member levies to fund research pertaining to the control of leafroll 3 virus and the insect vector that spreads infection (mealybug). This month, a new book will be distributed to all NZW members, providing the latest practical guidance on the subject and entitled Leafroll 3 Virus and How to Manage It.

Created as part of the 'Virus Elimination Project', the book is written by project team members Ruby Andrew, Vaughn Bell, Nick Hoskins, Gerhard Pietersen and Caine Thompson.

The 'toolkit' adds to the wide range of tech-transfer tools developed throughout the course of the project:

  • 13 fact sheets, providing 'how to' information on key steps in managing leafroll 3 (available on this page).
  • 7-part video series, explaining detailed management actions (available on
  • Online photo library, showing symptoms of leafroll 3 infections on red varieties (available on
  • NZW's Leafroll 3 App, launched in 2014 and available in New Zealand by searching for 'leafroll 3' on iPhone or Android App stores.

Leafroll 3 Virus and How to Manage It draws together all that practical guidance, and the knowledge gained through more than 50 presentations to growers around the country. We have updated our recommendations, added photographs, new illustrations and step-by-step instructions to help growers develop an annual integrated management programme tailormade for their own vineyard.

The project came to a close in August, but we hope that the tools we have created continue to serve the New Zealand wine industry well for many years to come.

A fitting finale

As New Zealand Winegrowers' Virus Elimination Project comes to a close (in August), team members are crunching through the 2015 data and analysis in preparation for their final reports and presentations to industry.

This year, the Romeo Bragato Conference will focus strongly on leafroll 3 virus and its management in New Zealand vineyards.

What's on offer? Up-to-the minute trial information, expert international perspectives, key understandings gleaned throughout the six years of the project and the phenomenal results achieved by Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers, plus much, much more.

This year, the Bragato conference will be held in Napier, Hawke's Bay – a fitting finale given that the 2009 conference in the same region saw the launch of the project. We are pleased to welcome back Extra-ordinary Professor Gerhard Pietersen (University of Pretoria) as a keynote speaker; this year, Gerhard will be speaking in conjunction with Dr Monica Cooper (University of California), who serves as an advisor with the university's co-operative extension programme in the Napa Valley.

You can now register online for the Bragato conference, and we've included the various leafroll 3 programme highlights below. We look forward to seeing you there.

New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato Conference and Wine Awards: The Leafroll 3 Programme

Napier, Hawke's Bay, 26-28 August 2015

Wednesday, 26 August

  • The Ultimate Virus Keynote Presentation, Gerhard Pietersen, University of Pretoria; Monica Cooper, University of California.
  • Workshop 1: Eliminating Virus - six years on, what have we learnt? Caine Thompson, Pyramid Valley Vineyards; Gerhard Pietersen; Vaughn Bell, Plant & Food Research; Robin MacDiarmid, Plant & Food Research.
  • Workshop 5: Hot off the press, The impact of Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 genetic variants on grapevines, by Kar Mun Chooi, Plant & Food Research.

 Thursday, 27 August

  • Workshop 9: Vector Management, Monica Cooper; Ruby Andrew, New Zealand Winegrowers; Vaughn Bell; Jim Walker, Plant & Food Research.


Welcome! This blog is maintained by members of the Virus Elimination Project, a New Zealand Winegrowers' Research Project that is co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (Sustainable Farming Fund).

The Virus Elimination Project has three main objectives:

  1. Identify and map the presence and/or spread of Grapevine Leafroll-associated Virus 3 (Leafroll 3) in participating vineyards in New Zealand.
  2. Contain and control Leafroll 3 virus and the main vector – mealybugs – through a programme that comprises vine removal/replants, hygiene practices and insect control.
  3. Develop “best practice” guidelines for New Zealand Winegrowers, with the long-term goal of maintaining virus-free vineyards.

Control and management of Leafroll 3 is a community issue. That’s why the project trains growers to identify leafroll virus, map, treat, and remove infected vines on an area-wide basis in tandem with effective control of mealybugs. We welcome your comments and questions on this blog.

Click here to read disclaimer.


Fact Sheets