Virus-Free Vineyards – The Blog

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.

See you at Grape Day!

New Zealand Winegrowers’ Virus Elimination Project has just completed its final season of trials in Hawke's Bay and Marlborough, with monitoring and data collection complete and analysis under way.

Our Marlborough presentation has been incorporated into this year's Grape Day technical session, which will be held in Blenheim at the Convention Centre on Wednesday 10 June.

The 2015 programme is now available, and you can register online at Marlborough presentations will also be videotaped and posted on for access by members.

Seasonal toolkit for managing leafroll 3

March is the best time to monitor red varieties for the visual symptoms of infection from leafroll 3 virus. This year, growers have an additional tool to help with the job.

New Zealand Winegrowers’ Leafroll 3 App, launched in 2014, enables you to take a photo of leaf symptoms in your vineyard (using your smartphone’s camera) and send it to the Virus Elimination Project team for verification. The app is available for free and can be downloaded from the iPhone and Android stores.

The app also provides you with links to the popular Flickr photo library, which shows Leafroll 3 symptom expression on individual varieties, including:

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


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.

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