Grape Days Speakers

Meet the industry experts and leaders who will be speaking at the 2022 Grape Days conference.


Amber Parker

Dr. Amber Parker is a Senior Lecturer in Viticulture at Lincoln University, New Zealand. She completed her PhD at Lincoln University in collaboration with Bordeaux Sciences Agro-ISVV-Ecophysiology and Functional Genomics of Grapevines, France. From there, she worked as a scientist in grapevine modelling at Plant & Food Research, then started at Lincoln University in 2015. Her research focusses on understanding environmental drivers of phenology, investigating the effects of source-sink modifications of the grapevine on phenology and asynchrony of fruit composition, and understanding impacts and adaptations for viticulture in the context of climate change. She also has a keen interest in developing and implementing precision agriculture techniques in viticulture.

Bridget Ennals

Bridget is a grape grower and has been involved with SWNZ programme since 2005 initially as a participant, then as a SWNZ auditor for 10 years and more recently through the NZW Sustainability Guardians Programme. Exploring initiatives with Guardian members on waste, circularity of product, landfill reduction has been one of the current areas of focus of the programme.

Carmo Vasconcelos

Carmo obtained her PhD in grapevine physiology, conducting her research at the Swiss Federal Research Station for Fruit Growing, Viticulture and Horticulture in Wädenswil.  She also did a post-doc at Wädenswil on sustainable viticulture, and a second post-doc on grapevine cold hardiness at Michigan State University.

Dr Vasconcelos was an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist of Viticulture at Oregon State University from 1994 to 2006.  She provided leadership in research on the physiology and sustainable production of high-quality winegrapes in Oregon. In 2007, Carmo joined HortResearch Marlborough as Senior Scientist, where she conducted research on Pinot Noir.  She joined Elanza Technologies in 2010, where she developed tools to optimise the category performance of fresh produce.

From 2013 to 2017, Dr Vasconcelos was an Associate Professor of Viticulture at the EIT in Napier. She taught grapevine physiology and researched viticulture issues relevant to the New Zealand winegrowing industry while concurrently assisting with the crop development programme at Elanza Fresh.  She became Innovation Manager at Elanza Fresh in 2017, where she oversaw the breeding programmes for blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and tamarillos, developed production systems for high tunnel fruit crops, and adapted scientific research in the areas of hydroponics and protected cropping to commercial growing conditions to achieve an 8 to 12 month supply. After a short period at Fruition Horticulture, she joined BRI and returned to her beloved viticulture.

Charles Merfield 

Merf is the Head of Merfield Agronomy Ltd. and the BHU Future Farming Centre, which are dedicated to the science and extension of permanent and whole-system agricultures and horticultures, such as organic agriculture, agroecology, and regenerative agriculture.  He has over thirty years’ experience, both as a grower, having managed organic vegetable farms and as a scientist finding practical and effective physical, biological and ecological solutions to agricultural and horticultural challenges.

David (DJ) Jordan

DJ is considered one of Australasia’s leading viticulturists. He has been in the industry for 38 years, initially as a Viticultural Scientist and then a consultant since 1994.  He has premium wine clients throughout NZ and Australia. DJ introduced rapid virus testing, initiated the format and evaluation of SWNZ and was Programme Manager of the Lighter Wines Programme.

Edwin Massey

Ed is the General Manager Sustainability at New Zealand Winegrowers. His team is responsible for the implementation of the wine industry Environment Strategy to protect and enhance our industry’s reputation as a world leader in sustainable production. I joined NZW in January 2016 as Biosecurity and Emergency Response Manager where I played a key role in the development and implementation of the wine industry biosecurity strategy. Prior to that I worked for central government between 2005 and 2015, first in fisheries management and from 2010 in biosecurity response. In 2006 I completed a PhD in Geography from the University of Auckland where I first developed a passion for sustainable resource management.

Eline van Zijil de Jong

After more than 15 years of research and development experience in applied microbiology in New Zealand and overseas, Eline joined the team as Molecular Diagnostics Manager at Linnaeus Laboratory in Gisborne in 2016. It was here that she became aware of the current challenges New Zealand’s wine industry faces with grapevine trunk disease. Over the last 6 years, Eline has been actively involved in four research projects supported by New Zealand Winegrowers and its partners, investigating the spread of the disease in the nursery and vineyard, and the effectiveness of some of the current management practices. She has also contributed to the development and implementation of new molecular diagnostics for trunk disease. Eline has valued the opportunity to work closely with industry and collaborate with other scientists researching this disease in New Zealand and overseas. Currently Eline is leading the remedial surgery project in the Vineyard Ecosystems Programme. She now holds the portfolio of Lead Scientist at Linnaeus.

Joris Besamusca

With a background in design and over 20 years of experience as a web developer, Joris is the driving force behind the Integrape platform. Joris is passionate about leveraging technology to develop user friendly solutions for viticulture, and constantly liaising with the industry to ensure they stay on track.

Len Ibbotson

Originally from Hawkes Bay, Len studied Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln University before heading to Central Otago, working for several years in various operational and technical management roles in the wine industry there. Since relocating to Marlborough in late 2016, Len has been managing the viticulture program for Matua’s company-owned vineyards. With a passion for viticulture and wine, Len recognises the importance of understanding and connecting viticulture inputs with wine quality.

Mark Allen

Mark's career since 1970 has spanned areas of both horticulture and viticulture. He moved to Marlborough in 2004 and established his own vineyard advisory business. Mark is motivated by reevaluating practices that could create a leading edge in how we manage our vineyards. Such examples include subsurface irrigation that he used on all his Hawke’s Bay vineyard developments back in 1987, which is still operating successfully with the original dripline. More recently I was fortunate enough to project manage the Plant and Food and MPI research programme on mechanical shaking which has proved to be a highly effective cultural method of botrytis control. For the last 12 years, he has worked on alternative pruning options for Sauvignon Blanc that could reduce the high labour cost of cane pruning and at the same time retain yields and increase vine longevity.

Meagan Littlejohn

Meagan Littlejohn hails from Canada with a Master of Arts (M.A.) and a background in research and project management. Meagan first joined the Sustainable Winegrowing NZ (SWNZ) team in May 2018 as the Systems Administrator and now manages the daily operations of the SWNZ programme.  

Nick Hoskins

Nick became involved in Viticulture in Martinborough in the early ’80s, as Vineyard Manager for Martinborough Vineyards. His interest in vine health and genetics prompted a move to Riversun in 1998. Returning to Masterton in 2003 Nick has continued working remotely for Riversun as their viticultural advisor. Nick also established and ran Vine Managers Wairarapa Ltd a management and consultancy business (2006 to 2019) and fronted the NZW virus elimination projects (2009-2015). Since 2015 Nick has managed the BRI Vineyard ecosystems programme, due to finish in December this year.

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