Tim Finn of Neudorf Vineyards on UV Light
This show was published 08 August 2008
Tim Finn established Neudorf Vineyards 30 years ago in 1978 in the village of Neudorf, Nelson in New Zealand's South Island. Tim has been experimenting with UV light to achieve the perfect balance between flavour and sugar.
Nelson is the green lipped mussel shell capital of the world and mussel shells are a by product of the mussel industry. Neudorf Vineyards have been trialling the use of mussel shell mulch in the vineyards in order to increase the amount of UV light the grapes are exposed to.
In the last 15 years there has been a trend in wine towards riper flavours. To get these flavours means leaving fruit on the vine longer but the downside is higher sugar levels and high alcohol levels. One way to cut down level of sugar was to separate the 2 ripening processes - flavour development vs the accumulation of sugar. One cause in the new world is that you get heat later in the summer. If you get the heat earlier the flavour compounds ripen earlier. So Neudorf looked at getting more UV light onto the grapes earlier on by putting mussel shells underneath the vines as a mulch. It worked and it meant they could harvest earlier. The light reflects off the shells and the mulch helps retain moisture in the soil, it also contains calcium and other trace elements and it keeps the weeds down.
Trials have been running for 5-6 years comparing mussel shells with a woven white netting and a bare strip under the vine. The shells were most effective and so they started commercial trials. They are now using shells in normal production in some vineyards.
They had funds from sustainable development government projects in conjunction with Lincoln university. There are about 5 other vineyards in New Zealand who have taken up the idea so far.
Nelson is a warm, sunny place, populated by artisan types. 2 hours from Marlborough, they grow similar grapes - Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling but also Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
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