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Wine News

New Zealand hit by phylloxera

A wine estate in New Zealand’s Wairarapa region has been hit by the vineyard blight phylloxera. The discovery was made at the Matahiwi Estate, in the Masterton area. Unlike the vast majority of New Zealand, Matahiwi has 25 hectares of vines that haven’t been grafted onto rootstocks that are resistant to the insect phylloxera.

Matahiwi Estate general manger Jane Cooper said she was unsure how the vineyard came to be infected, but suspected it was either from plant material or from soil traces brought in on vehicles from affected regions. Phylloxera is present in Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Nelson and Central Otago.

The spread of the problem can be contained by developing and adhering to a strict protocol governing such things as the movement of machinery, vehicles and plant material from vineyard to vineyard. Matahiwi Estate has put its protocol in place, however, about a quarter of Wairarapa’s vines are on ungrafted rootstocks, so are under threat of infection if the bug spreads throughout the region.

Warren Adamson, UK Director of New Zealand Winegrowers, sees only one way out of this. ‘The path forward is a replanting programme,’ he said.

Already 92 per cent of vines in New Zealand are on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.