Remi Lui – Hong Kong Economic Journal July 2011

Wine growing combines science & technologies by Remi (HKEJ)

[Translated] Vineyards are mostly found in the central part of Otago, it’s the most southern wine growing area in the world. Those vineyards are all developed at the ice-capped gully 200m to 400m from the sea level.

Misha and Andy Wilkinson were expertises of information technologies but they have been dreaming to set up the wine growing and winemaking business. They then made a decision after working in Asia for 16 years in 2001, they started to run their own vineyard in the area, making wines which suit tastes of Asia market.

However, they do understand that advanced research of soil and land is a must for growing quality grapes beforehand, also to learn its micro and macro climate changes. Thus, they started out a research in Central Otago for 18 months, tried to look for a potential area for their future vineyard. Eventually, they have found the recent vineyard with professional advice.

Wilkinson said that the vineyard is built northern-west where is the warmest area in the region. The surrounding slopes and valleys encourage air circulation, reducing risk of occurrence of frost. The climate in Central Otago can be very critical due to its seasonal temperature variation, insufficient rainfall and frost problem, especially in between March to November. The occurrence of frost would lead to be a huge damage.

Therefore, people were warned that it will be a threat to the commercial wine growing activities in the region. Wilkinson has to find a suitable place for securing healthy growth of their grapes.

Wilkinson has mentioned that their vineyard location will be affected by the gully affect in spring and summer time, air current will move along side the valley and lake and the strong wind helps prevent the formation of grey rot. Their wine growing team will need to put on shelter cloth to protect the grapes from being destroyed by the strong wind.

Wilkinson also mentioned that the soil quality, geographic altitude, micro climate and the planting direction are all influential to the quality of grapes. Thus, it is a must to find a optimal solution for all these problems. For instance: they have selected 8 different Pinot Noir from Pommard and Dijon to be grafted on the Phylloxera resistant American rootstock, this method promised to plant quality grapes and produce quality wines. Misha’s Vineyard’s production has been ranked top 100 by the famous wine magazine – Wine Spectator last year.

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