New research from the Ministry of Primary Industries is helping wineries prepare for earthquakes. $30,000 of research will be dedicated to the project, which will be focussed mainly on how wineries can provide an organised response to reassure the international market after an earthquake as well as investigating logistical solutions, like the unavailability of key freight routes.
The research will also look at practical solutions, including engineering improvements to winery equipment so that it can handle the stresses of tectonic movement. "The most favourable soils for growing wine are also on some of the most active faults," said Nicholas Cradock-Henry, lead researcher for the project.
The research was prompted by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, which caused the loss of several million litres of wine as well as damaging important freight infrastructure. Furthermore, even for wineries which suffered minimal damage, the loss of tourism to the area due to the closure of the coastal highway meant that cellar door sales across the region plummeted. Combined with increased freight costs, this resulted in a trying time for wineries in the region.
Nick Gill, general manager for Greystone and Muddy Water Wine in Waipara, said that freight companies had to use the Lewis Pass to get the wine to Picton rather than State Highway One.
"The transport company has passed on that additional cost to us very quickly, but of course we don't pass that on to our customers,” he explained. “We have to absorb it and that places more pressure on what is already a challenging business."
MPI is expecting to run workshops with Marlborough and North Canterbury winegrowing regions and is hoping to present preliminary findings at the start of next year.