Engineering conference draws a crowd in Napier

WineWorks engineering manager Paul Botha at the Napier conference.

WineWorks engineering manager Paul Botha at the Napier conference.

Australia’s Winery Engineering Association held a successful two-day conference in Napier recently, attracting almost as many delegates as a similar event staged in Australia.

One hundred and twenty people signed up for the conference, more than the 105 people who attended the previous WEA conference in Marlborough and close to the 130 who registered for a conference in Australia this year.

Held over September 18 and 19, the conference and exhibition carried the theme ‘value adding from grape to glass’ and were coordinated by Trevor Leighton of the WEA in Australia.

Deputy president of the WEA, Ross Wilkinson from the Barossa wine-producing region in Australia opened the conference and was followed by Villa Maria executive director and the conference’s keynote speaker, Fabian Yukich. Mr Yukich spoke of the drive to make New Zealand’s wine sector a $2 billion export operation by 2020.

He noted the drive towards sustainability by this country’s wine sector which is being well-received by off-shore buyers of our wine, but he warned that other countries are now moving into that space and we may not be alone for much longer.

He spoke of the need for our wine producers to reduce costs of production wherever possible, noting that wineries carry expensive plant and equipment which is needed only once a year at harvest time, and he encouraged wine producers to think of ‘lean production’ as much as possible.

Mr Yukich pointed to health and safety as an ongoing vital part of wine production. He said while he used to run around his family’s winery when he was 13 years old in jandals, wineries these days are much bigger and more dangerous places.

Paul Botha, the engineering manager at WineWorks, spoke of a trend towards bulk shipments of wine from countries such as Australia and New Zealand, mainly sparked by demand from the northern hemisphere. During the conference a number of attendees spoke to Wine Technology about the need for New Zealand producers to resist this trend, and to ensure that our winemakers can continue to ensure that product bottled here will open in offshore markets and taste the way the winemaker intended.

(The November issue of Wine Technology magazine will carry extensive coverage of the Napier conference).