The UK now has a bespoke state-of-the-art research winery and vineyard to underpin the rapidly expanding viticulture sector, thanks to new investment in vine-to-wine R&D facilities.
Based at NIAB EMR in East Malling, Kent, the team of scientists and viticulturalists is now able to deliver much-needed scientific research, as the UK quality wine market continues to rapidly expand, thanks to the addition of the bespoke research winery.
The first pressing of the 2019 grape harvest was undertaken by MP for Tonbridge & Malling, Tom Tugendhat when he visited NIAB and toured the vineyard, research laboratory and opened the new research winery facility.
Commenting on the visit, MP Tom Tugendhat said: “NIAB EMR continues to innovate and invest to ensure our community is at the heart of the burgeoning viticulture sector. The research vineyard, laboratory and winery will all play a significant part in the rapid growth of the UK wine industry.
“It was an honour to make the first pressing of this year’s grape harvest and see for myself what a fantastic asset NIAB EMR continues to be for Kent.”
The NIAB EMR research winery adds to the 10,000m2 concept vineyard planted in 2015 for scientific and demonstration purposes. The vineyard makes it possible to deliver randomised and replicated trials to ensure the research is robust and supports forward-thinking viticulturalists.
Dr Julien Lecourt, Head of Viticulture and Wine R&D at NIAB EMR, said: “The UK wine industry is increasing by tens of millions of pounds per annum and urgently needs this bespoke research capability that focuses specifically on the country’s terroir and climate.
“The research will ensure our commercial vineyards are best-placed to respond to climate change, bring forward viable new varieties and improve growing regimes and systems to compete with international wine growers.”
Amongst the winery’s first production will be fruit from the 2019 harvest of the Swiss-developed ‘Divico’ red wine variety that scientists at NIAB EMR have been working with for the last three years.
Mario Caccamo, NIAB EMR Managing Director, added: “This centre offers nationally significant viticulture and production-related research at a time when there’s a growing commercial interest in investing in wine production throughout the whole process.
“The combined efforts of the research vineyard and the winery will give greater confidence to our country’s wine makers who are looking to reduce the risk and improve the commercial certainty in the pursuit of excellence.”
The winery uses the latest equipment to produce small batches. Its press is able to process up to 500kg of grapes at a time. Wine production is undertaken in temperature-controlled tanks, with 15 each of 110 litre capacity, alongside three 700 litre tanks. The computer monitored system makes it possible for the scientists to produce highly replicable wines and fully control the pace of fermentation.
As well as working with UK vineyards, the team at NIAB EMR also collaborates with companies involved in the whole wine making process.
The winery was funded by East Malling Trust and NIAB and will primarily be focused on servicing the members of the NIAB EMR viticulture R&D consortium including Bolney Wine Estate, Chapel Down, Gusbourne, Halfpenny Green Vineyard, Hencote, MDCV UK, and Nyetimber.