Decant rush a good thing when it comes to wine

Last updated 17:00 01/08/2017

The Marlborough Research Centre campus, on Budge St, is one of three options for the location of a new wine research centre.

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Plans for a multimillion-dollar research centre heralded as a game-changer for the Marlborough economy are still bubbling away, with the next step finding a location.

New Zealand Winegrowers is mulling over three options for the Research Institute of Viticulture and Oenology, which was given the green light by Government last year.

Last October, then-Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced $12.5 million in funding for the project through the Regional Research Institute scheme.

The announcement was met with fanfare from industry and political leaders in the region, however eight months later a location for the centre has yet to be decided.

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New Zealand Winegrowers research and innovation general manager Dr Simon Hooker said the industry body had only signed a contract to access the funding in June.

The contract was signed with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and a company had been set up to develop and run the centre.

Hooker said a consultant had been hired to conduct due diligence on the three possible options for where the institute could be located.

It would either be at the Marlborough Research Centre campus on Budge St, a new greenfields location, or at another existing location with buildings and infrastructure.

Hooker said he expected the board of New Zealand Winegrowers would make a decision on where the institute would go at a board meeting in September.

"It's a big decision, because it's a long-term thing we want to get right, so we need to get all the information for the board to make the best decision on the new centre.

"It'll centralise the grape and wine research in New Zealand within the Marlborough region, and it'll bring together all the relevant stakeholders for the benefit of the wine industry."

Hooker said once a decision was made on location, the board could start looking at the design of the centre. He could not say when he expected it to be up and running.

"It's got to have a look and a feel about it that is 21st century and innovative, so we're spending quite a bit of time making sure we get everything right," he said.

The Marlborough District Council had also set aside funding for the centre; $75,000 for establishment and $150,000 a year from 2017 to 2022.

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When the announcement was made last October, Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said it would be a game-changer that would create jobs and spin-offs for other industries.

The centre was also discussed at a planning, finance and community committee meeting last Thursday during a presentation by Marlborough Research Centre chief executive Gerald Hope.

"MRC are confident enough now to put time and resources into a scoping report looking at what we can offer at the Budge St campus," Hope said on Monday.

"This is conditional on [the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology] being party to that scoping report, and it is early days."

However, Hope said he was confident the Marlborough Research Centre could meet the needs of New Zealand Winegrowers.

- The Marlborough Express


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