Klima has developed a pruning system that recently won two major European trade awards and has been described by European media as a revolutionary step in mechanising viticulture that has the potential to change vineyard practices. The Marlborough based company developed the world’s first cane pruner, a machine that cuts, strips and mulches grapevines – jobs that until now have always been carried out by hand. In addition to giving grape growers better control over vine quality, The cane pruner reduces labour costs associated with pruning by around 50 percent.
Managing Director Marcus Wickham says the Klima pruning system and machine have proven popular because they take the pain out of pruning, substantially reduce grape growers’ pruning costs and provide a rapid return on their investment. Since launching the system in 2010, Klima has made impressive inroads into the New Zealand, Australian, French, Italian, German and Austrian markets. Significant interest is being shown by many other large international markets, with new markets to be announced later this year.
Klima’s offshore success has been assisted by a strategic partnership with German vineyard machinery manufacturer and distributor, ERO Weinbau. The companies have joined forces to jointly develop and commercialise the Klima technology around the globe. Klima provides innovative technology and viticultural knowledge, and ERO supplies the manufacturing excellence, distribution networks, brands (ERO and Binger) and industry credibility – which is particularly in the important European markets. “It’s a case of Kiwi No. 8 wire meets German manufacturing perfection to maximise Cane Pruner’s value to customers,” says Mr Wickham.
Not long after Klima negotiated a licensing arrangement with ERO, The Klima Cane Pruner (marketed in Europe as Viteco) went on to win the gold award in Europe’s most prestigious viticulture trade show, Sitevei (held in Montpellier, France) – a first for any New Zealand or German company. Shortly afterwards it also won at Italy’s inaugural Enovitis Milano awards. Mr Wickham says The Klima Cane Pruner was already selling well in Europe before the two wins and sales have continued to climb, with more than 35 sales for the machines since November. Klima also produces a range of other products designed to help viticulturalists improve grape pruning efficiencies.
The company was established in 2008 with the aim of developing innovative products that make grape growers’ businesses more profitable and their lives easier. “We as a company are passionate about viticulture and all members of our senior management team are experienced grape growers themselves. As such we understand that grape growing can be a tough business that faces many challenges – from weather events, to market issues. Our goal is to help our fellow grape growers around the world with products that give them more control over their business. “While we are like any businesses and we must be profitable to survive and grow, it’s about more than that for us. We are strongly motivated by a desire to understand grape growers’ needs and create, develop and unearth innovative solutions that will meet those needs,” he says.
As an innovator, Klima wants to move its business beyond its traditional focus on machines and manufacturing, and is exploring a range of opportunities to grow its product offering. “Grape growing is an integral yet sometimes under-rated part of the winemaking process. As grape growers ourselves, we appreciate how many challenges this profession faces – from taking care of all of the usual administrative matters associated with running a successful business, to successfully managing the additional biological layer of complexity involved in growing high quality grapes,” says Mr Wickham. “Klima has other innovative products in the pipeline to help ease grape growers’ burdens and we will always continue looking for new and innovative ways to help them do more with less.”