Grapevine credentials

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Riversun uses a rigorous certification system commonly employed in the food industry, where exacting regulations for hygiene, product traceability and a close and continuing attention to detail are demanded.

The HACCP system (Hazards Analysis of Critical Control Points) is best understood as a risk management system. Its purpose is to identify any risks to the quality and functioning of the production system and/or the final product. Under HACCP, standard operating procedures (SOPs) are continually reviewed and updated to ensure the integrity of the processes involved.

At Riversun, more than 18 separate processes have HACCP documentation. Our SOPs and quality controls cover every step in the production and sale of grafted grapevines.


Under HACCP, an internal team responsible for quality control continually monitors Riversun's production processes. All processes are audited by a fully trained internal auditor. These internal audits and all quality systems are again audited twice a year by SGS (Société General Surveillance) - an accredited international auditing body based in Switzerland - to confirm compliance to the Riversun certification specifications.

Download the latest verification of Riversun's compliance with the requirements of HACCP, here.


Virus testing is the realm of Linnaeus laboratory, the diagnostics arm of Riversun. Linnaeus operates a commercial virus-testing and plant diagnostics service. It is accredited by IANZ (International Accreditation New Zealand), the stringent external auditing body used by medical and analytical laboratories. 

The combination of IANZ and HACCP accreditation enables Riversun to meet – or surpass – certification standards that are legislated by government decree in many countries of the world.


Riversun certifies not only the plant materials but also the HACCP processes used in their production. We certify plant materials for:

  • Trueness to type
  • Known virus status
  • Physical specifications and quality
  • Traceability and tracking


1. Trueness to type

Rootstock and budwood from commercial vineyards and from Riversun's germplasm blocks are certified as true to type using ampelography, DNA testing and traceability to source material. Imported material is generally traceable at the clonal level to source blocks maintained by our international suppliers.

2. Known virus status

All vines used to supply material for the production of grafted grapevines have been virus tested at Linnaeus laboratory (or in an approved IANZ-equivalent overseas laboratory). We test to the Linnaeus protocol, which meets – and surpasses – the New Zealand Winegrowers Grafted Grapevine Standard [ Download the latest GGS here ].

Testing involves two techniques: ELISA and PCR

ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay), an efficient antibody-based technique that can diagnose a broad spectrum of viruses. Sourceblocks are tested to the specifications provided in the New Zealand Winegrowers Grafted Grapevine Standard - that is, 100% ELISA tested in the first year, and a minimum of 20% tested thereafter. If virus spread is detected, sourceblocks are again 100% ELISA tested.

While the Grafted Grapevine Standard requires testing only for Grapevine Leafroll-associated Virus 3 (GLRaV-3), an economically significant disease, Riversun tests, at a minimum, for GLRaV 1, 2, and 3, plus Grapevine Virus A (GVA). We test for GLRaV-2 because it may cause some grafting incompatibilities – an important consideration for nursery production. Like GLRaV-1 and 3, GVA (associated with rugose wood complex) can be spread by the insect vector mealybug and causes economic damage to vineyards. Material is also visually inspected for phytoplasmas, bacteria and fungi, with appropriate treatments applied if warranted.

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), an ultra-sensitive test developed from molecular biology that can be used to detect a much wider variety of viruses. Riversun sourceblocks are PCR tested to a 99% level of confidence for 17 major grapevine viruses. Material is visually inspected for phytoplasmas, bacteria and fungi, with appropriate treatments applied if warranted.

3. Physical quality

All Riversun vines meet or exceed the minimum physical specifications listed in the New Zealand Winegrowers Grafted Grapevine Standard in terms of:

  • Diameter
  • Top growth
  • Root volume
  • Graft union
  • Stem length
  • Graft callus maturity
  • Overall vine length
  • Curvature of vine
  • Number of viable buds
  • Root length
  • Amount of insect and/or other damage

Riversun grafts vines to the New Zealand Winegrowers Grafted Grapevine Standard, developed by New Zealand Winegrowers in consultation with viticulture nurseries. Download the latest certificate verifying Riversun's compliance with the requirements of the Grafted Grapevine Standard here. Full details of the specifications and other requirements of the standard can be viewed on the New Zealand Winegrowers website.

All grapevine materials used in the production of grafted vines have been carefully selected for their physical characteristics and quality. They are harvested, graded and processed through Riversun's certified HACCP production system.

Read Edwin Massey's column in March 2017 Winepress which explores in more detail what 'high health' vines certified under the GGS should look like and the importance of excellent viticultural practice and a suitable environment.

4. Traceability and tracking

In addition to the nursery's imported vines, Riversun selects material from commercial vineyards in New Zealand. Vines that show superior characteristics for their cultivar types are "reselected" for use as stock in the company's protected germplasm site, and confirmed as true to type by ampelography. Linnaeus laboratory retests all materials using PCR technology before they are planted at the site. Before virus testing begins, however, Linnaeus maps the source blocks and records are then stored on the company's database.

Material comes from contracted commercial vineyards in New Zealand and is traceable to individual budwood and rootstock blocks, or it is positively selected from Riversun's protected germplasm site. Imported material is generally traceable at the clonal level to source blocks maintained by our international suppliers.

Riversun's computerised database and barcode system tracks all grapevine material as it moves through the system. At any point in the production of grafted vines, the origin, health status and handling records can be accessed. The information relating to the source of material is contained in the Graft Lot number, which appears beneath the barcode label attached to a bundle of vines. At dispatch, each graft lot is separated for ease of tracking and planting. Potted vine lots are also clearly divided at dispatch.



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