Wine notes

Mas­ter of Wine Emma Jenk­ins looks at New Zealand’s grow­ing com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity and land con­ser­va­tion in the wine in­dus­try.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

New Zealan­ders are for­tu­nate to en­joy a (mostly!) clean, green en­vi­ron­ment and our wine ben­e­fits from its per­cep­tion as “the riches of a clean, green land”. In re­turn, our wine pro­duc­ers have em­braced sus­tain­abil­ity via the Sus­tain­able Wine­grow­ing New Zealand (SWNZ) pro­gramme and an in­creas­ing num­ber are turn­ing to or­ganic and bio­dy­namic meth­ods.

Around 95 per cent of wine pro­duc­ers be­long to SWNZ, which sets stan­dards and ac­count­abil­ity for vine­yard and win­ery prac­tices and of­fers on­go­ing sup­port and re­sources for im­prov­ing sus­tain­abil­ity ef­forts. Of course,

SWNZ is just a start­ing point for many, with nu­mer­ous ini­tia­tives now in place, in­clud­ing so­lar and wind-pow­ered winer­ies, fully re­cy­clable water sys­tems, es­tab­lish­ment of na­tive bird and plant cor­ri­dors, fal­con habi­tat re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, amaz­ing wet­lands, minia­ture sheep as vine­yard “mow­ers” (truly!) – the list goes on and on...

There’s no one-size-fits-all ap­proach to sus­tain­abil­ity and pro­duc­ers vary in their abil­i­ties, philoso­phies and bud­gets. But there’s agree­ment on the im­por­tance of prac­tices that ben­e­fit the en­vi­ron­ment – be­cause mak­ing great wine de­mands long-term com­mit­ment to the land.

New Zealand has a high pro­por­tion of small, fam­ily-owned pro­duc­ers, al­most all of whom want to leave their prop­erty in bet­ter shape for the next gen­er­a­tion. Min­imis­ing their im­pact on the land, con­serv­ing water and en­ergy and im­prov­ing vine­yard bio­di­ver­sity is their daily work.

A step on­wards is or­ganic or bio­dy­namic cul­ti­va­tion. Or­ganic pro­duc­ers fo­cus on soil health and bio­di­ver­sity and use no syn­thetic chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers, pes­ti­cides or her­bi­cides, in­stead choos­ing nat­u­rally de­rived prod­ucts or work­ing with na­ture, such as com­bat­ing an in­sect pest with its nat­u­ral preda­tor. Bio­dy­nam­ics goes fur­ther, man­ag­ing the vine­yard as a holis­tic or­gan­ism and work­ing with the rhyth­mic in­flu­ences of the sun, moon, plan­ets and stars.

Cur­rently around eight per cent of New Zealand’s vine­yards are cer­ti­fied ei­ther or­ganic or bio­dy­namic, with the aim of achiev­ing 20 per cent by 2020. Look for the BioGro or Deme­ter sym­bols on bot­tles.

These days even my small-town su­per­mar­ket has a di­verse ar­ray of sus­tain­able/Fair Trade and or­ganic goods, in­clud­ing wine. It’s still up for de­bate whether or­ganic wine (or food) is in fact bet­ter for you, but it’s cer­tainly pretty hard to ar­gue that fewer chem­i­cals is a bad thing. I’ll hap­pily raise a glass of good New Zealand wine to more sus­tain­able stew­ard­ship of our land!

Ini­tia­tives in­clude minia­ture sheep as vine­yard ‘mow­ers’.

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