The wine industry is forging the sustainable path for New Zealand business, mostly because the overseas demand for light-footprint product is ever-increasing.
When the first European settlers arrived in New Zealand, there was nothing else for it. Build a house, burn the bush, grow grass, sort yourself out a farm or at least die trying. This ‘growth at all costs’ mentality meant we were soon in danger of stretching our little piece of the pacific to unsustainable levels. Our fisheries, forestry and farming were all as bad as each other and grapegrowers were no exception. Increase production by killing the weeds and bugs with chemical sprays and she’ll be right; electricity’s cheap, use as much water as you want, chuck out all your waste, where’s the harm?
Thankfully over recent decades, an environmental paradigm shift has taken place within our wine industry and now consumers can choose from a smorgasbord of sustainability champions. At the 2012 Air New Zealand Wine Awards, a record 92% of entries were sustainably accredited, compared with 75% in 2011.
Under NZ Winegrowers’ Sustainability Policy, wine must be made from 100% certified grapes in fully certified winemaking facilities and certification must be through an independently audited programme — either Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand or one of the recognised organic or biodynamic certifications.