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Vineyard at Matakana receives environmental award

June 22, 2005

Ascension Vineyard at Matakana receives environmental award.

Ascension Vineyard at Matakana is among 11 winners of Environment Minister Marian Hobbs' awards for environmental heroes.

Ascension's highly commended Green Ribbon award, under the "Sustainable Business" category, was presented to owners Darryl & Bridget Soljan on Thursday 9 June at a ceremony at the Grand Hall, Parliament. The awards are presented each year in June, to tie in with World Environment Day on 5 June.

"An inspiring and diverse range of people, groups, schools and businesses from throughout New Zealand have been selected as winners of this year's Green Ribbon Awards," Marian Hobbs said. "They are a fantastic group of people making a real difference to the environment and their communities."

Ascension's award recognizes their unique waste treatment system in addition to reducing waste through a concerted recycling programme, and a determined effort to manage their vineyard sustainably.

"We are very proud to receive this recognition for what is really an every day part of our business", says Darryl. "I believe our achievement is indicative of what is occurring around us in the Matakana and Warkworth region, as well as the NZ wine industry in general".

With over 40 000 visitors a year to the Cellar Door and restaurant, and a winemaking facility on site, the operation has potential to generate a significant amount of waste in an unspoiled rural environment. "Our solution includes a sophisticated treatment system that works on very simple, low input principles", says Darryl. "This includes worm composters and a wetland that we established with over 6000 native plants. Apart from the fact that it works by comfortably processing over half a million litres a year, it has beautified a section of the property that was previously "dead" when we purchased it. That corner of the vineyard now attracts native birds as well as frogs that we can hear croaking at night".

"Our family has been making a living from the land for a long, long time", says Darryl. "Bridget and I made a decision at the outset that we would leave this beautiful piece of New Zealand at least as healthy as we found it, and hopefully better. We are focussed on crafting high quality wine from this unique Matakana vineyard, and what our customers taste in the bottle is a direct reflection of the environment in which those grapes are grown. The vineyard has to be balanced, healthy, vibrant and alive!"

"The Green Ribbon Awards give national recognition for outstanding local initiatives," Marian Hobbs said. The assessment criteria include whether the people or projects address a significant environmental issue, improve the environment, provide a model for others, go above and beyond "the call of duty", or introduce something new or innovative.

"Of particular interest this year was the high number of outstanding entries in the Community Action for the Environment and Sustainable Business categories, showing that more and more people are doing excellent work in these areas."


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