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Giesen increases focus on organics

26 August 2013

Giesen increases focus on organics

Giesen Wines is placing growing importance on its organic plantings, with 15% of its vineyards now converted or in transition.

The winery has has just released its second certified organic Sauvignon Blanc, Giesen Organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012, following a highly successful launch last year.

Giesen Wines, privately owned by brothers Theo, Alex and Marcel Giesen, is one of New Zealand’s largest wineries. It owns 13 vineyards in Marlborough’s highly regarded Wairau Valley and this year celebrates the 30th vintage of its acclaimed Marlborough Sauvignon.

Marcel Giesen says the family is committed to environmentally sustainable wine production practice.

“In 2009, we ripped out a seven hectare vineyard and left the land fallow for two vintages before replanting in October 2010 as a wholly organic, close planted Pinot Noir and Syrah vineyard. Since then we have expanded the programme so that now 15% of our 283ha are certified organic or under transition.”

The Organic Sauvignon Blanc is attracting international attention with export orders placed from Australia, UK, Japan, Bulgaria, and Denmark.

“We’re very pleased with this wine. Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean we would automatically release it. It has to stand up on its own merit and be of equal quality to the rest of our wines. The quality is first, the fact that it is organic is important – but not our first criteria.”

Marcel Giesen says that last year Giesen invested a significant amount at its Marlborough winery to establish water treatment on site and the company uses organic fertilisers on all its vineyards.

“We think there is a really good future for organics. We will continue to learn from what we have planted so far and how to integrate that farming practices into our conventional vineyards.”

The Giesen brothers, who emigrated from Germany, originally planted their first vineyard just outside Christchurch in 198. In 2001 they moved their winery to Marlborough, where it has since expanded every year, while the head office remains in Christchurch.

Growing portfolio

Today they export to 28 countries, have won Giesen Wines international acclaim, and steadily increased their portfolio of wines.

“While the Sauvignon Blanc is the backbone of Giesen Wines, we are seeing significant interest in Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir,” says Alex Giesen.

“Marlborough has forged an outstanding reputation for Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s a wonderful region for many other varietals. As consumers learn more about wine, they’re far keener to experiment with different flavours and styles of wine. People’s palates are getting a lot more sophisticated and they’re enthusiastic to experience other styles.”

Premium wine is a strong growth area for Giesen, illustrated by its “super-premium” label, The August Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that is now in its third vintage.

“This wine is the result of what we have learnt over the past three decades, both in the vineyard and winemaking techniques, it pushes the boundaries and highlights Sauvignon Blanc is not just a one trick pony. We really want to showcase the varietal and the diversity that can be achieved.”

Export markets
Since launching in Australia in 1993, Giesen Sauvignon Blanc has spent 20 years building to be the second largest selling white wine in Australia in the $15-$20 price bracket (AC Nielson). In total, Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 84% of the New Zealand wine industry exports.

The UK is Giesen’s second biggest export market, followed by the US and China. The top four export markets have seen double-digit growth over the last 12 months and sales in new markets have grown 75% over the past three years. New markets include Bulgaria, Ukraine, Malta, Belgium, Netherlands, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Vanuatu, Samoa, and Tonga.

“All the way through the past 30 years, we’ve concentrated on simply making wines that people want to drink. There’s still a long way to go but it’s wonderful to have travelled this far. An overnight success that’s taken 30 years.”


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