Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Organics: The Future of New Zealand Wine?

Organics: The Future of New Zealand Wine?

Major three-year project aims to see a fifth of all Kiwi vineyards certified organic by 2020.

The oldest winery in the country, Mission Estate, is also one of the most technologically advanced and sustainable. Now, in a move that could have implications for the New Zealand wine industry as a whole, Mission Estate is into its final year of a major study on organic grape-growing – a trial that may potentially see this influential winery make a significant commitment to increasing its organics production.

The Organic Focus Vineyard Project is New Zealand’s first public trial of organic grapes grown side by side with conventional grapes. The pioneering participants are Gibbston Valley in Central Otago, Wither Hills in Marlborough, and Mission Estate in Hawke’s Bay, where the project was piloted during the 2010-11 season. Mission viticulturist Caine Thompson is monitoring 16 hectares of Gimblett Gravels vines, with half being grown in the conventional manner and half under strict organic controls.

“I’ve always had an interest in organics, and its potential to work more closely with nature to create superb wines,” explains Thompson. “In many ways, Mission Estate has been a natural candidate for taking part in an organics trial like this – we have a very long tradition of nurturing our environment. It’s been a fascinating project, and I’m excited about what this will mean for us going forward.” Thompson, a previous winner of the Young Viticulturist of the Year award, presented his findings to date at the regional awards held last month in Napier. Two years into the three-year trial, the results are compelling.

Harvest data and disease control was virtually identical for both the conventional and organic regimes. Crucially, the overall organic production costs were lower. “Challenges include controlling weeds and preventing disease, maintaining the health of the soil, ensuring strong grape yields and fruit quality, while keeping a rein on costs and producing quality fruit,” he says. “The quality was particularly high in our test Merlot and Syrah blocks this harvest, with intense flavours. We didn’t experience any differences in growth or ripening between the organic and conventional blocks, which was very pleasing to see.”

“One of the real surprises for us has been that after only two years the berry quality is on a par with conventionally grown grapes. I think there’s a perception that it takes longer to transition to organic production, but the trial has shown that’s simply not the case. The 2011 vintage in Hawke’s Bay was one of the more challenging ones in my career, but the organic programme still produced very pleasing results.”

The final year of the trial will see the participating wineries make wine exclusively from organic grapes and then evaluate the quality against wine made from the trial’s conventionally grown grapes.

Thompson is already convinced by the results to date. “If you can grow the same quantity at the same quality for the same cost by going organic, then why not go down that route?”

In 2008, just 600 hectares of New Zealand vineyards were certified organic. This figure quadrupled to more than 2,500 hectares for the 2012 vintage, and continues to grow rapidly.* Organic Winegrowers New Zealand, who initiated this project, aim to see a fifth of all Kiwi vineyards certified organic by 2020.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Frog Recruitment: Kiwi Workers Reluctant To Make Business Trips Across The Ditch Despite Trans-Tasman Bubble Opening

When the trans-Tasman travel bubble opens today, many Kiwi companies won't be rushing to buy an air ticket, reluctant to cross the ditch to do business. The latest survey conducted by leading recruitment agency, Frog Recruitment of nearly 1,000 New Zealand ... More>>

Tourism: Employers Welcome Back Working Holidaymakers

Tourism businesses gearing up for the return of Australian visitors from next week will be relieved to learn that they will also have access to an offshore pool of much-needed job candidates, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says. Tourism employers around ... More>>

Commerce Commission: Latest Broadband Report Confirms Improved Performance Of Premium Fibre Plans

The latest report from the Commerce Commission’s Measuring Broadband New Zealand programme shows that the performance of Fibre Max plans has improved substantially. This follows a collaboration between the Commission, its independent testing partner, ... More>>

Air New Zealand: Capital Raise Deferred

Air New Zealand has decided to defer its planned capital raise to later in 2021 allowing more time to assess the impacts of recent developments on the airline’s path to recovery. 'We’ve seen some clearing of COVID-19 clouds recently, with ... More>>

Stats NZ: New Report Shows Impact Of Demands On Land In New Zealand

A new environmental report released today by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, presents new data on New Zealand’s land cover, soil quality, and land fragmentation. The land cover data in the report, Our land 2021 , provides the most ... More>>


Stats NZ: March Card Spending Rebounds Despite COVID

There was a lift in retail card spending in March following a fall in the lockdown-disrupted February month, Stats NZ said today. Seasonally adjusted retail card spending rose by $53 million (0.9 percent), compared with February 2021. Visit our website to read ... More>>

PwC: Outcome Of Review Into Air New Zealand Gas Turbines Business

Air New Zealand has received the report into its Gas Turbines business from independent external advisers PwC. Air New Zealand Chairman Dame Therese Walsh says the report identified a range of effective controls in the Gas Turbines revenue contracting ... More>>