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Central Otago leads the way in organic viticulture


Central Otago Winegrowers Association (COWA) is proud to reveal exciting new numbers which show that the region is leading New Zealand in organic vineyard production – and indeed has become a leader in organic vineyards on the world stage.

COWA completed a survey of members following the 2019 harvest to assess the level of certified organic and biodynamic vineyard production in Central Otago. This detailed survey revealed that 17% (320ha) of vineyard land in the region is now fully certified in organic/biodynamic production, and 6% (115ha) of the region is in the official three-year organic conversion process. (Land must be managed to a certified organic standard for three years before full organic status is granted by an organic certifying body.) This means that an impressive grand total of 23% of the region’s vineyard land area is now being farmed under certified organic or biodynamic practices.

“We believe this is a world-leading statistic and worth celebrating,” said Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates Estate Manager and COWA Chairperson Nick Paulin. “This is a credit to the hard-working growers, winemakers and owners whose passion and commitment has generated this result.”

“Central Otago is a natural fit for organic viticulture. We are passionate here about taking great care of our land, and also driven to create the absolute highest-quality wines,” Paulin said. “Time and again, organic and biodynamic production has been shown to create premium wines that truly express the spirit of our land, while regenerating and preserving the landscape for future generations.”

Organics has been a long-term focus for the Central Otago wine industry. In 2007, Central Otago Winegrowers Association members gave a clear directive to move towards a collective approach to adopting organic practices. Moving towards achieving this goal was accelerated by funding received from Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) to design and implement a pilot programme for Central Otago to support winegrowers to transition towards becoming organic.

Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (OWNZ) has been instrumental in helping to achieve this high proportion of organic winegrowing, through projects such as the Organic Focus Vineyard project and other industry-led workshops.

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