New Zealand Wine: Pure Discovery!

In Blog by Sandra TaylorLeave a Comment

Blenheim, situated in the heart of wine-growing Marlborough, is one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand and was the location of the annual Winegrowers National Conference this year. I traveled there to speak at the session entitled “Sustainability – Who Cares,” an important and timely topic in New Zealand, where nearly all wine producers are certified sustainable, organic or biodynamic. Arguably the most sustainable wine country in the world, 98% of New Zealand’s vineyard producing area is certified Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) – unmatched by any voluntary scheme around the world.

A world first and a world leader: SWNZ was one of the first sustainability programs established in the international wine sector and is widely recognized as a world leading sustainability program.
SWNZ certification requires rigorous adherence to standards in key sustainability focus areas that cover all aspects of grape growing and winemaking.

So who cares? Consumers, especially millennials and women, who want to learn the cultural and environmental stories behind the wines they drink.
The benefits of sustainable practices have been compelling and attractive to growers and winemakers. Making these benefits apparent to consumers is now imperative for the industry, if growers are to increase their viticultural costs to go sustainable and make this journey more appealing.

Having accomplished the goal of nearly 100% participation in sustainable certification, the NZ wine industry is now committed to raising the bar with the launch of a new program in June 2017.

The SWNZ Continuous Improvement program was developed for those wineries and vineyards that want to do more than just the base line SWNZ standard, and be recognized for the extra sustainability work. It is totally voluntary, encompassing nine pillars of sustainability:
Air, water, energy, waste, soil, plant protection, biodiversity, social and business.

More than 50 wineries have signed up and the greatest interest so far has been in water conservation and waste management, where the ultimate goals are to have zero waste and to use water more efficiently and effectively both in the vineyard and the winery.

Participants will complete a plan for each pillar they have decided to embark on, based on published guides. Once their goals have been achieved, each pillar will be independently audited and management systems verified.

There are more than 30 wineries within driving distance of Blenheim and following my conference presentation, I visited growers and wineries in Marlborough. Then I traveled to Hawkes Bay, Auckland and Waiheke Island for vineyard tours and tastings. It was striking how many of these have recently decided to pursue organic certification in their vineyard operations, while continuing to fulfill all the other SWNZ requirements for sustainability certification.

Huia Vineyards  – 2015 Huia Organic Gewürztraminer
Fromm Winery – 2016 Fromm Malbec Fromm Vineyard
Constellation Brands – Kim Crawford Small Parcels wines
No.1 Family Estate – Cuvée Virginie 2009, Méthode traditionelle

Hawkes Bay:
Vidal Estate – 2016 Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay
Supernatural Wine Company – 2014 The Supernatural
Esk Valley Estate
Lime Rock Wines – 2015 Cabernet Franc
Te Mata Estate – 2015 Coleraine; 2015 Bullnose Syrah

Villa Maria Estate – 2014 Single Vineyard Organic Verdelho

Waiheke Island:
Jurassic Ridge – 2009 Jurassic Ridge Syrah
Cable Bay Vineyards
Peacock Sky Vineyard

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