From small artisanal growers to major wine companies, more and more grape and wine producers throughout New Zealand are making the transition to certified organic production. Organic winegrowers aim to cooperate with nature, working with ecological processes and using only naturally derived products, avoiding the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides. The goals are healthy soils, healthy vines, premium quality wines, and a thriving landscape.
But as a grower, where do you get started?
Is organic production possible for everyone?
What are the steps to take a vineyard into organic production?
What are the challenges?
What to do about weeds? How to prevent disease outbreaks before they occur?
And what does it all cost?
The Organic Focus Vineyard Project will share answers to all of these questions. This season (2010-11), Organic Winegrowers New Zealand, with funding from New Zealand Winegrowers, launches this new project to demonstrate the realities of organic production. New Zealand’s oldest winemakers, Mission Estate in Hawkes Bay, are converting a portion of their home vineyard to organic management, with professional guidance provided by the focus vineyard project. Financial costs and data on pest and disease incidence, soils, yields and fruit quality will be tracked and shared so that growers can see a direct comparison between organic and conventional vineyards operating side by side.
Throughout the season, over the next three years, the wine industry will be able to follow the project in real time through vineyard walks and through this website, with regular updates from Mission Estate viticulturist Caine Thompson, sharing not only the data but the decisionmaking and learning process involved in “going organic.”
This is the first year of a multi-year project which will include vineyards in other New Zealand wine regions next year. Vineyards interested in becoming a focus vineyard next year can contact OWNZ coordinator Rebecca Reider on firstname.lastname@example.org.