Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Next up in our #pinotnoirday series is.................Wairarapa. We spoke with Bevan Lambess, Vineyard Manager and Jannine Rickards, Winemaker from @urlarwine about their experiences with Pinot Noir in their region.
During seasons with a lot of disease pressure what organic methods do you use to combat these?
At URLAR we keep our spray intervals tight - no longer than 10-14 day spray intervals before flowering then 7-10 day intervals after flowering. We use higher water rates than most conventional sprays because under organics there are no systemic chemicals so coverage and therefore higher water rates are key. We try to keep the canopy as straight up and down as possible during the growing season to avoid shoot and bunch clumping which allows the air to flow and sunlight to penetrate. We keep the canopies thinner than most conventional farms by more extensive shoot removal early season. To reduce the botrytis risk we try to avoid the bunches touching and clumping so therefore more extensive fruit removal mid to late season than many conventional vineyards. We apply foliar seaweed throughout the growing season to keep the vines healthy and able to fight disease. We make our own seaweed tea by collecting seaweed from our local beaches, drying it, mulching and into a pod with warm water then letting it steep for a couple of months with daily stirring. We then drain off the liquid and it’s ready to be applied throughout the year when required.
How has the 2019/2020 growing season compared with other seasons in Wairarapa? 2019/20 growing season was a warm and dry growing season with very settled weather for our Pinot Noir flowering which resulted in a great fruit set. Without an excess of water through rainfall and limiting irrigation produced beautiful full bunches with mid-sized berries. Disease pressure was low as a result of the dry conditions and due to there only being one significant rain event around harvest time, Botrytis wasn’t an issue and meant we could harvest the fruit when we thought optimal.
I really do believe Organic and / biodynamic farming can have an affect on the wine. Both practises increase your vine/ soil and and therefore fruit health and balance. Wines farmed organically seem to have a completeness about them. Certainly in the winery having had fruit in 2020 first year in conversion to organics I noticed a dramatic difference in fermentation health. The fruit from our original blocks having very healthy and easy to manage ferment curves with no additions required to the first year in conversion fruit which was not wanting to start naturally and/ needing nutrient supplementation to combat reduction. Also of particular note was the energy of the ferments at the full moon this year. We did have full tanks with a nice fruit set and reasonable crop but the almost volcano like activity was very notable on the Pinot Noir ferments peaking at this stage.
Why farm organically?
For us the bottom line is to be more then sustainable and organic, its about being trans -generational for the land, its welfare, longevity and for the future generations which will inherit what we leave behind. Very much wanting to preserve and enrich this place.