Today's #pinotnoirday chat is with Andrew Greenhough of @greenhoughvineyards in Nelson.
Nelson can be divided into two distinct sub-regions: the Waimea Plains and the Moutere Hills. They differ markedly in soils. The majority of the region’s Pinot vines are grown in the rolling Moutere Hills, made up of clay subsoils over the gravels of an old river system. Greenhough's vines grow on an elevated terrace of clay-rich river gravels at the foothills of the Richmond Range. Pinot Noir is their most planted variety here.
Greenhough's conversion to organic management in 2008 was motivated by the desire to care for the land and the pursuit of wines truly expressive of their people and place.
Over the years we have learned that most seasons include periods during which disease pressure is high and so the best method of defence is to be pro-active in terms of vineyard management in order to keep disease out, or to a minimum at least. Key to this are the following.
· Focus on fruit exposure (through shoot thinning and leaf removal), for maximum ventilation and effective spray penetration.
· Spray applications rates at strict intervals of no more than 10 days apart.
· Additional spray applications following significant high disease pressure weather events.
· Higher water rates to give generous spray coverage.
The 2019/2020 growing season was of the very highest quality as was 2018-2019 before it.
Both of these were warm and drier than normal), resulting in early harvest of healthy fruit at near perfect acid/sugar balance. Both of these seasons and harvest periods rate among the best we have had in Nelson in past decades.
Since converting to an organic regime twelve years ago our management programme has been one of continual adaptation in response to the performance of the vines.
Without herbicide use, under-vine competition led to some reduction in vine vigour and yields. Adoption of inter-row cultivation of alternate rows and conversion from cane to spur pruning in Pinot Noir and chardonnay went a long way to improving vine balance. We have now moved to under-vine cultivation throughout the vineyard and reverted back to cane pruning to further improve on these gains. Over time, vines have definitely adapted to organic processes and will continue to do so.
The effect of organics on the flavour profile of our Pinot Noir is not a dramatic one, in large part because our focus has always been on low yields. The wines are built on a foundation of concentrated fruit but equally on savoury, extract-derived characters. If anything, organic practices in both the vineyard and winery tend to lead us further in the direction of low input, minimal intervention which tends to reinforce these characters in our Pinot Noir.