Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Organic certification is the final step in providing an assurance of quality to the savvy wine consumer. Many wineries have felt that achieving certification was less important that practicing organic farming but, with the lack of regulation around the use of the word organic, it is now more important than ever to be organic accredited. Having the logo of BioGro, Assure Quality or Demeter on a bottle of wine is a promise of concientious farming and wine production. And today's consumer is taking notice.
And so are Supermarkets! These 'big guys' have had organic dry goods and produce sections for years now but few have added an organic section to their wine department. OWNZ would like to see that change and are working with retailers to make organic tags (or sections) a permanent fixture. Check out Fresh Choice Richmond, Regional Wine & Spirits, Fine Wine Delivery, and New World Miramar for their unique approaches to organic 'labelling'!
Fingers crossed this is just the beginning.
Organic grape growing is paramount to wine quality, land health, and worker and consumer well being. Consumers are starting to ask questions and their decision to choose organic is feeding the growth of the organic and biodynamic wine industry.
Recently Organic Winegrowers New Zealand saw NINE of our members transition to certification status. Many of these producers were existing members but, at the time of our recent 'wallet brochure' reprint, all these members now had certified organic wine in bottle and available to the consumer. We saw the largest update to our website and brochure in a couple of years and it highlighted the calibre of NZ's organic wine sector.
OWNZ's marketing and events manager Stephanie McIntyre recently caught up with Larry McKenna of Escarpment Martinborough on his winery's newly minted certification status... amongst other things.
Larry McKenna may be best known for his significant contribution to the growth and development of premium New Zealand Pinot Noir but did you know that he has been employing a collection of organic techniques in the vineyard and winery since day dot? Here is what he had to say:
When did Escarpment officially achieve organic certification?
2019 via BioGro.
Why did you choose to convert to organics?
I believe Escarpment will make better wine using organic principals. It will create a vineyard which is more sustainable and more likely to be inherited by the next generation in a healthy viable state. Also, the wines will be more acceptable to an ever increasing knowledgeable market.
How long have you been utilising organic practices?
Impeding Escarpment's organic status has only ever been our use of glyphosate. We were never satisfied with grassed down rows, observing a reduction in vigour around the district on vineyards with poor weed control. In 2016 we were able to purchase a Boisselet under vine weeder which addressed most of our concerns regarding weeds in an organic sustainable way. With the elimination of glyphosate we were able to begin the three year certification process.
Are all your wines certified now?
We are working on that! From 2019, all wines made from our Escarpment, Te Rehua and Kiwa vineyards are certified organic. We also source a reasonable quantity of contracted Martinborough fruit under long term arrangements and these growers are being encouraged to convert.
How long have you been making wine, Larry?
39 years! Wow, long time!
What do you see as the future of NZ Wine?
NZ wine needs a bigger spread of varieties and styles. The market needs to be educated around quality wine. There is too much emphasis on price. Wine needs to be more accessible and easily managed. The traditional bottle doesn’t suit most millennials I get the impression. The 330ml or 375ml can is a good example of more accessible packaging. More innovation around packaging will help the youth market be attracted to wine.
What is distinctive about the Martinborough region?
I believe the Martinborough region (in Pinot Noir anyway) produces wines with complexity, texture and classic characters. More in the red fruit spectrum than the black. The balance between acid and alcohol obtained in this district is very important to our overall style. The Wairarapa can produce wines with balanced acidity and acceptable alcohol levels (12.5 -13.5%) while exhibiting clean ripe fruit flavours.
To learn more about Escarpment and their range of organic wine (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc & Pinot Gris...) visit their website by clicking here.