By Rob Pickard
At B Times we love to hear about green initiatives that are taking place in the vineyards and wineries around the world, and are big fans of sustainability and environmental practices in wine. Recent posts have highlighted green initiatives in South Africa at Graham Beck Wines and SAAM, water management at Mitchelton in Victoria and New Zealand’s MANA group and their natural winemaking. So when we heard about a shiny new award at Wither Hills for their environmental work, we wanted to know more.
The team at Wither Hills have recently been awarded the Habitat Enhancement Award at the bi-annual Marlborough Awards for the restoration of native wetlands in their Rarangi vineyard. Wither Hills has been picking up awards for years, but this one’s a bit special, this time it’s not the wines or winemakers that have been recognised, it’s the viticulture team.
Wither Hills started restoring the wetlands which weave around their Rarangi vineyard in 2004. With 50ha to manage, it’s a massive task, and the whole Wither Hills team are involved in the work of replanting and keeping invasive weeds under control. The wetlands and vineyards are home to many native plants including rare and threatened species, and already around 3000 natives have been planted including swamp maire from the Pukaka Valley, kahikatea, kowhai, cabbage trees, kanuka and coprosma. Further replanting has also been helped by winning the award, with a $1,000 sponsorship from a local nursery to purchase more plants for the site.
A winery very aware of its environmental impact, the wetlands are only one part of a bigger environmental strategy for Wither Hills. And their environmental work is now evident throughout their range, with all Wither Hills wines from 2010 certified as sustainable by Sustainable Winegrowing NZ, and approximately 40ha of their vineyards are now well into the program for conversion to organics, with Biogro NZ.
It’s impressive work from the winery, and highlights the importance of environmental and sustainble practices in winemaking’s bigger picture, which are becoming ever more prominent in vineyards around the globe.
More Wither Hills posts recently featured on B Times –