Stewardship of our Land
Central Otago has astounding beauty and is a landscape especially precious to those who work and live here. We take seriously our stewardship of these lands and seek to enhance our environment for future generations. Our winegrowers are involved with regenerative planting of natives, saving endangered species, innovating to reduce water and chemical use, improving our soils, reducing carbon and eliminating waste from the vineyard. We look forward to a healthy future for our children.
“We are here for a short time, but our impact can last longer than a lifetime.”
Biodiversity protection, restoration, or enhancement is a priority for many Central Otago vineyards. Activities undertaken include restoring wetlands, and planting native vegetation and trees. Other initiatives include the provision of enhanced habitats for indigenous wildlife, taking much greater care (or otherwise reducing) the use of mechanical mowing & reducing the use of herbicide and pesticide applications. Many winegrowers in Central Otago have taken steps to install bird/bug/bee boxes, and have increased pest trapping and management to bolster these efforts.
Native birdlife on vineyards is celebrated in Central Otago as they largely stay away from the grapes. Peregrine winery has been dedicated to conserving some of New Zealand’s most threatened birds, working with both the Department of Conservation and Wingspan Trust to save Karearea (NZ Falcon) and Tīeke (South Island Saddleback).
“We use only what we need, protect water quality, and restore our waterways”
Water is a key resource in vine irrigation, frost protection and wine making in Central Otago, and using water efficiently is a priority for the industry. Within the sector, an approach of creative thinking and innovative solutions have led to a range of environmental practices within Central Otago, including the utilization of wastewater wetlands, a serious commitment to native biodiversity planting and the restoration of ecosystems, the adoption of on-site storage wells and ponds, a uniquely Central Otago approach to irrigation, the recycling of clean water, and a commitment to benchmarking water use over time against the sector in general.
98% of Central Otago vineyards and wineries measure and record the total water they use. 97% of vineyards optimise their water applications for irrigation. 92% of wineries and vineyards have initiatives to conserve or reduce water ruse. 89% of vineyards have leak detection and repair programmes.
Caring for our Soils:
Owing to our unique geology Central Otago has naturally arid and low-vigor soils, containing little organic matter. Our soils come from of a mix of glacial deposits and river sediments as a result of relatively rapidly evolving geology. Harsh sun and cold winters keep the soils dry and prevents the build-up of the organic matter, fungus and bacteria which are important to healthy soils.
There are strong goals across Central Otago vineyards to protect and enhance soil health. The use of cover crops between vine rows provides a protective layer for microbial communities and reduced use of herbicides, reduced cultivation and so on, helps protect these communities. Moreover many vineyards subscribe to addition practices that further enhance soil health e.g. annual cover-cropping, regenerative agriculture, biodynamics and organics.
In addition to the high proportion of certified organic vineyards in Central Otago, 99% of all vineyards use non-chemical methods for managing pests and diseases wherever possible.
A goal for Central Otago winegrowers is to reduce and mitigate the impact of pests and diseases through understanding how to use cultural control methods (e.g. pruning techniques and open canopies) whenever practical, and when chemical sprays are required, use best practice above legal requirements. All plant protection sprays are reported openly and transparently into a national database.
From that database we know that Central Otago vineyard fertiliser use is lower than the national average across all areas and total plant protection use (herbicide, fungicide, insecticide, mixed, oils and other) is only 78% of the national average.
We continue to improve these numbers each year through monitoring and iterating our approach to viticulture
Waste & Recycling:
Across the New Zealand winegrowing sector, 98% of vineyards and wineries now have waste reduction and recovery, and recycling programmes in place.
The goal for the New Zealand wine industry is to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2050. NZ Winegrower’s notes a range of practices that are promoted to help in this regard including organic waste diversion, smart packaging design, recycling and composting, low density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic bags, repurposed polyethylene terephthalate (PET) label backing recycling, improved packaging efficiency, on-site composting, and repurposed posts.
In Central Otago we work with multiple recycling initiatives to minimise waste to landfill including Agrecovery to recycle chemical containers & plastic bags, and with Plasback for vineyard netting and other plastics.