We farm soils: Organic and Biodynamic Conference, NZ

Industry corner
Biodynamic conference

Three days, from June 26 through June 28, about organic and biodynamic viticulture and winemaking. The conference was organized by Organic Winegrowers in New Zealand and held in Blenheim. Blenheim is situated in the largest wine growing region of New Zealand, Marlborough. Most of the vineyards here are Sauvignon Blanc.

 

Biodynamic means to make wines in a healthier ecosystem. Observation outlines the philosophy of these winegrowers. They respect their soils by making compost using underlying cover crops. “Imagine if your vineyard can talk to you, what can it say?” said James Milton, one of the first biodynamic growers in the Southern Hemisphere.

The first session, Liquid, refers to research, questioning, and improvement. The University of Waikato presented the “Multipurpose Orchard Robotics” project for harvesting and spraying robots. This project will offer solutions to the primary industry in New Zealand to improve its efficiency. Researcher Jamie Bell spoke about applying robotics to winegrowing in his presentation at the conference.

 

The second session, Life, spoke about winemaking solutions for reducing sulfur in wine. Clos Henri Vineyards showed a reductive way while Babich Wines showed an oxidative approach. Clos Henri states that they limit trituration by handpicking in the vineyard early in the morning. They then keep their wines on the lees for a long time, around 10 months. Babich Wines explained that they do not add sulfur before or after pressing. During the fermentation, they add air. They only add sulfur for the first after the wine has been on it’s lees for 8 weeks.

 

The last session was Label. Jonathan Hamlet, the regional viticulturist at Villa Maria Hawkes Bay, discussed the Organic Focus Vineyard Project. Three major New Zealand wine regions are involved in the organic certification of their vineyard. Wither Hills, in Marlborough, is in the process of converting to BioGro organic certification. The goal is to improve sustainability. Jonathan said that his key motivation is to “grow great wines that reflect our site.” Mission Estate in Hawkes Bay and Gibbston Valley Wines in Central Otago are in the process of converting to organic as well.

 

Many subjects introduced at this event open up many opportunities. Organic wine growers in New Zealand are a good example for the world because of their respect for their soil. New Zealand’s vineyards are young but have a good future thanks to professionals who have lots of new challenges to face.

 

The Organic and Biodynamic Conference in New Zealand was so engaging and interesting, it was hard to stand still.

organic biodynamic conference

Go check them out at : https://www.organicwineconference.com

For more information on how biodynamic farming affects differently vineyards compared to organic and conventional look at our blog

Estelle Leveaux
Estelle grew up in the countryside. An amateur of wine and nature, she found her way and her happiness in the School of Oenology in Reims, in Champagne region. After an internship in a mythical house, Champagne Louis Roederer, and with her Diploma of Oenology in her pocket, Estelle worked eight months at Champagne Mailly Grand Cru. She chose Mailly for its terroir and winemaking. Estelle then moved to New Zealand to pursue her winemaker dreams.

Estelle says “My philosophy of winemaking could be summarized in a few words, “Vinification in the vineyard” from Sunlight into wines by Richard Smart and Mike Robinson – 1991.”

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