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Sustainable Viticulture

Sustainable Viticulture

Soil health is our big focus. After four years of transition, we were certified in 2014 to fully organic status. Weeds are now kept under control by a Berti Ecology under-vine weeder which means herbicides are a thing of the past. Insecticides have never been used in 35 years of vineyard management at Ata Rangi, instead favouring biological options such as predatory wasps for leaf roller caterpillar control. Large scale compost is made on site from winery 'waste' - grape stalks, skins, pips and yeast lees. Biodiversity, vital in maintaining balanced insect and bird populations, is encouraged with the use of mixed native shelter-belts and inter-row wildflower planting.

 

Ata Rangi harvests fruit from around 120 acres. Almost half of these vineyards are company owned; the rest are leased and local contract grower blocks. Sites are all very close together, and feature the characteristic Martinborough Terrace profile of about 30cm of shallow silt-loam on top of 25 metre-deep alluvial gravels. Rainfall is low here; an average of 700mm per year. With Martinborough's dry climate, high winds and free-draining profile, disease pressure is very low.

 

Huge effort goes into achieving balanced vines to consistently deliver ripe, well balanced fruit. Hand leaf plucking during summer ensures open canopies, and all grapes are hand-picked. Spring is often cool and windy which takes its toll on fruit set, so yields are naturally low - 1 T/acre to 2.5 T/acre tops for Pinot Noir (average 4 T/ha). The original vines are now 35 years of age, a factor in the wines ascending quality and consistency from year to year, as is the hands-on emphasis in the vineyard. For Pinot Noir, clones planted are Abel (the legendary Gumboot clone), Dijon 667, 777, 114 and 115, Pomard (aka Clone 5) and a smaller amount of 10/5. Most plants are on rootstock - typically 3309 or 101/14.

 

Ata Rangi is one of only a handful of ISO 14001 certified wineries in the world. This management standard, achieved over 15 years ago, calls for continual commitment to improve on practises which impact on the environment. We measure water, fuel and energy use, and challenge ourselves to find ways to reduce dependence on these resources. The vineyard and winery are also founding members of SWNZ (Sustainable Winegrowing of New Zealand) - a voluntary, industry-wide initiative developed to provide a 'best practice' model of environmental practices in both vineyard and winery.