Organic winegrowing is spreading slowly in New Zealand. A decade ago, about $1000 worth of fungicides, herbicides and insecticides per hectare per year were applied to the country’s vines. Today, more than 10 per cent of New Zealand’s wine producers have organic certification for at least part of their output.
What is an organic wine? “Organic growers aim to produce wines that are true to the earth and to take care of the land we all share,” says Organic Winegrowers New Zealand. “We build healthy vines by building healthy soils, and by nurturing a diverse, rich community of plants, soil, insects and microorganisms.”
So why have most New Zealand winegrowers not yet gone down the organic road? The viability of organic wine production is related to each region’s climate. In areas with a favourably warm, dry climate, it is easier to adopt a chemical-free grapegrowing programme, simply because the risk of disease is much lower.
In New Zealand, BioGro and AsureQuality offer internationally recognised organic certification. According to Organic Winegrowers New Zealand, “every certified producer goes through an annual audit to make sure their practices meet strict standards. Growers must follow organic methods for three years before obtaining full certification.”
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