Are we organic or biodynamic?
We have many friends who practice organic and biodynamic viticulture. We feel aligned with many of the principles of organic and biodynamic wine but do feel there are limitations to both of these systems which prevent our quest in pursuing the most sustainable, environmentally friendly practices in our vineyards and our winemaking.
We are not evangelical in these views either however, we are very much agnostic. Some of the vineyards we draw fruit from are certified organic and some farm organically but are not certified. Others use principles of organics and biodynamics but are continually evolving their farming system using a combination of the latest advancements in eco-friendly science and the holistic principles of other regimes.
One of our biggest concerns is what tilling does to the environment and the negative impacts on the soil, most importantly the contribution this has to the global carbon footprint. None of our vineyards are therefore tilled or ploughed.
Across all our vineyards, we believe that you can have a more sustainable, holistic approach outside any regime rather than within it.
Are our wines natural?
We understand where and why the natural wine movement came about. It is a reaction to something that we feel very passionate about. About fifteen years ago there was a proliferation of homogenous, truly industrialized wines that were multi-regional, multi-variety blends lacking any genuine sense of place or story. The natural wine movement was a potent reaction against this trend. We certainly identify with the need to maintain authenticity and sense of place in our wines and this is what we strive for on a daily basis. Our winemaking is low-intervention, but we know when we need to mediate the relationship between nature and potation. Our yeast bill is negligible with just our classic Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner and Riesling requiring an exclusive embrace from Sacchromyces cerevisiae during fermentation. All our other wines roll out the red carpet to the wild cast of yeast willing to have a go at conversion of sugar to wine.
Similarly we encourage natural malolactic fermentation when we desire it in our wines (all reds and Chardonnay), we use minimal but adequate SO2 – all our sulfite levels are below organic/biodynamic limits. We only filter when we have to, with the majority of our wines going to bottle without passing through any filter medium.
What fundamentally drives us is the desire to get to you a wine that is honest and pure, a wine that speaks of the variety and the land, without allowing the background noise of microbial grunge to shroud the wine’s DNA. Equally we are not seeking an impossibly perfect, polished wine – for as everyone knows imperfection is beauty, but the natural wine movement sometimes loses sight of their reason for being – which is, to produce wines that are the true representation of a time, place and variety.
For us, our wines are this – expressing their genetics without recourse to overt manipulation. We would call our wines, natural.
Do we own our own vineyards?
No, we don’t own any of our own vineyards…. Yet. We are waiting for the winning lotto ticket!
Because we have multiple vineyard sites in different soils types across different regions in New Zealand, you can understand that the capital expenditure in owning those vineyards would be A-list celebrity salary level. We wouldn’t want to compromise and have one vineyard with multiple varieties planted, because invariably one of those varieties might be perfect for that site, one might be just average and the others would be below-average. But equally we like all of our wines to tell a single site story, demonstrating its soil type, microclimate and clear varietal fingerprint - which only comes when it has found the perfect equation of environmental factors.
We search for what we feel are the best sub-regions, sites and soils for the particular variety we are making. Our philosophy has to fit with the grower too. When we find all these things, we work with the growers and vineyards in a long-term partnership, from pruning right through to harvest and setting up for the next growing cycle.
All our vineyards are 100% sustainably certified, the growers all live on their vineyards and they have a long-term commitment to the land. We pay more for our grapes to obtain appropriate yields and the highest quality. Growers have a wine they can proudly say is from their own vineyard, and not blended away into a regional product. As a result, the wine is more focused, showing site specifics and soul.
Our growers are also all 'wine people' - this means when we get together (which we try and do at least once a year), some very decent bottles are open and invigorating discussion is had!