New Zealand’s small population, distant location and agricultural economy have earned the country a ‘clean, green’ image. The winegrowing industry is determined to keep it this way by supporting the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand programme, established in 1995. Developed and managed by New Zealand Winegrowers, the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand programme promotes best practice in areas such as water usage, energy consumption, waste management and biodiversity.
Yealands Estate vineyards are all fully accredited through the Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand programme. Our other environmental auditing initiatives include carboNZero certification and ISO14001 environmental management systems accreditation, providing a measurable and accountable method for review and improvement of our sustainability practices.
Achieving Global Leadership In Sustainable Wine Production
We believe that Sustainability has no end point and is an ongoing process of continual improvement. As such we continue to trial new initiatives, introducing the most successful to the Estate. Keep informed of these developments through Pete’s Blog.
Just some – but by no means all – of our sustainability initiatives:
Wine production is an energy intensive business – the wine needing to be warmed, (prior to fermentation and bottling), and cooled, (for storage and stabilisation), throughout the winemaking process.
The application of cutting edge technology, insulation and our general work practices has resulted in our winery being three times more efficient in energy utilisation than the New Zealand wine industry standard.
Our ultimate goal is to generate enough energy to become self-sufficient, and ideally supply any surplus back to the national grid. Our winery power and water heating is supplemented by wind turbines, solar panels and grape vine prunings. The addition of one larger turbine, (we have two small turbines currently), should see our goal of self-sufficiency obtained.
Turning Grape Vines Into Energy
In what we believe is a vineyard and winery first, we have taken grape vine pruning’s and turned them into a renewable energy source.
Approximately 10% of all our grapevine prunings are baled and then seasoned for up to 6 months, to ensure they burn cleanly. The remainder of our prunings are mulched back into the soil. Each bail weighs around 200kg and when burned provides the equivalent heat of approximately 60Kg of LPG.
Two boilers are used to burn the prunings for heating water and glycol (the liquid used on the exterior of wine tanks to heat and cool the wines) in the winery. At full capacity, these boilers can produce over 500 KW of energy, (the approximate amount of energy an average New Zealand household would use in 3 weeks), and burn up to 30 bales per day.
Based on our current annual production, the grape vine prunings will eliminate over 100 tonnes of greenhouse emissions in the form of Carbon Dioxide. The pruning ashes can then be returned to the vineyard as fertiliser.
Miniature Lawn Mowers
Small in stature, our flock of Babydoll miniature sheep stand barely two feet tall. Too short to reach the fruit, these pint-sized organic-weeders provide year round mowing and pest control, plus a handy dose of fertiliser.
- Unadulterated genetics for over 400 years
- The original Southdown breed from the UK
- Small in stature when compared with ‘normal’ sheep standing at 65-75cm, mature Babydoll sheep only reach 45-60cm in height!
- “As scarce as hen’s teeth” – only a few thousand in the world
Diesel emissions from our tractors represent one of our largest carbon emission sources. The conversion of our tractors to run on bio-fuel and building our numbers of Babydoll sheep will markedly reduce carbon emissions from mowing.
Over 10,000 tonnes of home-made compost will be distributed around the vineyard this year. We use the compost to maintain vine health, soil fertility and provide a helping hand to the vines most exposed to the strong coastal winds.
The compost- a cocktail of organic material, includes:
- Grape skins, stalks and pips
- Unprocessed lime
- Seaweed harvested from the Seaview foreshore (under permit)
- Crushed mussel shells - the by product from Marlborough’s other great export earner
Our Seaview Vineyard is home to over 25 wetlands. Each wetland has been strategically positioned to capture water run-off from the vineyard and slowly release it back into the soil.
The wetlands have also become home to a wide range of birds and wildlife including swans, ducks, white herons, royal spoonbills, banded dotrills and pied stilts to name a few.
The wetlands and vineyards have also been progressively planted with over 75,000 native trees and flaxes. These have been planted to assist with protecting our vines from the strong coastal winds, enhance biodiversity, as well as the aesthetics.
The planting of trees goes against conventional vineyard wisdom, where the majority of vegetation is removed prior to planting to minimise the potential crop loss to birds.
At Yealands we are fortunate to belong to the breeding programme for the endangered New Zealand Falcon, the Karearea, and have chicks released onto our vineyard periodically. These small but fearsome predators patrol the skies above our canopies, minimising grape loss to other birds.
For more information of our sustainability initiatives, see our carbonZero page.