Demand for organic wines outstrips supply
Passionate about organic wines, Marlborough viticulturist Bart Arnst believes that organic wine-making ﬁts perfectly with where New Zealand Inc. needs to be – producing high-end products with a true environmental story. “That’s what’s resonating with the world at the moment,’ says Bart.
“People are getting to the point where if they have a choice and can get something that’s naturally grown they will go for it. Demand for organic wine is outstripping supply at the moment.”
With a background in organic wine growing stemming back to the mid 1990’s, Bart teamed-up with wine maker Chris Darling to establish Darling Wines in 2007.
Producing organic wines from organically grown grapes sourced from several vineyards around the Wairau Valley, Darling Wines gained organic certiﬁcation from New Zealand certiﬁer BioGro.
“In turn BiogGro are certiﬁed by our export market – so for example the overseeing organic body in Europe is IFOAM,” says Bart.
“And when you go to the States, Canada or Japan, for example, they will all have their own bodies auditing BioGro to make sure it complies with their countries own organic rules.”
Bart explains that when it comes to growing grapes, being organic means the elimination of herbicides, pesticides and insecticides – effectively no synthetic-based products are allowed.
“People go past and see a vineyard that looks lovely with a nice dead strip underneath the vines – that dead strip is a herbicide – that’s poison.
“We have other methods to control weed growth that to some eyes might look a bit untidy but really the vineyard is about producing quality fruit not how the ground looks.”
When it comes to the winery, Bart says certain additives that are either synthetic or too high in nitrogen are not allowed. “In our opinion we’re certainly getting fruit that makes better wine.
“You get grapes with thicker skins that are more resilient – but you also get a different ﬂavor proﬁle and I think it’s a better one, and there’s a different texture to the wine. It’s good for the soil and it’s great for New Zealand’s image.”
Bart says that everyone remembers the produce that used to come from their grandparents home gardens – all through sheep manure, seaweed juice and a hoe digging out the weeds.
“So you take that through to the vineyard scene – you have to work with nature not against it. You have to be proactive and get back to the old style farming days not reliant on something that can be sprayed on and supposedly you can walk away for a couple of weeks. You become more in touch with the land that you’re growing on.”
Darling Wines currently produces 180 tonnes of grapes per year, converting to 19,200 cases of wine across three styles of Sauvignon Blanc, along with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.
Bart says there is a fairly even split between the New Zealand and Australian market with another 20% for the rest of the world.
“The rest of the world side of the business is growing and the organic wine movement globally is just spiking. We’re getting lot of enquiries from different countries wanting a sample and that can lead to opportunities for sales.”
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