Fugitive is the bespoke brand of winemaker Nadine Worley and viticulturist Logie MacKenzie, who’ve paired up to produce an organic Sauvignon Blanc sold only in reusable kegs and bottles.
“For us organic was part of the story, but it was looking at the whole life cycle of the wine, and really making a wine that makes a difference,” says Nadine, who’s a wine tutor at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.
“Every time we reuse a glass bottle or refill a keg we can halve its carbon footprint.”
The plan is not to be sustainable, “which by definition means staying the same”, she adds. “We felt it was important to widen our view - not only to focus on the health of our vineyard through organics, but also look at the wider global impact we have on the planet.”
When she started teaching, Nadine thought her sustainability class would be largely about winery efficiency. But her research revealed the carbon footprint of wine was mostly in the packaging, with up to 60 percent of the 1.28kg carbon footprint of a bottle of wine down to the production and shipping of glass, even when recycled. “I have managed to fit alternative packaging into heaps of different courses,” she says. “I love scaring the students with these amazing graphs.”
So, when Logie mentioned that fruit from a small organic vineyard block in Renwick was up for grabs, the duo decided it was time to escape the tradition of 750ml glass bottles. Instead, they’re using steel kegs for use in bottle stores and restaurants, which will be returned to be refilled, and small glass bottles that can be washed and filled for home consumption.
Logie, who is a part owner of Berakah Vineyard Management, helped the vineyard’s owners convert to organics five years ago, and says they were really keen to support the Fugitive project. “The fruit has always looked really good and really solid, with a good flavour profile and wide flavour spectrum, which is really important if you are looking to make single vineyard wines,” he says.
The block is just 2.2 hectares, allowing them to start from a small base – “not biting off more than we can chew” – then grow through other organic supply, says Logie. And Fugitive’s prospects are looking good, with plenty of people “super excited” about the concept and brand. “There are a lot of consumers out there who are really interested in the carbon footprint,” says Logie.
“For us, we grow organically and make the wine organically, so we needed to have as little environmental impact as we could,” he adds. “It was completing the cycle for us.”