MANA Winegrowers began as a low-key conversation over a beer or two and grew into a shared passion for the cultivation Marlborough’s unique characteristics while safeguarding them for future generations.
The members of MANA knew they all talked the same language when it came to making wine. They knew they wanted to respect the land by growing wine naturally. They began sharing information on how best to do that, which is where the collective began.
They've been working together for over a decade, and now MANA Winegrowers provides a platform for each winery to be involved in projects and engage with hospitality and trade, consumers and customers in a way we just couldn’t do on our own as relatively small producers.
The collective knew they wanted to keep going with their relationship and have recently rebranded. Creating a fresh identity hasn’t meant they’ve left any values behind. It’s enchanted them. Now they're more focused than ever before on how they can strengthen the relationships within it and extend to those outside it.
Can you tell us more about your natural processes for wine?
Anna Flowerday - Te Whare Ra
"Our approach first and foremost is to make great wines, while using a natural approach to the growing (and making) of those wines. We actually feel very comfortable that natural winegrowing is not strictly defined. It is more a way of doing things than a pure definition. We think it means different things to different people and can cover a wide range of practices and techniques.
We manage our vineyard here at Te Whare Ra using a combination of organic and biodynamic practices.
We are not taking an evangelical approach to growing our grapes. It is not about using natural techniques by rote but all about using informed decisions and our experience to make the best and most expressive wines possible.
The philosophy we share with other organic and biodynamic producers around the world, and with the other members of MANA, is that the use of artificial chemicals in the vineyard or winery is not “natural”.
Our approach is always to look for a natural or biological solution or control rather than relying on an artificial or synthetic one. We do believe in intervening in the process to ensure the quality of the end product, it is just about when and how much."
Some examples in the vineyard are that we use compost made from grape skins & stalks, our hay and manure from our cows rather than chemical fertilizer. We make and use biodynamic preparations, seaweed and compost teas to improve the soil fertility and the soil microflora while using cover crops to improve soil structure and to encourage beneficial insects into the vineyard.
We use a mechanical weeder and hand weeding instead of using herbicide. And we use canopy management and biological sprays to control fungal diseases rather than using systemic fungicides.
We believe that all the manipulation and intervention should be done in the vineyard, while we like our winemaking to be as natural as possible. This means no fining agents, no added tannins and no chemical yeast nutrients.
Our wines are not rushed to bottle but are given sufficient time on lees in the winery to build texture and complexity. We bottle when the wines are ready. It is this control of every step of the winemaking process and by an in-depth knowledge of our vineyard sites here, that means we can make our wines in a more natural way and be more intuitive.
This month Marlborough will host Sauvignon 2019. What is that makes Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc so distinct?
Marlborough and Sauvignon Blanc are a world-class combination. No other place in the world makes wines that “look” like ours. We have the perfect climate for making world-class wines – long sunshine hours, diverse soil types and micro-climates that deliver great flavour diversity plus a huge melting pot of amazing wine people who have been drawn to this fabulous place that is Marlborough.