New Zealand viticulturists have a special relationship with their soil because of the strong influence it has on the style and character of resulting wines.
Creating wines that taste intrinsically ‘of our land’ is a driving force for New Zealand’s wine industry as a whole.
New Zealand vineyards thrive on many soil types, from the heavy, clay loams in Northland to dry, to the stony silts of the Wairau Valley.
Our soils are naturally more acidic and higher in organic matter than those found in other winegrowing regions.
Grapevines prefer to grow in soils that contain plenty of fungi, so optimising soil organic matter in the vineyard is a goal for every New Zealand viticulturist.
Soil organic matter is usually measured by the health of topsoil.
Topsoil is partly made up of humus, which assists with stabilisation, nutrient and water storage, and helps to neutralise toxins.
Decomposing flora and fauna make up the balance of topsoil composition and help bind it together. Living organisms (animals, roots, bacteria and fungi) feed on the decomposing matter, breaking it down, and creating a healthy local ecosytem.
Soil filters storm water and controls the rate of its flow into waterways. The better the soil, the cleaner the water, and the less chance there is of flooding.
Careful management reduces the erosion of topsoil, which carries away with it beneficial nutrients, and can build up in waterways- harming aquatic life.
With so much riding on the health and stability of our soils, viticulturists continue to lead the way in employing sustainable practices to preserve and enhance this vital substance.