Sustainability is a buzzword in the wine industry these days, but for one boutique vineyard in Canterbury, it goes a little deeper than just words.Timberly Hughes and Allan Ransley run their vineyard near Takamatua Valley in Akaroa as a passion as much as a business.
“When we took over in 2001 we were adamant about organics. We didn’t use a thing that the previous owner left us.”
They were among the first to join what was then called the AgriQuality Organics Programme (since renamed AsureQuality Organic Standard) and their 26-hectare property didn’t take long to convert, given that a little more than two hectares is under pinot gris, pinot noir, chardonnay, gewürztraminer and riesling.
“The way I look at it is that if you put something on your vines or in your soil, it must come through in the wine. We were certain we had to take in the entire environment surrounding the vineyards as well, that included the everything down to the smallest insects.
Pesticides and fertilisers then tend to be organic rather than artificial, although the cost isn’t necessarily increased.
“I’m pretty sure that our schedule here is relatively cheap by comparison. When you use a non-organic schedule you tend to put on more, so it evens out.”
Timberly and Allan have what is basically a new winery on site within the original Akaroa Winery building (formerly a restaurant and wine tasting area) and this is also their residence when in Akaroa.
They currently produce and market the wine as made from 100 per cent certified organic grapes. Timberly is now the winemaker with Allan managing the vineyard and assisting in the winery.
“We are concentrating on getting a consistent quality and quantity from the vineyards.
Last year AsureQuality was asked to also undertake their Wine Standard Management Plan Verification, which was completed at the same time as their organics audit.
An area of the property has also been placed under Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust by Allan and Timberly and they are planting native species and preserving and enhancing the natural flora and fauna.
It’s a boutique operation, and Allan and Timberly offer a perfect example of a couple committed to the organics programme, the organic production principles for wine grape production and looking after and enhancing the biodiversity of the land.
“With organics, it’s all about prevention, because treatment isn’t usually an option. We’re in the hands of Mother Nature, but then so is everyone in this industry.”