Organic wineries add sustainability to the attractions of touring the diverse Central Otago wine region, writes Mark Sariban
With vineyards scattered across six sub-regions, each with their particular climatic conditions, there are plenty of distinctive – and award-winning – wines to sample when you explore Central Otago. But it’s not just the variety of wines that makes the region unusual: it’s also way ahead of other wine-growing areas in the country in adopting organic and biodynamic practices.
Roughly a quarter of vineyards in Central Otago’s Gibbston Valley, Cromwell, Bendigo, Bannockburn, Alexandra and Wanaka sub-regions are organic (via BioGro certification), biodynamic or are in the process of converting from conventional practices – compared to a national average of around 5 per cent.
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So why have Central Otago wine-makers taken to organic practices so enthusiastically? “It’s a region that lends itself to organics,” says Fraser McLachlan, director of Peregrine Wines in the Gibbston Valley. “We’re a very dry climate, which lowers our disease risk. Here we get a lot of sunlight. You can operate organically in Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay, where there’s more humidity and it’s wetter, but it’s a wee bit more challenging.”
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