Waiata vineyard is based in Waipara, Canterbury, which is about forty minutes north of Christchurch, in New Zealand's South Island. It benefits from warm, dry days, cool nights and long dry autumns that ensure perfect harvest.
Over the last few years there has been a huge shift in the viticulture industry to move to organic growing and producing organic wines. Wine growers are increasingly seeking to use more natural nitrogen fertilisers in the face of ongoing pressure to reduce or stop using synthetic equivalents. In 2019 Waiata Vineyard decided to convert 25% of their Vineyard to organics. Organic viticulture starts with the elimination of all synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. The organic conversion process takes three years for producers seeking certified organic status. Organic wine from New Zealand is championed by grower-led organization, Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (OWNZ). To date, a little over ten percent of New Zealand’s wine producers hold organic certifications, mainly from the country’s largest organic certifier, BioGro.
When Waiata Vineyards approach Living Earth, their key objective was sourcing a product that could improve the quality of their soils and reduce the amount of chemicals used in the growing process helping them to achieve organic certification. To achieve organic certification, Waiata Vineyard needed to use a product that was certified organic for use in the grape growing process.
Living Earth met with Waiata Vineyard and presented the premium compost product. This product was provided along with nutrient values, specification sheets and the organic certification. This compost, whilst more expensive, would deliver three times the nutrient values of other products in the market.
Living Earth’s premium compost is made locally by Living Earth and contains greenwaste blended into a nutritious compost for the conditioning of predominately clay soils. This compost adds nutrients to sandy, fast-draining areas ideal for a vineyard like Waiata Vineyard.
In year one, Waiata Vineyard trialled the compost on a section of their vines. The trial resulted in a massive 14% lift in grape production when compared to other sections of the vineyard. Subsequent trials have been conducted on other parts of the vineyard all providing similar results. Last grape growing season, Waiata Vineyard made the switch to the Living Earth premium compost and receives a continual supply of 2,000 tonnes each growing season. To date, the compost has had incredible results on the health of the grape vines with noticeable observations including:
1. Greener leaves and thicker canes
2. Increase in worm numbers
3. A large increase of fine roots hairs under the compost
4. More organic matter and carbon means better water holding capacity in the soil
5. Larger berry and bunch sizes 6. Increased yield in the first year of application and continues for another 3-4 years