The approach at Te Whare Ra is first and foremost to make great wines, and to use 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 using a combination of organic and biodynamic practices. From our perspective the making of quality, naturally produced wines involves many occasions when intervention is required to varying degrees.
We are not taking an evangelical approach to growing our grapes and making our wines. 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 & 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:
- We use compost made from grape skins & stalks, our hay and manure from our cows rather than chemical fertilizers
- We make and use biodynamic preparations, seaweed and compost teas to improve the soil fertility and the soil microflora.
- We use cover-crops to improve soil structure and fertility and to encourage beneficial insects into the vineyard
- We use a mechanical weeder and hand weeding instead of using herbicide
- We make our own hay for compost and stock fodder
- We graze our cattle in the vineyard in the winter so that we don't have to mow as often and then they helpfully spread more manure as they go
- We are also part of a Marlborough Biodynamic group which meets regularly for sharing of information and prep-making.
- We are committed to making as much as we can on site and have a Biodynamic prep making area which includes cow pat pits for making CPP ( Cow Pat Preparation ).
Vines are a lot like people – if you are run down, stressed and surviving on vitamin pills and energy drinks, you tend to pick up every bug that is going around and you can't perform at your best. On the other hand when you are in the prime of life, eating a balanced diet, well rested and surrounded by people who love and appreciate you - you can achieve anything!
The key to the whole thing is a word we use every day when describing what we do – BALANCE.
SOIL - VINES -WINES - LIFE. All of these are at their best when the balance is right!
Thanks to Te Whare Ra for the content &
Imagery used in this Blog.