An important consideration in coming to Central Otago and choosing our land was our desire to be environmentally sensitive. This applies to our site selection, vineyard development, its management, and ultimately our decision to be organic farmers. Pisa Terrace® Vineyard is Biogro certified. The most important advantage of organics for us is the ability to grow outstanding quality grapes that are healthy. In our wine, that translates into maximum expression of our vineyard site, that specialness that French call “terroir”.
Sheep graze the vineyard when the vines are dormant. They contribute organic matter while keeping intervine growth short as we enter bud break and frost season. We have kept the original vegetation between the rows, which is predominantly Lucerne and Vipers Bugloss. The later is highly attractive to bees and other insects, which keep our vineyard literally humming. Vine growth is beginning to show good balance in canopy growth (aside from wind battered areas).
We use a Braun cultivator (hoe-like tractor attachment) for weed control under the feet of the vines, plus a hand hoe to get at hard to reach spots.
Our compost pile grows in volume every year and replenishes soil nutrients and microbial activity in our soil. A key ingredient is the marc or grape waste from the winemaking process.
Rabbits are a common problem in Central Otago, as they have no predators, and we wage a constant battle to limit their population inside our vineyard fence line. They are voracious eaters of young vines and occasionally irrigation tubing.
Our vigilance has paid off, as we now only occasionally spot rabbits inside the vineyard.
We irrigate to keep the vines alive during the growing season, but are sparing in our use of water. We monitor the moisture level in the leaves on a weekly basis with the use of a pressure bomb. This tool gives us a realistic idea of the water stress level of the vines, and has helped us dramatically cut water usage. This encourages the vines to ripen fruit at lower sugars and potential alcohol, which is important to our wine growing.