Gibbston Valley’s iconic Home Block goes organic

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As one of Central Otago’s leading wineries, Gibbston Valley is always focused on purity in winemaking and crafting varietals that are true to form and the site in which they grow.

The winery recently added to that commitment by getting their winemaking facilities and Home Block Vineyard certified organic by BioGro New Zealand, the country’s leading organic certifier.

“We’re looking at the raw ingredient as being of primary importance. So you really go right back to the agricultural roots. That’s what really drives me to do it,” said Gibbston Valley Winemaker Sascha Herbert.

“Going organic, we’re not changing anything too dramatically or trying to push the vine in a direction that we don’t want. It’s more a natural reflection of the environment in which the vines grow, which is what we always talk about,” said Herbert, who managed the certification process.

The winery’s Home Block Vineyard is Gibbston Valley’s first site to be certified. Along with Home Block, Gibbston Valley is in the process of converting some of their other vineyards.

Their School House Vineyard is 50 percent organic with the rest of it undergoing conversion. The half already certified organic was part of the three-year Organic Focus Vineyard Project. The winery’s China Terrace Vineyard is being converted.

The BioGro organic certification represents that no synthetic chemical herbicides, fertilisers, fungicides or pesticides are used. It also requires that Gibbston Valley follows BioGro’s guiding principles, recommendations and requirements, as part of their own viticulture management plan.

This new organic certification is in addition to Gibbston Valley’s already existing Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand accreditation.

Becoming organic is another testament to the winery’s commitment to winemaking practices that are both friendly to the environment and true to the wine.

Gibbston Valley Winemaker Sascha Herbert picking fruit from the same vineyard planted by winery founder in 1983.

Home Block history

Home Block was originally planted in 1983 by Gibbston Valley Winery founder Alan Brady. Fruit from Home Block produced Central Otago’s first commercial vintage in 1987. The successful release fuelled Central Otago’s reputation as a world-renowned winemaking region.

Later, Gibbston Valley decided to showcase the site’s high-quality fruit with single vineyard releases of several varietals. After decades of producing high-quality fruit, Home Block’s vine age and adaptability made converting the vineyard from conventional to organic an easy decision.

“This is such a wonderful site to begin with. The old vines, deep roots and their resilience to frost and drought, enable them to handle the adverse growing conditions in Central Otago,” said Herbert.

Organic Vintages

The 2014 vintage will be the first to be officially certified organic. Single vineyard releases from Home Block include the newly-released 2014 Le Fou Riesling and 2014 La Dulcinée Gewürztraminer and upcoming wine releases including the 2014 La Dulcinée Pinot Gris and 2014 Le Maître Pinot Noir.

Gibbston Valley’s School House and China Terrace Vineyards, which are in the process of getting organic certification, also produce single vineyard varietals. These include Gibbston Valley’s award-winning School House Pinot Noir, China Terrace Chardonnay and China Terrace Pinot Noir.

While these vineyards aren’t certified organic just yet, the inputs used are minimal, as a result of the preventative vineyard management philosophy help by Gibbston Valley and the viticulturists who help maintain their vineyards.

“I’m all about the nurture part of agriculture, and making wine, knowing that you’ve done the absolute best for it to be great quality and reflect those small intricate parts of where it’s grown. It’s about monitoring and doing the right thing for the long term, not the quick fix answer,” said Herbert.

When the nets go on, it means it's almost time to start picking grapes for the next vintage.
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