We are not pioneers in this field. Generations of farmers have gone before us, harnessing nature to work their land. Biological viticulture uses nature and science to build the quality of our vineyard soil with the understanding that healthy soil will be able to support healthy vines and balanced wines.
These natural processes include: growing green manures or mixed herbal leys; using livestockto manure the vineyard; reducing toxins; promoting soil life, and balancing the soil's minerals. These terms mean using natural systems to improve soil structure; control weeds, pests, and diseases; and improve the grape crop quality.
Healthy soil contains a balance between the organic particles that serve as plant food and the living micro-organisms like bacteria, fungi, algae and the larger ones like earthworms. These organisms process and decompose the inert mineral and organic materials, producing food for the vines. An optimally productive soil contains a perfect balance of inorganic minerals, organic (carbon-based) materials, and living organisms, all contained within a physical structure that absorbs and holds water to facilitate natural chemical reactions that feed plants perfectly.
Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides can upset this balance in the soil; which is precisely what we don't want.
We have learned how to grow and make a lot of our own fertilizers, using prunings, and both animal and green manures. We have also learned, with the help of BioGro, what fertilizers work best for our vineyard and which are environmentally-safe. We use viticultural practices that encourage beneficial organisms living in the soil including using light equipment that doesn't compact the soil and never driving over wet soil.
In some cases, we do use chemical inputs, but only some fertilizers promote life. Beneficial fertilizers are naturally derived are applied to restore balance to the soil chemistry. We use large amounts of both seaweed and fish fertiliser, a plentiful natural resource in New Zealand.
Biological viticulture also makes economic sense as healthy vines are more disease and pest resistant.
The biological approach to viticulture yields soil that is healthy and able to support healthy grape crops. The grapes are nutrient dense; meaning that they contain higher concentrations of plant sugars, minerals and amino acids and therefore have a higher nutritional value which translates to higher quality wine.