Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand
Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand was established by volunteer grape growers in 1995 as an industry directive overseen by New Zealand winegrowers. It has been adopted by wineries and vineyards across the country and sees companies, once accredited, audited every three years on their practices in both the winery and vineyard. Akarua is an accredited member of this program, which incorporates environmental awareness and conservation with social responsibility and financial sustainability.
Akarua has had an accredited vineyard under Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand since 2002 - but what does this mean? In essence it is putting systems and practices in place that minimise Akarua's environmental footprint.
- The high sunshine hours and low rainfall contribute to the low disease risk of growing grapes in Central Otago and spray applications can be minimised as a result. Similarly, insect pests are also relatively minor and the surrounding expanse of natural habitat can provide a haven for predatory insect species to assist in keeping problems under control.
- Sprayers are calibrated to ensure the correct amount of product reaches the correct target.
- Regular monitoring is undertaken to minimize the number of applications in any growing season.
- Packing of agrichemicals is a key aspect to choosing which product to purchase and use – is it environmentally friendly for disposal, can it be purchased in bulk to minimise the packaging component, is the supplier committed to an environmental programme?
Rubbish and Recycling
- Akarua recycles glass, plastic containers, scrap metals, organic matter.
Soils and Fertilisers
- Akarua soils are low in nutrients and nutrient holding capacity therefore nutrient extraction and inputs are monitored annually.
- Bulk fertiliser inputs are applied as suspension fertiliser to minimise off site impacts. The small particle size is easily converted by soil microbes to plant usable forms of nutrients and does not become 'locked' up or leached from the vineyard environment
- Fertiliser supplements are applied through the fertigation system
- Soil biological activity is encouraged through the 'Biostart' programme to build up and sustain soil organic matter.
- Prunings and grass clippings are mulched and returned back to the vineyard soils via microbial activity.
- Low impact tyres are used on our tractors and vineyard operations are performed to conserve soils.
- Soil erosion is a problem and inter-row vegetation cover is maintained to minimise run off.
- Akarua's irrigation system is constantly monitored and a full review of its efficiency was undertaken in 2010
- Vineyard water use has been reduced every year for the last five years to conserve this scarce resource
- Many natural areas around the planted vineyard have been retained or are gradually being developed to enhance the vineyard and surrounding environment.
- Trees and plants selected for the any landscape project are considered in terms of their contribution to the overall environment with regard to aesthetic, functional and habitat forming characteristics.
- It is intended that over time, the number and diversity of beneficial flora and fauna will increase and that this will contribute to the area as a whole.
Water Conservation and Waste Water
- Akarua recognises that water quality and access is something to be concerned about so there are strict protocols limiting the amount of water used in the winery. A water meter has been installed to monitor usage and the team are actively working on ways to decrease overall usage.
- Akarua currently has a leach field to naturally treat waste water but will be constantly reviewing 'environmentally friendly' options to handle waste water as they move forward.
- Akarua complies with statutory requirements for water take and waste water disposal.
- Akarua has been built to house all operations under one roof with fully insulated barrel rooms.
- A heat exchange system has been installed to conserve energy from water heating and cooling systems.
- Natural light panels and energy efficient lighting has been installed.
- Akarua has an active recycling programme with all glass and plastic waste products being recycled through Central Otago Wastebusters.
- Caustic chemicals are only used to clean tanks and winery equipment as a last resort. When they are, every effort is made to minimize the amount used. This includes washing tanks using the same solution over a number of tanks.
- Marc produced from winery processing (e.g. grape stalks & skins) is used to make compost.
Cellar Door Sustainability
- Light weight glass bottles are used – even for the super premium Reserve Pinot Noir. 45% of a winery's carbon footprint is due to its use of glass bottles.
- Low energy use lighting.
- Heat pumps used, as most efficient way to convert electricity to heat, while our electricity supplier generates electricity from 100% renewable resources.
- Our energy use for the tasting room is monitored (has its own meter) with the aim of reducing this usage on an annual basis. Minimise glass washer usage, lighting, etc
- Where possible the use of recycled or carbon neutral paper goods – packaging, tissue paper, printed material,
- Use of screw caps is considered less harmful to the environment than cork
- Green Housekeeping products are used.
- A permanent pool of local people are employed on Akarua vineyard; additional staff are sourced from New Zealanders first and then overseas seasonal workers.
- Akarua complies with all the requirements of employment law and treats all people fairly and equitably.
- Akarua has a close and cooperative association with neighbours and neighbouring properties.
- Akarua has a wedding spot available for use by the community.
- Akarua works with local educational institutions and employs apprentices and students from time to time.