Sustainability and winemaking are not mutually exclusive, and Peter Yealands of Yealands Estate Winery has proven this time and again at his winemaking facility in Marlborough, New Zealand. His winemaker, Tamra Kelly-Washington, gave a delightful talk at the Wine Bloggers Conference 2016 in Lodi, California about the efforts Peter and his team have made to create a fully sustainability winemaking operation.
Sustainable Winemaking at Every Turn
Yealands Estate Winery is located on the northern tip of the southern island of New Zealand (no, we haven’t been but it’s on the bucket list now!) and features a state-of-the-art operation that puts innovation at the heart of winemaking. According to Kelly-Washington, Peter Yealands is “always trying to push the limits of the winery” with new ideas and methods for conservation and cultivation. The winery recycles all of its waste, including recycling water that goes right back into the vineyard itself. The winery uses one-fourth of the energy to heat and cools its winemaking facilities than other wineries. Even the wine bottles themselves include sustainable features such as screw tops, lighter glass, and recycled materials in the labels and packaging.
Compost in the Vineyard
Massive composting efforts have had a positive impact on wine quality. The winery produces 50,000 tons of compost per year and includes rich nutrients from grapes, mussels, lye, seaweed, and sand. Composting is such an integral part of the winemaking process at Yealands Estate that the winery employs four full time composters to manage the operation. Kelly-Washington claims that grape quality has improved since the institution of composting four years ago.
Yealands Estate Winery is a model of creativity when it comes to earth-friendly solutions. Kelly-Washington shared a surprising story for solving the winery’s biggest problem – weed control in the vineyard. The solution Peter Yealands devised has put the winery on the map. A herd of Babydoll Sheep roam throughout the vineyard nibbling on patches of weeds. The breed is short enough that they don’t disturb the grape vines themselves and subsequently contribute to the unique set of sustainable solutions pioneered at Yealands Estate. If you think sheep is an innovative idea try to imagine Peter Yealands first iteration – guinea pigs!