Terrace Edge Vineyard and Olive Grove
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08.09.14

Greening Waipara

Words by Liv Jefferis

Terrace Edge began the organic certification process through Bio Gro in 2011, with official recognition of their organic status being achieved in March 2014. It was a long process, but one which has enhanced the ecological biodiversity at Terrace Edge, meaning the soil is richer, the vines are healthier and ultimately, the wine tastes better.

The philosophy of organics is something that is very important to Terrace Edge, understanding how nature and diverse eco systems can work together is what makes the difference between working with biological systems rather than against them. The cornerstone of this philosophy is the health of the soil. By bringing the soils alive, enhancing their beneficial microbes and maintaining and improving their structure and fertility, huge differences can be seen in the overall health of the vines and the quality of the fruit. Additionally, organic farming has a reduced effect on the environment, ensuring the natural bird and plant life is impacted in the most minimal way.

Practically, organics in the vineyard translates into meticulous hand tending of the vines and the use of biological, rather than chemical sprays. Disease management is a combination of regular shoot thinning over the summer months, to increase light in the canopy and reduce humidity, and the introduction of beneficial fungi and bacteria to the vines to promote positive biology.

Creating functional biodiversity in vineyards is important to maintain a healthy natural balance. Greening Waipara is a research-based project that Terrace Edge are taking part in, aimed at increasing this biodiversity throughout the Waipara region. Historically, this area was once covered in tall totara, matai, lacebark, kowhai and lancewood forest. It was dramatically transformed, first by the hunting and gathering tangata whenua, then by the farming and horticulture communities, including the viticulture industry. As part of the Greening Waipara project, Terrace Edge have planted hundreds of native plants around the property and the vines. Beautiful wildflowers have been planted down selected rows to encourage beneficial insects to the property. As a result, they have seen the development of a more balanced, healthier system.

The result of the implementation of the organic philosophy at Terrace Edge is outstanding. The vines are more balanced, with smaller crop levels, ensuring that the vine is putting its energy into ripening a smaller amount of fruit, resulting in a greater concentration of flavour. The grapes also have tougher, riper skins, adding to the complexity of the wines and giving them excellent tannin structure. The wines express the pure, distinct flavours from this special site; the characteristic ripeness, texture, minerality and lifted aromatics, qualities unique to the ancient Glasnevin gravel soils.