15 Feb 2011

Organic vinyards on the rise

12:48 pm on 15 February 2011

Market demand and a push toward greater sustainability is driving a huge expansion of organic wine production in New Zealand.

Nearly 1500 hectares of vines on 115 vineyards are now managed organically - repesenting 4.5% percent of all vineyards.

Three years ago Organic Winegrowers had eight members, and now it has 160.

OW chair James Millton says its goal of 20% of New Zealand vineyards being organic by 2020 is within reach.

Meanwhile, Mission Estate in Hawke's Bay, the oldest winery in New Zealand, is trialling a switch to organic with a three-year pilot project running conventional and organic grape blocks side-by-side.

Viticulturist Caine Thompson says the project will compare the merits of organic production with conventional methods.

Growers nationwide can watch the trial unfold through field days, and online.