Saturday, 24 June 2017 10:36

The organics of liquid, life and label

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Photo supplied by Organic Winegrowers New Zealand. Photo supplied by Organic Winegrowers New Zealand.

When Organic Winegrowers New Zealand held their very first meeting back in 2007, there weren’t a lot of people knocking at the door to be included.

In fact, according to OWNZ coordinator Rebecca Reider, only 10 people attended the first ever meeting.

Compare that to 2017, where the membership has grown to 160. An impressive decade of growth.

As part of the celebration of that growth, the second New Zealand Organic and Biodynamic Wine Conference is taking place this month, from June 26-28, in Marlborough.

The success of the inaugural event held in 2015 showed just how important organics and biodynamics are to the world of wine. Hundreds of delegates from throughout Australasia attended and organisers are expecting even more for this year’s event.

With the theme of Liquid, Life and Label, the conference will focus on the all-important lifeblood, water, plus microbiology plus the marketing of organic and biodynamic wines. Included in the long list of speakers are some renowned names. Daniel Honan from Australia’s The Wine Idealist, is one. The former BBC reporter was lured into the world of wine after attending The Real Wine Fair in London a few years back. When he tasted a Castagna 2009 Genesis, he was hooked.

“It was like a blazing hot branding iron that seared this moment deep into my memory,” he wrote in the recent Organics Winegrowers New Zealand Newsletter. “It tasted true. It tasted authentic. Incorruptible. It tasted real……It was also biodynamic.”

It was that profound moment that led him back to Australia and inspired him to establish The Wine Idealist. His coming to the conference in June is something he is looking forward to.

“The organic winegrowers of New Zealand and elsewhere are nothing short of inspiring – from the way you manage your vineyards, to how you interpret the fruit and transform it all into magnificent wine.”

The line up of guest speakers is once again outstanding. There are some well known names, such as Jamie Goode - well known London based wine writer, James Millton who needs no introduction, Rudi Bauer another well-known to the New Zealand wine industry and Yvonne Lorkin, drinks writer for Dish Magazine and star of Thirsty Work.

But there are a number of others who will bring a wider perspective to the conference. For example; Joch Bosworth - a long term organic wine grower based in McLaren Vale who has been described as one of the “most important organic winemakers in Australia. He is the author of The Future Makers; Australian Wines for the 21st Century. Matthew Jukes said Joch is regarded by his peers as “an off the wall viticultural genius.”

Then there is Jamie Zapp, a Netafirm agronomist based in Queensland. While based over the Tasman currently, Jamie spent a number of years as a viticulturist and vineyard manager on Waiheke, before heading to Margaret River. His specialty which he will be discussing at the conference is developing, investigating and demonstrating sub-surface irrigation.

Richard Lees is the Chief Operating Office of Huckleberry, New Zealand’s leading organic grocer. In the past two years, Huckleberry has grown from three stores and 70 staff, to 12 stores and nearly 250 staff – all on the back of organics. He has a strong belief that now is the time to embrace the global move to organics by developing robust, collaborative and coherent strategies. Should be an interesting session.

No conference is complete without an almost personal message to take home and the Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference is ensuring all attendees will do so with their motivational speaker – Rob Hamill. The Olympic and marathon rowing champion was recently the narrator-protagonist of the award winning documentary Brother Number One, which recounts the story of his return to Cambodia to retrace the steps of his brother Kerry, who was tortured and murdered by Khmer Rouge. This is bound to be a powerful and inspiring session, not to be missed.

However the conference is not just based on listening to guest speakers. Chef Bevan Smith from Riverstone Café will return for the Organic Feast to be held on the Tuesday evening. There will also be a New Zealand organic and biodynamic wine tasting on the Monday evening plus an international organic and biodynamic wine tasting on the Wednesday evening. These wines, have been curated by Clive Dougall of Seresin Estate with the assistance of Dan Gillett from Wine Diamonds (and Scotch Bar), a natural wine importing business.


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