A gate too far

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A while ago I witnessed the opening of a gate that hadn’t been opened for 20 years and the meeting of two grape growers each with very different opinions.

On one side a viticulturalist caring for his vineyard in the conventional way, using sprays delivered by helicopter, weed killers and chemicals. On the other side, a vineyard with a more holistic approach, using organic methods and a process called biodynamics, which uses unusual preparations and follows the phases of the moon to determine which work needs to be done and when. 

The resulting throw down between the two proponents of these opposing philosophies (I won’t name names) was heated, informative and gripping. 

Who came out on top? Nobody really, but here are some interesting facts that I picked up: 

– 95 per cent of the world’s wine grapes are farmed in the conventional way i.e. with chemicals. 

– Both men were passionate about the same thing – making the best wine they possibly could. 

– Interest in organics is on the rise but less than 2 per cent of vineyards in New Zealand are farmed organically. 

– Some of the treatments used for biodynamics sound like songs by Frank Zappa (for example, ‘yarrow flowers fermented in a deer’s bladder’ or ‘cow manure buried in a cow’s horn’). 

Though you won’t be able to taste the difference in an organic and non-organic wine per se, it is a hot topic and one that causes impassioned debate among wine professionals whenever mentioned. Watch this space. 

We Need to Drink More Wine 

I am doing my bit, are you? While wine consumption in New Zealand is on the rise it still looks paltry compared to other countries. In 2008 we consumed an average of 20 litres of wine per capita while France and Italy were gulping well over double that. Who drinks the most wine world-wide, per person? The Vatican City – if they can manage 65 litres per year, so can we. Come on, it’s good for you! (in moderation).

See more at Paul Tudgay’s Wine Down site