By Bart Arnst, Viticultural Consultant
Bart Arnst is advising the focus vineyards on organic management and visits the sites throughout the season.
Marlborough. With a cool dry start to spring, there were fears that we would see the same slow growth experienced last season in the organic Pinot Noir portion of the Focus Vineyard. Although there is still a difference between the organic and conventional treatments it is not as noticeable. The recent warm weather has improved leaf colour across the entire site. No visual differences at this point in the Sauvignon Blanc treatments.
Central Otago. Just prior to the field visit in November, Central suffered from a very cold spell; there was frost damage in various degrees throughout. The Gibbston Valley focus vineyard site at Bendigo Station was fortunate in that it avoided any significant damage. Both varieties and treatments were looking very healthy at the time of my visit.
Hawkes Bay. At this stage of the season both the Syrah and Merlot at Misson Estate’s Mere Road focus vineyard site were showing no differences in growth, slight frost damage in the lower lying gullies but nothing of significance.
Apart from the Wither Hills organic Pinot Noir being slightly behind in growth and perhaps lighter in colour, all other comparative treatments are on par. The differing methods of weed control, herbicide vs undervine cultivation, provide the only visible indicator that there are alternative management practices in action.