Otago viticulturist Andre Lategan says participating in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a thoroughly worthwhile experience. Andre, who manages an 80ha vineyard in the Lowburn area, entered the 2008 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards and won two category awards - the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award and the Ballance Nutrient Management Award.
It grows mostly Pinot Noir, with some Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc - achieving good production levels of 5-8tonnes/ha for white grapes and 4-7t/ha for red.
Andre manages the vineyard according to a detailed business plan that has been developed in tandem with the directors. Chemical sprays are kept to a minimum and nutrient applications are pre-formulated based on soil and foliar test results. All waste is minimised and winery waste is recycled through a composting system, with the resulting liquid irrigated onto the vineyard’s shelterbelts.
Ballance Farm Environment Award judges also noted the vineyard’s use of comprehensive computer programmes to accurately record inputs and to analyse and forecast costs. Andre says he entered the Awards because he wanted to find out whether he was on the right track as far as best farming practices go. “And because there is always something new to learn.”
Excellent feedback from the judges and the resulting awards confirmed he was heading in the right direction. “It gave my confidence a real boost and motivated me to forge ahead.”
While the recognition that comes with winning such awards has been good for him personally, it has also been good for Amisfield and, he says, the wine industry in general because it proves wine growers are dedicated to environmental and business sustainability.
“It makes people aware that we are serious about leaving this land in good shape for future generations.”
Andre says the support provided by his wife Susan has helped him to achieve what he has, and he urges other viticulturists to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
“I’d wholeheartedly support them because it is definitely worthwhile.”
Entries for the 2009 Otago competition open on October 1, 2008.
For information on entering the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Rhys Millar, Regional Otago Regional Coordinator, 027 387 7866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org