Wednesday, 15 June 2022 15:25

Custodians at Paritua

Written by  Sophie Preece
Partua. Robin Cranford Photography. Partua. Robin Cranford Photography.

Managing the land and vines with a century-long outlook is business as usual at Paritua, says Winemaker Jason Stent.

"We are custodians of the land and will be doing out best to improve our vine health and soil health. We want this to be a viable project in 100 years' time as well."

This year was Paritua's first fully organic vintage, with the winery and 54 hectares of vineyard certified by BioGro, in a process that began in the early 2000s, but was knocked off track by the global financial crisis and a challenging period in the company's culture.

In 2018, with the right team in place, they kicked back into it, transitioning the entire vineyard at once, rather than tackling it piecemeal. The outcome has been healthier biology and structure in the soils, better performing plants, and a keen engagement from the people of Paritua - from the winemaking and viticulture team to management, as well as partners in other countries, says Jason. "We really believe in this and are doing our best to be good citizens of the world really."

That ethos is threaded through the growing and making of wine, and also in a focus on recycling and composting, and their current research into Tōitu carbonzero certification. They also plant wildflowers interrow, which helped with water uptake in the recent wet vintage, and also attract beneficial insects into the vineyard, providing a more diverse habitat, says Jason. "We're just trying to be good people, I guess. And that is reflected in the feedback we are getting in from our customers overseas."

He says the organic journey has been positive for their vine husbandry and their wines, as well as their markets, where they are taking "a lot more ownership of our wines" as a result.

Jason says the camaraderie of the Hawke's Bay community - within and beyond the wine industry - has been key to the success of their transition, with the likes of Villa Maria, "leading the charge on organics for a long time", always willing to answer a question or offer advice. "It's very easy to pick up the phone and talk to someone about an issue or a problem you are trying to figure out."

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