Owners: Duncan and Judy Smith.
Background: In 2009 Duncan told me this by email: ‘We bought our 23 acre block 20 years ago and have farmed organically ever since then. Judy is the cider-maker for Bulmer Harvest here in Gisborne and I am a research agronomist and plant pathologist carrying out a lot of field trials during the year. I spent 15 years in UK as the head of an agrichemical research team developing new pesticides for crops. I moved to New Zealand in 1989 and took up organic farming – that says it all really! I knew in my heart that you don’t have to pump on chemicals to get a decent crop and that quite often artificial pesticides don’t work anyway! It’s really lovely to be able to say that our piece of paradise has been nurtured using organic techniques and stands like an oasis amid quite “arid” sheep farmland.’
Vineyards: 2009 550 Chardonnay vines covering an approximate area of 0.3 hectares (0.74 acres).
Biodynamics: 2009 In 2009 Duncan told me he intended ‘to use a lot more biodynamic preps in 2010 than we have in the past. We have used them before when making compost and have applied Horn manure 500 on a number of occasions. We buy preps in. We do make solid compost from our grape must and some grass mowings, but on a limited scale only. We simply do not have enough time to produce more as we have many other operations on our block which take up so much of our time – olives, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, asparagus etc. We have Dexter cattle on our farm – a friend leases some our land for grazing. They are certified organic under Organic Farm NZ too. He looks after the husbandry side of them. We also have a few kuni kuni pigs and chickens which we keep for grazing. Being organic isn’t an easy option. We constantly have diseases threaten our grapes and olive trees. Pests can be a problem too, particularly wasps around harvest time, where they can cause huge crops losses and increase the disease pressure on the grape berries. In 2005 we lost our whole grape harvest to wasps – they ate the crop! Weather can play a devastating effect too, particularly rain which we get a lot of around harvest time and can increase sour rots. We use a mulch mower down our grapes which is great as it produces lovely mulch for our earthworms to feed on. Under the vines there is extra work in strimming the weeds as we don’t have any other means of controlling them. My wife and I do all the vineyard work ourselves. 40% of our wine is sold through our cellar door.’
Certification: 1990s In 2009 Duncan told me that they ‘were BioGro certified in the early 1990’s for 4 years before pulling out as it was too expensive for our small operation.’ | 2010 Full organic certification for the second time.
Private Bag 7417, Gisborne, New Zealand
Tel+64 (0)6.867.0372 | www.tiritiriestate.com