Monday, May 11, 2009

Marlborough Environment Awards

Seresin Estate’s commitment to the environment has been recognised in the Marlborough Environment awards.

The winery has been chosen as the 2009 winner in the Winegrowers category and honored for its commitment to true sustainability. One of the first to embrace organics in the region, Seresin grapes have been progressively registered as organic by BioGro since 1997. In 2007 certification was extended to wines. The 163 hectare estate spans three different properties and includes 113 hectares of vineyard, olive groves, gardens, pasture, orchards and livestock.

The Marlborough Environment awards judges commented that “any visitor must be impressed by this property, the staff commitment and what they have achieved. They have created an old fashioned estate that is interesting, diverse and attracts people. The company supports both the region and the environment in the widest sense.”

The winner of the Supreme Award in the Marlborough Environment awards in 2001, Seresin Estate General Manager, MJ Loza, is very pleased with the 2009 result. “As a previous winner, we entered partly to support the Awards, but we’re very pleased that the developments we’ve made since 2001 have been recognized. It’s a positive endorsement of the direction we’re heading and we know there’s a lot more still to do.”

The judges highlighted as stand-out features, the application of over 500 tonnes of compost made on the property in the last year from vineyard and winery waste, as well as the full range of biodynamic preparations which are made on site and applied across the entire Estate. These are supplemented with ‘Cow Pat Pit’, a concentrated manure compost, and seaweed sourced from a farm in the Cook Strait and brewed over three months into a Seaweed tea, rich in valuable nutrients.

Seresin is on track to add to its BioGro certification, full Demeter certification. Demeter is the only world-wide biodynamic certification system used in over 50 countries.

Seresin Estate viticulturalist Colin Ross says “certifying our practices brings in a fresh pair of eyes and expert input, and makes us constantly evaluate the way we farm, encouraging us to keep improving the way we do things. It is also a way for us to actively support and promote biodynamic farming within New Zealand.”

Additional initiatives include the gradual replacement of CCA-treated pine posts with eucalyptus posts and reduction in water use by deep and long, but infrequent watering of vines designed to encourage deep rooting, hardy plants. Fifty percent of the Seresin tractor fleet is run on biodiesel, staff use bicycles for transport around the property where possible and a horse-drawn sprayer is being developed to replace work currently done by tractors on the estate.

Colin Ross says the power of one horse can accomplish the same work an 80 horsepower tractor can do. “Using horses results in less compaction of the soils in the vineyard, we emit less carbon and the horses can live off our own homegrown fuels such as grass and oats. We are also providing a home for retired trotters who would otherwise be culled.”
Seresin Estate owner Michael Seresin believes biodynamics is good for the land and the best way to make wine. “It has nothing to do with sales or marketing. I just believe it’s right. It has elements of a spiritual side, but it doesn't have to. In essence it's traditional agriculture, it’s how it was done before the chemical-age came along, and wine's been around a lot longer than the chemicals have.”

The company regularly holds open days at the estate and hosts a local biodynamic discussion group to encourage others within the New Zealand wine industry to investigate organic and biodynamic farming. Seresin Estate will again be open to the public for an Environment Awards field day, scheduled for Wednesday May 27 from 1:30pm to 4:00pm.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Harvesting

Our grape harvest was packed with beautiful fruit and lots of busy hands as we worked through the month of April to gather what the vines blessed us with this year. The weather was amazingly cooperative. The cool weather kept the acids in the berries lively and the extended absence of rain meant we could leave the fruit on the vine to allow for optimum flavour development. As each bit of fruit reached its perfect ripeness, we kept in mind the severe weather that was predicted at the end of the month. The Antipodean Astro Calendar suggested that the celestial events set to occur on April 27-28 (moons crossing with Mars, the Mars/Pluto square, moons perigee and moon reaching peak north) were indicators of severe weather and a higher chance of rain. Our last bit of fruit was picked on the 27th, while the rains rolled in as predicted on the 28th. Perfect timing!

Seresin Landfall Residency

Seresin Estate and Otago University Press recently announced New Zealand writer C.K. Stead as the first winner of the Seresin Landfall Residency.

C.K. Stead is a novelist, literary critic, poet and essayist and has been a prominent figure in New Zealand literature since the 1950s. He has published 13 collections of poems, two of short stories, eleven novels, six books of literary criticism and edited a number of texts.“My association with Landfall goes back as far as 1951 when I first offered founder Charles Brasch poems and has continued ever since. I feel very enthusiastic about the idea of a Residency set up to honour both the magazine and Harry Seresin whom I knew slightly in the days when he ran The Settlement restaurant in Wellington”, says C.K. Stead.

The connection between Stead and the Seresin family name continued with the 70s film adaptation of one of Stead’s best-known works.“Michael was the cameraman for Sleeping Dogs, which Roger Donaldson made from my novel Smith’s Dream”, adds C.K. Stead.

Stead will spend the six-week residency in Tuscany, working on an autobiography of his childhood and early years and a new collection of poetry.

Michael Seresin is delighted with the calibre of applicants for the 2009 Seresin Landfall Residency.“Given the quality of the applicants I found it very hard to choose a winner and we are honoured to have C.K. Stead as the first writer to hold the Seresin Landfall Residency. In this, the first year of the residency, I also wanted to take the opportunity to support a young writer who was just starting out.”Michael Seresin has offered an additional six-week residency in the Marlborough Sounds to Jenah Shaw. At twenty-one years of age, Jenah is a promising young writer at the start of her career. She will use the residency to finish work on her first novel.

‘It is difficult for anyone just to write and completely commit to a project without distraction – but it is especially difficult for a young writer with only the smallest beginnings of a career. While I’m still feeling a little stunned – and hugely privileged – I fully appreciate the enormous potential of this opportunity”, says Jenah.