Organic & Biodynamic
Our Journey Through Organic Principals
Principally this practice is about giving life back to the soil and managing the vineyard as a balanced sustainable farming unit. This includes organic practices such as recycling through composts and liquid manures and increasing plant bio diversity. Using the biodynamic farming and gardening calendar, the rhythmic influences of the sun, moon, planets and stars are recognised and worked where possible.
For example, a fundamental vineyard activity such as applying foliar feeds (natural nutrients) is timed with the ascending moon, as the vine is more active during this period. By contrast, racking the wine is timed with the descending moon, ensuring the wine is calm and all the goodness and flavours are retained and not lost to the atmosphere.
We began the process of organic certification and using biodynamic practices in 2007 and in 2010 became fully BioGro certified.
We sincerely believe in a sense of place. The soil, the climate, the people and our passion. By giving back to the soil, enhancing the environment we occupy and leaving it in better shape, means this is a place for the long term and for future generations.
Our passion is to produce handcrafted, elegant wines with a purity of flavour that is achieved through integrity. In every glass we invite you to taste a sense of our place, Urlar.
Ensuring a Sound Business for Future Generations
In the winery, careful planning and innovative design complement the wine production processes. Thin, light weight steel-framed panels form part of the building structure having sufficient insulation properties to reduce energy costs in keeping the barrels cool over the summer months.
A state of the art refrigeration system installed to cool the wine recycles the heat it produces to warm a tank heating solution. This is then circulated around the tanks to warm up the grape juice so fermentation can start. The solar panels on the roof of the winery are so effective; they heat water to boiling point greatly reducing the use of gas and electricity for water heating. The boiling water also enables the winery team to remove tartrates from the tanks thereby limiting the use of chemicals.
Variable speed drives installed on all pumps will save an estimated 35 per cent of electricity usage.
The winery sits on the shore of the large dam, created for frost fighting. Care has been taken to landscape the area to create a place of beauty and a natural habitat for a variety of birds including native duck, pukeko and kotuku. More than 1,500 native trees have been planted with a further 3,000 planned. These are irrigated from the winery’s filtered wastewater system.
Angus, Davina and the Urlar team are firmly committed to a balance in all things; achieving both environmental and economic sustainability.
Livestock Enrich the Biodynamic Cycle
Our own small herd of Highland cows play a fundamental role. This treasured herd, special not only because of the links back to our Scottish heritage, but also because they are a living, breathing, part of the vineyard team. We have seven in total, two boys and five girls. Our dedicated vineyard crew look after the herd and love feeding and caring for them.
Their manure is used in many biodynamic preparations we deploy. Cow horn manure, cowpat pits and in the compost piles.
One interesting preparation is cow horn manure (known as preparation 500). It is made by putting cow manure in a cow's horn and burying it below ground through the winter months. The horns are dug up the following spring and the cow dung has changed into a pleasant smelling, highly colloidal material.
Once spread throughout the vineyard, the enriched soil provides a healthy and robust environment for the growth and development of the fruit.
Flowing Water is at the Heart of Biodynamics
Moving water enfolds oxygen which stimulat es microbial life. We warm our rainwater to 30°c as it is more receptive to growing the bacterial and fungal life that we prize so highly. We then move the warmed water through a system called a flow form.
A flow form is a structure that circulates the water in a figure of eight pattern. We add a preparation to the water which is circulated around the flow form for 1 hour. The preparation is then carefully applied to either the vineyard floor or the leaves on the vines.
As well as delivering a natural food source to the soils and vines, the flow form produces a sound that is reminiscent of a gentle river running over stones. This is very tranquil and calming both for us and the vines.