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Richmond Plains vineyard is certified organic so we have a naturally green environment with no weed-spray strips and extensive plantings of native plants and trees to encourage biodiversity as well as a complex mix of herbs growing under the vines. We therefore fix or take more carbon from the atmosphere in our organic vineyard than we release in the production and delivery of our wine to market.
Carbon dioxide or CO2 emissions from the use of electricity, fossil fuels and cutting down trees act like a greenhouse. CO2 gas traps heat from the sun, raising the temperature in the atmosphere causing the earths atmosphere to heat up which is commonly know as climate change or global warming. The impact of this we see in the increasing number of extreme climatic events causing flooding, droughts and storms.
To minimise and reduce the impact of climate change it is vital to reduce CO2 emissions. We manage this in the vineyard and winery through our Environmental Management Plan.
Environmental Management Plan
The goal of our Environmental Management Plan is to ensure that the production of our wine contributes to a healthier environment for us all and future generations.
Through photosynthesis the vineyard converts large quantities of CO2 to plant carbohydrates. Some of this CO2 is re-released to the atmosphere as plant material breaks down and some is re-released as CO2 during the ferment of the wine. With good management some can be retained in the soil as stable, organic matter called humus. This in turn gives healthier soils and better wines.
We manage the vineyards to maximise the sinking of carbon into the soil by increasing humus levels:
- No herbicides are used, resulting in healthier soils that store more humus.
- We return all organic, plant matter to the vineyard by mulching summer trimmings, winter prunings and leaf-fall.
- Grape marc is returned from the winery to the vineyard or composted for use in the vineyard; in turn adding humus to the soil.
- A great deal of the leaf plucking, fruit thinning and grape harvesting in the vineyard is done manually. This leads to better quality wines, lower energy use and less compaction of the soil. Thus maintaining the ability of the microbial life in the soil to convert plant matter to stable humus.
- Care is taken in the timing of mechanical operations in the vineyard, again to avoid damage to the soil through compaction.
We manage the winery to reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions:
- Our main source of power is electricity supplied by a CarboNZero certified power company that is generated using natural, renewable resources.
- All heating or cooling systems are insulated.
- Special insulated tanks are used for cooling.
- We hand plunge reds as they ferment.
- The winery building is not heated and processing takes place at ambient temperatures, following nature's natural rhythms.
- This means that Malolactic fermentation in the red wines takes place in the spring as the wines warm up naturally saving the need for wasteful, winter heating.
We Recycle and Minimise Waste:
- Close attention is paid in the recycling of waste packaging to ensure the most effective recycling stream is used.
- Where, for certain wastes, no suitable local disposal system is available we must explore new initiatives. Our waste plastic strapping, for instance, is given to the special needs unit of the local school for use in weaving and handicraft projects.
- Clean sheets of waste cardboard packaging are given to the local kindergarten for artwork.
- Grape marc, the largest part of the winery waste, is returned to the vineyard thus trapping more CO2 in the soil.
- Our water supply for cleaning in the winery is from a pure-water bore in the vineyard. Once used, the waste water is returned to the soil by irrigation after having passed through settlement tanks to remove the solids.
- Water use is minimised by the use of high pressure - low volume fittings on all our cleaning hoses.
. From our cellar door tasting area all wine packaging is returned to the winery for re-use.
Carefully Select and Manage Packaging:
- Care is taken in the sourcing of bottles and wine packaging to maximise ability to recycle and reuse as well as minimum environmental impact in production and freight.
- We choose bottles where a large proportion of the glass is recycled. This saves waste and energy costs in production and thus reduces CO2 emissions.
- We choose the lightest bottles we can practically source. This means lower energy use and CO2 emissions in production, smaller and lighter cartons resulting in reduced, freight-related CO2 emissions.
- The pallets and layer boards used to pack the bottles for delivery to us, is all returned to the supplier for re-use or re-used by us.
- The cartons and dividers we use contain a high percentage of recycled material and the virgin fibre is from sustainably managed forests. They are 100% recyclable.
- Where acceptable we reuse wooden pallets from local industry that would otherwise be burnt.
- Where new pallets are required, for export, they are locally made from sustainable plantation forestry.
We Optimise Freight Logistics:
- We carefully plan our export freight routes, to minimise the CO2 emissions by reducing road haulage and maximising use of efficient sea freight.
- Where our export customers control the export freight directly, we ensure they have the best local knowledge available to them so they can achieve the most energy efficient export freight solutions.
Food Miles are an out-dated concept that is only valid when comparing products from similar production systems. Our modern, ecological approach to viticulture sinks far more CO2 into the vineyard than traditional viticultural techniques. We don't export wine by inefficient road transport. We use energy efficient sea freight to transport our wine on cargo ships that would otherwise be returning home empty were we not exporting!
Consumers of our fine wines, anywhere in the world, can enjoy our wines in the knowledge that they are making the right decision, both for their health and for the environment.