Grapes came off early at the Te Whare Ra organic vineyard in Marlborough this year so were saved from damage that would have been delivered by Cyclone Debbie.
“We had all the fruit off the home block in before the first lot of rain, and then it was only the Riesling that was picked in between the two lots, so we’re very happy with what we got in” says Te Whare Ra winemaker Anna Flowerday, who co-owns the vineyard with her husband Jason.
Te Whare Ra is one of the oldest vineyards in Marlborough. Yields are kept low, the property is managed with a combination of organic and biodynamic practices and all the fruit is handpicked and hand-sorted.
The wines are made with minimal intervention in a small winery which has been specifically set up for small-batch winemaking. Te Whare Ra produces Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir and Syrah and an aromatic blend called Toru.
Two Belted Galloway cows live at the vineyard and are employed to graze between the vines. Their manure is a key ingredient for compost and bio-dynamic preparations that are made on-site.
“We have a specific mixed sword planted in the alternate rows, which is great for the cows as it gives them a really balanced diet. There’s about seven or eight species of grass in there.”