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Brand recognition for Gisborne winery after Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Geoff and Nicola Wright

Extra recognition for their business has astounded Gisborne vineyard owners Geoff and Nicola Wright since their award win at the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The couple’s organic viticulture business, Wrights Vineyard and Winery, was a finalist in the 2017 awards and won the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.

Geoff Wright says it was an added bonus winning $1000 worth of services from a company they routinely use in their business.

“We spent the unexpected extra money to do some juice analysis, something we hadn’t been able to do previously as a small business with the budget put to more essential day-to-day expenses.”

The business has three sites covering 18ha – the winery and a coastal vineyard on the Wharerata Road (SH2) at Manutuke and valley and terrace vineyards in Ormond Valley Road. The three vineyards are certified organic and biodynamics is practiced on the vineyards.

Almost 100 tonne of grapes is harvested by hand and the Wrights produce just under 100,000 bottles of wine a year under Wrights Wines and the Natural Wine Co. labels.

The Wrights were one of five finalists in the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards this year.
Entries are open for the 2018 awards programme.

“We have had a change in our judging timeframe this year because of our winner’s field day being held at Philip and Robyn Holt’s farm at Bay View in Hawke’s Bay on October 5,” says regional coordinator Kate Taylor.

Entries close at Labour Weekend and first round judging will be in late November. Finalists will be selected and judged in the New Year with the awards dinner in Napier in March

Regional judging co-ordinator Paul Evans says judging teams have a wide range of skills and look at all parts of the farming business. Judging is relaxed and friendly and climatic factors are taken into account.

“Some landowners have been reluctant to enter if their farm, orchard or vineyard has been affected by wet weather or drought. But the judges know severe climatic events are part of farming and will look beyond this at the wider picture.”

All farmers and horticulturists, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists within the geographic area covered by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Gisborne District Council are eligible to enter the East Coast awards.

The Wrights say they were amazed by the diversity of the other finalists this year – three sheep and beef farms in the Hastings district and a Matawai hill country sheep and beef farm.

“We learnt a lot from them and how they’re running their businesses,” Geoff says.

“We were humbled to be a finalist when we saw the calibre of the others and were rapt to be judged alongside them.”

He says it was good to spend time chatting to the judges and taking advantage of their knowledge and ideas. One of their first-round judges had first-hand experience of managing organic vineyards.

“It was good to hear we’re on the right track and finding out some of things we struggle with are not unique to us. We appreciated the chance to get feedback about our vineyards and how we do things.”

Originally a chartered accountant, Geoff is chief grape grower and winemaker.

Qualified lawyer Nicola is in charge of marketing and distribution and also has her own criminal legal practice.

They are focused on building a sustainable business for their five boys – Noah, 9, Elijah, 7, Luke, 5, Guy, 3, and baby Otto.

Source: New Zealand Farm Environment Trust

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