EcoWinery: Yealands in Marlborough Wine District

IMG_9397One of the other themes of my New Zealand Adventure 2019 is eccentricity. I have been loving meeting or learning about wonderfully eccentric Kiwis. In case you think being eccentric is a bad thing, I mean it as a compliment. Especially because most innovation and out of the box thinking comes from eccentric people who are themselves without a care for what others think (or at least not enough to let them stop them). In some places, like Oamaru, where there are more eccentrics per capita (unverified theory of mine), it seems that people taking the path less travelled congregate. (Hmm, if everyone is taking their own path, how did they all end up in Oamaru?)

I’ve often thought that Kiwi culture is more likely to allow for an autodidact to gain expertise and do something original than say, American culture. One such person is Peter Yealands who figured out that the area around Seddon (in the Marlborough wine district) could successfully grow grapes. He started by buying up sections and planting  grapes that ultimately this led to this winery.

Yealands Family Wines is now largely owned by the local utility district (long story of financial troubles), but Peter’s eccentricity is still evident as the winery strives to be carbon neutral. They have an entire roof of solar panels, turn their trimmed vines into clean energy, host chickens to control grass grubs, and breed a particularly small breed of sheep to mow their grass cover crop.

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Merino sheep mow the cover crops until the vines begin to leaf out. Then the sheep are removed because they eat the leaves and early fruit. Yealands shorter sheep allow the sheep to mow year round, saving fuel for mowers. This idea hasn’t caught on yet.

I learned from the Davisons that the cover crops on the all the vineyards in the district are not because of some enlightened soil management but because it invariably rains just before harvest and the machinery used for harvest cannot get into the fields without the grass everywhere between vines and fence lines.

You can tour this winery and enjoy a free tasting. There is also a self-drive tour you can make in your vehicle called the “White Road Tour.” Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Yealands Estate Wines are located at 534 Seaview Road, Seddon, Malborough.



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