MANA: Natural Winemaking in Marlborough, New Zealand

Huia Winery

Over the last decade the Marlborough region in New Zealand has developed into one of the most well known wine regions of the world, creating dynamic wines that – in the case of Sauvignon Blanc at least – portray a unique identity and style.

However, seven artisanal wineries in the region believe a change of attitude is needed in terms of the way wineries look at their region’s viticulture and environmental impact, and have formed MANA (Marlborough Natural Winegrowers) to promote what they term as natural wines from Marlborough.

The original five wineries who formed MANA in 2010 are Fromm, Herzog, Seresin, Te Whare Ra, and Huia. Two years later, Clos Henri and Rock Ferry expanded the group to seven.

This is how they describe their joint philosophy:

“We share a common belief in traditional, natural, artisanal winegrowing to create truly expressive and unique wines. All winegrowing involves human intervention – but how much is a choice. Natural winegrowing suggests “less is more” – the less the soil, grapes and wines are artificially manipulated, the more the wines can express where they come from.”

In practice, MANA is about promoting environmentally-friendly biodynamic viticulture to allow “regional, sub-regional and vineyard influences” to shine through in their individual wines.

One of the first challenges for the group was to set strict criteria for membership. Claire Allan of Huia explains: “owing to MANA’s strict requirement for 85% of the vineyard growing organically grown grapes, one wine company found they could not yet fit this criteria and have delayed their entry for a few years to allow time for the conversion. We believe robust entry criteria such as this will set a high standard of grape growing within the alliance. I very much believe that this wine company and many more in the region will within no time be hitting MANA’s requirements, and producing better quality wines for their investment in more natural methods.”

For its members one of the key benefits of the alliance is the ability to share ideas and resources, creating a practical and social network for all the members.  This assists the producers in the development of their wines, but also providing a platform for the group to present their wines to the world.

Claire believes this will really benefit the producers of Marlborough, as they share experiences and knowledge on natural production methods. “When we started the alliance we met during the March Equinox to bury enough cow horns at Te Whare Ra for the entire MANA group.  These cow horns come from a local organic cattle farmer, and can be reused up to three or four times, the manure that is stuffed inside the horns is then sprayed on our vineyards as part of our biodynamical programme. This is just one small example of how the group is benefitting from sharing resources and ideas, and creating a community of like minded vine growers.”

 

Author:
Rob Pickard
Date:
29th December 2011


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