New Zealand premium wine producer, Yealands Wine Group, scooped up two golds at the 2022 International Green Apple Awards for its innovative Biodiversity plan.
Topping the Regeneration and Carbon Reduction categories, the judges were impressed by Yealands' 30-year Biodiversity plan, which outlines its commitment to planting more than one million native trees in its Awatere Valley vineyard to improve water quality and protect sensitive natural areas.
Created in partnership with Wild Lab, input from the Marlborough District Council and local iwi, the company’s Biodiversity Plan encompasses five distinct stages. It begins with the restoration of Station Creek to collect runoff and boost water quality, followed by hillside planting, wetland planting that will create a habitat for freshwater species and further plantings across the coast and entrance to the site. Yealands also plans to make plantings and development areas accessible to the public, providing opportunities for school students and higher learning institutions, as well as other members of the wine industry, to participate and learn from its experience.
“Establishing a vineyard is usually about optimising ‘productive’ land, which can involve large scale earthwork, diverting waterways and long-lasting environmental harm. But we want to show that large-scale organisations can exist in harmony with nature, creating ‘beautifully biodiverse’ wines. By sharing our story and learnings we want to support our partners, the wider industry and consumers to make a positive impact,” noted Yealands General Manager of Sustainability and Strategic Projects, Michael Wentworth.
As the first wine producer in the world to be Toitū carbon-zero certified from day one, Yealands has always measured, reduced and offset all of its emissions. Grapevines are known to be an indicator species for climate change. Even small increases in temperature have a noticeable impact on grape ripening and the character of wines, which poses a concern to the unique cool climate wines New Zealand produces.
“When we launched, we had an ambition to become a world leader in sustainable wine production. We believe creating a more biodiverse environment makes for a healthier, more resilient vineyard – one that’s also more resilient to climate change,” stated Wentworth.
Yealands’ award-winning Biodiversity Plan builds on existing initiatives including the extensive restoration of native vegetation within the vineyard to provide a habitat for rare and native species, the installation of New Zealand’s largest solar panel array and implementation of a boiler that converts vine prunings into energy. As a founding member of the International Wineries for Climate Action, its ultimate goal is to become carbon positive by 2050.