Fri, Jun 17, 2022 1:02 PM

Wine company’s push for biodiversity


Matt Brown

Hi-vis bedecked winery staff swapped the plonk for planting as part of an international spotlight on biodiversity.

Pernod Ricard Winemakers staff stretched their green thumbs on Thursday, planting native plants along vineyard waterways to break up the grape monoculture and, hopefully, help bring native birds back to Blenheim.

Part of a global initiative called Responsib’ALL Day, New Zealand sustainability manager Tracey Marshall says the 200 local Pernod Ricard Winemakers staff joined nearly 19,000 colleagues around the world for the tenth annual event, focusing on nature and biodiversity.

Pernod Ricard Winemakers planting natives around waterways on their Brancott Road vineyard yesterday. Photo: Matt Brown.

“One of the aspects with growing grapes is a lack of biodiversity, grapes are a monoculture,” Tracey says.

“It’s a common practice for us to plant beneficial cover crops amongst the vines, but every part of our land that doesn’t have headlands, or buildings, or grapes, we’re going to plant it in natives.

“This isn’t a one off.”

She says all the winery and viticulture staff, after a warmup and a stretch, got to planting the nearly 5000 natives around the waterways of their Fairhall vineyards.

The annual Responsib’ALL Day focuses on different aspects of the environment and community each year. The Pernod Ricard Winemakers team helped the Marlborough RSA Burleigh Memorial Olive Grove team harvest their olives a few years back. Last year, the annual event was unfortunately cancelled by Covid.

This year, the focus is on the environment and sustainability.

The new plantings will link the existing native oases, meticulously planned out by their on-staff conservationist, Nic Dann.

“We’re focusing on waterways,” Tracey says.

“Improving the quality of the tributaries will improve the quality of the Taylor River.”

Pernod Ricard Winemakers New Zealand sustainability manager Tracey Marshall. Photo: Matt Brown.

Flaxes and grasses, kahikatea, ngaio, and other natives are being planted, depending on their ideal environment.

“We’ve stopped today to improve, grow and restore biodiversity,” Tracey says.

“It’s not the only time we’re planting, we’re systematically working through enhancing the place every season.

“We’ve got a planting plan for what goes where.”

Tracey says the new plantings will provide a habitat for birds and insects, and link the Tui to Town plantings.

“It’s providing habitats for birds and insects.”

And it’s working, she says.

“For the first time in 20 years, I’ve heard bellbird and seen Tui in Blenheim.”

She says she’s proud to be part of a company that thinks forward to the future – the company has a sustainability roadmap that goes through to 2030.

“It’s really neat to know that all our colleagues around the world are doing a similar thing to us today.

“It’s a fantastic day that we have.”

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