Here is just a taste of some of Seifried's processes around sustainability -
Although New Zealand is an island nation, water is viewed very much as a precious and limited resource. In 2002, Hermann identified the need for water self-sufficiency at the Brightwater vineyard. Along with a team of engineers, Hermann designed and developed a huge 170,000mᶟ dam which collects rain water during the winter months. During the growing season, a computer controlled irrigation programme, gravity feeds this stored water back to the vineyard throughout the long, dry summer months when water restrictions are often in place. The Brightwater vineyard is a 70 hectare vineyard which was developed in 1999. As most southern Seifried vineyard location, the Brightwater block is tucked beneath the Richmond ranges and is the most sheltered of all Seifried sites. The stony, gravelly soils mean water stress can be an issue during the warm Nelson summers so having water collection storage facilities means water shortage should never become an issue.
In the vineyard, Seifried Estate aims to make every tractor pass down the vineyard row as multi-functional and efficient as possible. For example, while trimming the vineyard canopy (prior to bird-netting) in January, each row is trimmed and mowed together - rather than two separate tractor passes. This minimises soil compaction, carbon footprint, fuel use and optimises efficiency.
Lightweight tractors in the vineyard means a reduction in soil compaction and greater soil aeration.
Consistent monitoring of weather and soil conditions throughout the vineyards enables Seifried to manage use of machinery in the vineyards to avoid work during wet conditions, which could upset soil structure.
Identifying potential vineyard locations where spring frosts are improbable is key to Seifried's strategy for vineyard development. The use of helicopters to protect against spring frosts is not necessary at Seifried vineyard locations (or indeed in Nelson vineyard sites).
Even the winery food scraps from the staffroom are collected and fed to Seifried's very own worm farm. The fabulously rich 'worm juice' and the beautifully composted worm soil is used in the rose garden around the Seifried winery and cellar door.
Seifried Estate is focused on reducing energy output wherever possible. All fermentation and storage tanks are inside the winery which helps maintain a median ambient temperature without the fluctuations of environmental changes that would affect outside tanks. This offers significant energy savings by not having to maintain cooling during the hot summer months.
Computer controlled fermentation facilities enable Seifried to input optimal pre-defined fermentation temperatures, or ranges, which then activates cooling when the tank fermentation reaches the outer range. Energy efficiency is enhanced as each of the fermentation tanks connects to a computer system where winemakers can pre-define temperatures.
Seifried recently modified the refrigeration system used to enable tank warming as well. This function is required from time to time to lift wine temperature prior to bottling during cooler winter months. This feature eliminates the need to pump and circulate wine prior to bottling therefore minimising handling and non-essential energy being used in preparation of the wine for bottling.
Heating water is a major cost for any winery and this is an area Seifried are committed to limiting and finding alternative sources to heat water. Seifried capture and heat water on the back of their cooling system and this works very efficiently.
The addition of sheep to Seifried's workforce is a practice that began back in the early 1990's, well before it became fashionable. Originally brought in prior to winter pruning, the sheep help control weeds and tidy up between and under the rows, while also leaving behind their very useful dung - a great natural fertiliser. As a result, the sheep also eliminate the need for unnecessary tractor traffic through the vineyard, lessening the soil compaction as well as reducing diesel usage and staff hours carrying out these tasks. These days Seifried have extended sheep use into spring, for grass and weed control - again eliminating mower traffic. Later in the season, between fruit set and veraison, sheep enjoy grazing on the canopy leaves around the fruit zone. This improves sun and air movement around bunches, which in turn assists ripening, as well as helping with disease prevention.