Since 2008, Seifried Estate has been a registered member of New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE). This is a programme initiated by the New Zealand government as part of New Zealand's efforts to support our Pacific Island neighbours and help the NZ rural sector to develop and retain consistent seasonal staff. Seifried Estate is very proud to support 15 Solomon Island staff for a three-month period during winter pruning. The Solomon Island team take this opportunity for regular and consistent work to earn money which is then taken home to help their own rural communities. This hard-working team view the opportunity to come to New Zealand as a privilege and use their short time with Seifried to earn as much money as they can to invest into developing their communities and even set up small businesses at home. In 2013 three vehicles were purchased and shipped to Honiara, which were then used as taxis for family members in the country's capital city. Additionally, solar panels, photocopiers and a range of IT items have also been shipped home to help support local schools in the village.
Seifried's philosophy behind vineyard chemical use is far more 'reactive' than ever before. Seifried's spray regime works on seasonal requirements, rather than historical need. While Seifried still use herbicides and fungicides when required, their use is based on monitoring to see when a 'problem' presents itself before working out a plan to best combat.
Seifried chemical use in the winery for cleaning is minimised as far as possible without compromising on cleanliness and hygiene. The use of stainless steel and easy clean non-slip flooring means much of the cleaning is done with high pressure water and brushes - the old fashioned way.
Seifried is always mindful of ways to substitute the use of chemicals and products with processes. An example of this is using a centrifuge and crossflow filtration to eliminate the need for processing aids such as diatomaceous earth.
From growing grapes to making, marketing and distributing Seifried wines, there are a number of by-products which are brought about by daily activities. In an effort to minimise and manage waste, Seifried have found a number of ways that these by-products can be recycled for a clean and sustainable result. With around 75% yield from grapes during processing, there is a significant amount of grape must (skins and seeds) remaining after each press cycle. This is fed out to a neighbouring dairy farm, as well as to Hermann's own cattle. This is a real treat for the stock - although care must be taken in the quantities fed out... too much can result in a sore tummy for the animal!
When pallets of bottles arrive, each layer is separated by a 'layer-board'. These boards are collected and reused either in-house for bottling or returned to the glass manufacturer. The pallets are either reused for unlabelled stock or returned to the bottle supplier for reuse.
While Seifried love the efficiency of machine harvesting 98% of the vines, it does happen from time to time that a harvester or tractor driver bumps a post. To maintain a strong canopy, broken posts are replaced during the dormant winter season. Broken posts are reused for general fencing (where the height of the post is much shorter than the required height for vineyard trellis) or garden edging.
Recycling of packaging and containers is achieved by returning clean used containers to the agrecovery recycling programme.
Waste glass is recycled onsite using a glass crusher, which turns glass bottles into a fine powder. This is then used on vineyard driveways to repair potholes.
During the quality control checks at bottling, a number of sealed bottles are removed from the line to check for screw cap tension (ensuring a good, but easily broken seal for the consumer). This means a small amount of wastage of the screw caps. With recycling in mind, these are collected and returned as recycled scrap metal.
Some canopy sprays are recycled especially when sprayed out shortly after budburst. This minimises active ingredient wastage as well as water. Hermann Seifried developed and built a recycling sprayer for this purpose several decades ago before others considered this approach.
Waste plastic is baled onsite and taken to Christchurch where it is recycled into road cones, irrigation pipes and other plastic goods.
Waste cardboard is collected and taken to the Nelson recycling depot.
Diligent monitoring and reporting of energy usage and costs is compared against industry bench marking and Seifried continuously try to better performance by setting targets below what was used for the same period the year prior.
While a number of tasks around the vineyard are seasonal, Seifried encourage as much repeat recruitment of staff from season to season. Returning winter vineyard pruners and tractor/truck drivers during harvest ensure a core team of staff who know the job and the processes followed at Seifried Estate.
Customer service is a huge part of Seifried's point of difference. Offering a quick turnaround, particularly for export orders is a core feature of the business which is notably impressive given Seifried is working with such a large number of international destinations. Seifried Estate has its own onsite bottling and warehousing facilities and with careful forecasting are able to bottle large runs of wine, with a portion being bottled without labels, which are then easily labelled out as export orders are received. Using Seifried's own onsite labelling facilities the business can then work quickly to have the correct wine, with country specific labels, labelled and ready for dispatch promptly. This means shorter lead times for shipping deadlines, as bottling scheduling generally isn't required.
Sustainability in the wine industry is about making fabulous, memorable wines in a way that allows not only the natural environment but also businesses and communities to thrive too.