If you’ve ever had the pleasure of wine tasting in the Gibbston Valley, it is highly likely you may have set foot in the first ever winery in Gibbston Valley, aptly named ‘Gibbston Valley Winery’. Founder, Alan Brady, planted his first vines in Gibbston in the early 1980s and planted his first commercial vineyard block known as Home Block in 1983.
Biodiversity within the vineyard is an essential component organic wine making where specific cover crops such as wildflowers, native grasses and flowering weeds, play a crucial role in supporting vibrant life in and around the vines. The greater the diversity of birds and insects, the more stable the system meaning there is less chance that one species can dominate and therefore the use of pesticides is reduced or eliminated.
Central Otago is known as a showcase for New Zealand’s two lizard families, skinks and geckos, both of which live in Gibbston where the conditions are perfect for these rare lizards. A conservation area has been created on the northern side of the property above the river’s edge, to allow the population to thrive.
The carefully designed ecosystem that helps the organic vineyard block thrive is mirrored in the Gibbston Valley Winery Restaurant where they dispose of the bulk of organic waste in the on-site worm farm and compost bins which are eventually put into the Chef’s garden to aid the growth of herbs, fruits, and vegetables used on the menu.
The garden is free from chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides and achieve good quality soil through a combination of worm farm and composted organic waste from the restaurant.
The range of plant life, the chef’s garden, and the landscape in Gibbston Valley makes it the ideal spot for local apiary. Carefully placed, tucked away in an idyllic spot by Tom’s creek an apiary has been set up, providing bees a home to pollinate the area. The harvested honey offers local sustainable honey for use in the restaurant.
The restaurant operates a thorough recycling programme, has done away with plastic straws, sugar packets, and switched to compostable Stone Paper Packaging made by a kiwi company out of quarry and building site rubble, which sees 150,000 litres of rubbish diverted from land fill each year.
The onsite Lodge and Spa at Gibbston Valley Winery, due to open this December, has been developed with a strong focus on using only sustainable and environmentally friendly suppliers. The pillows, mattress toppers and duvets are made by a kiwi company from recycled plastic bottles, and every 8 pillows bought helps fund the planting of an NZ native tree.
The rooms in the lodge will be stocked with locally handmade soap, water bottles made from plants, eco-friendly toilet paper and tissues, bamboo toothbrushes, and bathroom amenities will be packaged in biodegradable and recyclable packaging. Any leftover or partially used soap will be donated to Soap Aid, a not for profit organisation recycling and sending critical soap to communities facing major hygiene challenges.