Greystone Winery Takes Three-Year High Wire Journey to New Heights

High Wire, Higher Standards: A Three-Year Pioneering and Trailblazing Journey to Go Beyond Sustainability. Greystone Winery Takes Three-Year High Wire Journey to New Heights: Expanding to Over 25% of Total Vineyard.

Greystone High Wires

Since the inception of the High Wire project, Greystone has been meticulously testing and refining the system, demonstrating a commitment to innovation and organic regenerative farming. The decision to expand the High Wire approach to more than a quarter of the total vineyard signifies a pivotal moment in Greystone’s dedication to reshaping traditional New Zealand viticulture practices.

“Why did we embark on this journey with the High Wire system and the integration of sheep into our vineyard all year round?” reflects Mike Saunders, Viticulturist at Greystone Winery. “The initial why behind starting the trial was was driven by several key objectives.

Firstly, we aimed to improve our environmental impact by reducing tractor passes and diesel usage, thereby decreasing our carbon footprint. Secondly, we sought to enhance soil health through the implementation of cover crops, promoting biodiversity, improving organic matter, and facilitating nutrient exchange with our vines.

Thirdly, we aimed to optimize viticultural outcomes by mitigating soil compaction through sheep grazing, allowing vine roots to thrive, and enhancing nutrient cycling for stronger vine growth and resilience. Lastly, we aimed to bolster the resilience of our business by reducing operational costs and increasing revenue streams, ensuring the sustainability and longevity of our vineyard operations.

“The success and positive impact observed during this trial period have emboldened us to scale up and integrate this groundbreaking approach into a significant portion of our vineyard,” Saunders concludes. “The ability to incorporate the natural grazing habits of sheep in the vineyard all year round, along with the enhanced biodiversity fostered by multi-species pastures, has created an environment that enriches our vines in profound ways. Its shown us that grazing behaviours can contribute to a more efficient nutrient cycling process and is helping nourish the vines and cultivating the growth of strong, resilient vines and root systems.”

“In the context of our High Wire trail, I am thrilled about the possibilities it brings to our wine-making journey,” says Dom Maxwell, Greystone’s Winemaker. “As our vines approach the 20-year mark, combined with this holistic approach, we are witnessing wines that are more expressive, have greater complexity, and improved balance.”

“As Greystone embarks on the High Wire journey, expanding to over 25% of the total vineyard underscores our commitment to continuous innovation in regenerative organic farming. The expansion, along with achieving Certified Carbon Zero status and strategically moving towards more responsible vineyard management, showcases Greystone’s dedication to reshaping the narrative of sustainability. says Nick Gill, Greystone’s General Manager. “We need to go above and beyond the common narrative of sustainability if we truly want to mitigate climate change and still make great wine,” Nick further emphasizes, “Beyond viticulture, this commitment extends to the entirety of the business; we proudly feature our vineyard-raised lambs on the restaurant menu. This approach mirrors our commitment to go beyond sustainability, ensuring that every aspect of our operations contributes to a more eco-conscious future. Importantly, the lambs also generate additional revenue streams, playing a crucial role in supporting a more sustainable future for the business.”

“As consumer preferences increasingly gravitate toward openness and health-conscious choices, Greystone aims to lead the way and establish new benchmarks for environmental stewardship,” says Stephen McGowan, Greystone Sales and Marketing Manager. “The team’s commitment and determination to the High Wire system surpasses mere implementation; it’s a dedication to continuous innovation in regenerative organic farming, reshaping the narrative of well-being for our vines, our wines, and our customers. In an era where consumers seek a deeper understanding of how their wine is made and its impact on the environment and health, Greystone wants to be at the forefront of telling the story and shouting about the benefits of organic regenerative farming.”

Over the past three years, Greystone has experienced:

• Reduced carbon footprint through minimized tractor uses, reduced mowing, and natural weed control by sheep.

• Enhanced soil health and structure through minimal tillage farming.

• Increased biodiversity and natural pest control with multi-species pastures.

• Improved grape quality and complexity due to enhanced vine health and soil nutrient richness.

All-Season Carbon Footprint Reduction:

• During the trial phase, Greystone accomplished a remarkable 50% reduction in carbon emissions by implementing the High Wire system.

• The year-round integration of sheep into the vineyard played a pivotal role in minimizing the necessity for tractor passes. This innovative approach not only enhanced weed control but also substantially decreased fuel consumption, resulting in a significant reduction in carbon emissions. The synergy between the natural grazing behaviors of the sheep and the vineyard’s needs demonstrated a successful and environmentally conscious strategy for vineyard management.

Soil Health & Carbon Sequestration.

• Greystone’s experience revealed that advocating for a larger-scale no-tillage approach could significantly improve soil integrity and structure and contribute to carbon Sequestration.

• The undisturbed soil fosters a thriving microbiome, leading to increased resilience against pests and diseases and improved nutrient uptake for healthier vines.

• When soil is tilled, it releases stored carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. By avoiding tillage,the High Wire system helps to keep carbon in the soil, acting as a form of carbon sequestration. This practice aids in mitigating the impact of climate change by reducing the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, fostering a more sustainable and eco-friendly vineyard management approach.

To learn more about the trail and the expansion of the Greystone High Wire system and to join us on our journey to go beyond sustainability, visit us here at our cellar door/restaurant, try our wines, or visit our website.

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