Sustainable mission possible

Mission Estate’s annual carbon footprint is equivalent to that of four people. Good finds out how.

Words Carolyn Enting

It’s an astounding figure and one that Mission Estate chief winemaker Paul Mooney is rightly proud of.

For every litre of wine produced at the Hawke’s Bay winery, the power usage is an incredibly low 0.13kWh. 

To put that in context, Mission Estate crushes 1000 tonnes of grapes each year, which is bottled into more than 80,000 cases of wine annually. 

Sunrise at Mission Estate

“Do the math on that and the carbon footprint works out to be the equivalent of four New Zealand individuals,” says Mooney. 

Mission Estate was one of the first wineries to join Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand and every aspect of its production is managed to create wines with minimal impact on the environment. 

Each year its vineyards and winery are audited to ensure Mission Estate operates in a sustainable manner – including its contract growers. 

“We are committed to protecting our environment by reducing the use of nasty chemicals, energy, water and packaging and, wherever possible, reusing and recycling materials and waste,” says Mooney. “We haven’t made
a great deal of noise about it. We just get on and do the business and do things as well as we can.”

For wine lovers who also love the environment, these credentials make sweet reading.

The new winery building is a fully insulated, thermos-mass construction and has a refrigeration system designed to minimise energy use. Its water use is below two cubic metres for every tonne of grapes crushed, sheep are used in a number of vineyards to help with mowing and leaf plucking, and the Mission Restaurant has an organic herb garden. Some of the company’s vineyards have also been converted to organic production. 

Mission Estate was among the first NZ wineries to establish an environmental management system

Mission Estate’s viticulturist Steve Wheeler, winner of the 2015 Balance Farm Environment Award for soil management, helmed the ‘Organics Focus Vineyard Project’, New Zealand’s first public trial of organic grapes being grown side-by-side with conventional crops. 

The difference between the blocks is in the pest and disease control and weeding. Grapes are under-vine cultivated instead of being treated with herbicides, and the goal of healthy soils, healthy vines, a thriving landscape and of course premium-quality wines has certainly been achieved. 

Organic wine from these blocks has been used to make some of Mission Estate’s premium wines including Mission Huchet Syrah. The 2013 vintage, which was a great year, is $129 a bottle and worth every cent.

“We were quite surprised,” admits Mooney. “I didn’t think it would have that much effect in grape and wine quality but the organic is superior in both taste and the quality of wine that it produces.”


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