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Churton Wines, New Zealand – Sam and Mandy Weaver

July 18, 2013


We follow biodynamics in the vineyard and winery. We do it for intrinsic quality reasons. We get better wines as a result.

The biodynamic system underlines and improves both the quality and individuality of our wines. We make wines where definition and direction are central to our style and these are expressions of our terroir. For us biodynamics is the ultimate way of helping us express the best of our terroir. This is because we work very closely with our land and environment.


From the ground up we encourage biodiversity and actively work to improve it. We work to enhance our micro flora in the soil and this helps the vines adsorb nutrients and water more effectively. It also encourages deep rooting which enables access to trace elements and a well regulated supply of cool water. An improved microbial population both in the soil and around the vines means our vines are healthier and less prone to disease. They have more disease resistance as their natural immunity is stronger. Also, with a healthy microbial population there is less opportunity for opportunist pathogens (eg. botrytis) to cause problems.

We work with the macro biology by encouraging and planting different plant species. We have a very varied biosphere. With greater plant diversity we attract more beneficial insects and more diverse bird and animal populations.


We work with cosmic cycles. This gives us the opportunity to think about the best timing for certain activities and to make the most of the natural rhythms that exist rather than fighting against them. At the same time we work on a spiritual level to encourage harmony and well being in the vineyard and winery. If the vineyard is a happy harmonious place then that is transmitted into the care and attention paid to our vine husbandry and that eventually is expressed in our wines.  In these ways Biodynamics helps us get the most from our terroir.

In the vineyard, it’s all about our farming philosophy – about capturing the uniqueness and personality of our vineyard and ensuring character reaches the bottle. The key is our elevated vineyard (200m above sea level) that is mostly on East and North facing slopes. We’ve close planted at nearly 5,000 vines/hectare, and have 18 different vineyard blocks (in French climats) on 22.5 hectares of vineyard.


We developed the vineyard slowly. It took us nearly 10 years to plant the 22.5ha of vineyard. We did it this way so that we really understood our growing conditions. We had to source finance which took some time, and cash continues to be in short supply. Natural obstacles are fairly minimal. We are working in an agricultural arena so are at the mercy of the weather. Fortunately, in Marlborough weather is largely benign so we have few disease problems. Our current concern is to maintain sufficient vine vigour and fruitfulness after a couple of difficult growing seasons.


Actually, it’s not difficult to be biodynamic; but to make it work we need to take the long term view, ideally multi-generational. Biodynamics is a pathway along which we travel as farmers and winemakers.  It is not an end point, and we can’t imagine doing anything else. What other business gives us such a close connection with our environment and the universe? Then allows us to create a unique wine that encapsulates all the elements of that season and all our thinking, and philosophy – as well as successes and mistakes. The wine then stands as the testament of our endeavours for 10 years or more.




From → Interviews

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