Bart Arnst

Organic Winegrowers New Zealand is calling for more grape growers to convert to organic production to meet growing international demand.

Organic viticultural consultant Bart Arnst says the current state of play is not meeting the demand, and there is an obvious shortage of organic winegrapes in New Zealand.

“I’m constantly fielding phone calls from established wine companies and new wine companies looking to purchase organic fruit, because they’re seeing and being asked for it in markets around the world, and the supply’s not there,” he says.

The thirst for organic grapes in New Zealand is being driven by international demand. “The volumes of fruit people are asking for is much greater than it was. Some organic grape growers now have waiting lists of wineries asking for their fruit.”

That is backed up by Jared White, senior auditor for the organic certification body BioGro NZ. “BioGro receives regular queries about the availability of organic grapes for sale, but there is currently a gap in supply,” he says.

White says now is the time of year for more growers to consider becoming organic. “It takes 36 months to convert a vineyard to organic production. If you think organic growing may be your future, ensure that no non-organic products are applied to your vineyard as the harvest approaches. After vintage, you can register with an organic certifier, and work towards full organic status in 2021.”

Organic markets are continuing to grow worldwide, according to figures released recently by IFOAM, the International Federation of Agriculture Movements. The global organic market grew to nearly US$90 billion in 2016, according to the report, and certified organic land area continues to grow worldwide as well.