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Green Is The New Black

Villa Maria – New Zealand wine brand’s 20 year sustainability transformation

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Winemakers know better than anyone that the best things in life take time to perfect. Villa Maria started its sustainability journey in 1999. Now it’s launching EarthGarden – a collection of premium organic wines that are bursting with flavour as nature intended. Here is everything you need to know for your next sustainable soiree in Singapore.

A New Zealand success story

Villa Maria is a winemaker at the forefront of the sustainability movement. As the founding member of Sustainable Winegrowing NZ in 1995, Villa Maria started its organic programme in 1999. By 2019, 30% of their vineyards were being organically managed. Additionally, the business has been steadily reducing carbon emissions for over a decade. Villa Maria is continuously seeking to improve its operations to ensure that future generations will benefit from a thriving planet. 

A New Zealand success story, Sir George Fistonich founded the company in 1961 at just 21 years of age. Now, the enterprise exports to over sixty international markets. From simple beginnings in Mangere, Auckland, Villa Maria has evolved to become a globally recognised and esteemed New Zealand wine brand.

Why go organic?

75% of the earth’s land is degraded. This terrifying statistic is an example of why many environmentalists warn that the biodiversity crisis is an even greater threat than the climate crisis. As a consequence, the health and well-being of an estimated 3.2 billion people are at risk. 

Organic farmers work with nature rather than against it. As such, organic farming practices are crucial for restoring the health of our soils and reducing carbon emissions. The best wine is produced using the best grapes and when those grapes come from organic vineyards, there are a whole host of benefits in addition to great tasting wine.  

Organic farms tend to use less energy, and as a result, have lower overall emissions.

There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, organic farmers restrict the use of manufactured chemical fertilisers. Usually, they come from burning fossil fuels and are imported. Instead, organic farmers rely on natural fertilisers, which can be sourced locally or from their own farms like green manures, animal manures and ‘cover crops’.

Many organic farmers also restrict the use of peat in composts. Peat comes from peatlands and peat bogs – they are an important carbon sink. On most non-organic farms, animals like chickens, pigs and cows are fed with GM crops. These include maize and soya, which are often imported.

Organic soil stores more carbon.

Did you know that our soils store more carbon than the world’s plants and forests combined? Healthy soils are critical in the fight against climate change. This is because healthy soils sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Soil draws the CO2 down through photosynthesizing organisms like trees and plants.

Organic farming is based on caring for the soil as the foundation for the health of everything else. Farmers nourish the soil and keep it healthy with composts, manure and regular rotations. They also keep it covered with different crops throughout the year so the cycle of nutrients is ongoing.

 

Villa Maria EarthGarden Sauvignon Blanc

Sustainability at Villa Maria

In addition to a commitment to organic vineyards, Villa Maria has introduced a range of practices and policies to ensure they are walking the walk. The business has made strides to assure its operations tread lightly on the planet.

As part of their dedication to healthy soils, Villa Maria sows over 700kgs of wildflower seeds every year to support biodiversity and encourage thriving ecosystems for local flora and fauna, including bees.

In addition to organic soils, the winemakers are looking at all aspects across their business to cut carbon emissions. They have reduced emissions per bottle by 30% and electricity use per bottle by 29%. In their factories, all warehouse forklifts have been electric since 2011.

As far as packing goes, Villa Maria is a member of the NZ Packaging forum and committed to using packaging that is easily recyclable. They have also reduced the weight of their bottles by 16%, decreasing the fuel needed to transport them. Also on transport, products are delivered around the world using the lowest emission options possible.

The EarthGarden Collection

Villa Maria’s new range, EarthGarden, is the culmination of decades of winemaking excellence and a continued commitment to environmentally-conscious practices. The collection gives consumers a range of wines from a trusted brand that reflects their conscious lifestyle and ethical consumption choices. 

The range includes four delectable organic wines:

> Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 – The Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of citrus fruits, lime and grapefruit. The flavours on the palate showcase fresh herbs, lemongrass, and passionfruit. The intense fresh fruit concentration is balanced with zesty acidity and is perfectly thirst-quenching.

> Hawke’s Bay Rose 2020- This Hawke’s Bay Rosé showcases a summery bouquet of blood-orange, rosehip, and watermelon. The palate is rich and moreish, finishing refreshingly dry.

> Marlborough Pinot Noir 2019 – This Pinot Noir expresses black fruits such as boysenberries and blueberries with subtle floral notes and
gentle acidity. The cocoa powder tannins and smoky toasty notes add complexity for a generous earthy finish.

> Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 – Deep, purple-coloured hues lead to a perfumed nose of dark fruits, cocoa, sweet vanilla, and clove spices.
The full-bodied palate is soft and generous with ripe fruit, silky tannins, and a smooth finish.

 

Vegetable skewers at GudSht

Where to find EarthGarden in Singapore

To celebrate the launch of the EarthGarden range, Villa Maria is working with some of the best eateries in Singapore. Try out these incredible wines as they were meant to be enjoyed – paired with excellent food in an atmospheric setting.

The Tipsy Tavern

Tipsy is a cafe by day, gastropub by night. A place where guests stay tipsy and leave happy. Tipsy caters to all your heart’s desires from lunch to business meetings to after-work drinks. They serve all-day artisanal coffees, teas, fusion dishes, rotating craft beer taps, handcrafted cocktails, and even bottles off the shelf.

The Tipsy gastro-geniuses have paired some of their best selling dishes with EarthGarden wines for an epic food and beverage experience you won’t forget. Try the Bara Chirashi Don, Tuna Tartare and Hei-Bi Past with the EarthGarden Sauvignon Blanc or the Butadon and Wagyu Don with the EarthGarden Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon.

GudSht

GudSht is a label born out of a pandemic but determined to deliver a genuine cheer with their whimsical approach to the otherwise serious business of mixology and bartending. The business started out as a delivery service of premium beverages but has already expanded to include two brand-new venues.

Similar to Villa Maria, GudSht has made it its mission to source the best quality ingredients and treat them with the utmost integrity. Beyond the kitchen and bar, the Singapore restaurant does its best to minimise its waste footprint. The menu boasts a wide array of plant-based meals to cater to all dietary preferences and cut down CO2 emissions, making it the perfect place to enjoy a glass of New Zealand’s finest organic wine.

Wines ‘N’ Spirits

For those who prefer a home cooked meal, have Villa Maria EarthGarden delivered to your door via winesnspirits.sg. They carry a good range of the brands line, ready for sipping after a long day, entertaining friends or pairing with a perfect meal.

 

This article was created in partnership with Villa Maria. 

IMAGE: Photo by Villa Maria Wines | IMAGE DESCRIPTION:  Four wine bottles are lined up next to each other in the grass. From left to right, the first three bottles are the same shape, with a long sloping neck. The fourth is more cylindrical and has a shorter ‘neck’. Each bottle features a floral label, making it part of the EarthGarden range.

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Leanne has worked and volunteered in the NGO sector in Asia and the UK for almost a decade. She is a proud and passionate fundraiser who is motivated by connecting people to causes that they care about and giving them the opportunity to make a real difference. Since growing up on the West Coast of Ireland, she has always been a lover of nature, especially the ocean. Her journey towards living more sustainably and consciously started slowly through an interest in minimalism, plant-based diet, yoga and the zero-waste movement. She has attempted all of them with varying degrees of success! Seeing the Extinction Rebellion April actions in London this year was the biggest wake-up call to learn the truth about the scale of the climate crisis and Leanne now considers herself a bone fide, but imperfect, environmentalist keen to share the infinite benefits of slowing down and living more mindfully with anyone who will listen!

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