Kawa Grove Wines
In 2009 we planted our first vines with the intention of producing a small amount of wine solely for our own consumption.
The grapes had to be organically grown and the wine made without any additives of any kind. Today we still adhere to these principles growing and making our wines as naturally as possible: - hand-picked grapes, foot crushed, fermented by wild yeast, unfiltered, bottled by hand and NOTHING ADDED.
Growing right on the wild West Coast of New Zealand our vines exist in very demanding conditions: - tough ground and burning salt laden winds. This results in very low crops of smaller, full flavoured berries and we believe this, along with our strict viticultural regime, produces wines of depth and flavour.
During the growing season we spend many hours amongst the vines taking out laterals and excess or weak shoots and at veraison (when the grapes start to change colour) we remove many bunches and even reduce the size of some to ensure our crop levels are kept low.
Later, when we have observed the progress of ripening, we attach colour coded tags to various bunches. This is because all vines or even bunches on a vine often do not ripen at the same time and close to harvest it is almost impossible to visually assess which are more advanced than others. This time-consuming process enables us to pick over the vines many times selecting the bunches which are now fully ripe.
These are then sorted by hand removing berries that do not come up to the standards we require. This is particularly important as we need them to be unbroken and free of mould or rot to enable us to produce the wine without the use of sulphites.
The selected grapes are then gently crushed and fermented by wild yeast. The ferment takes longer than usual (occasionally up to 5 weeks) as we are continuously removing skins that have provided their colour, tannins and flavour whilst adding new “batches” of grapes that have now reached their optimum ripeness.
When the ferment is finally complete, and skins, “gross” lees and pips are removed we leave the wine on its fine lees to undergo malolactic fermentation whereby the harsher malic acid is converted to a softer lactic acid. After this subtle anaerobic fermentation has occurred, we leave the wine for a number of months, occasionally stirring up the lees, before transferring the wine to another tank, leaving the lees behind. There it is allowed to naturally settle out and clarify before bottling. No fining agents are used, and it is unfiltered.
Our first vines planted were Chamboucin but over the years our enthusiasm has led us to introducing more varieties: - Saperavi, St Laurent, Syrah (reds) and Petit Manseng, and Albarino (white grapes) This has resulted in a problem for us in that we are now producing more wine than we can drink. However, “it is an illwind that blows nobody any good” and this means a small number of people will be able to purchase some of our wine at a fraction of what it costs us to produce. Maybe you will be one of them!?
The work on the vines can be repetitive at times but knowing we are not being exposed to toxic chemical sprays and being accompanied by the hum of bees, bird song and the croaking of frogs in the pond makes it a pleasure, not a chore.
Don Batley - winegrower