OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASteve Wheeler has the enviable job of Viticulturalist at Mission Estate Winery in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand’s oldest winery, where wine making and protecting the environment go hand in hand.

“We have a strong commitment to sustainable wine growing practices and have been part of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand since that started up in 1995. Plus, we’re certified to the international environmental standard ISO 14001 and have a number of Biogro certified blocks.

“The practical aspects of these programmes mean we have a variety of initiatives such as planting to enhance natural predators and therefore reduce sprays, and introducing sheep to replace mowing. We also use GPS and precision viticulture to measure variations in the soil and grapevine quality across the vineyards.

“Other practices include minimising waste, water and energy use; ensuring our chemicals are stored correctly, and of course, recycling where possible, which includes taking our containers to Agrecovery.

According to Steve, Agrecovery is just standard vineyard practice, a habit even, but it is also part of the Mission’s written operating procedures: empty containers must be triple rinse, punctured, stored, and then delivered to the collection site at Farmlands Horticulture.

“We want to avoid filling the landfill with plastic containers when there’s a free recycling programme available.”

Steve recommends those that aren’t using the programme should talk to others who are, and to also check out the Agrecovery website: “It’s really good; very user friendly with step-by-step processes to help you get started, and you never know, next year you might just get rewarded for your efforts.”

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