Winery aims to inspire sustainability with new community fund

A Marlborough wine company is hoping to inspire others to become more sustainable, by helping to fund new environmental projects in the region.

The Yealands Wines Marlborough Sustainability Initiative (YSI) has been launched in partnership with the Marlborough District Council and the Blenheim Sun. 

The initiative offers $100,000 of funding each year to local environmental not-for-profits working to improve fresh water quality, preserve sensitive natural areas, and protect biodiversity in the Marlborough district. 

General manager of external relations and sustainability at Yealands Wines, Michael Wentworth told Newshub that sustainability had been a key focus since the company launched in 2008. 

"We set out with a vision to lead the world in sustainable wine-making and also to produce the best side of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world," said Wentworth. 

Wentworth said the new fund was an extension of Yealand's sustainability focus.

Michael Wentworth said sustainability was a key focus for the company.
Michael Wentworth said sustainability was a key focus for the company. Photo credit: Supplied/Yealands Wines

"I think it's part of our DNA and it's one of those self fulfilling things. 

"It started off with a very clear vision of wanting to be a world leader in that space, and I think over time you, you tend to attract people of a similar mindset, both from a staff and business partners. "

The company, which now employs 190 people, recently announced a commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 percent.

It has also become one of six wineries to join the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA), a collective working group that aims to address climate change and decarbonise the wine industry.

Wentworth said the company was already practicing sustainable viticulture, and planned to do more to reach their new targets.

This meant focusing on a range of areas including shipping, packaging, and the largest producer of emissions which was diesel burn.

"So anything that we can do within the vineyards to reduce the number of times the tractors are going up and down the rows."

"Also ensuring when your tractors are going up and down the rows, you're making full efficiency out of them in terms of  undertaking a number of functions at once. So you might be trimming the vines while you're mowing.

"Basically anything you can do to reduce going up and down the rows, it's going to be a key win for us."

The company uses solar power to help power the winery.
The company uses solar power to help power the winery. Photo credit: Supplied

The winery uses approximately 25 percent of multiple renewable energy sources to minimise its environmental footprint.

Solar panelling produces more than 400,000 kW hours per year, which helps to power the winery.

Yealands bales and burns a portion of its vine prunings in large burners which are used as an energy source and help to eliminate more than 160 tonnes of CO2 each year. 

It is also home to two wind turbines that generate additional power for the winery.

Applications for the YSI grants will be open twice a year. 

Each charitable or not- for-profit community group can apply for individual grants of up to $10,000 each year. 

The first applications close on 29 February.