Sacred Hill Marlborough has company and grower vineyards in Marlborough. Their latest development is at Bartlett’s Creek in the Wairau Valley which will see 170 hectares developed into a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard.
We caught up with Brian Woods, General Manager for Sacred Hill Marlborough. He loves the Marlborough lifestyle and appreciates the opportunities the wine industry has provided him, enabling him to stay in the area and build a livelihood.
Brian says the conversion of the Marlborough region into vineyards has coincided with technology advances, which have allowed growers to develop areas previously considered unviable.
“Certainly that’s the case at Bartlett’s Creek. Frost fans have been factored into the development. It would be too big a risk without them”, he says.
Brian spends more time worrying about their supposedly frost free blocks (with no fans) than the blocks with frost fan protection.
“The impact from frost damage ripples right through the whole supply chain. Customers expect you to deliver. It’s your reputation at stake and you can’t afford to lose shelf space because it’s hard to get it back”, he says.
Contract growers are encouraged to invest in frost fans to mitigate risk around being able to deliver contract tonnages. Brian likes to think of Sacred Hill as laterally integrated, surrounding themselves with suppliers they can trust.
He explains you don’t want to start the season off badly with frost damage because your vineyard expenses carry on regardless and, in fact, are likely to increase if you employ additional labour to thin the vines to avoid the difference in ripening times between first and second shoots. Otherwise, you have to accept poor quality and that’s going to affect your wine quality.
Brian sees frost fans as a thing of beauty. Not only do they protect our livelihoods; they’re a sculpture in the vineyard.
“People ask me, where’s the best place in Marlborough to avoid frosts and I tell them underneath a frost fan”, quips Brian.
Other than ‘Mother Nature’, global events and their impact on export markets are the next big risk at the front of his mind.
“Twelve years ago, up to seventy helicopters would fly in before a frost and some years we’d spend a considerable portion of our operating budget on frost protection. It quickly became obvious that fans were a more reliable and cheaper option. Not everybody believed in frost fans back then, but nowadays they’re the norm.”
Brian likes to support local industry whenever possible. He appreciates the service and support through New Zealand Frost Fans’ depot in Blenheim and knows the technology behind every FrostBoss® machine leads the market when it comes to meeting the Marlborough District Council’s noise regulations.*
- The erection and use of frost fans in Marlborough is a controlled activity with changes to noise regulations in relation to their use coming into effect in September 2014. The regulations require frost fans to not exceed 55dB at a distance of 300 metres. The FrostBoss™ C49 (4 blade fan) develops 55dB at 240 metres (51dB at 300 metres) and the FrostBoss™ C59 (5 blade fan) develops 55dB at 180 metres (49dB at 300 metres). For full details of these regulations, refer to www.marlborough.govt.nz or contact New Zealand Frost Fans on 06 879 7312 or email@example.com .