Kim & Graham Gilkison of Dancing Petrel Vineyard & Winery

24/06/2022

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2022 Finalist: Kim & Graham Gilkison of Dancing Petrel Vineyard & Winery – Viticulture

In four years, the couple behind Dancing Petrel have transformed a languishing vineyard and winery into a thriving business accredited for its sustainable methods.

Kim and Graham Gilkison bought the boutique Mangonui business in 2018. Planted 12 years earlier, the vineyard was struggling and needed significant remedial work when the Gilkisons took over. They spent the next three years heavily pruning and reorganising the plants, and putting in 6,500 new vines.

Their goal was always to restore the vineyard and this has been achieved thanks to the support of experienced local vineyard managers and a locally sourced workforce.

Dancing Petrel now produces quality wine and has significantly increased production in a sustainable way. Overall production has increased per vine and, in 2019, their Cabernet Franc grape harvest doubled to about 8 tonne. Full benefits of their work will be seen over the next three years as the new vines move into full production.

The sustainability tick covers growing methods, spray-use, soil and leaf analysis, and health and safety. Becoming accredited helped them apply rigour to management of the vineyard and has boosted their confidence in the end product.

There’s a strong focus on soil health, including soil testing to guide fertiliser application, and digging mulched clippings back into the soil. Recycling is a priority, and biodiversity is enhanced by caring for a wetland and planting native species.

A small on-site tasting room is open most days and its popularity means they’re looking to expand it to include a restaurant. As well as boosting sales, the venue increases their profile and provides Dancing Petrel with a strong economic base meaning they can employ more staff.

Seeing the vineyard thriving brings real pleasure to the Gilkisons and helps keep them motivated as they navigate its challenges into the future.

Kim and Graham were the winners of Norwood Agri-Business Management Award.

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