Saving water, and saving our rivers

by Babich Wines October 27, 2021

Make no mistake, it can get incredibly hot and dry in Marlborough over summer. That heat is great for ripening grapes, but it also makes the vines thirsty. And the trouble is, the time when they need water the most is also the time when the rivers are at their lowest. River flows in Marlborough during summer are something like ten times lower than in the winter.

But it’s not only the vines that need water – the rivers and riverbanks are teeming with life. The fish and the birds and the frogs and the plant life all need water. If we take too much of it, they suffer…

At Babich, we do everything we can to live and work in harmony with nature. Always have. We’ve been around as winemakers for over a hundred years and three generations, and we want to be around for hundreds of years and generations to come. Sustainability is not only the right thing to do, it’s the only way forward.

So, the smart thing for us to do is to store as much water as possible in the wet season, when rainfall is plentiful and the rivers are pushing masses of water to the sea, so we don’t need to take so much from the river when nature cannot afford us to.

That’s why, over a number of years, we’ve been systematically building dams to help irrigate our vineyards. In fact right now, we’re just about to finish our fourth. This large earth dam, on our organic Headwaters vineyard, will hold enough water to carry the vineyard through summer, even if we have three months without rain. (Which is what happened last summer. When we say dry, we mean dry!)

The addition of the new dam means we’ll have enough water stored to irrigate almost 70% of all our Marlborough vineyards this coming summer, with a water storage target of over 500,000m3 by 2023. All so we can leave the water in the river, where nature wants it.

And let me tell you, if the stream is flowing well, there’s no better way to finish a hard day’s work than with a plunge into that cool, fresh and pure mountain water, with a BBQ and a glass or two of refreshing Babich Sauvignon Blanc waiting for you back home!

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