Alkina is a 60 hectare farm with 43 hectares of planted vines. The youngest blocks were planted in 2017, while 6ha of the oldest vines were planted in the early 1950s by Les Kalleske. The original vineyard has been certified organic and biodynamic (NASAA) since 2016. In that same year we added on the neighbouring Owens Vineyard, 20ha of established vineyard that came up for sale at just the right moment. This part of the vineyard is also farmed organically and biodynamically, but it is not yet certified. We strive to produce authentic terroir wines; meaning that the grapes communicate exactly where they were grown, with clear variations being found in the fruit from vines that are just a few metres apart. Central to this endeavour is soil health and plant and microbial diversity.
We sow cover crops in every row to put nutrients back into the soil and assist with sequestering carbon in the ground. We mow under each vine row to manage the weed population and have cut out all synthetic chemicals. This allows complex ecosystems above and below ground to develop naturally and flourish. A healthy, happy vineyard should be teeming with life. It’s so far from the bare earth monoculture vineyards that have turned grape growing into an industrial pursuit.
The hills, contours and slopes of the vineyard mean many different soil types exist right next to each other. We have split the vineyard into several ‘neighbourhoods’, which each have distinct characteristics:
Greenock Creek runs right through the heart of the farm and is a vital piece of the biodiversity puzzle, as well as being crucial to the geology of the vineyard. Vineyard areas close to the creek tend to have richer, deeper, clay-based soils, while sites on slopes and hills further from the creek are more rocky. Also the creek is home to a great diversity of insects and especially native bees. We know from a recent study that the vertical banks of the creek are crucial nesting sites for white and blue-banded bees, as well as many other important pollinators.