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Ridge Block Vineyard Southern Valleys
Ridge Block Vineyard holds a special place in Giesen’s vineyard holdings. It is not merely the vineyard’s location sitting on the outskirts of Marlborough’s largest town Blenheim just before the Southern Valley’s sub-region begins. The Ridge Block Vineyard is key in Giesen’s programme to grow premium organic grapes that tell the story of their region. The Ridge Block proudly carries organic certification from BioGro New Zealand.
Initially a low performing Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay vineyard, an expert consultant on French soil concluded Ridge Block Vineyard’s soil was best suited to Pinot Noir and Syrah. The vineyard soil being similar to that found in Côtes du Rhône and the foothills of the French Alps.
In 2009 the Giesen brothers made the decision to kick-start their organic grape growing with a significant investment. In October that year they ripped out the 8.5 hectare Ridge Block Vineyard and left the land fallow for a year.
Ridge Block was replanted in 1.5 metre rows as a wholly organic, close-planted Pinot Noir and Syrah vineyard. Its high density plantings means the vineyard produces ‘one bottle of Ridge Block Pinot Noir per vine’. Farming the vineyard organically from day one helped encourage the vines to drive their roots down away from weed competition and cultivation.
Ridge Block Vineyard is situated 7.25 km from the river and 14.25km from the coast on the drier side of the valley. Its soils have been shaped by the erosion of ancient glaciers and are deep silt gravels within dispersed underlying light clay. The topsoil is rich in organic matter with the 40 – 100cm below that is rich in silt. It is free draining, yet its layers of iron-rich gravel provide great porosity and good moisture content.
The Giesen Premium Organic team do all they can to minimise impact on the land around them and the crops they nurture from utilising custom built machinery to companion planting for beneficial elements such as insects and nutrients. We use the Geier Crawler on our Ridge Block and Clayvin vineyards. This clever machine ensures minimal impact on the earth. It weighs 1.1 tonne (versus 2.5 tonne of a standard four wheel tractor) and has a downward pressure less than 60kg as all the weight is spread across the tracks of the machine. Not only that, the Geier helps with undervine weeding and cultivation (prepares the soil for hand weeding which we do once a year), mulching, trimming, spraying, mowing, tilling and deep ripping.
Why Giesen believes Ridge Block Vineyard is so special
The careful planning in the establishment of this vineyard has resulted in the balanced growth of the vines that can sometimes take years to manage. The wines from this young vineyard already show depth and structure unexpected in vines so youthful. Our Single Vineyard Ridge Block Pinot Noir 2013 was judged the 'World's Best Pinot Noir' at the 2016 International Wines & Spirits Competition in the UK. To be awarded an accolade such as this from a vineyard so young, means the wines from this vineyard will be worth tasting as it develops through the years.