It was in 2004 that our resource consent to take and use water for irrigation purposes came up for renewal. We filed the necessary application for the grant of a new consent with the Canterbury Regional Council. In the interim, we were able to operate under the existing consent pursuant to a provision in the Resource Management Act, until the new application could be heard. There were a number of other consent holders in the same situation as us. Objections were lodged opposing the applications from the usual suspects; Forest & Bird Society, North Canterbury Fish & Game, DOC, and Ngai Tahu. The Regional authority had already begun a review of their Water Management Plan for the area, so that this too, complicated the whole process. There were numerous public consultation meetings and workshops held, extending over a number of years. We finally got our hearing on 30 August, 2010 before 2 independent Commissioners appointed by the Regional Council. At the hearing, attended by me, and 2 other consent holders on the upper Waipara River, we were informed that none of the objectors now wished to be heard or give evidence in the matter. I presented our evidence and made submissions in support of our application. In a reserved decision of the Commissioners of 15 October, 2010 we were granted a new consent for a term of 20 years, confirming the graduated take arrangements, and with no minimum flow condition during the months October to May inclusive. This was a great result for us. It was an endorsement of the efficiency of our irrigation regime based around a reduced rate of take over those critical months, and our significant on-farm storage capacity. It had taken more than 6 years, and much angst, to achieve the desired outcome.
The 2004 vintage was the last time we used cork closures for our wines. From 2005 we switched to screw cap which has proved to be a more economic and reliable closure. With cork we had reached the point where 1 bottle in 12 could be affected by taint or even badly corked. This was not only costly and time consuming but damaging to one’s brand reputation. In a way, the worst outcome was for the wine to be tainted and present as flat or dull on tasting, thereby putting customers off the brand, or, at worst, not coming back. Since using screw caps we have hardly had a single issue or complaint about a wine. The costs have also much reduced compared with a natural cork and capsule closure – saving as much as 60 cents per bottle.
BARRY JOHNS ( aka Le Vigneron )