New Zealand’s first alternative wine and food festival will be held in Wellington city this year

Organic, biodynamic and low to no sulphur additions are buzzwords in the world’s burgeoning natural wine movement right now and they will be hot topics at New Zealand’s first ‘natural’ wine festival in Wellington this year.

The mini festival has been dubbed Bud Burst. It will be open to all and held on Sunday 13  November, says the country’s newest Master of Wine, Stephen Wong, who gained the notoriously difficult MW qualification in March.

He anticipates that the mini fest will host up to 20 stalls, between 60 to 70 wines and approximately 250 people in total – 150 tickets have already been sold via an online fund raising scheme.  All wines must be produced along sustainably proven criteria, which means they must be made from grapes that are certified organic,  biodynamic or are in transition to either of these certifications.

“We’re not saying those wines are better, but we are saying, ‘come and see what they taste like and if you enjoy them, perhaps it’s because they have less human input and are more natural – like wanting to listen to a piece of music unplugged,” Wong says.

No winery can take part, unless it has at least one wine that contains less than 25 parts per million of sulphur dioxide (SO2), which is approximately half the standard amount of parts of per million used in commercial winemaking today. SO2 is the most commonly used chemical in winemaking and its use has significantly reduced over the past century – the permissible amounts in Europe in 1910 were up to 500 parts per million.

The Bud Burst committee want to highlight the diversity of wines made according to a different paradigm than standard commercial winemaking tends to operate by. New Zealand wines will make up the majority of those at the festival, but Wong plans to have wines from further afield as well.

“We don’t easily get access to taste wines that winemakers experiment with; Bud Burst is an opportunity to look at the tip of the growing number of wines that may have begun as experiments but which are growing in volume – we’ll get to taste them and to see what others think of them.”

Bud Burst is on Sunday 13 November 2016 at PreFab in Jessie Street, Wellington.