Wine entrepreneur Erica Crawford has just finished the last exam of her Graduate Diploma in Viticulture at EIT. Erica is the powerhouse behind Loveblock Organic Winery in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley and an influential female leader in New Zealand’s wine industry.
We were able to catch up with Erica during a two-day workshop held on the Hawke’s Bay campus to complete her final course, Vine Health
Before meeting her Kiwi wine maker husband Kim in South Africa, Erica had started a career as a medical researcher which she gave up for a life in New Zealand and a career in the wine industry.
By the time Erica and Kim launched Loveblock Wines, they had built the highly successful brand Kim Crawford Wines and sold it to Constellation Brands.
In 2002 they bought their first vineyard in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley, in 2008 they made the decision to go organic and four years later they got certified. It’s a philosophy that Erica lives by. Going organic, however is not just a small shift but an audacious goal which involves long-term plans, filling up knowledge gaps and trial-and-error attempts.
Despite having years of industry experience, Erica says that the EIT qualification has been hugely beneficial. “It gave me a great insight into the technicalities of vineyard management, soil science, vine health and physiology. I got an intimate understanding of why we are doing things in a certain way, what changes I want to see and how we are to ensure consistency throughout the vineyard management. The vineyards really are my big and first love!”
Erica admits that juggling studying while running the business hasn’t been simple. “I feel a sense of relief that years of studying are now behind me. Yet, it has been interesting to get in touch with so many young people in the industry. We really need more people to come into viticulture. There are a lot of winemakers out there but viticulture is where we can make and break it.” Interesting fact, Erica has also employed one of her fellow students as a viticulture technician.
Erica says she will now treat herself with a “roadie” (some may call it a study trip) joined by her son visiting some of New Zealand famous wine regions.