Q+A with Cenna from Local Flavour Honey Co


For this weeks blog, we caught up with our Wellington wine rep Cenna. Not just passionate about Odyssey Wines, Cenna is also big on bees. When she is not selling our wine on the streets of Wellington, she is working on her business, the Local Flavour Urban Honey Co, a Wellington based company leasing bees to local businesses, restaurants and urban dwellings.

We talked bees, honey and of course, wine with Cenna to kick off a new blog series on Odyssey Wines where we chat to our friends and local business owners so that you can learn even more about what is going on in your backyard! Enjoy!


What do you do with bees in Wellington? What do you like about it?


My company Local Flavour Urban Honey Co, places hives in urban backyards, rooftops and green-spaces to produce small batch neighbourhood specific honeys and to help rebuild honey bee numbers in urban environments. We partner with restaurants that want to use rooftop honey on their menus and with residents, community groups and public garden spaces to help with the pollination of their urban vegetable patches.

Wellington is a terrific place for bees given the amount of green-space and relatively mild winters. The honey from each apiary is kept separate so that you can see/taste the differences in the plant life throughout Wellington. We also maintain our hives organically and keep the honey raw and unheated to preserve all the beneficial enzymes and more subtle flavours that real honey can provide.


As grape plants are self-pollinating they don’t really need bees in their pollination, whats the benefit of bees for a vineyard? 


The benefits are more in relation to encouraging biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem which in turn benefits everyone. Bees in the area will also compete with wasps for nectar/food source which might help keep populations in check.


And we agree with Cenna, we have clover planted in our vineyard which fixes Nitrogen in the soil, this is very important for organics as it’s one of the only ways to get usable Nitrogen into the soil. Bees pollinate the clover to make it all happen… and also make great honey!

How do we encourage bees to come onto our vineyard?


The best way to encourage pollination is to plant other nectar rich flowers in the area that bloom at a different time. This will bring more pollinators to the area. Also bee population numbers tend to wane as nectar is less available, by keeping plants flowering throughout the season you’ll keep the population strong and busy.


How is the New Zealand’s bee population?


It’s better here than in many other parts of the world but there are always new threats. People don’t realise how vulnerable bee populations are and how absolutely crucial they are to our food supply.  NZ exports our bees all over the world as they healthy and are a good strain.

 Whats your favourite Odyssey Wine? 


That’s a tough one! Right now it’s a dead tie between the 13 Pinot Gris and the Iliad Chardonnay. The Pinot Gris is such an interesting style and I love how textural it is and that it gives the illusion of sweetness but finishes clean. It’s a great wine for tastings because it surprises people every time. The Iliad is just a generous, beautiful and balanced Chardonnay. I challenge any serious wine drinker to try it and not to fall in love.


Don’t forget to give us a like on Facebook and Instagram!  @odysseywines  

@localflavourhoney      www.localflavour.co.nz

Bee hives at our vineyard

Why Odyssey Wines Went Organic

My first real positive impression of organics in winemaking was during my vintages in Burgundy, learning the art of Pinot Noir making. No one really talked about organics, they just did it and lived it. It was accepted that if you wanted to make top wine, you needed to be organic. Then there was a book about Biodynamics called, ’From Sky to Earth’ by Nicholas Joly. It was one of those books I read and re-read I forget how many times. He talks, among other things, about balance in the soil and the system, as well as recollecting on when Superphosphate sales people visited French farmers after the War, dumping chemicals and telling them they were best for the soil, and that would assist vineyard growth and make them rich! This act ended up rooting the land! and has since taken years of hard work to re-balance.

This book really influenced my decisions and plans when it came to Odyssey Wines and in 1990, when Odyssey Wines bought 68 acres of bare land in Marlborough, I chose to take a holistic, organic approach to the winemaking. The land was clay soils on a hillside, definitely not the easiest land to grow grapes on. So, from the get go, the land needed a serious plan and ongoing commitment to re-charge the soils with organic matter in order to grow the best grapes. The land still to this day requires replenishment every step of the growing process. An organic programme with interrow cultivating, under-vine weeding and yearly mulching feels right for the land and the soils are responding well with great texture- we are now experiencing good growth. The weeds are managed with sheep and mechanical weeding and that zone under the vine, whilst messy, is full of life and much better than a dead zone.

It is great to be sustainable and recycling matter back into the soil, and to be armouring the grapes with thicker skins so they are more resistant to disease. This assists in protecting the grapes and eliminating the need for a shotgun approach with chemical sprays. It makes you plan ahead…  prevention rather than cure. Although this has been a challenge for us to get everything humming along and in sync, it is immensely satisfying when you see the outcome, plus it is a fabulous learning experience on how to best manage the soil. At the start you make mistakes but you learn from it. Here in New Zealand, there are some great people to help and advise along the way as well, plus there is a great sense of pride in looking after our own turf on the earth!

Odyssey Wines are now making some of our most flavoursome wines from the Marlborough Vineyard, ones which characterise the vineyard and region, and reflect our own terroir. The wines have character and an individuality due to our organic management, and you can really taste the difference. Many of our wines hold a dense, yet full-bodied flavour and the balance between sweet and sour does not come from additives, but instead from the natural make up of the grapes. We have received the Biogrow full organic certification from our 2013 Vintage’s, and we recently won a Gold Medal for our Sauvignon Blanc 2014 at the New Zealand Organic Wine Awards. The shift to organic was a no-brainer for Odyssey Wines and isn’t something we see the need to brag about- it is a way of life for us. On a personal level, I buy organic whenever I can, and would rather consume as little chemical residue as possible. I expect an organic product to have good flavour and I love supporting companies who are forward thinking and active in this movement!