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Lavender thrives in wine country

Tracy Voice in her boutique lavender shop in Martinborough. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

 

EMILY NORMAN

Nestled in the backdrop of Murdoch James Estate Winery, is the home of Ranui Essentials lavender farm.

The Martinborough business, owned by Tracy and Eric Voice, now holds the trophy for the “Best Grosso” lavender oil, as awarded by the New Zealand Lavender Growers Association recently.

Mrs Voice said their boutique oil “Grosso 2016” had been up against entries from France, the United States, Canada, and from around New Zealand, “so to win the award was quite cool actually”.

The couple had moved from Masterton to the Martinborough property about eight years ago when they began planting lavender and eucalyptus trees.

The house there had been moved from Karori in seven pieces by the previous owner, and there was only one plant on the property at the time.

Now, there are more than 2000 lavender plants growing on the property, each one yielding about 10.5ml of oil each year.

“The house used to be in Karori in Wellington, and it was called Ranui Hospital, hence the name of our business.

“It was a place for the elderly, but it ended up getting sold and the house was moved over here.

“We originally moved here to do it up and sell it, but we actually fell for the spot – it’s a great location.”

When entering the Lavender Growers awards, Mrs Voice said she had not expected to win, “but clearly the conditions in the Wairarapa must be good for lavender”.

“It’s a bit like wine really.

“The quality of your product is all to do with the plant, the heat of the season, the time you pick it, the distilling process, and storage.

“Plus, we’re in amongst a vineyard, and Murdoch James is pretty renowned for their wine.”

Mrs Voice, who also works for the Ministry of Primary Industries said it was important for small-scale production businesses to “conform to ministry regulation and understand what they are”.

“They’re there to help you and to ensure your products are safe and good quality,” she said.

“Depending on the market, we are likely to extend more plants and may look into exporting.”

She said there was a large lavender import industry in New Zealand, which could be a challenge at times when trying to break through into the domestic market.

“As lavender growers, we need to work out how we can hit our own domestic market first and foremost”.

Ranui Essentials shop on site is open on weekends and public holidays from 10am until 3pm.

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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