‘Broken Heart Spirits was born from the ethos of living off the land, getting the most out of every product possible, minimising waste and utilising what the local land offers naturally.’
When Joerg first visited New Zealand in 1999 he fell in love with Central Otago and specifically the Gibbston Valley region. Reminding him of his home in Karlsruhe, Germany, he decided to buy a vineyard here. The first thing he noticed was the amount of waste wineries were throwing into the compost. Joerg knew the unused grapes from wineries could be distilled to make Schnapps and Grappa and so in 2004 Gibbston Spirits was born.
Even though Joerg no long makes Schnapps and Grappa, the distillation of wine is something Joerg has continued to do for local wineries to make what would usually be a waste product into a Brandy. In 2022, to celebrate Broken Hearts 10 year anniversary, Joerg also released his own Collector’s Edition vintage Brandy. In German, Brandy is translated to Weinbrand, and the wine used for the creation of this Brandy is from a single vintage of pinot noir grapes. This single barrel Weinbrand has been lovingly crafted from the distilling of Central Otago pinot noir wine and rested in chardonnay oak barrels for 16 years.
For several years now the distillery has run off solar power. Soon, more solar panels will be added to the property to truly maximise the natural resource and help with powering bottling machines, pumps, filtration units and heating systems.
By consciously choosing to use a wood fired Still, Broken Heart Spirits is not adding anything to its carbon footprint due to the carbon neutral status of burning wood from sustainable forests. Wood burning does not release any more carbon dioxide than the eventual biodegradation and natural decomposition of the wood if it was not burned. Gas alternatives all run on fossil fuels that have high costs and questionable implications for the environment long term.
A wood Still also creates ash as a by-product which is a fabulous addition to the vegetable garden. Wood ash is full of nutrients that plants need, e.g. potassium, phosphorus and calcium, therefore increasing soil fertility and raising pH levels. To complement our composting, we also have a magnificently active worm farm. By creating our own healthy composting system, we are promoting the growth of our garden and maximising the output.
We are blessed to live in such a unique place, with a unique climate, and have the ability to produce a plethora of different fruits and botanicals so close to home. Below lists the ways in which, not only does the Broken Heart garden support sustainable practices, but also the local surrounding areas:
- Quince trees grow so well at the property, more have been planted to assist in the foraging of the fruit for Quince Gin and Quince Liqueur production.
- Our Angel’s Share product is small batch distilled and the recipe changes with each new batch. The recipe will always reflect the season and will utilise home grown botanicals e.g. magnolia blossom, roses petals, hops etc.
- Apples from the trees are used to make apple juice and cider used for cocktails and cooking.
- Lavender bushes are grown in the garden and harvested as a predominant botanical in the gin recipe.
- Rhubarb is grown locally and used for Rhubarb Gin production.
- Black Doris plums, the key ingredient for Bella – Wild Plum Gin Elixir, are all sourced locally from the Central Otago region reducing the carbon footprint on delivery.
- Pinot Noir grapes are sourced from the Mount Edward Winery, just a 10-minute drive from the distillery, and are the perfect grape for the Pinot Noir Gin. This ‘farm to table’ concept supports local businesses and means our product has not been through a store or distributor along the way.
- Sunflowers are grown in the garden to help support local bee communities for without the bees we would have nothing.
- Finally, other fruit trees like apricots, nectarines, damson plums, strawberries and raspberries keep staff happy and healthy with a ‘pick your own’ lunch ethos
As a by-product of the Bella – Wild Plum Gin Elixir, there is an excess of juicy, alcohol filled plums. Not wanting to waste this delicious flavour, Joerg decided to make a Spiced Plum Gin Jam. Initially this was just for home consumption and to place on cheeseboards at the Gin Garden, but after some overwhelming feedback it is now continuously available in small batch quantities and available to purchase on the website and some select stores in Queenstown and Arrowtown.
Off the back of this success, we are trialling a Quince gelee utilising any excess Quince from going into the compost. Quince is often thought of as the forgotten fruit, and people do not know what to do with them. Here at Broken Heart Spirits, we reach out to the local community who can’t harvest their unwanted quince, or are overwhelmed by the effort required to use the product, we harvest it ourselves and leave a bottle of Quince Gin with them as a sign of our appreciation.
Gin Garden Tasting Room
Although the Gin Garden does have a gas oven, the main method of cooking is by utilising the wood fired oven. Not only does this make the food taste delicious, but also contributes to minimising the use of gas.
All herbs and garnishes used in both the food menu and drinks menu are either grown onsite or at the distillery. Herbs like mint, thyme and rosemary are perfect garnishes for a gin and tonic or cocktail and add huge amounts of flavour to any dish. By growing these ourselves the ‘food miles’ are very low and everything is as fresh as possible.
To help support local businesses we offer the chance for bars or restaurants who stock our products the option of purchasing a 5 litre keg. By purchasing the keg, not only does this reduce 7.2 glass bottles of wastage but also means a smaller carbon footprint in deliveries. The team are also very good at combining deliveries to local businesses and even delivering product to and from work to avoid unnecessary trips.