Tell us in a few sentences about your experience as a viticulturist, how did you arrive here?

Wines by KT (Kerri Thompson and Brendan Pudney) have been contracted to Skillogalee Estate to manage the Viticulture and Winemaking since June 2021 and the EcoVineyards project has been included as part of this management.

Between the two of us we share 5 decades of experience winegrowing in the Australian Wine Industry.

Why did you decide to apply to be an EcoGrower, was there something specific that influenced your decision and/or had you attended a previous EcoVineyards session?

We are committed to soil improvement and sustainable management practices and have been working with previous EcoVineyards participants the Castine Family as grape suppliers.

We wanted to include the EcoVineyards programme as part of our vineyard improvement plan.

Has there been a defining moment or catalyst for you to move towards more ecologically driven viticultural practices?

Living and working on a vineyard means that we see first-hand the impacts. We also have families that we want to see enjoy a more sustainable future.

Can you provide a brief overview of your project ideas, and what you wish to achieve over the 3 years and why is this important to you?

Firstly, to create a sustainable low maintenance/low water environment which will include native plants and shrubs to beautify the cellar door entrance experience. This has also allowed us an opportunity to include an educational experience to our customers with the inclusion of communicative signage.

Secondly, we hope to show that by planting native grasses in the undervine and mid row areas, as well as the “beetle bank” contour, we can eliminate ground working and improve soil structure in a dry grown environment with an overall improvement of the biodiversity and health of the vineyard ecosystem.

We also aim to introduce the use of compost teas as part of our vineyard management plans as well as the rejuvenation, restoration, and replacement project of our creek beds within our vineyard. 

Are you just starting to learn, or have you been enhancing biodiversity on your property and is this an extension of what you are currently doing? If so, please tell us more.

Caring for the unique soils, landscape and functioning ecosystems of our 170-hectare estate is central to our ethos and practices at Skillogalee Wines. We are proud to be part of the EcoVineyards program and believe that its championing of practical, region-specific sustainability pathways and outcomes is vital to the long-term resilience and prosperity of our wine-making region.

Maximising soil health, enriching biodiversity and prioritising low-impact vineyard practices will continue to be a key focus as our business grows, and we see great potential for further EcoGrower activities on our estate to build our expertise as sustainable growers and effective land stewards. We look forward to deepening our involvement with this landmark program and with local EcoGrower networks.

Tell us about your hidden superpowers, something that others don’t know about you or a practice you would like to champion?

Our superpowers are our people! We have an engaged and passionate team here at Skillogalee Estate that includes decades of practical experience and have the opportunity to showcase and educate consumers through our cellar door and restaurant experience.

Where do you see grape growing in the future, do you feel there is an urgency to change current practices? If so, why?

We are conscious of changing temperatures and water supply, so our vineyard management plan aims towards ensuring that we are building resilience for the long term.

What else would you like to share with the broader EcoVineyards community, what gets you excited about the future?

We have so many plans! to the point where we will be including a dedicated hands-on staff member to manage our regeneration projects in the future.

In addition to the vineyard and EcoVineyards projects we have plans to build native garden beds that can also supply our restaurant and will include Eco ground tours on site.