1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?
I have been in the winemaking part of the industry since 2000 when I left school but only dabbling in growing grapes, but we are both been keen gardeners. We started our wine label Gertie in 2016 and have been growing slowly since. We had been working with a 4th generation grower for a few years helping him out and taking some fruit and approached him to buy the place in late 2018.
2. What prompted you to want to be involved in the EcoVineyards project?
I meet an Austrian chap in 2019 and he was telling be about how green the Austrian wine industry is, this got me thinking, why can’t Clare be the greenest wine growing region on the planet??
My first step is to create a native seed blend that will become the new cover crop for the Clare Valley. A project that will save growers money, give healthier grapes, generate tourism when people come to see a valley in bloom and promote a thriving ecosystem.
3. What do you hope to achieve from your involvement in the EcoVineyards project?
Get the native part of the cover crop blend finalised and trial rows planted.
4. Have you tried to increase biodiversity on your property before undertaking this project? If so, how?
Increased biodiversity has been a major goal on this vineyard before we took over incorporating fruit trees, native plants, bush blocks and keeping swords long providing habitat.
Since we took over, we have been planting some 120 surviving natives that we have been hand watered and protected. We have established an orchid and a beehive and the kids have made insect hotels. We have also put up the bat homes that EcoVineyards provided us with.
5. Why do you think it is so important for growers to try and build natural resilience on their property?
Natural resilience is important because we need to change our mind set, let’s use life to help us grow better fruit instead of death.
6. Looking to the future, what do you see as a new ‘normal’ for grape growers on their properties?
In the future “Organic ” status for what it’s worth will be the new normal, but why on earth would you stop there???
Look to other industries like broad acre, what can we learn from them? How can we be the cutting edge for a greener way of life.
Let’s face it we can’t pull the “wine is good for your health” card forever but we could offset it by being the greenest.