1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?

We are third generation Clare Valley grape growers and have been involved in the wine grape industry for the last 14 years. In 2006, we purchased Schmerl Estate adjacent to the Walton Homestead Block and later took over the operational management of the family vineyard.

Kilikanoon Wines Pty Ltd now lease approximately a third of our vineyard.

2. What prompted you to want to be involved in the EcoVineyards project?

As the saying goes “the quality of the wine starts with the quality of the vine”.

We want to foster an ecofriendly vineyard and produce best quality wine grapes. Over recent years botrytis, vine scale and light brown apple moth have adversely affected both desired quality and expected yield of our crops.

We believe the EcoVineyards project will help us foster biodiversity and support better quality and profitability in our vineyards.

3. What do you hope to achieve from your involvement in the EcoVineyards project?

We hope to achieve an ecofriendly vineyard primarily by establishing a colony of microbats and planting specific native trees, shrubs and grasses.

4. Have you tried to increase biodiversity on your property before undertaking this project? If so, how?

Over recent years our focus has been to better understand soil profile, improve water quality/supply, remove diseased/dead wood and repair/replace broken infrastructure.

Now we want to shift our focus towards actively implementing biodiversity initiatives and the EcoVineyards project is a great place to start!

5. Why do you think it is so important for growers to try and build natural resilience on their property?

We believe that by building natural resilience growers may be better placed to promote and/or demonstrate the quality of their fruit.

With a global shift in quality standards affecting our local winemakers, we suspect that natural resilience is likely to play an escalating role in the immediate and generational survival of wine grape growers.

6. Looking to the future, what do you see as a new ‘normal’ for grape growers on their properties?

We see many challenges to wine grape growers including, but not limited to:

  • climate change;
  • water supply/quality;
  • new technologies;
  • vine disease;
  • profitability; and
  • succession.

We think the EcoVineyards initiative will help wine grape growers keep afloat in the changing currents of our wine industry.