1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?
Sadly, it’s been a pretty rough ride. I’ve been in the winemaking industry for close to 20 years, but only been a vineyard owner / grower since mid-2018. Since then, we’ve had a shocking season in 2019, with yields down >50% on the long-term average, and then in the lead up to the 2020 harvest our entire property was destroyed by the Cudlee Creek bushfire, so no 2020 crop and none likely until 2025.
When I lay out the background like that, you’d have to wonder why I’m still here!
2. What prompted you to want to be involved in the EcoVineyards project?
I’ve always been a doer not a gunna, and when it comes to the environment, and matters like climate change, the general air of malaise I get from our political leaders on this issue has spurred me to act. Also, I think the evidence is clear that creating a diverse habitat for beneficial species in and around your vineyard gives you a great chance to grow better grapes!
3. What do you hope to achieve from your involvement in the EcoVineyards project?
- A more beautiful looking and diverse property.
- A positive contribution to the local area building habitat and conservation of natives.
- Grow better grapes.
4. Have you tried to increase biodiversity on your property before undertaking this project? If so, how?
Yep – we’ve made lots of mistakes in the past.
We’ve already undertaken native planting programs in 2019, all of which was lost to the fire, so it’s back to square one.
5. Why do you think it is so important for growers to try and build natural resilience on their property?
It starts at the grass roots level, doesn’t it? The effects of climate change are likely to make grape growing a lot more challenging.
6. Looking to the future, what do you see as a new ‘normal’ for grape growers on their properties?
Earlier harvest. More challenges due to the effects of climate change.
Hopefully also the new normal will include less traditional farming and more recognition of integrated systems.