1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?

We have been growing grapes at Mt Bera since 2008, and started with no viticultural knowledge but had a very strong desire to not use synthetic chemicals, so immediately converted to growing organically. We purchased an undervine mower, raised all the dripper lines, went on many courses including Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web course, biodynamic courses, compost and carbon storage courses, and read a load of books and asked lots of questions to everyone we could. From there we brewed loads of compost teas and protozoa teas and worked on improving the biodiversity from bacteria upwards.

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

Striving to learn more and constantly improve what we do both in the vineyard and all our surrounding land.

We have been great fans of Mary Retallack’s work.

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

Work with others to gain more experience in producing a biodiverse environment that works naturally to produce better quality grapes. There are so many people doing great things to improve the environment while producing grapes and other foods. Assessing what works best to make the maximum impact.

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

We have planted loads of different trees and native grasses, fenced off water courses and planted species in there to reduce erosion, subdivided paddocks to allow regenerative grazing regimes, released predatory insects. Two bushfires have had a large impact, both positively regenerating natives, to destroying plantings we had done. Worked from our remnant bush to remove invasive weed species and to allow a spread of the native bushlands into other areas of our property.

We believe diversity needs to be over our whole property and it is important to work with neighbours, both private and government land, to expand the footprint of biodiverse areas.

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

It makes so much sense to allow natural systems to maintain health and life within and around the vineyard, reducing the work for us and improving the quality of what we produce. Carbon storage is a natural biproduct of a healthy system.

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

Being in balance with nature and letting nature maintain the health of the ecosystem.