1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?
Like Ash Barty, WindSong Wines is a team effort.
The vineyard has been owned and operated by our partnership Heather Webster and Barry Featherston since our first plantings in 2002.
Nick Woods is our excellent vineyards manager. He has looked after vines here at Langhorne Creek all his working life. Heather has a background as a botanist and worked with CSIRO Division of Soils for about 10 years.
2. What prompted you to want to be involved in the EcoVineyards project?
We are all very keen to have as much native vegetation on the property as possible and minimise our use of herbicides and insecticides, so EcoVineyards gave us a perfect framework to put that intention into practice. We also grow about 60 fruit and nut trees and have bees thanks to local Josh Nurse who provides that expertise.
3. What do you hope to achieve from your involvement in the EcoVineyards project?
We hope to achieve a more natural looking and naturally functioning vineyard ecosystem which allows native flora and fauna to thrive. Our extensive shelter belt has a good diversity of native plants and provides excellent habitat for a wide variety of native birds. Ever since I learned that blue wrens eat up to 400 mosquitos a day, I have been keen to encourage as many as possible to make their homes permanently here. The same for the micro-bats but they are nowhere near as beautiful to look at (good thing they are active in the dark). Barry keeps the grass short around our house which is not only good for fire protection and snake deterrent but also encourages the small insectivores.
4. Have you tried to increase biodiversity on your property before undertaking this project? If so, how?
South Australia has a shocking history of de-vegetation and many people in Langhorne Creek have worked for decades to replant good tracts of native vegetation and we are happy to add our small efforts to their big ones. We also see it is very important to care for the River Bremer and its challenging water flows and bank management.
5. Why do you think it is so important for growers to try and build natural resilience on their property?
I think the EcoVineyards also aligns with what our customers are expecting. They want environmentally friendly operations and a sense of harmony.
6. Looking to the future, what do you see as a new ‘normal’ for grape growers on their properties?
Normal implies stasis, I think what I have learned is that each vintage is different and we waste a lot of energy on imagining that there is an average year. We need to manage each season as it comes and convince our population and the world to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change.