1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?

Peter’s interest in grape growing was initially tweaked in 2004/5 when he became involved with a company that supplied organic products suitable for viticulture. He has been managing the Penna Lane vineyards since 2010.

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

We were involved with the Wine for Wildlife project early in 2021 and this got us thinking more about improvements we could make to our property, to benefit both the environment and our vineyard. We heard about the EcoVineyards project via the Clare Valley Winemakers Association, and it seemed like a possible next step for us.

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

We will be increasing the number and range of native plants on our property, and we hope that this will result in an increase in beneficial insects in the vineyard. We also hope to sow native grasses in a new vineyard and;

a) learn how to incorporate this approach into our vineyard processes

b) see first hand the impact this has on our vines. We are also keen to see which native plants do best in our particular micro-climate and to test the effectiveness of weed mats.

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

When we first came to the Penna Lane property in 2009 the garden around the home largely consisted of European plants, with a particular emphasis on Conifers. We have gradually replaced almost all of the conifers with native plants, particularly Eremophilas, grevilleas and some Bursarias. We are convinced we see a lot more New Holland honey eaters in our garden as a result of this replanting, with even the occasional sighting of native bees.

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

The less we have to rely on artificial interference on our properties the better it is for the environment.

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

  • Reducing reliance on fertilisers in the vineyard.
  • Reducing the use of chemicals for weed control.
  • Retaining soil moisture through the use of native grasses in mid rows.
  • Looking to natural ways to promote vine health.