1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?
I am a relative newcomer to grape growing, only planting our vineyard 10 years ago. My son is a winemaker and my sister lives adjacent to my vineyard and has spent many years working in McLaren Vale training and pruning many vineyards. They were both able to advise and offer help and my sister until recently managed my vineyard.
2. What prompted you to want to be involved in the EcoVineyards project?
We have always tried to use minimal inputs with regards to herbicide but being on an old farm paddock there are plenty of weeds. We have been conscious of trying to improve soil health. I am keen to learn more about sustainable farming and using nature in a beneficial way and not fighting it with chemicals.
3. What do you hope to achieve from your involvement in the EcoVineyards project?
To learn more about increasing biodiversity and resilience for my vineyard and hopefully improve the health of the vineyard.
4. Have you tried to increase biodiversity on your property before undertaking this project? If so, how?
We have replanted 70 acres on our property adjacent to the vineyard 7 years ago with 80,000 plants that are endemic to the area. Many of these plants are attractive to beneficial insects and very attractive to birds!
The last few years we have allowed more undervine growth to help organic matter levels in soil and give some protection from the sun to stop soil drying so much, which should in turn help soil organisms.
5. Why do you think it is so important for growers to try and build natural resilience on their property?
I think that consumers are becoming more interested in drinking wine that is made from grapes grown sustainably without the use of too many chemicals. Climate change will also put more stress on vineyards and healthy vines should hopefully cope better with climate changes into the future.
6. Looking to the future, what do you see as a new ‘normal’ for grape growers on their properties?
This will depend a lot on how quickly our climate does change. I think a lot of growers will move to becoming ‘organic’, or at least using organic principals.